Week 48 (Aug. 1, 2012)

The Lost week of Comics.  Right after reading them I misplaced the pile and have yet to find it.  If you are interested in the comics of August 1st, 2012, check back periodically and I will eventually get them up here.  Sorry for the inconvenience . . .

  • Action Comics #12 concludes the storyline involving Adam Blake and Lois’s niece, Susie.  Lois Lane has sustained catastrophic damage to most of her major organs and is moments away from her inevitable death, Blake is about to take Susie away with the rest of the Neo Sapiens born on Earth, and Superman has met his match with an opponent who is thousands of years ahead of the evolutionary curve.  But with the Man of Steel, you can never count him out.  All of the problems above are within his reach to solve, and while he and the reader may not know exactly how, writer Grant Morrison takes both on the path towards the impossible.  Also, Clark’s land lady, Mrs. Nyxly turns out to be far more than meets the eye, leading to a revelation that promises to open the way for Action Comics’ next major crisis.  For now though, the stage is cleared for next month’s #0 issues that will offer an origin for the Man of Steel, courtesy of Mr. Morrison.
  • Detective Comics #12 like Action Comics above, ends its arc with a conclusion to the “Mr. Toxic” arc, just in time for Septembers “Zero Month.”  Batman has discovered the connection between Dr. Hugh Marder and Mister Toxic, along with the clones of himself that rapidly decay into radioactive waste.  Now, with the lives of thousands at stake, Batman has to intercede and stop the mad scientist before his experiment causes a meltdown in the center of Gotham City.  And in the process, he may just save one more life than he expected.  This story marks the last regular issue of Detective that writer/artist Tony Daniel will be a part of in both roles.  His Detective Comics Annual is due out at the end of the month, and he will provide pencils for Septembers #0 issue, before handing the series over to a new creative team in October.  In the backup feature of this issue, James Tynion IV brings us a short story born of the INCREDIBLE events that ended this series first issue.  After having his face torn off by an unknown assailant and nailed to a wall, the Joker’s smiling slab of skin is in cold storage at Gotham Central under police lock and key.  Despite its seemingly harmless nature, anything belonging to the Joker can’t help but be sinister.  One thing that truly defines the Joker is his big smiling face, begging the question of how just how long he will allow it to remain away from where it belongs . . .We’ll find out in October.
  • Red Lanterns #12 opens in chaos.  Things for the Red Lanterns are looking incredibly dim.  The Central Power Battery of their corps that powers their rings is dying meaning those Red Lanterns still alive will have their rings fully depowered in a matter of hours or minutes.  Their rings are also the only thing keeping the napalm in their veins from killing them.  No power battery and its lights out for every last Lantern of Rage.  Across the Universe, those that haven’t already succumbed to dead rings are on the verge and imperiled by enemies surrounding them.  Bleez, Zilius Zox, and a third unnamed Red Lantern are prisoners on Zameron, homeworld of the Star Sapphires. Atrocitus himself is being savagely attacked by his failed first attempt at a Red Soldier, Abysmus.  The situation across the board is bleak.  However, as has been the case since his inception several months ago into the RL Corps, Jack Moore, aka Rankorr, proves to be the savior delivering the last impetus to the struggle for survival that sparks the restoration and renewal of the whole Corps.  And amid the rivers of blood that are spilled the connection between the fall of the Red Lanterns and the Guardians that we all have assumed is finally confirmed.  But damned if Atrocitus and his minions are going to go quietly into the night.  I am very much looking forward to seeing what October holds for the Red Lanterns.

    The Rage of Bleez

  • Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2 jumps right out of the first issue’s origin story directly into the fray.  The second Nite Owl, Dan Dreiberg, is chasing a felon through an alley at night, when the perp ducks into a doorway and our hero making chase.  Inside Nite Owl finds the man unconscious on the floor of what appears to be an S&M sex dungeon, with a naked woman (save for a domino mask and leather gloves) standing over the crook with a broad bloodied paddle in hand.  To Watchmen faithful she is recognizable as the “Twilight Lady”, a criminal that Nite Owl was romantically involved with for a time.  This issue shows their first meeting and sets up what we know to be inevitable sexually between the two.  What it also does is give rise to emotional responses from both Nite Owl and Rorschach, who himself was also chasing the perp just a little behind Nite Owl.  Rorschach, whose abusive mother turned tricks in their apartment during his childhood, reacts to the dominatrix madam, who at the time is standing over her bound and gagged client, with  violent anger spawned from years of resentment.  Nite Owl, who had spoken briefly with the Twilight Lady about her work and how she and other women like her find strength in the face of their own degradation, reacts positively in defense of her against Rorschach’s assualts, because her words remind him of his mother.  Though she was the well-to-do wife of an affluent banker and not a prostitute, she was brutalized by her husband and beaten savagely often.  Living this way for so long, she entrenched her spirit in a fortress of pure will to keep her integrity and her sanity intact.  She taught her son to do the same, saving him as well from a hostile world and planting the seed that would later become the Nite Owl in him.  Where Rorschach sees depravity and ugliness, Nite Owl sees nobility, strength, and a certain ironic purity.  The “in-your-face” scene of deviant sadomasochistic sex may put some people off, but I applaud Straczynski and Kubert’s depiction of it, as it fits the story narratively and also commits the world of Before Watchmen to gritty reality with kid gloves to lessen the experience.

    The Birth of the Nite

  • Earth 2 #4, like Red Lanterns above, opens in chaos and manifests itself in that same vein.  Single issues have been dedicated to the fall of the Trinity in issue #1, Jay Garrick becoming the Flash and meeting Hawk Girl in issue #2, and Alan Scott surviving a train crash and becoming the Green Lantern in issue #3.  Now all three of those threads come together along with a tertiary point of Al Pratt, first shown in issue #1 as a World Army Sergeant, becoming the Atom.  When Scott got the green ring, a symbol of the Earth’s collective force, a champion of the Gray rises up to challenge him.  This issue has that champion, Solomon Grundy, descending on Washington D.C. in an attempt to ferret out the “Jade Champion.”  He succeeds in not only that, but also bring on the Flash and Hawkgirl from their detour in Poland, and Al Pratt’s Atom persona from his secret government installation.  So with destruction and vengeance in mind, Grundy inadvertently brings together Earth’s new wave of superheroes for the first time, creating a new alliance . . . maybe, because things don’t exactly workout between the fours as most would like.
  • Worlds’ Finest #4 concludes the Hakkou arc, with a very straightforward, Godzilla-esque battle with the radioactive monster in Tokyo harbor.  I won’t elaborate on how the day is saved, but its a safe bet that it is.  Writer Paul Levitz also throws in a fun, yet unrelated tale of the Helena and Kara’s first months on Earth 1, this time in Rome.  George Perez and Kevin Maguire continue their dual duty on art, draws the present and past sequences respectively, both with masterful skill.
  • Animal Man #12 ushers in the storyline that we have been waiting for for exactly one year since the first mentions of “Red” and “Green” and “Black/Rot”:  the meeting and team up of Animal Man, champion of the Red, and Swamp Thing, champion and warrior king of the Green.  Written by both Animal Man writer, Jeff Lemire, and Swamp Thing writer, Scott Snyder, this issue is solicited as “Rotworld: Prologue Part 1” and that is precisely what this issue is.  After exchanging quick anecdotes of their respective journeys over 11 months of issues, Swamp Thing and Animal Man decide that they must venture into the heart of the Black to deal a “death punch” (pun intended) to the Rot and stop its overreaching assault on the two forces of life. The consequences of their failure to do so are heralded by both of Animal Man, Buddy Baker’s, children.  As his son, Cliff, states in a catatonic sleepwalking state, “Rotworld is coming . . .”  As his daughter, Maxine, sees in the black pool that serves as the gateway to the Black, the world will be enveloped in a wave of death and desolation that will sweep the world clean, killing all life, both plant and animal life (humans included in the latter part), leaving a world decayed.  Thus, down the darkened rabbit hole our two heroes doth plunge . . .
  • Swamp Thing #12 follows on the heels of Animal Man #12 presenting “Rot World: Prologue Part 2.”  Written once again by both Animal Man and Swamp Thing writers, Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder, the set up for “Rot World” concludes. As of this issue’s end, Rot World has come.  In the heart of the Rot our two champions are met by Anton Arcane on his home turf and the evil doctor reveals the full depth of the Rot’s plot to dominate the other forces of life.  Unlike a James Bond villain, however, he reveals the full extent of his plan after events have past the point of no return.  Outside of the portal to the Black, Abby Arcane and Ellen Baker fight to prevent the rotlings from severing the lifeline binding Alec and Buddy to the outer world.  As the tides turn and the Rot gains supremecy, Abby can feel the swelling of power within the Black.  The only way to stem its growing power would be to strike at the heart of the Parliament of Rot, the location of which none in the Red or Green know.  Abby Arcane, being a child of the Rot, has a preternatural knowledge of its location and its weaknesses, meaning that to save her lover and the world, she must venture toward the wellspring of her own strengths and cripple it.  This prologue leaves a lot of questions in the air, but makes one thing certain.  The next several months of Swamp Thing and Animal Man will be “can’t miss” reads.

    Abby, Scion of the Black

  • Justice League International #12 convenes at the funeral of Gavril Ivanovich, the Russian superhero Rocket Red.  After the literal blowup at the United Nations and the ensuing battle with the terrorists responsible, bad blood remains between the survivors.  The younger brother of the terrorist Lightweaver, who cradled him in his arms as he died, receives his powers as a result and decides to attack the JLI as they attempt to honor their fallen comrade.  Both blaming each other for the death of their respective loved one, it becomes hard to cheer on or demonize either party.  When a resolution does finally come, the moral confusion of the battle gives way to general confusion about where to go now that the UN charter has been revoked, a member of their team have been killed, and most of the threads holding them together have been severed.  But with a common goal and some need for their help still existing, they decide to press on.  This twelfth issue is final regular issue, with an annual at the end of the month written by Geoff Johns and Dan Didio capping off the series.  I am very curious to see how that JLI Annual handles what here doesn’t seem to be an ending.
  • Batwing #12 concludes the “Lord Battle” arc with a little help from the aforementioned Justice League International . . . and Nightwing. Batwing’s mentor and friend, Matu Ba, while trying to bury his slain family members in their homeland of Tundi, is taken prisoner by the super-powered ruler of that nation, Lord Battle.  This reason, alongside the discovery of massive oil reserves in Tundi and the Penguin selling them a nuclear weapon, leads Batwing to plan an invasion of that country with super-powered help.  The defeat of Lord Battle and the connection he holds to the flourishing nation he rules is the best reason to read this issue.  Writer, Judd Winick, comes up with a very novel and complex twist that connect ruler with country.  I feel like this series is really growing and developing a unique identity.
  • Green Arrow #12 finds Ollie Queen in his civilian identity facing off against Chinese businessman/industrialist,
  • G.I. Combat #4 is a toss up.  The War That Time Forgot feature seemingly ends with no real point.  US G.I.’s dispatched to an island off of North Korea find living dinosaurs and shortly thereafter are attacked by them.  Most of the US forces are killed.  The rest are probably going to be killed.  So ends the story.  There is a bearded man at the end which might mean that they will pick up the story at a later date, but if not, oh well.  The Unknown Soldier secondary feature concludes the initial arc in an exciting, albeit anti-climatic manner.  After raiding a secret meeting of a terrorist organization that is akin to Al-Qaeada, the Unknown Soldier slaughters hundreds while taking one of the masterminds alive.  The groups plot is to sneak in sleeper agents who are teenagers of white european dissent into the US with lethal bioweapons in their systems.  They are in country and have cleared all customs and checkpoints because of their nonthreatening appearances.  It doesn’t seem like there is any way to stop them. They are nearly invisible and as the terrorist leader states, he himself will never talk.  Using the latest in technological breakthroughs, the Unknown Soldier’s bosses find a way to get the information they need and nab the kids.  A little cleanup later and writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray set the stage for next month’s Unknown Soldier zero issue origin story.

    The Dreams of the Unknown

  • Smallville Season 11 #4 caps off the season’s initial arc of Commander Hank Henshaw, aka Cyborg Superman.  When he awakens in his sensory deprived synthetic body the former astronaut goes berserk and attacks everyone present including Lex.  Superman is able to talk him down, but his life remains in tatters after the fact.  To add insult to injury, Superman also finds out why Lex intentionally exploded the shuttle carrying Henshaw, and the reasoning behind it leaves Superman’s personal life in tatters as well.  Across the country in the cornfields of Smallville Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, and his wife Chloe Sullivan chase down the survivor of the mysterious “spacecraft” bearing the name Queen Enterprises on its hull.  The pilot is unmasked and her identity is quite shocking, as is the Crisis she heralds, which may or may not involve multiple Earths . . . Infinite Earths, perhaps.   

One month and a half later and I have finally finished this damned post. Not sure if anyone is going to read it or not, but in any event I hope it is up to the standards I have exhibited in past posts.  It was an excellent week of comics and deserved to be reported on much sooner than this.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Red Lantern #12: Art by Miguel Sepulveda, Colored by Rain Beredo & Santi Arcas

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2: Drawn by Andy Kubert, Colored by Brad Anderson, Inked by Joe Kubert

Swamp Thing #12: Drawn by Marco Rudy, Colored by Val Staples, Inked by Andy Owens

G.I. Combat #4:  Art by Dan Panosian, Colored by Rob Swager


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