Thursday, May 18, 2006

Weekly Comic Round-Up

Yeah, even with the insanity that is the theatre, I have managed to find time to keep up with the weekly comic round-ups. Up, Up and Away!

52 2
Yeah, you guys should get used to seeing this at the top of the Weekly Round-Ups. So, we are into the second week, and the thot begins to plicken, as they say. Apparently the Crisis has altered the timeline that Booster Gold comes from.

We saw the beginning of this in Week 1, what with the failure of Superman to make his speech. Sadly, Skeets doesn't seem to be reacting to the changing timeline well, and is having glitches and errors. Booster goes to Doc Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, to get Skeets repaired, which leads us into a meeting between Doc Magnus and T.O. Morrow, creator of the Red Tornado. Morrow informs us that the Mad Scientists seem to all be going missing. Interesting. This bodes ill.

In other DCU news, the Question is still being mysterious. He breaks in on Rene Montoya and her lover, scares the beejezus out of them, and then hires Montoya. For what, I'm not entirely certain. Especially since the Question is a detective himself.

And speaking of detectives, someone has apparently vandalized Sue Dibny's grave, and the Elongated Man means to find out why. But the grave wasn't just vandalized, it was painted with an upside down, all too familiar, stylized "S". Ralph knows that the symbol is more than simply Superman's logo, but it has a meaning in the Kryptonian language. Normally, it means "hope", which is appropriate. But apparently inverted it means resurrection.

Sadly, Superman is MIA, and Supergirl isn't around either. And Superboy is, well, dead. So, Dibny goes to find Cassie Sandsmark, better known as Wonder-Girl, who has been conducting memorial services for Superboy over webcams across the world.

Of course, reading Titans, we know that Conner doesn't come back from the grave, at least not during 52. Teasing jerks.

There's also a backup feature, where Donna Troy is going through Dark Angel's records to get the history of the DCU, post-post-Crisis. Interesting enough read, but it feels a bit like homework.

Captain America 18
I don't often talk about the art, but I really do feel like the current artist on Cap just doesn't know how to make pictures dynamic enough. Maybe its the shading and dark color pallet, but while I've been enjoying these stories, there just hasn't been a sense of action to the images.

So, Cap is now in England, where he has enlisted the current Union Jack and Spitfire to help him track down the Kronas corporation and Luskin, presumably to find Luskin before Bucky does, and gets himself killed. Again. Apparently, despite this being a new Union Jack, it's the original Spitfire, somehow made young again. I'd worry about it, but she's a hot blonde speedster, and the world always needs more of those. And if it really mattered to me, I could go get the Invaders comics.

Luskin, with the Skull working inside of him, is plotting something big, and Crossbones and Syn are also working their way to find Luskin. They, of course, don't realize that the Skull is now inside of Luskin, and are just trying to kill him.

Luskin/Red Skull on one side. Captain America on another. The Winter Soldier/Bucky on a third, and Crossbones and Syn on a fourth. When they finally all meet, this is going to be a mess. I'm looking forward to it.

Green Arrow 62
One would think that walking into one's office to find Deathstroke sitting there would be a sign that one is in trouble, even if you are Oliver Queen.

One would be wrong.

Deathstroke got played.

There's just no other way to put it. Ollie had everything set up. Somehow he knew Deathstroke was coming for him, and Ollie had traps set, including an explosive under the desk, an adhesive cable to pull him away, a pit of adhesive to throw him into, and some new gear, including coating his boots in a solvent so the adhesive wouldn't bother him, body armor under the costume, and a sword.

Yeah, a sword. During the missing year, Oliver went and retrained. And he's good. Damn good.

The final moment, of course, is the perfect one. The National Guard have been called out, and Deathstroke is surrounded, and at the bottom of a pit. This was all an object lesson to show the world that Star City, it's Mayor, and Green Arrow are not to be taken lightly.

Beautiful.

Moon Knight 2
This doesn't seem to be a series about a superhero, so much as it is about the fallen hero.

Moon Knight is kind of a scary hero, and falls short of my definition of the "superhero". His abuse of his girlfriend in the first issue shows that, and this issue continues it. We get to see Moon Knight's final battle, where he breaks his legs. And he hurts his enemy, quite a bit, before finally killing him.

I'm not up on my Moon Knight lore, so I don't know who Crawley is. I don't know who the guy that is monitoring Spector is. I have absolutely no idea who the "Gaelic Friend" is.

What I do know is that the writing is intelligent, and a mood is being evoked that I find fascinating. The art has a great feel to it, and it's amazing how dark a bright white costume can be made. So the other thing I know for sure is that I'll be picking up next month's issue as well.

Shadowpact 1
It's no secret that Villains United was my favorite of the Infinite Crisis prequels. But Day of Vengeance was a close, close second. The character interactions were just so much fun. And I've always liked the magical heroes of the DCU.

So, somewhere in the heart of somewhere, a blood barrier has been placed around a town. Strega, Jack of Fire, Bagman, Karnevil, Sister Shadow and the White Knight are planning a necromantic ritual that will require a good deal of human sacrifice. I rather enjoyed Strega's address to the town about this. Very matter of fact, very "yes, some of you are going to die. Sorry about that, but someone has to. No, it's not fair. Please work with us, and we won't have to kill others beyond those chosen for the sacrifice."

I don't know any of these characters, but I'm looking forward to learning more.

When the non-magical heroes of the DCU find the barrier, they're stymied. So, the Phantom Stranger sends the Shadowpact (consisting of Blue Devil, Ragman, Nightshade, Detective Chimp, Enchantress and Nightmaster) to bring the barrier down. That was a year ago. Today, the Phantom Stranger is having people monitor the barrier, either for it to come down, or for the Shadowpact to return.

Two mysteries: What is the ritual for? This I'm not at all certain of. I imagine it'll be something huge, along the scale of the Spectre or Nabu or the Phantom Stranger. But I don't know what it'll be exactly.

The other mystery is a continuity thing. If the book is occurring in "real time", as in, concurrent with One Year Later, when did Green Lantern and Superman find the barrier? It has to be after the Spectre destroyed the Rock of Eternity and killed Nabu, but then there isn't any time before we get into the meat of Infinite Crisis, at the end of which Superman is de-powered.

Thunderbolts 102
The Squadron Supreme, or Squadron Sinister, or Supreme Power, under whatever name they choose to operate, are still, and always will be, cheap copies of the DC icons. As such, they've never excited me. I wasn't even really able to get into JMS' Supreme Power series. (And why does the Squadron Sinister want to be called Supreme Power now? What a lame way to say "Hey, buy this book!"

The storyline with the Grandmaster manipulating people to get power returned to the Wellspring, which apparently powered the Squadron, just isn't at all interesting to me. And this issue spends entirely too much time going into Joystick's background.

Joystick doesn't interest me. At all. She's a lame character, with undefined limits to her abilities. She's irritating. And of course she's going to try to take the power for herself instead of letting Zemo have it.

Still, we got one nice moment in here, when Zemo and Mach IV were talking to Gyrich and Riordan about the registration act. I found it interesting to see that Abe feels so strongly about civil liberties. He really does have a hero inside of himself, trying to get out. And of course Zemo sees no need for these liberties. Of course.

In any case, Thunderbolts is still one of my favorite comics, and is in no danger of falling off of my pull, but I won't be sad to see this storyline end.

Ultimate X-Men 70
So, the new guy is going to get his mission. Bully for him!

In all seriousness, this was one of those issues where the superpowered battle meant less than the two subplots going on. Don't get me wrong, the battle between Cyclops, Storm, Iceman, Rogue and Colossus and Havoc, Polaris, Angel, Sunspot and Northstar was fun. And with Mastermind making Havoc and company see the X-Men as the Brotherhood, it even made sense. The second part of the battle, with the X-Men against the Brotherhood, was also fun. But, ultimately, unimportant.

The main subplot was the title of the issue. Phoenix. Jean is going to allow Lilandra and her assistant to examine her to see if she's Phoenix. We get to find a key difference between Jean and her 616 counterpart: This Jean was dumped in a looney bin by her parents after her powers manifested. We also find that, like her 616 counterpart, Jean is willing to kill herself rather than let Phoenix take control. Of course, based on the last page of the issue, she may not get that option...

(Incidentally, does anyone else think that Gerald might actually be the Ultimate version of Gladiator? I kind of hope so.)

But the real heart-wrenching moment of the issue comes right at the beginning. Where Kurt Wagner, Nightcrawler, is confessing to the comatose Dazzler, about his concerns about Piotyr.

You see, Piotyr Rasputin in the Ultimate Universe, is homosexual. And I'm happy about this, we need more openly gay superheroes I believe. (Well, open as much as their sexuality is an issue for any superhero.) But something that tends to happen in comics is that all of the other heroes, being the icons of virtue and tolerance that they are, never have an issue with their teammates being different.

It's admirable, but that isn't honest. And Kurt is a deeply religious man. A deeply religious man from a faith that believes that homosexuals are abominations. And Kurt doesn't know how to deal with this.

There is irony, of course. Mutants are even more persecuted in the Marvel Universes (what is the plural of universe anyhow?) then homosexuals are in the real world. So, having a mutant be intolerant of someone else is deeply ironic. Truthful, but ironic. Plenty of minorities have their own prejudices after all. But they get credit, in my book, for having the guts to tackle the topic.

Alright, one more week down. I'll be at the theatre again tonight, so no promises about my ability to get my Civil War thoughts up tomorrow. I'll try, but, I make no promises.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Matt said...

Moon Knight Info

Crawley is a homeless man who provided Marc Spector's cabbie persona, Jake Lockley, with information from the streets. Marc revealed his secret identities to Crawley when the original Moon Knight series began and continued working for Marc as an informant.

The Gallic friend Crawley refers to is Frenchie, Marc's helicopter pilot and a former mercenary who worked beside him in Africa. Looking forward to seeing the meeting.

And if you didn't already know, the enemy he was fighting in the beginning was Bushman. He was Moon Knight's main nemesis. I found it fitting that Bushman was the villain to take Marc apart.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Os said...

Do you think they'll inculde teh history of the DCU in the trade of 52 or one of its own so I can (for once) have some idea of what's going on?

9:28 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Matt,

Thanks for the info. I'd never really followed Moon Knight before, despite wanting to.

Os,
52 is going to be 52 issues long. It's not going to be a single trade in length.

I suspect that the History of the DCU will be put into it's own trades, but they might merge it with the 52 trades. Hard to say. I can't imagine they'll exclude it completely.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Os said...

Geez, miss the letter "s" and they're all over you for it ;-)

I hope they include the "history" I'm really gonna need that. Do you think they'll produce the trades of 52 as they collect enough or wait for the whole thing to finish? It might be interesting to have something new to pick up that often. I guess I better get caught up with my pre(but post-)-crisis reading before they start hitting.

BTW, we'll be seeing the show tonight. Can't wait!

10:56 AM  

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