Friday, November 2, 2018

Review: Superman/Top Cat #1

 This October had five Wednesdays which meant that there would most likely be slim pickings on the comic shelf. While DC did put Heroes in Crisis #2 and a Batman Secret Files out there, we also got the next wave of goofy team-ups between DC characters and Hanna Barbera properties. Thus Superman/Top Cat #1 by Dan Didio and Shane Davis was available for review.

Now I had a lot of expectations for this book. For one, prior recent DC odd team-ups with cartoon characters (things like the wonderful Bugs Bunny/Legion of Super-Heroes or Batman/Elmer Fudd) were very well done, exceeding what I thought possible.

Also, I am a huge fan of the old cartoon Top Cat, watched on reruns in my youth. Here I met that smooth talking Top Cat, always trying to get rich quick. There was a Phil Silvers analogue; there was a Cary Grant analogue. They always seemed one step ahead of Officer Dibble. Top Cat is a relative unknown these days so I was thrilled to see him back in action with the Big Red S.

Unfortunately, the book was sort of a let-down. Top Cat in this comic could have been any number of cartoon characters. He wasn't 'Top Cat'-ish enough to capture the cartoon. None of the other characters appear here. And outside of some puns and some sarcasm around vegetables and Amazon, there wasn't much fun to be had here.

On to the book ...

 Even the way Top Cat is drawn by Davis is weird. I wouldn't have minded something a bit more cartoonish to convey that slacker living in the alley. Instead we get sneers and insane muscle definition.

But he does indeed team up with Superman to fight a kale monster, dubbed a Kalien ... get it, a kale alien.

 Okay, it isn't all groan worthy.

Seeing the people eat kale even though they say how disgusting it tastes was sort of amusing. Like lemmings, they are following along. This time the buzz is that kale is a super-food and so must be eaten.

I don't mind kale. And I certainly love broccoli rabe in the right recipe.

But after eating this kale in a 'Salad under the stars' event, the people all begin vomiting up massive quantities of the stuff. Something isn't right.

 When Superman comes to investigate, he finds a cleanup team from 'Wholesome Goods' is already there.

This isn't the first outbreak of kale destruction. But the cops can't get jurisdiction.

So now the sarcasm is being pointed at Whole Foods.

 Finally we get to Top Cat. But rather than being in his trash can in the alley trying to make a quick buck, he is working as a stocker at a Wholesome Goods store.

That isn't Top Cat, even if he dupes the manager into doing his job.

The Kalien arrives at this store and seems ready to attack everyone there for eating kale. But the Kalien wants the ultimate prize, Wholesome Goods CEO Mikos. After all, the Kaliens had lived on Earth for millions of years, safe in their bitter taste, until named a superfood and harvested by Mikos.

Superman arrives at the store forcing the Kalien to retreat.

So Didio points his sarcastic gaze hire, now aiming for Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos.

(Get it, Mikos ... Bezos ... ) 

 Meanwhile we see Mikos safe on his owned island country. He is ready to do battle with the Kalien armed with drones and more.

He's 'primed'.

Get it ... like Amazon Prime!

 Superman and Top Cat had a brief interaction at the store.
Now Top Cat shows up at the Planet to meet Clark Kent. He says he was told to show up by Superman, but we didn't see that in the store scene.

Top Cat easily sees through Superman's disguise as Clark Kent, forcing Superman to shut him up. Knowing the Kalien is after Mikos, the two decide to team up.

I do like that we get a panel pointing out how stupid Jimmy Olsen is. I like Jimmy. But I don't mind him being the butt of some jokes now and then.

 Remember, we still view the Kalien as the enemy. But Mikos is all smug elitist when Superman and TC arrive. (He even calls Top Cat Streaky. That's funny.)

When the Kalien shows up, Superman starts to fight the weed. In Mikos' office, Top Cat sees that the CEO has other vegetable species he is ready to slaughter in the name of superfood. Just like that the role of villain switches from the Kalien, actually defending his people, to Mikos. Mikos even says that while he expects a PR hit if his role as murderer is shown to the public that his flash sales will appease the masses. Okay that is a little funny.

Remember when he said he was primed? Well he has an "Amazo Prime". A little on the nose but I suppose as a lover of puns, I must tip my hat.

It's just a giant robot though. Superman and the Kalien team up to destroy it pretty easily.

And Top Cat brains Mikos with a chair, getting some revenge for the Streaky comment. But is that a Top Cat thing to do?

Okay. There a few bon mots in this book. But it could have been an 8 pager. And really, this wasn't a Top Cat book. You could substitute almost any cartoon character here to the same effect. And you could substitute almost any other superhero as well. This could just as easily been a Magilla Gorilla/Hawkman book ... or a Wally Gator/Captain Marvel book.

Think of the Bugs/Legion book which completely captured both sides of that equation perfectly. We don't get that here. And if you are going to do these kinds of books, you need to showcase the essence of the characters.

It just didn't work for me.

And that's a shame. Because I wanted to revisit Top Cat, the intellectual who I (as a close friend) get to call TC.

Overall grade: D


Anonymous said...

I thought the pun was "Kal-El+Alien" when I read the title.

Regardless, this book wasn't particularly funny. And Top Cat... that half-cartoony/half-realistic art didn't work for me at all.

"But is that a Top Cat thing to do?"

... No. Not at all. You're right, there was nothing particularly "Top Cat"-like about him.

I'll concede the "Streaky" joke was funny, at least.

Anonymous said...

"Batman '66 meets Archie" is much more seemly blended mix of camp-comedy-adventure, I'm not quite sure what the tie-up would be between Top Cat and Superman anyway...


H said...

The best one this time out (as far as I'm concerned) was the Yogi Bear/Deathstroke one. It got the spirit of both characters while feeling more Hanna Barbera than DC. That's the best way to attract new readers (I think that's part of the reason they've been doing these) since it's the Hanna Barbera fans that need the convincing more.

On a side note, Scooby Doo Team Up has been doing a good job with this in their crossovers with DC.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that orange tabby in the purple hat isn’t really Top Cat, the schmoozer who always has an angle going on and a bit of a smirk.

I think the HB crossovers are a corporate mandated effort, this one really felt like it.

Anonymous said...

The only Hanna Barbera book DC has put out that was done by people who actually liked the shows was Future Quest, which was alowed to die without promotion. Everything else has been by men who openly profes stheir hatred for the shows. So of course Top Cat isn't going to act like Top Cat, he's going to act like how someone who never enjoyed Top Cat wished he acted. This wasn't as bad as the gory one with Super Sons, but it still shows that DC is delighting in helping disparage & destroy the usability of the HB licenses.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

I'm trying to figure out why, in the last panel we see them, the aliens and the Kalien look terrified by some blinding light overhead. Is DiDio just suggesting everyone died horribly almost immediately after the story was done?

DiDio also wrote the Batman/Top Cat story that backed up the Adam Strange/Future Quest book. If you think Top Cat's out of character here, check this out: he rolled over on every cat in his gang and possibly got Benny killed.

Top Cat may be completely out of character, but DiDio sure ain't.

"Amazo Prime." Ha ha ha, I get it.

Anj said...

Oh my.

Glad I didn't read the Batman/TC story!

Thanks for the warning!