Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This Week's Haul

Okay, I’m running a little behind this week, so I’m changing things up a little bit…Reviews in three sentences or less – Go!


Supergirl #44: “Codename: Patriot” races towards its conclusion as all the members of the Super-family come together, for better or for worse. Igle’s artwork is fantastic as always, and we’re starting to get a sense of an impending doom coming for our heroes. Good, solid stuff.


Superman Annual #14: The origin of Daxam and Mon-El has a few twists, the importance of which will only be determined as they play out. Mon-El comes across just a little too whiney for my tastes; give the boy a damn backbone already.


Justice League of America #36: Not the worst that this title has seen lately, but definitely not the best. I have to give Len Wein some points for making the most out of an awkward and less-than-stellar team line-up. I’m just waiting for the real JLA to return.


Batgirl #1: I’m not sure why people are up in arms about this issue’s “revelation” about Batgirl’s identity; wasn’t it fairly obvious who she was going to be? And why is anyone so riled up anyway? Sorry, I was just never a fan of Cassandra Cain in the first place.


Batman: Streets of Gotham #3: Dini deals with the whole “what’s to prevent Hush from doing anything he wants as Bruce Wayne” situation deftly; he even gives the formerly fashion-challenged Mr. Zsasz a new look. In the second feature, Manhunter kicks ass…Well, it’s about time!


Outsiders #21: The team gets a new mission and status quo…Again? I was just getting used to their old ones. DC, is there any chance that you can come up with a cool and interesting concept for a team book…and then sticking with it for more than six issues?


The Red Circle: The Web #1: I have to admit; I like these Red Circle titles more and more with each issue. Not sure if it’s the characters, or the interconnected mythology, but I’m digging it. Robinson’s artwork is pretty snazzy, too.


Superman/Batman #63: An okay issue, an “imaginary” story that deals with Batman’s simulation scenarios. This book sidesteps the whole “Bruce is dead and Clark isn’t on Earth” deal, which is fine; I’m just waiting for the stars of the book to return so we can get some important stories once more.


Vigilante #9: The revelation of who the new Vigilante is in relation to Adrian Chase and…does anyone care? Anyone? Nope, that’s what I thought.


The Brave and the Bold #26: The Spectre teams up with Milestone’s Xombi. It’s about as dues ex machine as every story involving God’s right hand man. A totally forgettable tale.


Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #4: I’m not a fan of Joe Casey’s writing, but he’s doing some interesting things with the Super Young Team. Unfortunately, inconsistent art draws from my enjoyment of this book. I’m sorry, but is there a reason why an artist can’t commit to doing a six-issue mini-series without fill-ins?


And now, the book of the week is…


Power Girl #4:

Witty writing, deft characterization, beautiful artwork, and a respect for characters make this issue a winner for me. It’s consistently fun and entertaining, and, in my opinion, a great entry point for those trying out the DCU for the first time. Kudos to all involved!




Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blackest Night: Superman #1

“A Sleepy Little Town” Part 1

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Ruy Jose with Julio Ferreira
Editor: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

Clark and Connor Kent are visiting Martha in Smallville when they come across someone they never expected to see again – Kal-L of Earth Two. The Black Lantern Superman battles Superman and Superboy high above Smallville, while the newly resurrected Lois Lane abducts Martha from her home. Kal-L and Lois prepare to reunite Ma and Pa Kent, while Superman and Superboy watch helplessly. Meanwhile, on New Krypton, Supergirl and Allura prepare for an unwelcome reunion with Zor-El…

Notes

Page 1: “Kal-L of Earth-2.” We’ll get to Kal-L in a few pages…

What I wanted to address here was that, traditionally, at least pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, when dealing with any of the alternate Earths of DC’s Multiverse, each Earth was referred to by its spelled-out numeric designation. Thus, Earth-One, Earth-Two, Earth-Three, etc. Post-Crisis, and the recent recreation of the Multiverse in Infinite Crisis and 52, you refer to the Earth by its numeric designation, thus Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-3, etc. Therefore, because Kal-L’s home world existed before Crisis on Infinite Earths, I figure it should be Earth-Two, not Earth-2, as designated here. But, then again, I don’t work for DC Comics, now do I?

Pages 2-3: Peter “Pete” Joseph Ross, Clark Kent’s childhood best friend from Smallville. First historical appearance in Superboy #86, first modern appearance in The Adventures of Superman #436..

Page 4: “…is that a bird?” A reference to the famous exclamation from the Superman radio show and 1940s animated cartoons, “Up in the sky, look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”

Page 5: The Science Police is a law enforcement agency in Metropolis, currently commanded by the Guardian.

As seen in other Blackest Night related issues, Black Lanterns kill their targets after getting them to feel emotion. In this instance, the Smallville police officer is feeling fear, making him a prime target for Kal-L’s wrath.

Black Lantern power levels at 3.44%.

Page 6: Black Lantern power levels at 3.45%.

Still more victims feeling fear.

Black Lantern power levels at 3.55%.

Thus far, it seems that “fear” increases the power levels of the Black Lantern by 0.02% per victim.

Page 7: The Smallville Drive-In Cinema is showing Friday the Thirteenth, presumably the recent remake.

This poor couple is showing love, and then fear. Do Black Lantern levels rise more when multiple emotions are exhibited?

Black Lantern power levels at 3.82%.

Pages 8-9: This scene occurs after the events depicted in Blackest Night #1, page 9.

“Lois” refers to Lois Lane, Clark Kent’s wife.

Superboy, real name Conner Kent, also known as Kon-El. First appeared in The Adventures of Superman #500. Killed in Infinite Crisis #6. Returned to life in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4.

Martha “Ma” Clark Kent, adoptive mother of Clark Kent. First historical appearance in Superman #1, first modern appearance in The Man of Steel #1. .

Superman, real name Kal-El, adopted as Clark Joseph Kent. First historical appearance in Action Comics #1, first modern appearance in The Man of Steel #1. Killed in Superman #75. Returned to life in The Adventures of Superman #500.

Krypto, also known as the Superdog. First appeared in Adventure Comics #210.

Page 10: Superman of Earth-Two, real name Kal-L. First appeared in Action Comics #1. Killed in Infinite Crisis #7.

Pages 11-12: “…what is that thing?” Superboy never actually met the Earth-Two Superman.

While attacked by Black Lantern Superman, Superboy exhibits both “Fear” and “Will.” It seems that those who exhibit willpower have some measure of protection from the Black Lanterns. As such, the Black Lanterns try to break through these defenses and force their targets to feel other emotions so that they might kill them.

Superman, on the other hand, is feeling “Fear,” “Will,” “Rage,” “Hope,” and “Love.” He’s a mixed bag.

Page 14: Lois Lane Kent of Earth-Two, wife of Clark Kent. First appeared in Action Comics #1. Died in Infinite Crisis #5.

Page 15: “Give me your heart, Conner!” Black Lanterns charge up their power levels by ripping out the hearts of their victims. Creepy and gross, I know.

“This creature isn’t Kryptonian or human.” Superboy is actually a clone, with genetic material coming from a Kryptonian – Superman – and a human – Lex Luthor.

“I saved the world, you couldn’t eve save your Pa.” Jonathan “Ma” Kent was killed while saving his wife Martha from Brainiac in Action Comics #870.

Page 17: Note how Kal-L’s damaged face repairs itself at an accelerated rate.

Superman is torn, feeling both “Fear” and “Love” here.

Page 19: Supergirl III, real name Kara Zor-El, Earth identity Linda Lang. First historical appearance in Action Comics #252, first modern appearance in Superman/Batman #8.

Alura In-Ze, mother of Supergirl. First historical appearance in Action Comics #252, first modern appearance in Supergirl (fifth series #16.

“I can understand your cousin…” Superman and Supergirl are cousins.

Page 20: Zor-El, father of Supergirl. First historical appearance in Action Comics #252, first modern appearance in Supergirl (fifth series) #16. Killed in Supergirl (fifth series) #36.

Page 23: Note that Superman is all about “Will” right now, while Superboy feels “Rage.”

Blackest Night: Batman #1

“Who Burns Who” Part One


Writer: Peter J. Tomasi

Penciller: Ardian Syaf

Inker: John Dell & Vicente Cifuentes

Editor: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza


Synopsis


While the new Batman and Robin investigate the desecration of Bruce Wayne’s grave, Deadman deals with his body’s resurrection as a Black Lantern. Deadman turns to the Dynamic Duo for help, even as Dick Grayson and Tim Drake’s parents return from the dead. Meanwhile, a swarm of Black Lantern rings find new hosts – a group of Bat-foes who would like nothing less than revenge…


Notes


Page 1: Batman III, real name Richard “Dick” Grayson. First appeared in Detective Comics #38 (as Robin), assumed the Batman identity in Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3. Dick originally adopted the mantle of the Bat in Batman #512, but quickly returned to his Nightwing identity in Robin #13.


Page 2: Robin V, real name Damian Wayne. First appeared (as Damian) in Batman #655, assumed the Robin identity in Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3.


“This place looks like a damn battlefield.” It was. The Flash and Green Lantern battled Black Lantern Martian Manhunter here, as seen in Green Lantern (fourth series) #44.


Black Hand dug up Bruce Wayne’s body and stole his skull in Blackest Night #0.


Page 3: Why are the bodies of Thomas and Martha Wayne dug up? Black Hand didn’t dig them up, and, thus far, they haven’t been resurrected as Black Lanterns.


“Back to the Bunker, under Wayne Tower…” As seen in Batman and Robin #1 and Batman #687, the new Dynamic Duo has moved out of Wayne Manor and has established a new base of operations underneath Wayne Tower in Gotham City.


Pages 4-5: Deadman, real name Boston Brand. First appeared in Strange Adventures #205. He’s…well, dead.


This scene roughly corresponds to Blackest Night #2, page 7.


Page 6: And events on this page occur immediately after Blackest Night #2, page 7. Just trying to keep a sense of continuity around here, you know?


Vignettes on this page include scenes from Deadman’s life and death, as well as glimpses of other Black Lanterns, including (bottom left corner) Hawkman and Hawkgirl, (top right corner) Superman of Earth-Two, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Sue Dibny and Tempest, and (bottom right corner) Black Hand, kissing Bruce Wayne’s skull.


I talked about this in my notes for Blackest Night #2, but it bears repeating -- even though Deadman is a wandering spirit, his body has still been taken over by the Black Lantern ring. This begs the question, what exactly are the rings taking control of? Boston Brand’s body is being used, but his soul/spirit is still free to act on its own. Does that mean that the souls of the other heroes and villains that have been resurrected have nothing to do with their bodies’ corruption? Or is Deadman a special case, because he never crossed over to the beyond?


Page 8: “Opal” refers to Opal City, formerly the home of a whole bunch of heroes who called themselves “Starman.”


As seen in Blackest Night #1, the Justice League of America has been keeping the corpses of their enemies in a morgue beneath the Hall of Justice in Washington, DC.


Page 10: Okay, a whole bunch of formerly deceased Bat-foes, now transformed into Black Lanterns. Starting from the twelve o’clock position, and working clockwise, we have…


King Snake, real name Sir Edmund Dorrance. First appeared in Robin (mini-series) #2. Killed in Batman: Gotham Knights #49.


Abattoir, real name Arnold Etchison. First appeared in Detective Comics #625. Killed in Batman #508. On page 8, he is referred to as “Arnold Etchinson,” which is an error. However, upon looking up the character on several websites, he is alternately called “Etchison” and “Etchinson,” usually on the same site, so I crawled through my long boxes in the closet to determine which name was correct. Also note that his family name was “Etchison,” but his last name was changed to “Ektar” to distance him from the family.


Magpie, real name Margaret Pye. First appeared in The Man of Steel #3. Killed in Batman #651.


The next two down are the Trigger Twins II, real names Tom and Tad Trigger. First appeared in Detective Comics #667. Both were killed in Infinite Crisis #7. As to which one is Tad and which one is Tom, your guess is as good as mine.


Deacon Blackfire, full name Deacon Joseph Blackfire. First appeared in Batman: The Cult #1. Killed in Batman: The Cult #4. As for how obscure and random this character is…kudos to you, Mr. Tomasi!


The KGBeast, real name Anatoli Knyanev. First appeared in Batman #417. Killed in Detective Comics #817.


Blockbuster II, real name Roland Desmond. First appeared in Detective Comics #345, transformed into Blockbuster in Starman #9. Killed in Nightwing #93.


The Ventriloquist and Scarface, real name Arnold Wesker and…well, Scarface. First appeared in Detective Comics #583. Killed in Detective Comics #818. Note that Scarface, the ventriloquist doll, has been reanimated as a being of Black Lantern energy as opposed to a wooden puppet, which would just be weird.


Page 11: “…like my mother said it would…” Damian’s mother is Talia al Ghul (or Talia Head), daughter of Ra’s al Ghul.


“…that I finally knew who my father was…” And Damian’s father is Bruce Wayne, formerly known as Batman.


Page 12: “Do you live at Wayne Manor and work out of the new Bunker under Wayne Tower?” Well, no and then yes. As seen in Batman and Robin #1 and Batman #687, Dick Grayson moved his base of operations to Wayne Tower, shutting down both the Batcave and Wayne Manor so that he could do things his way. So, “no,” Damian’s not living in Wayne Manor, but “yes,” he is operating out of the Bunker.


Page 14: As he enters Dick Grayson’s body, Deadman sees flashes of the new Batman’s life, including (from top left and working clockwise), his swearing an oath by candlelight to fight crime; swinging through Gotham City with Batman, teaming with the New Teen Titans as Robin, confronting Two-Face as Nightwing, kissing Barbara Gordon, Superman cradling Batman’s lifeless body, donning the mantle of the Bat, posing with the Flying Graysons, mourning his parents as they die and arguing with Batman.


Page 15: Nice little plot summarization by Deadman here, for those of you who don’t know what Blackest Night is all about.


Page 16: Deadman sees flashes of Damian’s life as he enters Robin’s body, including his time in the womb, meeting Batman for the first time alongside Talia, decapitating the Spook and being captured by Ra’s al Ghul.


Page 20: John and Mary Grayson, also known as the Flying Graysons, parents of Richard “Dick” Grayson. First appeared in Detective Comics #38; they also died in that issue.


Page 21: Jack and Janet Drake, parents of Tim Drake. Jack first appeared in Batman #436, and was killed in Identity Crisis #5. Janet first appeared in Batman #441, and was killed in Detective Comics #621.


Page 23: Red Robin III, real name Timothy “Tim” Jackson Wayne (formerly Drake). First appeared in Batman #436, (as Robin III) in Batman #457, and as Red Robin in Red Robin #1.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BLACKEST NIGHT #2

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert
Editor: Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

As Black Lantern rings fall across the universe, reviving fallen heroes and villains alike, Mera and Tempest battle Black Lanterns Aquaman, Dolphin and Aquagirl at Amnesty Bay. In the battle, Tempest is killed and resurrected to join his undead comrades, while Mera flees. The phantom Stranger and the remains of the Shadowpact watch helplessly as the Spectre is converted to the forces of darkness. Meanwhile, in Gotham City, the Flash and Green Lantern put a stop to J’onn J’onzz’s rampage, but find themselves confronted with the Black Lantern Justice League…

Notes

Page 1: The Stonechat Museum in St. Roch is in total disarray after Black Lanterns Elongated Man and Sue Dibny killed Hawkman and Hawkgirl in Blackest Night #1.

The Atom II was last seen in Blackest Night #1. See behind him are photographs of Jean Loring, his ex-wife, now deceased, and of the Atom himself, wearing his second costume, which he donned while living the Amazon jungle.

Page 2: “Carter” refers to Carter Hall, Hawkman.

“Jean,” as mentioned above, is Jean Loring.

“Kendra” refers to Kendra Saunders, Hawkgirl.

Hawkman’s not looking too good. Being killed and revived by an alien entity does that to you.

“I’ll be right there.” The Atom is able to travel virtually instantaneously by shrinking down and traveling via phone line.

Page 3: James “Jim” Gordon, first appeared in Detective Comics #27. Police commissioner of Gotham City. Father of Barbara Gordon.

Barbara “Babs” Gordon, first appeared in Detective Comics #359. Formerly known as Batgirl, now operates as Oracle. Daughter of James Gordon.

This conversation between Jim and Babs is weird to me. She revealed her identity of Oracle to her father in Birds of Prey #85, and then went on to tell him that she used to be Batgirl. He then told her that he always knew. So, either his not knowing who Batgirl was is a post-Infinite Crisis retcon, or they have both agreed to not talk about this topic directly, and he’s just alluding to it for this reason. Either way, it doesn’t really affect the outcome of the story.

Page 4: Green Lantern last appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #44.

Page 5: Mera and Tempest last appeared in Blackest Night #1.

“Arthur” refers to Arthur Curry, a.k.a. Aquaman.

“If bringing Arthur’s remains to the tombs of Atlantis will earn you their acceptance…” Tempest assumed ruler ship of Atlantis in Titans #15.

Ocean Master and Black Manta are two of Aquaman’s deadliest foes. Well, to be honest, two of his only foes, really. Yeah, yeah, I know, there was the Scavenger. And the Fisherman. Look, he’s up there with the Atom as far as lame rogues go.

Page 6: Aquaman I, real name Orin, adopted name Arthur Curry. First appeared in More Fun Comics #73. Killed in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50.

“Your king who would rather be buried in the mud next to his human father than his own people.” As I explained in the notes to last issue, Aquaman’s history seems to be up in the air at the moment. His most recent origin had Aquaman as the son of Atlanna, queen of Atlantis, and Atlan, an immortal Atlantean sorcerer. He was cared for by Arthur Curry, a lighthouse keeper, and took the surface man’s name as his own. However, the Silver Age Aquaman was the son of Tom Curry and Queen Atlanna. If and when Aquaman truly returns to life, he needs to figure out who his daddy really is.

Once again, note how the Black Lanterns read the emotions of those around them. In this case, Aquaman is sensing the fear of Mera, Tempest and the Atlantean soldiers.

Black Lantern power levels are up to 2.63%.

Page 7: Deadman, real name Boston Brand. First appeared in Strange Adventures #205. He died in that issue too, because, well, he’s dead. You know, “Deadman.” Kind of self explanatory, really.

However, even though Deadman is a wandering spirit, his body has still been taken over by the Black Lantern ring, which begs the question, what exactly are the rings taking control of? Boston Brand’s body is being used, but his soul/spirit is still free to act on its own. Does that mean that the souls of the other heroes and villains that have been resurrected have nothing to do with their bodies’ corruption? Or is Deadman a special case?

In any event, Deadman and Deadman’s body’s exploits continue in the pages of Blackest Night: Batman #1.

The vignettes appearing around Deadman as he lies on the ground, starting from the twelve o’clock position, are:

Firestorm, leaving his grave;

Black Hand, making goo-goo eyes at Bruce Wayne’s skull;

The revived members of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery – the Top, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, Golden Glider and the Rainbow Raider;

The Phantom Stranger and the Spectre, in Valhalla;

The Atom, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Human Bomb and Sandman outside the Justice Society of America Brownstone;

The Superman of Earth-Two in Smallville; see Blackest Night: Superman for more;

And a bust of Terra.

Page 8: Hawk I and Dove I, real names Henry “Hank” Hall and Donald “Don” Hall. First appeared in Showcase #75. Dove was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. Hawk assumed the identity of Monarch in Armageddon 2001 #2, and then “evolved” into Extant in Showcase ’94 #9. He was killed in a plane crash in JSA #15.

“Don Hall of Earth at Peace.” In an interview over at IGN Comics, Geoff Johns is quoted as saying that this scene “really speaks to the nature of Don Hall. He can’t be desecrated by the likes of these things. He’s untouchable in death and at total peace more than any other being in the universe.” Hmmm. Interesting. Does this have anything to do with the fact that, as Dove, Don was linked to the Lords of Order? And is Don Hall the key to destroying the Black Lanterns? Will he return as…a White Lantern?

I just love spreading ridiculous rumors like that.

Nevertheless, the Don Hall situation has me intrigued.

Page 9: “Because you sit on the throne now, ‘Aqualad’?” Before going by the name Tempest, Garth was Aqualad, Aquaman’s partner.

“Dolphin” refers to…Naaah, turn the page. You’ll find out.

Page 10: Dolphin, real name unrevealed. First appeared in Showcase #79. Killed during the destruction of Atlantis in Infinite Crisis #3. Her death was revealed in Titans #15.

Aquagirl I, real name Tula. First appeared in Aquaman (first series) #33. Killed after Chemo pollutes the waters she is swimming in Crisis on Infinite Earths #9.

Page 11: “Do you still miss him? Do you miss our son?” Aquaman is referring to Arthur Curry, Jr., he and Mera’s son who was killed by Black Manta in Adventure Comics #452. I really, really, really hope we don’t get any creepy Black Lantern Aquababy; that would be gross.

Oh, man, this is cool…

“VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU VUU”

That’s Aquaman’s mental telepathy! Remember the sound it always made back on the Super Friends cartoon series? Well, that’s it, right there! And it’s damn cool!

Also cool is the fact that Aquaman has summoned a pack of undead sharks. Undead sharks are cool; sounds like a good name for a garage band, actually.

Page 12: The Spectre III, real name Crispus Allen. First historical appearance in More Fun Comics #52. Allen first appeared in Detective Comics #742. He was killed by Jim Corrigan in Gotham Central #38, and revived to serve as the host of the Spectre in Infinite Crisis #4.

Blue Devil, real name Dan Cassidy. First appeared in Fury of Firestorm #24. Was killed by the Mist II in Starman (second series) #38. Returned to life in Day of Judgment #4.

Phantom Stranger, real name unrevealed. First appeared in Phantom Stranger #1.

Zatanna, real name Zatanna Zatara. First appeared in Hawkman (first series) #4.

Pariah, real name Kell (or Mossa). First appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. Killed by Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three in Villains United #6. In DC Comics Presents #94, his original name is given as Kell; this is changed to Mossa in The New Titans #81. No reason was ever given for this change.

“Worlds have died. Worlds will rise.” Similar to the slogan for Crisis on Infinite Earths, “Worlds will live. Worlds will die.”

Page 13: Yuck. Pariah exploded into a whole bunch of Black Lantern rings.

Black Hand last appeared in Blackest Night #1.

“But you, Phantom Stranger? You’re neither dead or alive, are you? You’re something else entirely. Something…strange.” Black Hand is commenting on the fact that nothing is known about the Phantom Stranger’s true nature or origins.

Pages 14-15: So, it seems that Crispus Allen’s body has been co-opted by the Black Lanterns to trap the power of the Spectre. Once again, this brings up the nature of the Black Lanterns’ power and its true levels – it resurrects Allen’s body, with the full power of the Spectre at its control, without the interference of the Spirit of Vengeance. Pretty powerful stuff.

“I want Hal Jordan back!” Hal Jordan was a host for the Spectre after Jim Corrigan but before Crispus Allen. Again, this line is a bit strange; if the power and the consciousness of the Spectre has been trapped and subverted by the power of the Black Lanterns, then who is this that “wants” Hal back? Is the force animating the body just trying to act like the Spectre? If not, and it’s Allen speaking, then why does Allen want Hal?

Page 16: The Flash and J’onn J’onzz last appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #44.

Page 17: “You didn’t have his child, Tula.” Dolphin and Tempest had a son, Cerdian, who was also killed in the destruction of Atlantis in Infinite Crisis #3.

“I am what all the Aquamen lust after.” Oh, yeah, in addition to having Tempest’s child, Dolphin was also involved with Aquaman. She actually was dating Aquaman, and then fooled around with Tempest, and it was a big deal. Real soap opera stuff, Atlantean style.

Page 18: As seen here in the case of Dolphin, Black Lanterns can regenerate any damage done to them. Kind of throws a kink into the whole defeating-the-zombies plan.

“Hope.” The Black Lanterns seem to want to harvest the emotions of those they kill. They wait until their prey expresses rage, fear, hope or love, and then they go in for the kill. Thus far, none of those killed have expressed with compassion or avarice, and those who channel willpower seem to be well defended.

Page 19: “Hope for me. Hope for Atlantis. That’s just what I’ve been waiting for,” And, thus, as Tempest feels hope, Aquagirl kills him.

Black Lantern power levels are up to 3.43%.

Page 20: “Welcome back to the darkness. Welcome back to the peace. Welcome to the Black Lantern Corps.” This is equating death with darkness and peace. It’s not so much that the Black Lanterns are evil; it’s just that they represent death as opposed to life.

I’m not trying to point out the obvious, but it’s a very subtle distinction. It’s not like we’re dealing with Darkseid, who wants to subjugate the universe and rule over all life. The force behind the Black Lanterns (okay, okay, it’s Nekron, I know, let’s move on) seems to want to restore the natural order of things and reduce the amount of individuals returning to life unnaturally.

Mera has always been an outsider. She is from an alternate dimension, and never really belonged in Atlantis. And now, her entire “family” is a part of the Black Lanterns, and she is still among the living, all alone.

Page 21: “You’re trying to prevent me from manipulating them again.” J’onn used his telepathy on the Flash in Green Lantern (fourth series) #44.

“Flash Fact.” Flash Facts were scientific tidbits of information regularly featured in Barry Allen’s adventures.

Page 23: “I still can’t get through to Oa.” As seen in Green Lantern Corps #39, Oa is having its own problems with the undead.

Abin Sur was Hal Jordan’s predecessor in the Green Lantern Corps.

Page 24: Here they are, the Black Lantern Justice League. From the front, and going clockwise around, we have the Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Sue Dibny, the Elongated Man and Firestorm. More detailed information on them next month.

As to the Atom…Did he make it to the Stonechat Museum? Was he killed and made a member of the Black Lanterns, or did he escape? Only time (and the next issue) shall tell.

Pages 25-27: “The Book of the Black” gives us a look into the mind of Black Hand, and what a disturbing place it is. Basically, its narrative leads up to the deaths of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, as seen in Blackest Night #1, along with the declaration that “Love will soon be dead” and that “Rage is next.” The war of light continues.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This Week's Haul

So, here’s the drill…each week I’m going through my stack of books and giving quick, concise, sometimes rambling and incoherent capsules reviews of DC’s offerings. Nothing Blackest Night-related, though; that gets covered elsewhere. Cool? Cool.

Adventure Comics #1: Or #504, if you’re keeping count. Superboy’s back, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Manapul’s art has a different feel to it than his Legion of Super-Heroes run; it looks nice. The Legion second feature is a wonderful treat as well, but how long until we get a new, monthly Legion of Super-Heroes series?

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #4: Holy crap, what in the world is going on in this series? I feel like I stopped caring three issues ago…

Action Comics #880: Part 2 of “Codename: Patriot” ramps up the action in this story while not sacrificing character development. It’s beginning to feel like all these months of Superman-less Superman books is starting to pay off. On the other hand, I really want Captain Atom to leave the Matrix and return to the real world sometime soon.

Red Robin #3: Tim Drake finally starts acting like a detective! Will wonders never cease? I like this book, and I’ve always liked Tim as a character; now if Yost can just stop with the endless flashbacks that throw off the pace of the book, I’d be happy.

The Red Circle: Inferno #1: An improvement over last week’s Hangman offering, this issue provides connections between the main characters while deepening the mysteries about their backgrounds. I am, however, disappointed that writer Straczynski won’t be writing any of the ongoing books to come out of these one-shots.

Titans #16: Argh. I love the Titans. Always have. I hate this book. Loathe it. Really want it to get better, but it’s not showing any signs of that happening. The Starfire spotlight wasn’t bad, but it seems like even she is jumping ship and moving on over to the JLA. Is there going to be anyone left in six months time?

Superman Secret Files 2009 #1: The Secret Files have been few and far between the past few years, but if we only get one or two a year with the quality of this one, I’ll be okay with that. This was a good primer for the “World Without Superman” Superman universe, and has some pretty good profile pages and schematics of New Krypton and Metropolis, not to mention several interesting short tales that shed some light on some new players in the DCU.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #7: Probably the best book you aren’t reading, but if you aren’t, then you should. Does that make sense? Vril Dox tries to recruit allies against Starro. It doesn’t go well. For anyone who enjoyed Dox’s antics twenty years ago in the pages of L.E.G.I.O.N., this is the book for you.

JSA vs. Kobra #3: The plot thickens as Mr. Terrific takes steps to counter Kobra’s plans, and pretty much fails. This mini-series has a wonderful espionage feel to it, and if you’ve bee missing the cancelled Checkmate series, give this a try. It has a real sense of immediacy given the world’s current geo-political climate.

Green Arrow/Black Canary #23: Okay, I’ve been on the verge of dropping this series for a few issues now. But, now that Kreisberg is done with his “villain makes Star City silent” mega-saga, this story is pretty good. Not great, not fantastic, but definitely a step up from recent issues. He’s attempting to give Green Arrow something resembling a Rogue’s Gallery, while throwing a few monkey wrenches into the Ollie-Dinah dynamic.

Booster Gold #23: Dan Jurgens is solid. He doesn’t miss a beat. Month in, month out, good, fun stories. He’s not reinventing the wheel here, not making Booster Gold grim and gritty, or socially relevant. Just trying to tell a good super-hero yarn, that’s all. The Blue Beetle second feature is always a plus, but best of all? Cute girl on the cover. Can’t go wrong there.

Batman #689: Call me crazy, disagree with me all you like, but I actually like Judd Winick’s Batman. Let the flaming begin! I’m serious, though. Winick's not writing Shakespeare here. What he’s doing is showing us that Dick Grayson is a much different Batman than Bruce Wayne. And it’s not necessarily in a bad way, like how Jean-Paul Valley was a murderous lunatic when he adopted the mantle of the Bat. No, Dick is just far more well-adjusted than Bruce was. Do I want to see Dick Grayson as Batman forever? Nope. Do I think it will last forever? Nope. Is it cool for the time being. Sure.

And now, the book of the week is…

Fables #87: I love Fables. Love it, love it, love it. Well written, beautifully illustrated, and thoroughly engaging. “The Great Fables Crossover” was a little too dues ex machine for my tastes, but what can you do? The book is back to true form now, returning to long-festering plot lines that you didn’t even know existed. If you’ve never picked up an issue of this book before, then do so at once, after lashing yourself with a wet noodle first, of course. And then go out and stock up on back issues or trade paperbacks, and dive headfirst into the Fables universe. As long as you’re old enough, of course, because Fables is suggested for “mature readers.”

Yeah, like that ever stopped you before...

Green Lantern Corps #39

“Fade to Black”


Writer: Peter J. Tomasi

Penciller: Patrick Gleason

Inker: Rebecca Buchman & Tom Nguyen

Editor: Adam Schlagman


Synopsis


Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner are approaching Oa after the memorial services on Earth when they are greeted by fellow Corpsmen Soranik Natu and Princess Iolande. All four of them go on the defensive as a swarm of Black Lantern rings rush past them and target the crypts on Oa. Morro the crypt keeper barely makes it out alive as all of the deceased Green Lanterns are resurrected, including Kyle’s former girlfriend Jade. Meanwhile, Arisia is told that her help is no longer needed to rebuild Daxam; Kryb’s children cry out for their mother, who is trapped on Zamaron; and Mongul has established his base of operations on Sinestro’s home world of Korugar and has rechristened those who wield the yellow light of fear the Mongul Corps.


Notes


Page 1: Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner appearance in this issue occur after they honor their fallen allies on Earth in Blackest Night #1.


Guy and Ice have a picnic at Wrigley Field after visiting Ted (Blue Beetle II) Kord’s grave in Chicago as seen in Blackest Night #1, page 10.


Kyle and Alan Scott visit Jade’s memorial in Valhalla in Blackest Night #1, page 11.


Page 2: In Green Lantern Corps #32, the Star Sapphire Miri Riam showed Kyle Rayner and Soranik Natu who their true loves were. Soranik saw Kyle, and he said that he saw her as well, but, as revealed here, he actually saw Jade.


In Green Lantern Corps #31, the Guardians of the Universe enacted the Third Law of the Book of Oa, stating that “physical relationships and love between Green Lanterns is forbidden within the Corps.”


Pages 3-5: Soranik Natu, first appeared in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1. Green Lantern of Space Sector 1417. Revealed to be the daughter of Sinestro in Green Lantern Corps #36.


Princess Iolande, first appeared in Green Lantern Corps #1. Green Lantern of Space Sector 1417. Partner to Soranik Natu.


Sinestro was scheduled to be executed on Korugar, his home world, but he was freed from captivity in Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1.


The Sciencell breakouts on Oa occurred in Green Lantern Corps #34-38. The battery shell surrounding Oa was destroyed in Green Lantern Corps #37.


The scenes on these pages roughly correspond to Blackest Night #1 pages 25-26.


Pages 6-8: Arisia, first appeared in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1. Green Lantern of Space Sector 2815.


As seen in Green Lantern Corps #33-38, Arisia and Sodam Yat traveled to Daxam to aid the planet against Mongul and the Sinestro Corps.


In Green Lantern Corps #36, Sodam Yat seemingly sacrificed himself to use his Ion abilities to transform Daxam’s red sun to a yellow one, thereby granting all of the Daxamites superhuman abilities.


The downside to all of this is that the Daxamites are paranoid racists who hate any and all aliens, including lovely Arisia here.


Page 9: Kryb, first appeared in Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1. Sinestro Corps member from Space Sector 3599. She kills parents and steals their kids. Scary stuff, kids. She was apprehended by Star Sapphire Miri Riam in Green Lantern Corps #32 and taken to Zamaron.


Those feral children seen on the unknown planet in Space Sector 3599 aren’t really hers; rather, they are the ones she has stolen for herself. Yeah, she’s one creepy bitch.


Pages 10-11: Mongul, first appeared in Showcase ’95 #8. Son of the original Mongul and brother to Mongal. No, really. Mongal. Sinestro Corps member of Space Sector 2811. In Sinestro’s absence, he has taken control of the Sinestro…I mean, assumed control of the Mongul Corps. I sense a power struggle coming, especially since Korugar is Sinestro’s home world.


Page 15: Events on this page loosely correspond to Blackest Night #1, page 27.


“..and find out why the Guardians aren’t picking up the phone.” As seen in Blackest Night #1 and Green Lantern #44, Scar has incapacitated the rest of the Guardians of the Universe. So they're not returning calls.


Page 16: Morro, first appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #12. Green Lantern of Space Sector 666. Serves as crypt-keeper of the Green Lantern Corps.


Events on this page loosely correspond to Blackest Night #1, page 27.


Page 17: Events on this page loosely correspond to Blackest Night #1, pages 28-29.


Katma Tui, first appeared in Green Lantern (second series) #30. Green Lantern of Space Sector 1417, including Korugar. Killed by Star Sapphire in Action Comics Weekly #601.


Jack T. Chance, first appeared in Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #1. Green Lantern of Space Sector 17. Killed by Parallax in Green Lantern (fourth series) #22.


Page 18: Tomar-Re, first appeared in Green Lantern (second series) #6. Green Lantern of Space Sector 2813, which included the planet Krypton (ever heard of it?) Killed by Goldface in Green Lantern (second series) #198.


Tomar Re is actually from the planet Xudar, not “Xandor” as mentioned here.


The “RISE” on this page corresponds to Blackest Night #1 pages 30-31.


Page 19: Note how while Kilowog and Kyle Rayner are cool and calm in this crisis, exhibiting the green light of “Will,” Guy Gardner is all about “Rage” and is flashing red.


I suspect that Black Lanterns play upon the emotions of others, which is why they have been taunting the living and trying to knock them off their game. They don’t seem to be able to directly affect Green Lanterns who draw strength from their willpower.


Page 22: Jade, real name Jenny-Lynn Hayden. First appeared in All-Star Squadron #25. Not an actual Green Lantern, but the daughter of Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern who inherited her father’s power and connection to the mystical Starheart. Died in Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special #1.


Now, of course, when Jade died, her body vanished. Her consciousness merged with the power of the Starheart, which Kyle Rayner absorbed, transforming him into Ion. Now then, if there was no body, then what did the Black Lantern ring revive? Did it extract Jade’s consciousness out of the Ion power currently in Sodam Yat? I expect that we’ll see an explanation when we learn what exactly the Black Lantern rings do. For example, it revived Boston Brand’s body in Blackest Night: Batman #1, leaving his ghostly spirit unaltered, so are these Black Lanterns just revived bodies, without the original owner’s spirits? Or are the spirits still connected to the bodies? And what about those, like Jade, who no longer had physical forms?


Questions upon questions…

Friday, August 14, 2009

Green Lantern #44

“Only the Good Die Young”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Christian Alamy, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen & Rodney Ramos
Editor: Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Flash are in the middle of investigating the theft of Bruce Wayne’s skull in Gotham City when they find themselves under attack by newly revived Black Lantern J’onn J’onzz. J’onzz quickly takes advantage of the situation, using his diverse abilities as well as the shock of his resurrection to overwhelm his former allies. Meanwhile, on Oa, Scar has incapacitated the other Guardians of the Universe while the War of Light rages on between the members of the various Corps. And, in Space Sector 1313, Green Lantern John Stewart watches as a wave of Black Lantern rings approaches the long-dead world of Xanshi.

Notes

Don’t worry, I promise that these notes won’t be as long-winded and extensive as the ones for the Blackest Night issues. I have to eat and sleep too.

Pages 1-3: The Martian Manhunter was buried on his home world of Mars in Final Crisis: Requiem #1. After his memorial service, Batman placed a Choco (the Oreo-like cookie that J’onn loved so much) on the casket as a token of friendship.

This scene occurs at the same time as Blackest Night #1 pages 28-29.

Pages 4-5: This scene expands upon the scene in Blackest Night #1, pages 28-29 in which Barry and Hal discover that Bruce Wayne’s skull has been stolen.

Black Hand stole Bruce’s skull in Blackest Night #0. He seems to enjoy licking it, for some bizarre reason.

Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia Head have known the Bruce Wayne was Batman for years. The new Robin, Damian Wayne, is Talia’s son and Ra’s’ grandson. The Red Hood is Jason Todd, the second Robin. He’s a little bit nutty.

This discussion between Barry and Hal about hiding secret identities is a bit metatextual, but fun too. I mean, what comics fan hasn’t ever debated why no one can figure out that the glasses-wearing Clark Kent is really Superman?

So Barry just started reading the Internet? Okay, yes, I know, Barry Allen “died” in 1985 (real time), so the Internet wasn’t the everyday phenomena it is today. However, by DC Comics time, when did Barry really die? Maybe seven to ten years ago? Surely Mr. Allen had at least one or two occasions to surf the World Wide Web before now. While I appreciate the line about how slow the Internet is to Barry, it does seem like a dated reference, that’s all.

I like how when J’onn uses his telepathic abilities on other it manifests as rotting flesh on their skin. Creepy.

“Ma’aleca’andra.” This is the name for Mars in its native tongue.

Page 6: This occurs at the same times as Blackest Night #1, page 32.

“You should both be dead.” Barry and Hal have both died and come back to life. The Black Lanterns definitely seem to be targeting those heroes who have cheated death.

As seen on Blackest Night #1, the Black Lanterns are able to “see” what emotions others are channeling. Thus, Hal is “will” and Barry is “hope.”

One thing that I am happy as a clam about is that,. Even though he’s still dead, J’onn has returned to his classic, beetle-browed look, as opposed to his more recent, Skrully appearance.

Page 7: J’onn begins showing off his powers to his former friends. He can turn intangible as well as invisible.

Page 8: He can also fly, project Martian vision and attack others telepathically.

Speaking of those telepathic attacks, he taunts Barry and Hal about their deaths and resurrections. Barry thinks about how Wally West and his wife Iris would feel if he died again, causing him to feel fear. Hal recalls his fall from grace and transformation into Parallax, and is told that he deserves to go to hell, but he still maintains his cool with his willpower.

Pages 10-11: “Since when are there different colors.” Barry needs a quick update about the various Lanterns Corps.

We learn here that a Code 1313 is “an unidentified power ring.”

Oa is currently under attack by an army of dead Green Lanterns, as seen in Green Lantern Corps #39.

Page 12: Oh, yeah, J’onn’s pretty strong, too. About as strong as Superman.

Page 13: Scar attacked the other Guardians of the Universe and incapacitated them in Blackest Night #1, pages 26-27.

Pages 14-15: What we’re seeing here are various fronts of the War of Light, the battles between the members of the various Lantern Corps.

On Ysmault, several Green Lanterns have retrieved the body of their fallen comrade Laira from the Red Lanterns.

Larfleeze watches from his domain on Okkara as his Orange Lantern constructs attack the Blue Lanterns on Odym.

Members of the Sinestro Corps have invaded Zamaron to retrieve Kryb and face opposition from the Star Sapphires.

“The Black Lanterns are collecting hearts full of splintered light…” What happens when all of that “splintered light” is combined?

Page 16: “He left the League. He distanced himself. He felt more alien.” J’onn’s alienation occurred during the events of 52, and led to him further embracing his Martian heritage as seen in the Martian Manhunter mini-series.

Pages 18-19: J’onn has Barry believing that he’s battling him, when he’s really fighting Hal.

Page 20: Oh, yeah, and J’onn’s a shape shifter too! Will the powers never end?

“The man who orchestrated my murder still walks the streets.” That’s either the Human Flame, a.k.a Mike Miller, currently appearing in Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!, or Libra, who vanished in Final Crisis #7.

“Half the League you knew is gone.” J’onn got you guys there. Batman, Aquaman, Hawkman, Elongated Man, Firestorm and the Martian Manhunter, all dead. Kinda depressing, really.

Page 21: Fatality, real name Yrra Cynril. First appeared in Green Lantern (third series) #83. Became a Star Sapphire in Green Lantern Corps #30.

John Stewart’s confrontation with Fatality occurred in Green Lantern (fourth series) #42.

Pages 22-23: “This ain’t good.” No, really, you think?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday Comics, Part I


Since Wednesday Comics is halfway through its twelve-week run, I figured that I would offer up some thoughts and witty-yet-insightful criticism of DC’s latest weekly series. Feel free to agree/disagree/discuss/ignore at your leisure.


The Best of the Best


Kamandi, by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook: this is my absolute favorite feature. Each one-page installment tells a complete story, while contributing to the larger tale. It harkens back to the newspaper strips of old, complete with the “Our Story” recaps and the “Next Week” previews. While I’m a bit too young to really appreciate the older Sunday comics’ strips, I do recall the Prince Valiant strip appearing in the The Daily News, and getting a kick out of the storytelling style. Kudos to all involved.


Batman, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso: I hated their six-issue run on Batman a few years back. So why do I like this so much? I don’t know. No real reason; I just do. It’s a hard-boiled crime story, and each page really hits you in the gut, metaphorically of course. It gets in there, tells its story, and gets out, without any extraneous continuity or baggage.


Green Lantern by Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones: Beautiful art combined with a fun story. Busiek is another writer who seems to understand the limits and benefits of telling a story one page at a time. He focuses on what’s important to the story, and that’s it.


Metamorpho, by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred: Another example of the creators being inventive. This story is just bizarre, and I don’t think that it’s been particularly compelling, but the sheer creativity in the use of the format has been fantastic. The Family Circus style two-page spread between pages/issues two and three, the messages from the Metamorpho Fans of America, and the Snakes and Ladders game this week…All very cool.


Strange Adventures, by Paul Pope: This strip became one of my favorites this week, with Adam Strange’s return to Earth and the revelation that he’s an old man there, while being youthful and adventurous on Rann. Neat. Overall, it’s been a fun science fiction tale, with new twists and turns each week. I’m not really a Paul Pope fan, but I’m starting to come around with this story.


Thoroughly Enjoyable and Entertaining


Hawkman, by Kyle Baker: Honestly, this would have been in the above category if that damn Adam Strange hadn’t shoehorned him out. Baker’s strip has been high-octane adventure from the start, and its placement as the final strip of the issue has me excited for next week’s installment. What I like most about this story is that Baker utilizes the larger scale of the page to the utmost, frequently using huge panels to convey a sense of grandeur.


The Flash, by Karl Kerschel and Brenden Fletcher; Honestly, I need to go back and re-read this feature a few times to fully appreciate it; all of the time-traveling and multiple Barry Allens is making my head hurt. But it’s a fun story, and, much like the Green Lantern strip evokes a very Silver Age, simpler feel.


Deadman, by Dave Bullock and Vinton Hueck: The first page recapped Deadman’s origin, and from there it’s been nonstop mystical action. Another story that side-steps continuity and just tells a really good tale full of action and suspense.


Not Quite as Thoroughly Enjoyable and Entertaining, But Still Good


Metal Men, by Dan DiDio and Jose Luís Garcia-Lopez & Kevin Nowlan: I love the art; Garcia-Lopez has always been a favorite of mine. And I like the story; I don’t think that DiDio is the greatest writer in the world, but I’ve always found his work entertaining. The story just needs a little something, a kick in the ass I guess, to make it more interesting. The Metal Men just come off as a little too pedestrian and commonplace here, that’s all. Not the worst strip, by far.


The Demon and Catwoman, by Walt Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze: I just don’t get this story. It’s pretty to look at, and the Demon’s always a fun character, but why is Catwoman even here? She got turned into a cat, and now she seems to have no purpose in the story. But, any chance to see Stelfreeze draw hot women is always appreciated.


Supergirl, by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner: Love the writer, love the artist, love pretty much everything else they work on. This story just falls extremely flat to me. I don’t expect anything life-changing for Supergirl, but I want her to do more than just play pet-sitter for twelve pages. However, it’s a cute, fun story, and this week’s depiction of Aquaman was amusing.


Wonder Woman, by Ben Caldwell: I really want to like this story, mainly because Caldwell puts so much work into each and every installment. I mean, one page of his story has more panels than pages one through six of Sgt. Rock combined. It’s weird, it’s quirky, and it takes extreme liberties with the Wonder Woman mythos, creating something new and exciting. Unfortunately, six pages in, it seems to be getting derivative and repetitive, that’s all.


Please, Make it Stop


Sgt. Rock, by Adam Kubert and Joe Kubert: I have nothing but respect for Joe Kubert and the work he has done over the years. And I think that the art on this strip has been great. But the story? Ech. Double ech. Nothing’s happening. Page after page of Rock getting interrogated, while Easy Company hangs out. It’s getting monotonous.


Teen Titans, by Eddie Berganza and Sean Galloway: Yeah, at least I like the art on the Sgt. Rock strip. I think it’s horrible on this one. And I don’t like the story either. Hell, I’m a Titans fan and I don’t much care for them in this tale. The multiple narrators, unexplained fight scenes, poor storytelling…Nope, not enjoyable at all.


Superman, by John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo: This one started out strong…and then bottomed out. I feel bad for anyone who was introduced to Wednesday Comics through the appearance in USA Today and then proceeded to follow the strip to the newspaper’s website, because this story is just atrocious. It’s not “Superman”, it’s “The Non-Adventures of Whining Clark Kent.” Oh, well, they can’t all be winners…