Monday, January 9, 2023

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #12

DC Vs. Vampires #12 came out this week, ending this series ... in a way. Yes, this volume is over. But the book ends wide open for a sequel. And given the side books that have sprung from this, I expect we will see more. Will I see more? I am on the fence.

The story here, as written by James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg, is troubling because plot wrinkles and surprises have been thrown into the mix in these last couple of issues. But when you know those things exist in this world, you wonder why they haven't been utilized before. Why would Barbara have sunlight weapon technology only be used in Gotham instead of everywhere? Why would Ollie resurrect Swamp Thing in the prison and not before in the hero headquarters? In this issue, you will see that there are even more things introduced at the last minute that weaken the story. Mary Marvel? Sunlight bombs? Where were these elements before?

The other issue I have with the story is the 180 of Babs Gordon. How do we get from main protagonist to main antagonist in one issue? As much as Supergirl being a nonfactor in this book irked me, this irked me more. Babs doing a heel turn after some rather purple prose with Nightwing? That's wrong. 

One thing that hasn't disappointed is the art. Otto Schmidt's style is wild and well suited for the book. It has just enough of a surreal feel to it to jump off the page. 

But in the end, I have to think this book sort of failed. The story and the plots don't make a ton of sense, especially when read in one sitting. The fact that it feels truly like a first chapter also feels like the marketing was a feint.

On to the book.

In Gotham, the Bat Family is about to be overrun despite their wielding sunlight weapons.

When Duke realizes that the whole team is about to die, he explodes his weapon, making a sun bomb that kills the nearby vampires.

But if this tech existed, why would Babs hold this back? Why wouldn't she make a lot of sun bombs to aid in the fight?  Bet Ollie would like them! Or Steel on the high seas?

The fact we only have seen these sun-lasers now makes little sense. Why wouldn't Babs let everyone use them? 

But then Wonder Woman shows up and invites Babs and the rest of the group into his stronghold. 

Dick starts out with a philosophical discussion. Vampires killing humans is the equivalent of humans eating cows. Didn't Babs do that? His reshaping the world is no different than Bruce trying to reshape the world. Wasn't Babs part of that?

And moreover, Dick admits that he needs Babs to perhaps bring some conscience to the new world .He needs Babs compassion. 

For some reason, despite her vowing to kill Dick on sight, she seems taken in by all this. Even Harley knows this is a bunch of manure. The vampires have killed millions of innocents. 

There is no reason, outside of vampiric seduction, for Babs to buy into an of this. 

Remember how Supergirl finally got into a rocket and seemed to break through the clouds last issue, perhaps about to be powered? Well, her rocket explodes. She is almost dead in the sky. 

Just then, a ghostly John Constantine calls in a secret weapon ... Mary Marvel, carrying Captain Cold. He demands that Mary fly into the sky and get Supergirl. 

Sooooo many questions. 

Isn't it just like DC to have Supergirl *almost* be the big hero only to potentially die?

Why have Mary get Supergirl and bring her back to Earth if she is halfway to the clouds? Why not fly her up to get juiced?

But here's the real question.


Why wouldn't you have Mary simply airlift Kara above the clouds immediately after rescuing Supergirl?? Why have her take a boat trip through vampires and get in a rickety rocket if you had someone with the speed of Mercury able to just fly her straight up???

And if Mary is a late arrival in some other book then shame on the editor for not telling us that.

Meanwhile on the Kent's farm, Ollie and Grifter are using Swamp Thing created arrows and stakes to plow through the vampires. The arrows even rip apart Hawkman.

If Swamp Thing was around and only needed urine to reconstitute and make magic weapons, why did the heroes wait this long to rehydrate him??

If tired prisoners can rout vampires with these things, why didn't the rebellion arm everyone with them?

Remember I told you that Mary brought Captain Cold?

Well John Constantine, not exactly a science whiz, tells Cold that the villain's weapon is going to save the day. With Supergirl clinging to life, Constantine yells at Cold to aim his pistol straight up in the air. The cold blast freezes the clouds, dropping them out of the atmosphere so that the sun can come through.

We know what happens then.

The sun revives Supergirl who kills J'onn with her heat vision.

If John Constantine knew Cold's gun could cut through the clouds and revive Supergirl, why didn't the rebels do that when they first saved Supergirl?

See how all these plot twists only muddle up the earlier story? Why wasn't any of this used?

Nice shot of Supergirl, looking up at her floating. Yes, the 'red eyes of anger' are there. But that's powerful.

But wait. Things get wonkier.

Babs gives in to Dick's suggestions. She allows herself to be turned!

I don't quite see how he was able to turn her like this.

Part of me wondered if this was her plan all along. But then it seems cold to lead all her friends into a death trap. 

Newly vampiric, Babs suggests she and Dick share a meal of Harley. She insists Dick eats first. But Harley's blood is contaminated. It burns Nightwing from within killing him. 

By vampire law, having killed Dick, Babs becomes the new queen. All the turned Leaguers bow to her. She is now the Queen of the Vampires.

But couldn't Harley make the claim that *she* killed Dick and not Babs?

Nothing left but the denouement.

Babs talks about how her rule will be different. She has shed her one weakness ... Nightwing. Now she will rule, destroying the scraps of human resistance.

I don't know but a squad that has Supergirl, Mary Marvel, and Lobo on it seems pretty tough. Let alone Swamp Thing!

Is a powered Supergirl in the sequel enough to get me to read?

At least on the last page, the writers indicate that Supergirl is hope.

Still, I can't help but think of this series as a jumbled sort of mess. There was little in it that made internal sense. Sun bombs, Mary Marvel, magic stakes? Oh my. But why insert them so late?

Like many books I read now, there were some nice ka-pow moments in it. But I wonder if the moments were dreamed up and then the story was written around them. ("Wouldn't it be cool if Lobo showed up?") 

But the art! So beautiful!

And at least Supergirl survived. A low bar I know.

Overall grade: C-


Anonymous said...

You say “jumbled mess” I say “Berserk Dumpster Fire”…po-tay-to, Po-tah-to…:)
This was 2022’s premier hate read for me, the mini’s laws governing vampirism were constantly rewritten from issue to issue to grant ludicrous advantages to undead, the premier example being that Billy Batson is not a vampire but Captain Marvel is, Mary Marvel is not a vampire, but Mary Batson…is. One of the Shazam sibs is resistant to vampirism don’t ask me who, the rules don’t make a lick of sense.
But as for Mary Marvel she was active over in the “Dc vs Vampires All Out War” mini that had me thinking this rubbish was gonna be all about Harley GD Quinn, I have no explanation as to why she was not immediately deployed to assist Supergirl, seems like She’d be a key asset and a powerful weapon once allied with a powered up Kara?
I thought for a while this was gonna come down to the Legacies and Sidekicks stepping up after the undead corruption of the JLA, then I thought it was gonna be about the unpowered heroes exemplified by (ugh) Harley overthrowing the corrupted super powered vampires…no on both of those.
I mean are we actually led to believe that this whole mishaugas was always about Batgirl wanting to eat at the Cool Vampire Kids table in the DCU Cafeteria? If so its a pretty epic bit of casual jobbery. I mean my God at least Supergirl was allowed to destroy Vampire J’onn after being treated like luggage for five issues. None of this made any sense and read every damn word of it..and what worse, there is probably gonna be a sequel.
I guess I should be “grateful” they didn’t snuff or turn Kara but I literally think the writing here is so haphazard that they forgot to plan some dismal end for Supergirl. No doubt they will be rectified on page two of the sequel…because one law still holds sway at DC, “The Bat Always Outclasses the Super”.

In short “it was appalling nonsense”


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Mary was on the team in All-Out War that was trying to get to Mirror Master, to have him burn off the clouds. After that plan failed (he died), they stumbled on the self-frozen half-turned Captain Cold and drafted him as a potential substitute. Mary flew him to Australia.

I don't know if I would read a sequel. Having read quite a few things by Matthew Rosenberg lately, like Task Force Z, I feel like I have him figured out. Incompetent teams suffer one major reversal after the next, while sniping at each other sarcastically, and many die.

I've wondered if much of it would be more successful in well-acted action-comedy or horror-comedy films, where actors with good comedy chops could bring out the humor, and where the action moves along so frenetically that you don't have time to think "But why didn't they just do x, y or z first, and completely bypass all these problems?" You aren't supposed to ask those questions about films. If those questions were important to most people, no films could be made. Spectacle is much more important than logic in action films. (There's a thriving subculture of YouTube videos devoted to plot holes in films.)

So Rosenberg might make a better screenwriter than comic writer.


SG Fan said...

Good review Anj,

Yeah I was looking forward to seeing how everything finished at least with Supergirl in this story. I hoped that the whole her ship exploding would reveal a fully powered Kara floating in the sky, and then coming down to rain kick ass on the vampire forces.

OF COURSE...not what we get. Now, her being KO'd there to be then given sunlight via, whatever Captain Cold's gun did, is OK you said she turns into a non-entity in the issue. Which, ignoring me being a SG Fan, but wasn't Kara being an important character part of the last several issues? Why the sudden change to make her barely a player in the last issue?

I'm with you as well as being wholly confused by Babs's actions in this. she wanted to be the Vampire Queen the whole time? Or kill Dick? Or...IDK. Plus, she goes on about 'yes my rule will ensure vampire supremacy!' As we see all the forces rallying to stop her, including a repowered Supergirl. Does this mean, Babs's is deluded, out of touch, or as you said the writing just fails this issue.

Overall, a disappointing wrap up. Maybe they will do more, and IDK Supergirl gets some proper due in helping save the day but yeah this series just ended in a mess, regardless of my SG love.

Martin Gray said...

Great review, terrible comic - it’s been a while since I’ve said this, but why are so many DC editors obviously afraid to edit? You know, look at the writers’ issue-by-issue plan, give constructive criticism, shape the bare bones into a story that works. This issue was insulting crap and I’m not reading any sequel.

Anonymous said...

It would take an editor with all the best intentions on Earth A Full Year to fix all the howlers in “DC versus Vampires”! And the company could go out of business by then!!