Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blackest Night: Superman #2

“Psycho Piracy”


Writer: James Robinson

Penciller: Eddy Barrows

Inker: Ruy Jose with Julio Ferreira

Editor: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza


Synopsis


While Superman and Superboy battle the Black Lantern Superman of Earth-Two in the sky, Black Lantern Psycho Pirate twists and manipulates the emotions of the residents of Smallville, eventually turning the Boy of Steel against the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, Ma Kent escapes from the grasp of Black Lantern Lois Lane and disappears into a corn field. And, on New Krypton, Supergirl faces off against her resurrected father, Black Lantern Zor-El…


Notes


Page 1: Scenes from a typical day here in nice, quiet Smallville…


Pages 2-3: Okay, nice, quiet time is over.


Superman, Superboy, Martha Kent and Black Lanterns Superman and Lois Lane from Earth-Two all last appeared in Blackest Night: Superman #1.


Page 4: Black Lantern Psycho Pirate last appeared n Blackest Night #3.


Out of all the Black Lanterns who have risen so far, Psycho Pirate has the potential to be the most dangerous by far, simply because he can manipulate the emotions of others. Because the Black Lanterns are attempting to get an emotional response out of their victims before they kill them, he can simply take control of his victims and twist them until he gets the desired result.


Now, so far, it seems as if the Black Lanterns are trying to manipulate their victims towards the “negative” end of the emotional spectrum – rage, avarice and fear – as opposed to what could be seen as the more “positive” emotions – hope, compassion and love. This isn’t absolute, but if you go back and look, most of those killed by the Black Lanterns were angry or afraid, as opposed to hopeful or feeling compassion. Perhaps the “negative” aspects are easier to manipulate and take advantage of?


Page 5: I have to say, Psycho Pirate is looking pretty good, considering that the last time we saw him he had his head pushed inside out by Black Adam.


Pages 8-9: Superman’s feeling a whole mix of emotions here – fear, hope, rage and will. As revealed in Blackest Night #3, the green light of will, when combined with energy from another branch of the emotional spectrum, can neutralize the power of the Black Lanterns. Thus, those expressing willpower have a measure of resistance to their power.


Pages 10-11: It’s getting a little crazy here in Smallville…


Davey, the barber from page 1, is going all Sweeney Todd in a rage of anger…


The guy running the diner from page 1 is all jealous of the soldier…


Paranoia has struck Simon from page 1, making him all afraid…


Hank has decided that he’s in love with angry little Molly, both of whom were introduced back in Blackest Night: Superman #1…


And apparently the young lady who Grace’s boyfriend Roddy from page 1 is named Lori, and she’s gone on a thieving spree; is she the girl that Superboy rescued in Adventure Comics #1? Or does he just know here from school?


Superboy is feeling love and fear.


Page 12: Superboy is all willpower here, which would ordinarily be a good thing. However, the Psycho Pirate has other ideas…


Page 14: Ouch. That looks like it hurt.


Page 15: Superboy is all rage and avarice. Superman is a mixed bag of fear, hope, will, compassion and love.


Page 16: Allura and Black Lantern Zor-El last appeared in Blackest Night: Superman #1.


Page 17: Supergirl last appeared in Blackest Night: Superman #1.


Page 18: Supergirl goes through a huge emotional swing on this page. She starts off feeling a mixture of fear, hope, love and compassion, but then her undead daddy pisses her off, to the point where all she feels is rage and will.


Page 19: I’ll give this to Kara…she’s not going down without a fight.


Pages 20-21: “You hurt my dog. Dug up my dear Jon. Wrecked my home.: All this happened in Blackest Night: Superman #1.


Page 22: “…it’s on!” Go get ‘em, Martha!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thoughts on the new JLA line-up

Ever since the JLA’s new line-up was revealed in a house ad featured in Blackest Night #3, everyone with an Internet connection has been chiming in about how this League will stack up against the League’s of old. So why should I be any different?

Before I begin, I do want to explain that I am a fan of a big JLA; it doesn’t make sense that a team charged with safeguarding the world would have six, seven, eight members. The “satellite-era” JLA boasted anywhere between twelve to fifteen heroes, most of whom were on-call 24/7. The team needs more members to be more effective.

One example of this comes not from the JLA, but from the Avengers – in the last year and a half of his run on the book, Kurt Busiek reorganized Earth’s mightiest heroes so that the team was chaired by both Captain America and the Wasp, and pretty much anyone who had ever been a member of the team was available to be called upon in a time of crisis. Approximately eighteen to twenty heroes appeared as an Avenger, utilizing their powers and skills during the Kang War. Members don’t have to appear in every issue and participate in every single case; a fluid, expansive League works for me.

For the record, my “ideal” JLA would begin with the “Big Five” as the core – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern. Aquaman and Martian Manhunter are cool, but they are negotiable and, in my mind, work better as guest stars. These five, however, are the core. They don’t have to be in each and every issue, but they are the axis around which the rest of the DCU revolves. The rest of the roster is a little vaguer – an archer, an Atom, and Hawk (man or woman) are necessities. A stretchy guy and someone who does magic are needed as well. As for the rest…well, the fun of the JLA is seeing the big guns of the DCU interact with some newbies and lesser lights. It’s always cool to throw a curve ball in there as well, someone who you really don’t think belongs there, but it turns out they are right at home.

Now then, we can divide the new membership into three categories…

The Old Guard

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) and the Atom (Ray Palmer) have all had long and decorated careers with the JLA in the past. Each of them is also appearing in James Robinson’s Justice League: Cry for Justice mini-series, which will supposedly dovetail right into his Justice League of America run. As an longtime fan of the JLA, I have no problem with any of these heroes.

Many fans seem to be complaining about Robinson’s characterization and depiction of these guys; I submit that he’s writing them as old friends who like to joke around and make fun of one another. Since very few of the original JLAers are alive right now (Batman, Aquaman, J’Onn J’onzz, Elongated Man, Hawkman and Firestorm are all dead) it makes sense to enlist the surviving ones as members of the revamped League.

As to why John Stewart, Roy Harper, Connor Hawke or Ryan Choi can’t fill in for any of these guys...Look, the rest of the roster is filled with substitutes for classics, so there’s no reason why we can’t get the originals for a few of the membership slots.

The Titans

There’s a whole lot of former Titans who have now graduated to the ranks of the JLA. One of the things that is irking me about the current DCU is the presence of the (wholly unnecessary) Titans team. Simply put, it makes no sense. Up until a few years ago, the teams in the DCU made sense. We had the JLA, functioning as the best of the best; the Teen Titans, the new, young heroes mentored by some of the older Titans; and the Outsiders, some former Titans attempting to do something different with their lives. Now, we have not only the Teen Titans but the Titans, the original New Teen Titans who came back together to seemingly relive their glory days, and the Outsiders, who have almost the same line-up when they first formed. All of the advancement and maturity seems to have gone the way of the dodo.

Which is why I don’t mind the fact that these Titans are growing up. They need to move on, forge new relationships and move to new heights. Now then, Dick Grayson as Batman is a must, no questions asked. In the absence of Bruce Wayne, Dick will step up and replace his mentor. Not only has Grayson served with the Titans and the Outsiders, but he also led the JLA during “The Obsidian Age” story. The only question is will the new Batman assume control of this JLA as well? And, of course, if and when Bruce does return, will Dick step down from the JLA?

Donna Troy works for me, but I still don’t understand why Wonder Woman can’t be a member of the JLA. She’s not dead, and she hasn’t relocated to another world; I hope an answer is coming soon. In any event, my one worry about Donna is the same worry I always have – no writer really seems all that interested in developing her. She always comes across as flat and two-dimensional, unless Phil Jimenez is writing her. Here’s hoping that Robinson makes her into something other than “Wonder Woman-lite.”

Cyborg and Starfire are good choices, mainly due to their power levels and the fact that neither has even remotely been associated with the JLA before. Cyborg, actually, was intended to join the League during Brad Meltzer’s tenure as writer, but he ran out of room. The team needs someone to handle their technical needs, and Victor Stone fits the bill. Starfire I’m not quite as enthused by, simply because I don’t want to see a retread of the Dick-Kory relationship for the umpteenth time, but I’ll reserve my judgment for a later date.

The New Blood

In the absence of Superman, Mon-El is the next best thing. However, his new costume is atrocious. What was wrong with his old duds? (I know, DC wants to more closely align Mon-El as a “Superman” character, but come on, that costume is really bad.) To see a decent costume for Lar Gand, check out his look from the re-boot Legion of Super-Heroes series, as seen here:

Now that was a nice look. In any event, Mon-El provides the JLA with some power now that Superman is on New Krypton, but he’s also a new kid in town, and gives the reader someone to relate to, as if we are seeing the JLA through his eyes. Should be fun, simply because he’s so different, personality and experience-wise, from the Man of Steel.

Doctor Light is the only holdover from the current team, and my only thought is that no one, and I mean no one, has ever really developed her as a character. Her longest tenure on any title was in Justice League Europe, in which writer Gerard Jones explained that her stern and forceful personality was the result of her consuming too many diet sodas. What? Like Donna Troy, Doctor Light needs some personality development, and hopefully Robinson can work on this.

Congorilla…Cool. He’s one of those curve ball characters that you initially think doesn’t belong on the team, and then, after a while, you wonder how they ever got along without him…I think. It’s still too soon to know how Robinson’s going to use him in the series, but the character is a total cipher, which means he can do whatever he wants with him. And, hey, who doesn’t like gorillas?

As for the Guardian…I’m still not sure about this one. I like him, and he’s a good character, but I don’t know what he brings to the team, besides his connection to the Metropolis Science Police. I’m probably least enthused about him out of all of the members, but I’m maintaining a wait-and-see attitude.

As detailed in an interview with Comic Book Resources, Robinson has plans to add a Flash to the JLA, and Vixen is still a part of the book, although she has her own mission initially. The writer also plans to utilize other heroes as needed, while situating the JLA smack dab in the center of action in the DCU. This may not be my dream JLA line-up, but I’ll still be waiting to see how it all plays out.

Monday, September 28, 2009

This Week's Haul

Not a bad week…not super-exceptional, mind you, but a few gems stood out amongst the pile…


Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #5: But this was not one of those gems. I actually wouldn’t have disliked this series so much if it had a consistent artist from issue to issue, but, alas, tat was not to be the case. It’s not the worst of the Final Crisis Aftermath mini-series, but then again, that’s not exactly saying much.


Justice League of America #37: Honestly, this wasn’t a half-bad three-part story by Len Wein. It didn’t reinvent the wheel or make me reevaluate the JLA or anything like that, but it did nicely bridge the gap between Dwayne McDuffie’s final issue and the start of James Robinson’s run next month. As for my thoughts on Robinson and Bagley’s new team, check back here later today.


Supergirl #45: “The Hunt for Reactron” is on, and the Metropolis Three are coming apart at the seams! As I mentioned before, it’s nice to see the story beats and momentum generated during “Codename: Patriot” continuing here, and that the developments in last months storyline aren’t being quickly forgotten. Jamal Igle also gets points for being the best artist currently working on a Superman title.


The Web #1: I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as The Shield #1, but it was still a fun read. Writer Angela Robinson needs to better explain and establish what the Web can and can’t do; his abilities seem a bit nebulous. The Hangman second feature hinted at further mysteries surrounding the character; here’s hoping that the series lasts long enough to delve into them.


Detective Comics #857: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful; J.H. Williams III is a genius. Rucka’s not half bad either. Batwoman’s first story comes to a close with some revelations about her relationship with Alice; next month we get some origins. And the Question continues with her crusade for justice. While I like most of the Second Features,The Question seems the best suited to the eight page chapter installment.


Power Girl #5: This series continues to be a whole lot of fun, period. This month, Power Girl deals with some alien party girls gone wild, an exploding space craft, a hunky “service” android, and a dirty cat. Sounds like a regular Thursday to me.


Superman/Batman #64: I think that this issue is a lead-in to a bigger story coming a few months down the road; but I’m not sure. Not sure if that has anything to do with the upcoming stories that Dan DiDio was talking about that tie into past crises/events/storylines or whatnot. To be honest, even Scott Kolins’ artwork couldn’t make this issue interesting. Sorry.


Vigilante #10. Vigilante comes to Gotham. Batman confronts Vigilante. Batman talks about how Gotham is “his city” and that Vigilante needs to leave. Lather, rinse, repeat.


And now, the book of the week is…


Superman: Secret Origin #1: To all of the naysayers out there who are complaining that Superman doesn’t need to have his origin retold…Hush, please. The last time we got a full-on, balls-to-the-wall retelling of this seventy-year old myth was in 2003-2004’s Superman: Birthright written by Mark Waid, which was supposed to be an “Ultimate Superman,” a Superman story that anyone could pick up and enjoy, and later became the official, canonical origin. But no one ever really touched upon it, and 2006's Infinite Crisis seemed to invalidate the story. And before that, it was John Byrne’s The Man of Steel, back in…1986. Yep, 1986. Twenty-three years ago since we really got to see how Clark Kent developed into Superman. So, yeah, it’s about time.


Moreover, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank skip over the stuff we already know – about how Jor-El fired the rocket from Krypton, the Kents found it and raised Clark as their own, yadda-yadda-yadda. They skip to the important stuff, how Clark learned of his powers and tried to hide them, how he confided in Lana Lang, and how he puts on a certain blue-and-red suit for the first time. Wonderful stuff, really.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BLACKEST NIGHT #3

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

Synopsis

The Flash and Green Lantern’s battle against the Black Lantern JLA is joined by both the Atom and Indigo-1, who demonstrates to the heroes how the undead ring-bearers can be destroyed. Indigo-1 teleports them to the Hall of Justice, where they meet up with Mera and Firestorm. This small band of survivors makes plans to fight back against their new foes. Indigo-I and Green Lantern vanish, in search of the representatives of the other Corps, while the Black Lanterns attack, splitting Firestorm into his two selves and killing Gehenna. A swarm of Black Lantern power rings invades the Hall of Justice and revives of group of fallen villains…

Notes

Page 1: Firestorm VI, real names Jason Rusch and Gehenna Hewitt. First appearance (of Jason and Firestorm) in Firestorm (second series) #1 and (of Gehenna) in Villains United #4 (shadow only) and Firestorm (second series) #17.

Okay, a few explanations for some of the above information…

I list Jason Rusch as the sixth Firestorm, which may raise some eyebrows. But follow my logic…

Firestorm I – Ronald Raymond and Martin Stein
Firestorm II – Ronnie, Martin and Mikhail Arkadin
Firestorm III – Ronnie, Mikhail and Svarozhich
Firestorm IV – Martin by himself
Firestorm V – Ronnie by himself
Firestorm VI – Jason, with both Martin and Gehenna

Technically, you could argue that Firestorm VI was Jason by himself (actually him merged with pretty much anyone he came into contact with, but the merges were unstable), Firestorm VII was Jason and Martin, Firestorm VIII was Jason and Firehawk, and Firestorm IX was Jason and Gehenna, but the changes aren’t as drastic as the earlier incarnations.

Also, as far as the actual series go…Firestorm (first series) was a five issue series that didn’t make it past the DC Implosion of 1978. The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man debuted in 1982; the cover title changed to Firestorm the Nuclear Man with issue #50 (but the indicia remained the same. Go figure.) With issue #83 it became simply Firestorm, and that run ended with issue #100. In 2004, Firestorm (second series) #1 appeared, introducing Jason Rusch; that title changed to Firestorm the Nuclear Man with issue #23. Phew.

Jason and Gehenna last appeared in Blackest Night #1.

Notice the card with “NaCl” on it in Panel One. As anyone taking Chemistry 201 could tell you, this is the chemical formula for table salt. That comes back to bite Jason in the ass later.

I really think that the JLA needs to get with the times and provide its members with smaller, less bulky communicators. That thing looks like an early ‘90s cell phone.

Pages 2-3: Assembled here are the members of the Black Lantern JLA – Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter, Sue Dibny, Firestorm, Hawkman and Hawkgirl – battling Green Lantern II and Flash II. All last appeared in Blackest Night #2.

Firestorm V, real name Ronald Raymond. First appeared (as Firestorm I…I know, I know, I’m being overly technical) in Firestorm (first series) #1 and (as Firestorm V) in Extreme Justice #4. Killed in Identity Crisis #5. He returned in Firestorm (second series) #9, but then vanished again in Firestorm (second series) #13.

Hawkman I, real name Carter Hall. The reincarnation of Prince Khufu of Ancient Egypt. First appeared in Flash Comics #1. Killed in Hawkman (third series) #13. Was reincarnated in his current body in JSA #23. Killed again in Blackest Night #1.

Hawkgirl II, real name Kendra Saunders. The reincarnation of Princess Chay-Ara of Ancient Egypt. First appeared in JSA Secret Files and Origins #1. Killed in Blackest Night #1.

Page 4: “Professor Stein” refers to Professor Martin Stein, with whom Ronnie Raymond merged to become Firestorm.

Page 5: Black Lantern power levels at 50.32%.

“He will rise, invader! And there is nothing you can do to stop it!” Take note of this word balloon. It’s almost like whatever force is animating the Black Lanterns lost it’s cool for a moment after Flash tried to remove the power ring and stopped acting like Firestorm.

“We’re all connected, Barry. Including you.” Barry Allen recently returned from the dead, thus his “connection” to the other formerly dead heroes.

Page 6: The Atom II last appeared in Blackest Night #2.

“…Why did these things go after Carter and Kendra first?” Why indeed. Is it because they have died and returned many times over the ages? Or because they are somehow connected to the crystallized lovers linked to the first star sapphire gem found on Earth, which is currently on Zamaron?

Page 7: I still dig the Hall of Justice and really hope it doesn’t get destroyed anytime soon.

Pages 8-9: Firestorm is viewing the events of Blackest Night as they affect the rest of the DC Universe. Taking it from the top, and moving left to right…

The Justice Society of America (Green Lantern I and Stargirl shown) battle Black Lanterns in Manhattan…

Black Lantern Osiris in Kahndaq…

Ummmmm…no idea…next….

The broken Bat-signal in Gotham City, as seen in Blackest Night: Batman #1 and 2…

Black Lanterns Rainbow Raider, the Top, Golden Glider and Captain Boomerang invading Iron Heights Penitentiary outside of Keystone City…

Black Lantern Spectre, as seen in Blackest Night #2…

Smallville devastated, as seen in Blackest Night: Superman #1…

The Rocket Reds battling Black Lantern Rocket Red Dmitri Pushkin…

Well, it looks like someone forgot to pay the cable bill at the Hall of Justice…

Two panels depicting Black Lanterns (I can make out Wildebeest and Aquagirl I) flying towards Titans Tower in San Francisco…

The Black Lantern Unknown Soldier is freaking people out in Washington, D.C…

Page 10: Mera last appeared in Blackest Night #2.

Best dialogue of the month:

“Aquawoman?”

“No. Not Aquawoman. Mera.”

Those coffins that hold the bodies of fallen villains are in a vault underneath the Hall of Justice, as explained in Blackest Night #1.

Page 11: “Clark” refers to Clark Kent, Superman.

“Diana” refers to Diana Prince/Princess Diana, Wonder Woman.

“Wally” refers to Wally West, Flash III.

“Jay” refers to Jay Garrick, Flash I.

“You still feel bad about what Jean did to my lady, don’t you?” Ray Palmer’s ex-wife, Jean Loring, killed Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis #1.

“Compassion.” This is the first time that a Black Lantern has found anyone expressing the indigo energy of compassion.

“Jean brought along a flame thrower, ‘just in case.’” Yeah, you see, Jean wasn’t really all-together there mentally, if you know what I mean. Her plan was to get Ray to fall in love with her again by using one of his old belts to shrink to microscopic size and attack Sue Dibny, thereby making the heroes think that someone was out to get their loved ones, thereby causing Ray to worry about her. Good plan, Jean.

Unfortunately, she landed in Sue’s brain, killing her, and then tried to dispose of the evidence by burning Ms. Dibny’s body with a flame-gun, which she happened to bring along with her.

“Compassion. It’s so hard to find in this society, isn’t it bun? But a little bit can go such a long way.” Does killing one exhibiting compassion charge up the Black Lantern power level much quicker than other emotions? Do different emotions charge up at different rates?

Page 12: Indigo-1, first appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #25. Last appeared in Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1.

Page 13: Accompanying Indigo-1 are other members of the Indigo Tribe, none of which have yet to be named.

Page 14: So, it looks like Black Lanterns Elongated Man and Sue Dibny are done for.

Page 15: “Garth” refers to Tempest, killed in Blackest Night #2. Flash calls him “Aqualad,” which is what Garth was called years ago, as a member of the Teen Titans.

The “possessions” collected by the JLA in their Trophy Room include…

A photograph of the JLA and the JSA memorializing the Unknown Soldier of Victory, which uncannily resembles the cover to Justice League of America (first series) #100;

One of Batman’s old utility belts;

Playing cards depicting members of the Royal Flush Gang;

Statues of Aquaman, Steel and Vibe, fallen members of the JLA;

A bow and two quivers belonging to Green Arrow.

Pages 16-17: A little bit of recap about the seven Corps, the emotional spectrum, and the War of Light. Most of this information was covered, in one form or another, in Green Lantern (fourth series) #25, as well as Blackest Night #0 and 1. But catching up and taking a breather every now and then is always good.

For the record, while the heroes of Earth are dealing with the threat of the Black Lanterns, the various Corps are having their own problems.

Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns are on Ysmault; where the Lost Lanterns are attempting to retrieve Laira’s body;

Sinestro and the Sinestro Corps attacked Zamaron to free their comrades, and are facing an assault by Carol Ferris and the Star Sapphires;

Saint Walker and the Blue Lanterns are fending off an attack by the Orange Lanterns on Odym, while Larfleeze watches from Okkara.

But, in the midst of all this come the Black Lanterns. They are attacking each of the Corps home worlds, including Oa, which is being defended by the Green Lantern Corps. Tough times, all around.

Page 18: “And the Black Lanterns are not the invaders in this war. We are the invaders. We are the trespassers.” Sure puts a new twist on this story, eh?

“Maybe the dead aren’t wearing the rings. Maybe the rings are wearing the dead.” This is why we keep Ray Palmer around, so someone can explain weird shit like this.

“Together the seven corps can replicate the white light of creation. Together we will be capable of locating and destroying the source of the black rings.” Um, does anyone really think that it will be that easy? I mean, it’s only issue three, remember?

“You have personal connections to the most powerful members of the five remaining corps.” Just to refresh your memory, they are…

Atrocitus (Red): Hal fought him during Green Lantern: Secret Origin, and even wielded a Red Lantern ring for a brief time;

Larfleeze (Orange): I wouldn’t say that he and Hal have any sort of personal relationship, but they have fought, and Hal took control of the orange ring for a moment;

Sinestro (Yellow): Before betraying the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro was Hal’s mentor and friend, and Hal took control of a whole bunch of yellow rings during the Sinestro Corps War;

Saint Walker (Blue): Walker recruited Hal to join the Blue Lantern Corps, and even wielded the blue light for….hey, what power ring hasn’t Hal worn?

Carol Ferris (Violet): Hal and Carol were involved for years…and, no, Hal never wielded a Star Sapphire, and I don’t think he’d look good in the uniform, either…

“John, Guy and Kyle aren’t here.” John Stewart is watching the planet Xanshi reform, as seen in Green Lantern (fourth series) #45. Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner are busy battling Black Lanterns on Oa, as seen in Green Lantern Corps #40.

“Alan Scott” refers to the original Green Lantern. “The Ray” and “Halo” are members of the Freedom Fighters and the Outsiders respectively, both of whom can wield light.

Page 19: “And since you’ve gotten back you’ve been living every day like it’s your last.” As seen in the pages of The Flash: Rebirth.

“But I learned the hard way, after everything the Reverse-Flash did when he brought me back, I need to slow down.” Um, yeah, this references stuff that we probably haven’t seen yet, considering that The Flash: Rebirth #5-6 still haven’t come out. I’m sure it will make more sense in a more or two.

Page 20: Okay, deep, introspective chat-time is over. Back to mindless Black Lantern violence!

Page 22: When Jason touches Black Lantern Firestorm, he gets a glimpse of things happening to other Black Lanterns, confirming the idea that each of these creatures is connected. From the top, working our way clockwise, we have…

A big, creepy eye, probably belonging to the big bad himself, Nekron;

Dove II, battling Black Lantern Hawk, as seen in Blackest Night: Titans #1;

Yellow Lanterns defending against Black Lantern Thunderers on Qward;

Black Hand;

Ragman, seemingly under attack, either by the Black Lanterns or by the black power rings, not sure which;

The Black Lantern Power Battery on Ryut;

Mera impaling Black Lantern Hawkgirl;

Scar, the corrupted Guardian of the Universe;

And the empty grave of Victor Sage, formerly known as the Question.

“Urkel” refers to Steve Urkel, who was a goofy character played by Jaleel White on the TV show “Family Matters.” Why, oh why must I reference horrible ABC sitcoms of the 1990s in my annotations?

Page 23: Yeah, this is a downright brutal page. Read at your own risk.

“What’s the chemical formula for table salt?” Ooops. See? I told you that was gonna come back to bite Jason in the ass. That just goes to show you – studying is bad, kids!

“You ever see ‘Ghostbusters’? Great flick. Remember at the end with the marshmallow man? They couldn’t keep their minds blank either.” A fantastic reference…and, if I need to explain it, you just won’t appreciate it in the first place. So, if you don’t know what Black Lantern Firestorm is talking about, go out and rent “Ghostbusters” so you have a clue, okay?

Page 24: Black Lantern power levels at 56.56%

Like Lot’s wife, who turned back to witness the fall of Sodom, Gehenna is transformed into a pillar of salt.

It’s appropriate that Gehenna’s fate is Biblical; “Gehenna” is cited in the New Testament as the final place where the wicked will be punished and/or destroyed after the resurrection. “Gehenna” also correlates to “Jahannam,” the name given to Hell in Islam.

Page 25: Damn. The Hall of Justice has seen better days.

Black Lantern power levels at 56.57…no, .58…sorry, at 56.59%. Black Lantern Firestorm is leeching off of Jason’s emotions as he is bonded to him.

Oh boy…more Black Lanterns coming our way…

Page 26: Hell yeah, these are the fun ones. I mean, it’s cool to see twisted and darker versions of the heroes, but, come on, they’re heroes! A bloodthirsty Elongated Man is only fun for so long. But these guys…these are the villains. They deserve to be warped and screwed-up! Shown here are…

Madame Rouge, real name Laura De Mille. First appeared in Doom Patrol (first series) #86. Able to stretch any part of her body to great lengths and alter her facial features. Killed in The New Teen Titans (first series) #15.

Maxwell “Max” Lord IV. First appeared in Justice League #1. Able to telepathically control the minds of others. Killed in Wonder Woman (second series) #219. Yes, yes, I know that he died in Justice League America and was revived by the Kilg%re in the body of Lord Havok…but does anyone really consider that story canonical anymore? I didn’t think so.

Copperhead I, real name unknown (listed as John Doe). First appeared in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #78. Wore a serpentine costume that allows him to contort his body and secrete a poison through fangs; later transformed into a human-snake hybrid. Killed in Manhunter (third series) #1. I love this character; I think I have an unhealthy fascination with him, actually.

Enforcer II, real name Mica Love (last name revealed in Blackest Night #1). First appeared (as Mica) in The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man #14 and (as Enforcer) in The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man #18. Wore a light-weight steel-hard fiber-plastic armor that gave her superhuman strength and was equipped with boot-jets that allowed her to fly. Killed in Suicide Squad (first series) #58.

Doctor Light II, real name Arthur Light (Technically, his partner Jacob Finlay was Doctor Light I). First appeared in Justice League of America (first series) #12. Able to control and manipulate light for a variety of purposes. He was originally killed in Suicide Squad (first series) #36, but was resurrected in Suicide Squad (first series) #52. Killed in Final Crisis: Revelations #1.

Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three. First appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. A brilliant genius able to manipulate matter and anti-matter. Killed in Infinite Crisis #7. Gee, that was an easy one.

Psycho-Pirate II, real name Roger Hayden. First appeared in Showcase #56. Able to manipulate the emotions of others using his Medusa Mask. Killed in Infinite Crisis #7.

Brainwave I, real name Henry King, Sr. First appeared in All-Star Comics #15. Possesses various mental abilities including telepathy, telekinesis, image projection and psionic blasts. Killed in Infinity, Inc. (first series) #10.

Pages 27-28: It’s Chapter 1, Verse 2 of The Book of the Black, articulating more of Black Hand’s feelings about his recently murdered family, the Spectre, and rage in general. All in all, I’d rather have two more pages of story, but at least it’s somewhat interesting to read.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This Week's Haul

You know the drill: comics, reviews, comments, snarkiness. Go…


Batman and Robin #4: I miss Frank Quitely. Philip Tan’s not a bad artist…well, his Green Lantern work notwithstanding…but there was just something about Quitely’s work that really jelled with the bizarre tone that Morrison established for this book. This issue, dealing with the return/debut of the Red Hood, was enjoyable; it was just lacking on the artistic side, that’s all.


Action Comics #881: In the aftermath of last month’s “Codename: Patriot” story comes “The Hunt for Reactron,” teaming Supergirl with Nightwing & Flamebird. Things aren’t looking too good for the Kryptonian 3, as they’re called in this issue. I like the fact that last month’s story changed things up for the casts of the Superman titles, and we’re actually seeing fallout from the events in those books.


R.E.B.E.L.S. #8: “The all-new, all-dangerous Omega Men” make their debut in this issue, which also marks the return of some old friends from the pages of L.E.G.I.O.N. and the original R.E.B.E.L.S. series. I really, really enjoy this book, and hope that it expands to become more of a showcase for DC’s cosmic and outer space heroes, like Adam Strange and Comet in the near future.


Batman: Streets of Gotham #4: Hmmm, not a whole lot of crappy books this week. I’m really digging this title, mainly because Dini can focus on random supporting characters like the Broker and craft a whole issue for them, with Batman and Robin appearing for a whole page. Nguyen’s moody and atmospheric artwork is a plus, too.


Outsiders #22: This was mainly an all-out action issue, but it worked because it wasn’t mindless. Rather, Geo-Force and Metamorpho actually use their brains to track and defeat Clayface. Who knew?


Fables #88: Chapter Two of “Witches” brings us some revelations about Frau Totenkinder and a surprise for Beauty and the Beast (which was unnecessarily spoiled by the cover). Month after month, Willingham and company make Fables one of the best books on the shelves, and this issue is no different.


Batgirl #2: Yeah, I’m okay with Stephanie as Batgirl. Oracle isn’t, and she tries to get the former Spoiler to give up crime-fighting for good. How do you think that goes over?


The Brave and the Bold #27: Just so you know, I loved the Mark Waid-George Pérez incarnation of this book. Off-the-wall team-ups with no real ties to continuity or “event” mini-series…so this issue was a treat. No, it’s not brilliant. It’s not going to change the way we read comic books forever. It’s Batman and Dial H for Hero, a done-in-one story that you can read, enjoy, and then pass off to your pals.


Green Arrow/Black Canary #24: I’ll give Andrew Kreisberg this much – he’s trying to introduce new characters and concepts into the DCU. Is he totally succeeding? Nope, but I’ll give him a solid “B” for effort. While Big Game might be a little too much like Kraven for my tastes, beefing up Green Arrow’s rogues beyond Merlyn should be a top priority on this book right now, so I’ll stick with him for a bit.


Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #5: It’s almost over. This book has been like an especially painful root canal – I’m sure something good will come of it, but it’s hard to see what at this point.


And now, the book of the week is…


JSA vs.Kobra#4: Trautmann has made Kobra a force to be reckoned with. I still have no idea what the villain’s master plan is – it involves Lord Eye, Dr. Erdel’s teleportation technology, and the power of Shazam – and I really don’t care because the twists and turns, coupled with the strong characterization, are leaving me wanting more. Any chance he can write a new Checkmate series after this is all over? Pretty please?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green Lantern Corps #40

“Heart of Darkness”

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Rebecca Buchman, Tom Nguyen & Prentiss Rollins
Editor: Adam Schlagman

Synopsis

The Black Lanterns have Oa under siege, leaving the stunned Green Lantern Corps nearly defenseless against this new threat. In the absence of the Guardians of the Universe, the Alpha Lanterns attempt to take control, but Salaak puts them in their place. Meanwhile, Star Sapphire Miri aids Kryb in the Sinestro Corps member’s quest to find her “children”…

Notes

Page 1: Arisia last appeared in Green Lantern Corps #39.

“Sector 0” is the sector in which Oa is located. It is in the center of the universe, at least in the DCU.

“…my…partner’s dead.” Arisia’s partner, Sodam Yat, sacrificed himself by flying into Daxam’s red sun and transforming it into a yellow sun in Green Lantern Corps #36.

“Where’s the Oan shell? What did I miss?” The protective shell that surrounded Oa was destroyed in Green Lantern Corps #37.

Page 2: All-out chaos, Green Lantern versus Black Lantern…

Page 3: Arisia is visited by the Black Lanterns of her family members – her father, Fentara; her unnamed mother; and her grandfather, Santara.

From the Black Lantern’s point-of-view, we can see that Arisia is experiencing a mix of love, hope and fear when confronted with her deceased loved ones.

Page 4: Kyle Rayner and Jade last appeared in Green Lantern Corps #39.

Most of the Green Lanterns and Black Lanterns/former Green Lanterns have been identified once or twice already. I’m only going to pay close attention to the important ones or the ones who are popping up for the first time.

The big red guy in Panel One that’s kicking ass is Turytt of Space Sector 786.

Jade’s presence is causing Kyle to feel love, but he’s maintaining his willpower. As noted previously, the willpower fueled Green Lanterns seem to be especially resistant to the Black Lanterns, and the undead menaces try to get them to give into their other emotions so that they can kill them.

Page 5: A little bit of compassion is creeping into Kyle, weakening his willpower. Don’t do it, Kyle!!!

Page 6: Kryb and Miri last appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #45. In that issue, Kryb was freed from her imprisonment by the Sinestro Corps, and then fled to find her “children.” Miri has gone off to stop her.

After Blackest Night #4 comes out, I plan on sitting down with all of the Blackest Night-related issues thus far and work out a time line for the story to that point, mainly to show how the “War of Light” story in the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps issues match up with what’s going on Earth side in the main series.

Page 7: Salaak of Space Sector 1418, first appeared in Green Lantern (second series) #149. He is the senior administrator of the Green Lantern Corps and the Keeper of the Book of Oa. He last appeared in Green Lantern Corps #39.

The Guardians of the Universe were incapacitated by Scar in Blackest Night #1.

Accompanying Salaak into the Citadel of the Guardians are…

Isamot Kol of Space Sector 2682. First appeared in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1. He’s the one who looks like a lizard.

Vath Sarn of Space Sector 2682. First appeared in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1. He’s the human, and is partners with Isamot Kol.

Brik of Space Sector 904. First appeared in Green Lantern (third series) #12. She’s the lady made of stone.

Page 8: The Alpha Lanterns take charge! Anyone else thinking that Alpha Lantern Varix sounds more than a little like Alexander Haig? “As of now, I am in control…”

Please, let someone have a holy clue as to what I am talking about…

The Alpha Lanterns present are…

Varix of Space Sector 69. First appeared in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2.

Chaselon of Space Sector 1416. First appeared in Green Lantern (second series) #9.

Green Man of Space Sector 2028. First appeared in Green Lantern (second series) #164.

Page 9: Not sure what the “Clarissi” and the “Illustres” technically are. I tried to do a Latin-to-English translation, but nothing really distinctive really came up. I assume that they are just designations that the Guardians of the Universe use for the higher-ups in the Green Lantern Corps.

Page 10: The Earthling to whom Vath Sarn refers is probably Adam Strange, who has spent more than a little time with the Rannian army.

The Alpha Lanterns executed the Sciencell prisoners in Green Lantern Corps #38.

Page 11: “You’ve seen the face of true love…” In Green Lantern Corps #32, Star Sapphire Miri showed Kyle the face of his true love, Jade.

“I watched her die trying to save the universe.” This occurred in Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special #1.

Page 14: Jade is forcing Kyle to see those whom he failed to save as a Green Lantern, including Donna Troy, Jade, Alexandra DeWitt and…I have no idea. It looks like a guy with a mustache wearing a tie, but I can’t for the life of me figure out who it is. Wouldn’t his mother be more appropriate?

Page 16: The Black Lanterns seen here are those who were executed after the Sciencell riots. Among those who have returned from the dead are Ugg-I, a member of the Sinestro Corps. She and other Sinestro Corps members next appear in Green Lantern (fourth series) #45, where they confront Sinestro on Zamaron.

The Green Lanterns express rage, fear and will as they battle the Black Lanterns.

Black Lantern power levels at 45.96% and 45.97%.

As per Salaak’s instructions, the power rings are no longer seeking out replacements as Green Lanterns die. Rather, they are sent to Mogo until the crisis is over.

Page 17: That’s Katma Tui, rising up from the battle. She last appeared in Green Lantern Corps #39. Not sure about the Green Lantern she killed, but he’s probably not that important anyway.

Black Lantern power levels at 46.09%.

Page 18: Pretty cool panel showing how Bzzd sees the world, by the way.

Bzzd of Space Sector 2261. First appeared in Green Lantern Corps #12. Killed in Green Lantern Corps #26.

Bzzd is pretty damn efficient. He’s responsible for the Black Lantern power levels going up to 46.31%. Way to go, you zombie insect you!

Page 19: Guy Gardner last appeared in Green Lantern Corps #39.

“You saved us from Mongul on the Mercy Planet!” This occurred in Green Lantern Corps #23-26.

Page 20: Ke’Haan of Space Sector 786. First appeared in Green Lantern (third series) #49. Killed in Green Lantern (fourth series) #23.

Page 23: Soranik Natu and Princess Iolande last appeared in Green Lantern Corps #39.

Blackest Night: Batman #2

“Who Burns Who”


Writer: Peter J. Tomasi

Penciller: Ardian Syaf

Inker: Vicente Cifuentes

Editor: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza


Synopsis


With the aid of Deadman, Batman and Robin infiltrate Gotham City Police Headquarters, currently under attack by a group of resurrected Bat-foes. Despite their best efforts, the Dynamic Duo is unable to halt the Black Lanterns for long, but Red Robin’s timely arrival allows them to escape with Jim and Barbara Gordon. The heroes soon find themselves under attack by those closest to them – Jack and Janet Drake and the Flying Graysons…


Notes


Compared to this week’s Green Lantern Corps #40, this issue is a breeze…


Pages 1-2: All of these villains last appeared in Blackest Night: Batman #1.


A little recap, so you know who we’re dealing with here…


The KGBeast was a Soviet assassin who first battled Batman when he attempted to kill President Reagan. Yeah, this was a while ago.


Deacon Blackfire was the head of a cult that tried to take over Gotham City.


Abattoir was a serial killer that had some family issues.


King Snake was an international crime lord and martial artist that Tim Drake encountered while training to be the third Robin.


Magpie was a thief whose early efforts were stopped by the combined efforts of Batman and Superman. Yes, you read that right; it took Batman and Superman to capture her. Go figure.


The Ventriloquist and Scarface have been plaguing Batman and Robin for years; out of everyone in this undead group, they are probably the most remembered, which isn’t really saying all that much.


Blockbuster used to be just a big, dumb guy until Neron granted him heightened intelligence, which he used to take control of Blüdhaven, becoming a foe of Nightwing.


Note that the Ventriloquist is the only one who uses his Black Lantern power ring to create energy structures; in this case, multiple versions of Scarface.


Black Lantern power levels go from 46.65% to 46.77%.


Page 3: Batman, Robin and Deadman all last appeared in Blackest Night: Batman #1.


“…coupled with the info that Green Lantern uploaded about these black rings to the JLA server…” Green Lantern did this in Blackest Night #2.


Page 7: Commissioner Jim Gordon and Barbara Gordon last appeared in Blackest Night: Batman #1.


And last, and probably least, are the Trigger Twins, a pair of criminals who resemble the Old West heroes of the same name.


Page 8: Black Lantern power levels at 46.89%.


Page 9: “I should have realized things would go from bad to worse once a Green Lantern smashed into the damned light!” Green Lantern Hal Jordan crashed into the Bat-signal in Blackest Night #2.


Page 10: Black Lantern power levels at 47.01%.


Page 12: “…savoring the distinct subtleties of the fear, rage, love, compassion and willpower coursing through their souls!” What about hope and avarice? Don’t they want to experience those emotions as well? And, up until now, it seemed that those fueled by willpower, like the Green Lanterns, seemed defended against the Black Lanterns.


Page 15: As he enters Barbara Gordon’s body, Deadman sees flashes of her life, including (from left to right) spending time with her father, meeting Batman and Robin (presumably for the first time), fighting crime as Batgirl, getting shot by the Joker, working as Oracle with the other so-called “Birds of Prey” and her relationship with Nightwing.


Page 16: Barbara’s word balloons in Panels 1-3 should be wavier, reflecting Deadman’s presence in her body.


It seems that, when he possesses another living being, Deadman is capable of overcoming his host body’s physical disabilities. As seen here, he can use his acrobatic abilities in Barbara’s body, even though she has been a paraplegic for years.


So why does Gordon have to carry Barbara’s body? Could Deadman only use her legs for a limited time before he did some further injury to her?


Pages 18-19: Red Robin last appeared in Blackest Night: Batman #1.


Blockbuster once again shows us that the Black Lanterns are privy to information that they never had as mortals. To my knowledge, he never knew that Dick Grayson was Nightwing, nor would he have any reason to believe that Grayson is now Batman. The Tarantula killed Blockbuster in Nightwing #93.


Page 23: Jack & Janet Drake, as well as John and Mary Grayson, last appeared in Blackest Night: Batman #1.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Week's Haul

Okay, I’m finally back on track with reviews and annotations after two touch-and-go weeks. I think we can all breathe a little easier, now can’t we?


Titans #17: Oh, how the moderately-good titles have fallen. The only thing worse than the current state of this series is the thought that the creative team behind Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink is going to be taking this title over soon. Really? That’s an improvement?


The Shield #1: Given that I had misgivings about last month’s Red Circle one-shots, I wasn’t sure about this series, especially since Straczynski wasn’t going to be writing it. Trautmann, however, picks up the baton and runs with it, making what could have been an overly preachy series about how great America is into a well-plotted action tale, with just the requisite hint of social commentary.


Red Robin #4: So, after four issues, my question remains – what was the initial event that caused Tim to think that Bruce is still alive? Tim gets his first real evidence that the dead Batman might not have died when we all thought he died in this story, but this is what should have motivated him in the first place, not added fuel to the fire.


Doom Patrol #2: The team faces an existential sentient black hole and we’re reminded of how big a bastard Niles Caulder really is. Good stuff. And the Metal Men make a new enemy. Really, you can’t go wrong with this book.


Secret Six #13: I consistently love this title; I’m just not blown away by this story arc, that’s all. Simone’s writing is witty, and Scott’s artwork is beautiful as always. The Six fighting it out on this island tale just isn’t doing it for me is all. Mind you, a “Blah” issue of Secret Six is still head-and-shoulders above most other books on the shelves these days.


Superman: World of New Krypton #7: I liked this story…until I thought about the main battle of the issue -- a group of Thanagarians versus a group of Kryptonians. Are these Kryptonite-armed, red solar radiation emitting Thanagarian warriors? Because, if not, really, why isn’t the fight over in, like, twelve seconds?


Booster Gold #24: Jurgens deserves credit for delivering well-crafted, enjoyable super-hero action month after month. The guy’s a freaking machine, I I applaud him. In this issue, the Black Beetle becomes even more of a menace, so much so that he crosses over into the Blue Beetle second feature. Now that’s power!

And now, the book of the week is…


Adventure Comics #2: Superboy and Wonder Girl on a date, with Krypto along for company. It seems like such a simple concept, but it really gets to the heart of these two heroes and what they have been through the past few years. Like in the DC Universe has been treacherous lately, so it’s nice to see these two crazy kids take some time out for themselves. The second feature, starring Lightning Lad of the Legion of Super-Heroes, was pretty damn good too.