DCAU #214: Something Wicked This Way Comes!

IN THIS ONE... The rest of the Zatara's talismans story, featuring Zatanna, Dr. Fate, Mister Miracle, Impulse, Rose & the Thorn, and Superboy.

CREDITS: Written by Hilary J. Bader; art by John Delaney, John Byrne, Andy Suriano, Rob Leigh, Dick Giordano, Terry Austin, Michael Avon Oeming, Ron Boyd, and Mike Manley.

REVIEW: Back when I covered the Superman Adventures Annual, Dr. Fate and a young Scott Free showed up and left me wonder "whut?", intersecting as it did with Adventures in the DC Universe's own Annual, and the Batman book as well. Well, now all the dots are connected and I still don't think it works. Something Wicked proposes five stories that all somehow connect to the main story about Zatara's magical amulets, which don't all seem very relevant, or worse, are slim fluff pieces forgotten minutes after reading them.

Take the Impulse story, for example. It's a bit longer than others, with Bart racing to South America and meeting a tribe that worships the Speed Force at a time when, because of the amulets, that force has been disrupted. It BARELY connects to the main story, so despite telling a somewhat amusing tale that borrows from the mainstream series' playful tone, it wears on the reader's patience. Superboy's mirroring of the mainstream series set in Hawaii only comes off as confusing to the new reader likely to pick this up, with characters and situations not explained in full (i.e. Dubbilex), and Oeming's art is wayyyy too wonky for the character and how the story fits with the others. And then there's the main Dr. Fate story, which should have connected very solidly with the other books, but feels disjointed. What happened there exactly?

There are some winners, however. Rose & Thorn is a pretty good introduction to the character and has her go up, rather ruthlessly, against the hypnotist from the Batman Annual (which was the only strong chapter in this triptych). Dick Giordano almost goes romance comics on this one, and Rose spends a lot of time naked in the shower, to the point where I started wondering if they understood what the DCAU was about. The ruthless solution too. My very favorite, by far, was the Mister Miracle story, which had a pleasant time travel element to it (though the paradox isn't explored much) and Mike Manley art skewing towards Jack Kirby. All too brief, it's the only one that really made me want to read more DCAU stories with this character.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: Characters are portrayed in varying ways, some based on how they were portrayed on the how (Dr. Fate, Zatanna); some animated-style mirrors of the era's comics (Impulse and Max Mercury, Superboy and supporting cast); other still not prominent in the '97 DCU given a more or less iconic portrayals which could legitimately be mission statements for new series (Mister Miracle and Barda, Rose & the Thorn).

REREADABILITY: Medium-Low - Even if a couple stories worked for me, the majority don't, and the result is a disjointed mess.

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