Batman and the Outsiders #1 (Chuck Dixon-writer, Julian Lopez-artist)
Since I’m a sucker for any book with Batman in it, I figured I’d give Batman and the Outsidersa shot. I also happened to be a fan of Judd Winick’s Outsiders reboot–until the One Year Later jump, which, in retrospect, killed a lot of DC’s books for me. Even though I passed on the five prelude issues after issue # 2, BATO didn’t disappoint. It seems like a no-brainer to me: if you want to put together a covert, black ops team, there’s no one in the DCU better equipped than Batman. Bruce is probably the best tactician out there. Plus, he’s relentless and has no problem playing dirty to get results, which was what Nightwing wanted this team to be all about in the first place. To accomplish his mission, Batman assembles a mix of old and new heroes. Metamorpho and Katana (who were both members of Batman’s original Outsiders team in the 80s) join Grace and Thunder (from Nightwing’s group). Catwoman and Martian Manhunter are also on the team because, let’s face it, when you’re planning some next-level shit, you want a burglar and a shape-shifter.
This team’s first mission seems simple enough. Bruce sends Catwoman and Katana to break into Jardine Tower, regional headquarters of a Belgian corporation. While they go in from above, Metamorpho slips in through the ventilation system, Grace trudges through the sewers, and Manhunter shapeshifts into a scruffy vandal and gets nabbed by builder security. All pretty solid.
From the get-go, Bruce is playing the role of chess-master, moving his pieces across the board, while thinking three or four steps ahead of his opponent. Bruce understands the skills that each team member brings to the table, and knows how to use them to best achieve his goals. That’s why he holds Thunder back. He doesn’t think she’s ready. He pretty much only kept her on the team as a favor to her dad, Black Lightning, who was also on the original team with Batman. To further prove his point, Bats tells Thunder that the fact that she’s standing around bitching at him while he’s trying to coordinate his operatives in the field is also proof that she’s “not ready.” This is going to be the book where Batman can flex his fascist muscles without worrying about what the more “goody-goody” Justice Leaguers might say to him.
Early scuttlebutt about this series tied it to DC’s Salvation Run–y’know, their prison planet mini-series. Although this issue takes place on good old terra firma, the reveal at the end of the issue–an O.M.A.C. bursting free from some sort of weird metal cocoon–could very easily lead into Salvation Run. Honestly, if you’re going to build a prison planet to house all of the worst super-powered villains on the planet, who better to serve as guards than an army of O.M.A.C.s?
Booster Gold #4 (Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz-writers, Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund-artists)
This issue finally reveals who’s been flying around in the Supernova costume, as well as revealing one of the men behind Supernova’s time-line tinkering. The Supernova suit can only be used by someone with DNA similar to Booster Gold, which means a member of the Carter lineage must be in the cape and cowl. It turns out that it’s Carter’s deadbeat dad, sporting a wicked eye scar and everything. Booster’s dad plays the ol’ Darth Vader card again–attempting to turn Booster to the dark side so they can rule as father and son, blah, blah, blah. Hell, Daddy Carter even throws Booster’s dead sister in his son’s face. That’s good parenting. The man responsible for recruiting Carter the Elder is Rex Hunter, a former member of Rip Hunter’s team. Of course, as Rip points out, neither of these two gents are intelligent enough to pull this whole thing off on their own (much less to build a duplicate Time Sphere) , so there must be a bigger bad pulling the strings. Exactly who remains a mystery at the moment.
At the end of the last issue, Rip and Booster have a bit of a fender-bender in the time-stream with Barry Allen and Wally West. Being the big goddamn heroes that they are, Flash and Kid Flash agree to help these strange time travelers in their fight against evil–despite the fact that Rip practically begs them to mind their own business. Heroes…there’s just no talking to them some times. The Evil Leapers have gone back to the night that Barry is first struck by lightning, becoming the Flash. Of course Booster and Rip stop them, ensuring that there will be a new generation of Speedsters. The real kick of this issue is watching Barry and Wally do their thing. This is a simpler time. A time before heroes were dying left and right. It was a time when heroes and sidekicks bantered in that “gee whiz” fashion that hasn’t been around since Leave it to Beaver went off the air. Only a hero from the 60s can lecture his young sidekick on the dangers of alcohol and not be met by a sullen eye-roll from the youngster.
B.P.R.D.:Killing Ground #4 (Mike Mignola-writer, John Arcudi-artist)
Mignola’s stories usually operate outside of the box, leaving you scratching your head more times than not. That being said, this issue of B.P.R.D. was seriously fucked-up. The B.P.R.D. headquarters has been infiltrated. A hideous, man-eating Wendigo is on the loose. Liz Sherman is having dreams where she’s chatting with David Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China. And Johann is off getting drunk and getting laid. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this issue sees Benjamin Daimio getting attacked by the Wendigo and turning into a Wendigo himself. The Daimio-digo than goes on his own rampage, ripping apart his former teammates. Since Daimio has already died once and “gotten better”, is it possible for him to come back from this Wendigo curse? Or did he return from a premature death to fulfill some kind of weird destiny by becoming a Wendigo? With Mignola it could go either way…or in a completely different direction.
Just when it looks bad for the B.P.R.D., Johann returns and trounces the Daimio-digo using the superhuman strength of his new fake body. Unfortunately, Johann’s body isn’t strong enough to resist getting its throat ripped out by the Daimio-digo. Things get even weirder when Johann’s spirit emerges from the dead simulacrum and it turns out to be…the ghost of Lobster Johnson. Lobster-freakin-Johnson! LJ runs down to the infirmary and pops a bunch of spectral caps into Liz Sherman’s comatose body, seemingly wounding the creepy Fu Manchu dude who’s been hanging out in Liz’s subconscious. This whole scene leads me to believe that whatever is going on in Killing Groundis connected to Mignola’s other mini-series, Lobster Johnson: Iron Prometheus.
More than anything else, this issue reinforces that Mignola is writing horror comics. Sure, they may have a hint of general super-hero-ness about that, but these (Hellboy, B.P.R.D., Lobster Johnson) are horror comics.
Countdown to Final Crisis 24 (Paul Dini, Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti-writers, Tom Derenick-artist)
As this series progresses, it seems to get more and more pointless. Maybe it was inevitable, after the success and critical acclaim of 52. You can’t always catch lightning in a bottle twice. I give DC credit for trying, but it might be time to give the weekly event comics a rest for a while.
After last issue, Desaad became Firestorm, only to have that power stripped from him in about two pages. Desaad then Boom-tubes back to Apokolips, where there is absolutely no sign of Jimmy Olsen. Darkseid is trying to get “Black” Mary Marvel to join his forces because the one kind of minion he lacks is a sorcerer. Poor, lost, confused Mary tells Darkseid to stick his invitation where the Omega Effect don’t shine and takes off.
The majority of this issue deals with that maniac Superman(boy) Prime ripping Earth-15 apart, piece by piece. Y’see, this dude used to live on Earth-Prime, where he was the only super-hero. Then the Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed the original Multiverse, trapping Superboy Prime in a pocket dimension with other refugees from the Multiverse, including Alexander Luthor and Superman from Earth-Two. These fine folks than orchestrated Infinite Crisis in an attempt to “fix” everything that had gone wrong since the Multiverse ended. Superboy Prime became a major pain in the ass, killing our Superboy (Connor Kent) and a bunch of former Teen Titans, and causing general mischief. Now he’s back, having been released from his red sun prison by Sinestro, and is searching the new Multiverse for an Earth to call his own. I’m going to be really disappointed in DC if they brought back the Multiverse at the end of 52 only to destroy it (and the cool narrative possibilities it holds) one year later. C’mon, DC, don’t let me down.
Gen13 #14 (Simon Oliver-writer, Carlo Barberi-artist)
Simon Oliver steps in for Gail Simone in this issue, which finds the kids of Gen13arriving in New York City. There are two reasons why it makes perfect sense that the kids would want to go to NYC (which is why it happened in the original series, as well): first, they’re kids without any parental control, of course they’re going to want to go to New York City; secondly, what better place to hide than in a city known for treating its denizens with complete anonymity?
Upon arriving in the Big Apple, the kids suddenly feel the need to spread out and have their own space. Sarah Rainmaker explores the gay scene. Grunge hooks up with a gang of urban thrill-seekers. Burnout Bobby finds himself in a record store, learning more about jazz and reggae. Roxy gets herself an invite to a stereotypically pretentious Soho artist party. And, while all of this is going on, poor Caitlin in trying to come to terms with what is and isn’t reality–understandably, since her entire life had been controlled and orchestrated by unseen forces, Truman Show-style.
This is a bad time for the kids to spread out like this, since I.O. (that’s International Operations–the folks behind the Tabula Rasa program that created Gen13) has implemented a new strategy to get the kids back under control. With the mysterious Ezra Rothwell at the helm, I.O. will utilize something called “15 Minutes” to cut their losses from the failed Tabula Rasa initiative.
I’m not sure what “15 Minutes” is, but since Roxy is offered her “15 minutes of fame” at that Soho shindig, I’m pretty sure I.O.’s days of messing with the kids’ heads are far from over. What kid wouldn’t want to be famous in this day and age? The media is bombarding us with stories and images of people who are famous just for being famous. You’re far more likely to let someone control your comings and goings if it’s disguised as an agent “handling” their client. Think about it…
Nightwing #138 (Fabian Nicieza-writer, Don Kramer-artist)
It should come as no surprise that I like Nightwing–he is, after all, connected with Batman. More than that, like Tim Drake, Dick Grayson is a fun character. He knew he couldn’t live in Bruce’s shadow forever, so the former Robin adopted a new identity and then moved to his own town: Bludhaven. I gave up on Nightwingafter the One Year Later jump (yeah…another one), when DC decided to destroy Bludhaven and move Dick Grayson to New York City. I see no reason to set DC comics in real cities when DC has some of the greatest fictional towns ever. On top of that, there was some lame-ass story about Jason Todd masquerading as Nightwing just to fuck with Dick. Enough, Jason Todd. Enough!
Anyways, I figured that I would pick up this issue of Nightwingbecause it’s the second part of the “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul” storyline. I wasn’t disappointed, because Dick is still awesome. He’s called to Wayne Manor to help Tim fight off an invading horde of Ra’s al Ghul’s ninjas. Bruce would go, but he’s too busy chasing down Ra’s and letting Talia tell him what a horrible father he is. So Dick teleports from NYC to Gotham–he secretly has an access code for the JLA teleporter system, much to Bruce’s surprise (few people on Earth can surprise Bruce, but most of them were trained by him).
Dick and Tim put up a valiant battle in the Batcave–at one point, they drop Bruce’s giant penny on a bunch of evil ninjas–but in the end Dick has to let the ninjas take Tim and Damian (he was saving someone who, unlike Tim, wasn’t able to take care of themselves…so back off, okay!). What I like most about these Bat-events is the opportunity to see the members of Team Bat hanging out together–especially Dick and Tim. It’s great seeing how easily they fall into the role of siblings, despite the fact that Dick was off on his own by the time Tim came around. But, without fail, Dick falls into the role of the older, jock brother and Tim becomes the smarter, younger brother.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #48 (Mike Carey-writer, Mark Brooks-artist)
When I read the last issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four, it looked like Mike Carey was finally getting on track with what the Fantastic Four should be. This issue was more of the same. After a few bumpy storylines here and there, Marvel’s Ultimate version of their “First Family” finds themselves in the middle of a classic action/adventure story, with a heavy (but plausible) sci-fi component.
Sue was shot down over Siberia and kidnapped by Igor Kragoff (the man who should become classic FF villain Red Ghost), who wants to use Sue’s body to resurrect his dead wife. Kragoff has Sue so doped up that he’s able to convince her to help them by telling her that she has to save her brother’s life. Reed, Ben and Johnny high-tail it to Siberia to rescue their missing team mate. As soon as they arrive, the Crimson Dynamo shows up and there’s a typical comic book battle–which means after a few pages of fighting, they realize that they’re on the same side. What I liked most about Crimson Dynamo was how Brooks designed the armor to look like a robot from an 80s cartoon (hey, the Dynamo armor is on out-dated technology, why wouldn’t it look like something from the 80s?).
So, while Kragoff is trying to resurrect his wife, by sending both her body and Sue through the N-Zone (nice way of tying things back to Reed’s original experiment, Carey. Well done!), his assistant, Rutskaya, decides she wants to explore other employment opportunities. So, as one would assume, she kills Kragoff and decides to use Sue’s body to give herself super powers. I’m sure she has the purist of goals: feeding the hungry, curing the sick, subjugating the planet. Of course, Sue can’t have any of that. She pulls herself together just enough to create a small force-field in her IV tube and blow the damn thing to hell…just as Rutskaya begins the N-Zone body-merging mojo. Sadly, our crazy Russian chick merges not with Sue Storm, but with a box of slides containing DNA from various primates. Seriously, she ends up looking like something out of John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Now, as long as Carey finds a way to keep Kragoff alive and fulfill his destiny as the Red Ghost, this might be a solid triple for Carey and Brooks. Hey…I don’t give out home-runs like candy, kids. I would have accepted Rutskaya becoming a female Ghost, but since she’s a mutated primate monster now, that ship has kind of sailed.
Quote of the week:
“Simpleton! Your tactics are flawed!”–Damian Wayne to Tim Drake, Nightwing #138.