Friday, August 31, 2012

Justice League International Annual #1

Is it a bad sign for Blue Beetle that he's hanging out with Justice League International? Get away from them, Blue Beetle! You'll catch their curse!

This issue had better be good! It's only missing Jim Lee to have the top three jerks in control of DC working on this issue. I wonder if Dan Didio had to work on this book with Geoff Johns so he could keep reminding Johns that the series had been canceled?

Geoff Johns: "You know what we should do? I'll hint at a traitor in the midst of the group. And for four or five issues, I'll keep mentioning it and leaving clues as to who it might be. But then six issues in, we'll just make the traitor the person the internet has speculated on the least and then everything will unravel in a gigantic crossover involving everyone in the DC Universe!"
Dan Didio: "No. Stop it. Knock it off! Not every story arc has to involve every hero in the universe!"
Geoff Johns: "When was the last time we used Brother Power? What if Brother Power ended up being the guy behind the mask of the big universal ultimate evil? Yeah?"
Dan Didio: "What did I just tell you? This is one issue! A single issue! Don't seed future plots. Don't involve anybody except the Justice League International. Just a beginning, a middle, and an ending! Got it?"
Geoff Johns: "Okay, okay."
Dan Didio: "Fine. Great."
Geoff Johns: "..."
Geoff Johns: "But how'd you like the Brother Power idea for another comic book?"
Dan Didio: "Oh, fucking terrific man. Brilliant, yeah? Keep it up!"

The issue begins with a note saying that the events of this issue take place after Justice League #12. Maybe that's because they'll all be gossiping about Wonder Woman and Superman fucking. I bet Kryptonian penises are barbed! And Amazonian vaginas are like Venus Fly Traps. These two are probably the only ones in the DCnU that can actually fuck each other.

Justice League International are in Africa (again?) trying to rescue some U.N. Weapons Inspectors that have been taken hostage. It's too bad because Batwing thought he'd finally escaped this group of losers last issue. But here they are on his turf again, dragging him into their inability to save the world. But for once I actually have high hopes for the JLI! Dan Jurgens isn't writing the book so that's a good sign. Unless Geoff Johns and Dan Didio feel they need to respect Dan Jurgens vision of these guys. You know? Don't fuck with established continuity!

Booster Gold is chatting with Guy Gardner from some command location. He's trying to convince him that the real Justice League were going to meet them and work together. Perhaps it's because Hal Jordan left the team and the Justice League is recruiting. Or, as Guy thinks, Booster is simply lying and trying to get them to give it their best.

No, Wonder Woman is going to be grossed out.

The mission is successful with just one small quirk: the maniac they were after blew himself up. But all of the hostages were recovered and not one member of the team ended up unconscious! Seriously, though, rescuing the hostages was a major feat. Justice League International's first mission for the United Nations was to rescue some surveyors and they forgot all about them once they started fighting little rock men. I suppose those guys starved in the rainforest months ago.

Why does the United Nations have to approve new members? Aren't they being funded by Bruce Wayne now? Or did I just make that assumption since I knew the United Nations were embarrassed by these guys when Batman told them they were fully funded. I just figured Batman was doing it to keep them out of trouble.

I should probably scan in the reveal of the two new heroes in case someone didn't actually look at the cover.

I hope all the fanboys aren't upset when it's revealed that The Olympian is gay.

Seeing Blue Beetle (or The Olympian's hot abs?) completely freaks Guy Gardner out. Perhaps he's having a moment of mourning as he remembers Ted Kord from the Pre-52 Universe and can't handle going through all the hijinks and shenanigans between Booster and Beetle again. Or maybe he realizes he has a gigantic Third Army crossover that he's going to be late for if he doesn't hit the road already.

Or he's just unsure of Booster Gold's motives. I'm also unsure why keeping this crappy team together is so important. But then Booster knows the future! Maybe this team somehow keeps the timeline from ripping apart?

Apparently The Olympian and Godiva have some kind of past where he chose becoming a God over coming on Godiva. But he's given back his Godhood for another chance with her. In other words, he lost his Godhood somehow and now he's got to spin it in a way that sounds romantic. But Godiva can't seem to stand him.

And Blue Beetle just came by to speak with Cyborg because Beetle is under the mistaken impression that this is the effective Justice League.

I get the feeling Johns isn't reading Tony Bedard's Blue Beetle. Because this is the moment where the scarab would freak out because Jaime is telling everyone his secret. And then Beetle would begin blasting everyone.

Booster explains to Beetle that they have a guy like Cyborg on their team as well and he goes by the name of OMAC. He thinks OMAC can help since OMAC broke free from Brother Eye. I don't really think this such a good idea. OMAC doesn't need to be controlled by Brother Eye to be dangerous (even though OMAC is currently being controlled by Brother Eye! Yes, Brother Eye is back online and took over OMAC back in Africa). Asking OMAC for self-control tips is like asking the Hulk to give you a handy.

I don't actually know how those two things are similar. I just wanted to provide everyone with the image of The Hulk giving someone a hand job.

Booster Gold calls the team together because they're about to go on their first mission for the United Nations. Booster says he knows the future and says that Justice League International will eventually be greater than the Justice League. He might be misremembering some of his history lessons from the future. Perhaps if Skeets were here to help clear things up. OMAC isn't around for the meeting so August General in Iron goes off to find him. He finds him downloading information in the security room and gets blasted by a Brother Eye style bolt from OMAC's fin.

August General must play a lot of Modern Warfare 3!

I wonder if a rift in reality can be formed by making statements like the caption above if enough know-it-all nerds read it at the same time, snorted in unison, and proclaimed, "Actually, blah blah warfare blah blah Art of War blah blah blah."

I should probably be careful about saying things like that. I once killed a girl when I kept pronouncing Linux with a long "i" at a New Year's Eve Party. She kept correcting me and when I kept pronouncing it wrong, she just became more and more frustrated with me. And then later that year, she died from an embolism in her brain. I should probably be more careful with the things I say since I'm so powerful. Um, and remorseful! Very remorseful. Not bragging about the tragedy my super villain powers caused at all.

OMAC is also very powerful and he proves it to the rest of the League in a very disturbing way.

Somebody get me a welder's torch, stat!

Okay, so OMAC didn't actually decapitate August General in Iron like I was hoping thinking. He just removed his helmet. But that's killing August General anyway because he's become one with the armor.

It doesn't take OMAC long to begin beating the shit out of the rest of the Justice League International. But it isn't just Brother Eye controlling OMAC. Someone else has reprogrammed Brother Eye and OMAC to do his bidding. My guess is it's Maxwell Lord. Got to get him back in the pages of Justice League somehow, right?

Blue Beetle puts up the best fight against OMAC until OMAC accesses Beetle's Scarab's controls and forces it to open a Reach Boom Tube that sucks Jaime back to the home planet of The Reach. That probably won't last for long because it would interfere with Blue Beetle's comic book series. Unless it's simply the beginning of a gigantic Geoff Johns Crossover with The Reach. Blue Beetle does manage to stall OMAC long enough for Booster and Godiva to get away. But instead of coming up with a plan, Booster confesses his sins.

Well of course that's all you memorized! You came back as a Time Thief! But where the hell has Skeets gone? He knows shit. He was with Booster in an issue of Stormwatch so I know he exists!

With the rest of the members unconscious, Booster Gold employs his final trick.

Is the Skeets protocol the only thing left of Skeets in the New 52? Did the artist in Stormwatch just completely fuck shit up by including Skeets?

At this point, everything should wrap up nicely. It's just an Annual after all, right? Yeah, but it's an Annual written by Geoff Johns and Dan Didio. It looks like my little fantasy conversation at the beginning of this comic didn't account for Dan Didio not having any say in Geoff Johns and his need for crazy, over-the-top, continuity fucking stories. Because what happens next is all build up for another universe ending, time destroying, gigantic crossover disaster.

Once Kevin changes back, time stops. Booster Gold is confronted by Booster Gold. The future Booster Gold has the ability to stop time (unless that's Rip Hunter's doing) and he's wearing an A.R.G.U.S. badge.

Fucking Christ! Somebody put a leash on Geoff Johns already! Does everything have to be an all out end of everything disaster? Ceasing to exist now? Is DC planning another Reboot already? Or are they setting the stage for returning to their old Universe?

Booster Gold is talking about stopping Superman and Wonder Woman hooking up. Apparently that's going to be the end of everything. And it instantly begins when Future Booster Gold goes all Marty McFly on present Booster Gold. He ceases to exist right in front of him. And not too long after that, present Booster Gold disappears. And Blue Beetle never comes back!

Later, Batman has a conversation with Brother Eye. Brother Eye tells Batman that Brother Eye's new programmer will kill Batman if Batman doesn't join with him. But the programmer is never revealed. The issue ends saying the story will be continued in Justice League 2013. That must be the story arc that was hinted at in the Coming Soon section of Justice League #12 where Batman and Superman are fighting. The League splits in two. A huge war begins. And Justice League America is created with a new version of Vibe. Things must be pretty awful if Vibe is back. Ugh!

Justice League International Annual #1 Rating: No change. I believe I've made it policy to not change the ranking of a comic book on how good or bad (usually bad) an Annual is. But that was the last Justice League International story. I must say Geoff Johns kept them the loveable in-fighting losers they've always been. August General in Iron is on his deathbed. Godiva and The Olympian are hospitalized. OMAC is gone and Kevin Kho is in a khoma. Guy Gardner walked out just in time. Blue Beetle was teleported to another galaxy. And Booster Gold has ceased to exist. That might be their best ass kicking ever! I'm glad they saved it for the Annual!

Justice League #12

Let me guess: Superman is possessed by the ghost of Steve Trevor? Or maybe it's simply because Wonder Woman "loves everybody." And if that's the case, where's the fucking queue?

Last issue's commentary, I mentioned that I had 21 comic books left before I finally caught up. Having begun reading the New 52 at the end of December, I began with a backlog of 208 comics. I began with Justice League simply because it's the first issue in the Big Book of Issue #1s. And now it's the final issue I need to read before I'm caught up simply because it was released the last week of August! I'm finally going to be caught up!

Except for these stupid Annuals. I hate Annuals! They're never any good.

So where were the Justice League? They'd managed to enter the Foyer of the Dead in their search for Graves. What they found were a bunch of ghosts from their pasts. Or in Cyborg's case, the ghost of himself. Mindfuck!

This issue begins with David Graves telling someone (probably Steve Trevor's sister) his philosophy on the Justice League.

Sheesh. I don't even put my faith in a crosswalk when I've got the light! If it's about your own survival, that shit is up to you. If you're putting faith in other people to keep you alive, you aren't going to be long for this world.

Actually, it turns out the Narration Boxes are Harvey and Charles discussing the situation on TMZ. I don't buy it because it isn't funny and they spend way too long talking about it and nobody asked Superman how often he masturbates. But the press apparently knows everything that's going on because they saw some footage of the Justice League brawling in the streets. I'm sorry. Without a press conference and the AP putting out the story from the press conference, media outlets today have nothing to say. Although it is mostly speculation couched as truth, so that's accurate. But now that the reader is caught up through this device, the action returns to Mount Sumeru and the Valley of Souls.

All the ghosts assume that each member of the Justice League is pursuing a life of super heroics because they want to avenge the face on the ghost speaking. It's a pretty D-list ploy. Hal is so selfish that he doesn't fall for it at all, knowing that he's Green Lantern because it gets him the chicks and some respect. The others are all a bit mesmerized even when the stupid ghosts make the situation even sillier by suggesting that they all kill themselves to be with their loved ones.

While the Justice League succumb to the extreme feels of the land of the dead, David Graves walks amongst them gloating and blabbing his plan. He doesn't plan to kill anybody. He just wants to release these "ghosts" all across the world so everyone can be happy to have their loved ones back. Except these ghosts are obviously imposters since there is no afterlife. Even Deadman isn't Boston Brand! He's just a big fucking faker! Too bad Mister Terrific wasn't on this team. He'd be visited by his wife and he'd instantly know someone was fucking with him because she's long dead, buddy. Although he could be visited by his son since I'm pretty sure his son is still alive and over on Earth 2!

Well, whatever nonsense is happening here, the Justice League seem to be buying it. I can't say I have the emotional capacity to give a shit if this happened to me. I might think it's cruel that someone was trying to trick me into believing that they're my dead grandparents, but I wouldn't get all weepy and happy and run off to kill myself to be with them. This Valley of Souls is the suckiest valley in the world.

The trick doesn't last long enough for the Justice League to be defeated though. Because even though Hal Jordan told them it was a trick, nobody actually believed him until Steve Trevor shows up and shoots Graves in the shoulder.

The Justice League can defeat Darkseid by turn up the feels and they collapse in a pile of quivering crying super babies.

Once the illusion has slipped because Trevor (luckily!) escaped his bonds from the back room of the Valley of Souls, the Justice League feels okay beating up on the images of their dead family members. Then they all team up and fire their powers at Graves, shattering the creatures that were pretending to be his family and driving them away. The Justice League beat the cancer-ridden old writer! Blunt force trauma, heat vision, Green Lantern light, and white noise are no match for a well told story involving dead ancestors!

And, well, damn. That wraps up the action packed story about how the Justice League was nearly defeated by some decent research.

Later, Diana visits Steve Trevor in the hospital. She tells him the Justice League is getting a new liaison to deal with Washington. She doesn't want to see him hurt so she pushes him away. Trite. Cliche. Contrived romantic tension. People don't actually do that shit unless they really don't ever want to see the other person again. So Wonder Woman had better not end up actually loving Steve Trevor or I'm going to jump out of a window. Um, it'll be on the ground floor though, so don't worry. How much do you think I'm actually invested in this comic book? Sheesh! I'll forget all about this story as soon as I polybag it and throw it in a box!

The Justice League (minus Superman and Wonder Woman (They must be off making out in the sky now that Steve Trevor is out of the way)) discuss their new situation in the world now that David Graves has cast a negative light on them. Oh boy. This crap again. The world can't trust the super heroes bullshit strikes again! So now they have to figure out what to do. Aquaman thinks he should become leader which instantly becomes the most ridiculous thing in the book so far! What are you going to do as leader? Get a crap team composed of Vibe, Vixen, and Gypsy together? Because that didn't end in disaster!

Oh stop with the what ifs and the drama! You're seven people lucky enough to have super powers. You can't fucking save everyone! The problem with society is that everyone is trying to end sadness and death. Stop it. Just stop it! "Some people got cancer that may have been caused by something that we may have done that time we saved Earth! We can't ever let anyone get cancer again!" "Oh no, someone was hit by a car while riding a bike! We can't ever have a bike be hit by a car again and we have to write tons of legislation to stop it! And that legislation needs to have my name attached so it looks like I did some good shit when elections roll around again!" "Holy shit, I murdered my downstairs neighbor! I can't allow anyone to move in downstairs again or else I'll murder that fucking asshole too because I can't stand the sound of him showering in the morning! Or maybe outlaw showering! That'll keep me from killing again!"

Fuck. That caption got a little bit out of control there. Maybe that's my super villain power! I give captions to photos word bloat!

And then Hal Jordan finally says something adult that makes sense. He's so wise and smart and saying the things I was saying. What a hero!

Oh, let him quit. I'm pretty sure he's going to die in Green Lantern Annual #1 anyway.

Later, Superman and Wonder Woman kiss. Superman is feeling lonely because Lois is fucking that douchebag reporter. And Wonder Woman is lonely because she just dumped Steve Trevor. And they're both lonely because they don't think they can truly be honest with anybody. Just wait until they get in a relationship! Do they actually think that'll allow them to feel close and be honest and live carefree knowing they have a soulmate? They're going to start lying to each other left and right! Unless Diana can't lie with the lasso strapped to her waist.

Fine. Here they are kissing. Whee!

Meanwhile in Belle Reve, Amanda Waller gives David Grave a typewriter and hires him to write a book called "How to Destroy the Justice League." Technically, I think that means David Graves is now a member of the Suicide Squad.

Justice League #12 Rating: No change. I like that half of the comic was devoted to after the final battle with Graves which was pretty anti-climactic. But I didn't like that a lot of the Justice League have a single digit Wisdom Statistic. They all need to grow up! I guess they're all supposed to be in their twenties, so it makes sense that they argue about some of the stupid shit they argue about. And I'm still pissed that they came to blows with each other last issue. I don't like a lot of things in comic books but heroes punching each other in the face because of a disagreement is the worst of the worst. Unless I said something else was worse than that somewhere else. Then that's the worst!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aquaman #12

This jerk was supposed to have been decapitated according to last issue's cover.

It's strange to see Aquaman working in team comics because he's portrayed as such a quiet loner. It's also weird to see Batman in teams as well but he loves pushing people around and flaunting his intelligence so much that he pushes his way into any team comic he can manage. Also, DC knows Batman sells titles. But Aquaman? Why did he join the Justice League? After helping defeat Darkseid and accidentally being a part of that conflict and part of the team, why did he stick around? What motivation led him to hang out with those guys? And how exactly did he pick up all of these Other guys, dragging them into his rivalry with Black Manta? How does a guy with Prisoner-of-War powers get involved with a deep sea expedition to recover ancient relics? Craigslist Atlantis?

The Others get in contact with Mera easily enough since they have the Operative on the team. She joins them by swimming across the ocean in a few seconds and then riding a water spout up into the Operative's plane. From what I've seen of Mera's powers, I'm beginning to think this series has the wrong character's name on it. Mera is a fucking badass.

I have to agree with Ya'wara here. Aquaman has been acting like I'm used to Aquaman acting through all twelve issues. So he must have been different before he met Yoko Mera.

Vostok X and Prisoner of War argue about Arthur's motivations as well. Vostok thinks Aquaman is protecting them. Prisoner-of-War thinks he doesn't give a fuck about anything except killing Black Manta. I think Aquaman believes that The Others will louse up the whole revenge scenario by either killing Black Manta before he gets a chance or by pussing out and stopping him from killing Manta. It's best if Arthur just goes in alone, controlling as many of the variables as he possibly can. He may care for these people in his own way. But he certainly cares more about getting revenge for his father's death.

Meanwhile in the Tomb of the Dead King, Black Manta has uncovered the Scepter of the Dead King which somehow holds the key to humiliating Aquaman. I think it also holds the key to defeating Aquaman but Black Manta seems more keen on the humiliation part. On a ledge high up in the cave, Aquaman watches Dr. Shin refuse to help Black Manta. And even though Aquaman has harbored some intense hatred and blame for Dr. Shin concerning his father's death, he finally sees that Dr. Shin has never meant him any harm. And he remembers a time when things were much easier.

"Go on, Arthur. Don't mind that one Piranha in there. He's cool."

When Black Manta orders Shin killed, Arthur is forced into action and the final battle between Arthur and Black Manta begins. Or at least the final battle between them in this story arc. I hope. Issue #0 is next month so this is probably a good time to end this Others thing.

Arthur doesn't really do much in this fight. He tries to throw Dr. Shin aside and then Black Manta smashes the hell out of everything with one blow of the scepter. Aquaman is pinned under a rock and Black Manta raises the scepter for the killing blow.

At this point, one has to wonder if Aquaman has finally met his match. Is he really going to be beheaded by Black Manta? Is there no one that can save him in this desperate hour of need? Oh, wait! I forgot the other people in the story that Aquaman couldn't quite trust with his life. The guys he abandoned time after time. The guys who lived out the last few years of their lives in desperate pain, agony, and loneliness because Aquaman seemed to have been the one integral person in keeping this group of friends together. I guess they just didn't have anything to talk about once he left. And in The New 52, making fun of Aquaman separates you from the cool, intelligent kids who have always liked Aquaman before it was cool. Otherwise their shared joy of making talks with fish riddles and deep sea knock knock jokes and what good is he on land or in space burns would have kept them together.

Vostok X: "I am so lonely all of the time. But at least I do not go on dates with lobsters!"
Kahini: "Do not feel lonely, Vostok. We are all your friends here. I see many, many years of good Aquaman jokes told together in our future. But I will not ruin the punch lines of any of them!"
Prisoner-of-War: "How many Aquamen does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Vostok X: "How many, Comrade?!"
Prisoner-of-War: "None because Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, or Green Lantern have already changed it!"
Ya'wara: "One time when Aquaman and I were fucking the shit out of each other in a lagoon, he came so hard that all the dolphins in the area came at the exact same moment. The White Tide lasted for the better part of a week."
Everyone Else: *blink* *blink* *gag*

Where was I? Oh yeah! Mera and the Others arrive just in time to save Aquaman's life! Boo! Hiss! I mean, Hooray!

Speaking of a return to making fun of Aquaman! When I first began reading The New 52, Aquaman Shrine began following me on Twitter because I was saying how much I liked the book. But then a few months later when everyone was raving about Aquaman, I tweeted how I was going to be the first one back on the making fun of Aquaman wagon. And they stopped following me. Fuck you, Aquaman Shrine and your super love of Aquaman bordering on the creepy and perhaps bestial! I don't need you! I don't need anybody! I'm going to start making extra fun of Aquaman to balance out your love for him. The Universe demands it!

Apparently the fight against Black Manta and his men is so easy that Mera and Aquaman can have a deep discussion about their relationship during it.

Save it for the counseling session, you guys!

Aquaman still tries driving everyone away. But those assholes still won't go! And because they won't go, Arthur's life is saved yet again by Vostok X when Vostok dives in front of Black Manta's Scepter to block the blow aimed at Aquaman.

If only Justice League International could have made Rocket Red's death half as meaningful.

Well, that just about ate up all the pages left in the comic! So I guess Arthur is going to have to chase Black Manta down yet again. But perhaps Black Manta will go into hiding for awhile. And how is Arthur going to deal with having friends in his life?

But then I turn to the last page which is really just a gigantic waste of space. Although it does tell me that Black Manta will not be going into hiding at all. He'll get to dance with Aquaman in one more issue! Will he die this soon in The New 52? I highly doubt it. I imagine he'll be maimed and near death but somehow slip away.

Seriously? A full page for this? I guess the bigger you make the hero's face, the more serious they are about whatever it is they're saying. Aquaman is super dead serious about this murder plan!

Aquaman #12 Rating: +1 Ranking. A lot of good stuff going on in this comic even though I felt like the narrative fell apart for a bit. The main problem with this comic is the amount of full page and double page spreads. Tone it down a bit and get more of that good dialogue shit in there! That's what's really making this comic work.

The Flash #12

Does she slow him with her super power power or her super hot body power?

This issue begins with Glider breaking Captain Cold and Heatwave out of the armored vehicle taking them to jail. Since she gathered up Weather Wizard a few issues ago, it looks like Glider is getting the old team together for the New 52. And since the Flash Annual mentions The Rogue's right there on the cover, I'm about 60% positive that's what she's doing. One of the Rogue's on the cover of the Annual is the guy who spins around like a moron that The Flash rescued from inside the Speed Force. That guy is hilarious!

After reading the first page, it looks like Glider actually just wanted to break out Heatwave. She leaves her Brother strapped into the vehicle as it crashes through a barricade and plummets over the edge of a highway off-ramp. Sisters! Weather Wizard sweeps Heatwave into his car as he passes by the accident as Glider flies off to deal with another part of the plan. Captain Cold is saved at the last second.

I looked up the Pied Piper in my Who's Who from 1991 and was surprised to find that he was openly gay even back then. It seems he came out after reforming sometime after Crisis on Infinite Earths. So he was out of the closet sometime between 1985 and 1991. Very nice. Although I still think it's a bit weird to make the guy that plays flutes gay.

So The Pied Piper takes leaves Cold hanging. But Captain Cold isn't up there for long. Another member of the Rogue's Gallery happens along to help him out.

I don't know what Leonard did piss off his sister and Heatwave but I'm guessing it'll all come out in the Annual. Unless it's Pre-New 52 history! I wouldn't put that past DC.

The Rogue's Minus Captain Cold plan on getting even with Dr. Elias for doing something. Have I not been paying proper attention to this comic book? Glider puts a piece of shrapnel inside Elias which causes him to collapse in The Flash's arms in front of a bunch of reporters at a press conference. Elias was reporting on his new Green Monorail system which Heatwave and Weather Wizard are busy sabotaging. They send it off the rail and through one of Mirror Master's portals in the side of a building. I guess that was their plan? Steal a monorail?

Oh! I guess there was a little more to it!

The only thing left to do is escape through Mirror Master's portal. The Rogue's jump toward it and then smash their faces on a wall of ice. Don't fuck with Captain Cold, bitches!

I have to like this guy since he's the only super character I've ever cosplayed. As an adult, anyway!

The Flash #12 Rating: No change. This issue was fun but it just seemed all prologue for the Annual! I'd read that immediately just because they tie in but I only have two more comic books left of the regular New 52 before I'm all caught up (not counting Batman Incorporated #3 which my comic book store hasn't sold me yet! Jerks!).

The Fury of Firestorm #12

What do the Rogue Firestorms have against two young men in love?

Last issue, Ronniestorm and Pozhar merged to become Scorn. This is something that Jasonstorm cannot abide. After arriving on scene to save his other half, Jason's jealousy takes over and he confronts Scorn, the being created by their merger. Inside Scorn and the Quantum Field, Ronnie cries in the corner after having been assaulted by Pozhar.

I said "Scorn" should have been called "Anal Rape"!

While being used and abused by Pozhar, Ronniestorm can't help thinking back on the way he and Jason used this space less brutally.

Squeal like a Firepig, boy!

Jasonstorm tries to rescue Rakshasi, the Indian Firestorm, from Scorn. Her powers have mysteriously been shut off and she's become defenseless. And then, in Jasonstorm's arms, she blows up and is incinerated. She was created by Zithertech and Zithertech just recalled her. Zithertech is about to be investigated by Congress so Director Zither (the woman with the half-Commander Cobra mask) has begun revoking the Firestorm protocols from all of the international Firestorms. And by revoking, I mean exploding them into jelly.

Ronnie's mom is simply worried about losing her free housing and food that doesn't look like dog dicks.

Back in Pakistan (or wherever this is occurring), Firehawk and Hurricane, the French and British Firestorms, join in the fight against Scorn. I don't know how much of a chance they stand when Zithertech can simply push a button and put them out of commission. I think only Ronnie, Jason, Pozhar, and the Rogue Firestorms are not under Zithertech's control.

I understand, Ronnie. I understand.

Jasonstorm tries to get Hurricane and Firehawk to back off because he doesn't want their protocols being shut off like Rakshasi's was. But he doesn't realize Zithertech is shutting them all off as a matter of course anyway. So pretty soon, Hurricane and Firehawk are nothing but dust in the wind.

With Firestorms dying all over the place, Ronniestorm (from inside of Scorn) reaches out to Jasonstorm. They need to reaffirm their love for each other so that Pozhar's unnatural attraction to Ronniestorm will be destroyed.

Through the power of love and destiny, they succeed!

Once Jasonstorm and Ronniestorm reconnect, Scorn dissipates. Ronnie and Jason find themselves on the ground and un-firestormed. Pozhar has disappeared. Ronnie can't take his eyes off of his arm which has suddenly come back. Out of their Firestorm personalities, they seem awkward and uncomfortable around each other. I guess their love is just too real to accept when they're back to their normal, high school forms. Although they do manage to walk off into the sunset together.

Unless that's Pozhar. Or the escaped Firestorm Protocol that Professor Stein gave to Jason which was released ineffectively in the battle against Scorn.

The issue ends with Firehawk reappearing and going nuclear on Director Zither. So maybe that spark was Firehawk and she survived when the Firestorm Protocol was opened during the battle. Zither and her company were done for anyway. After Firestorm #0, it's time for this book to take a new direction that doesn't involve a constant battle against terrorist states and nuclear nations.

The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #12 Rating: No change. The book is much better as a love story. I'm glad this entire story arc is over with. Maybe Joe Harris can start up something interesting and super heroic in the next arc. Plus, that cover really, really, really, super really had nothing to do with the story inside.

I, Vampire #12

This cover holds no pathos or tension since it's been established that Andrew Bennett cannot die unless he chooses to die.

At the end of last issue, whichever protagonists were left were being overrun by a mob of Mummy Zombie Vampire Hunter Rednecks all yelling, "Reinforcements!" in unison. It was kind of ridiculous. Am I supposed to be worried that perhaps Tig or John might die? They just survived a plane crash and then a bomb exploding right next to them last issue, so I think they'll be okay no matter what happens. Mary isn't going to die any time soon since the entire comic seems to be a kind of never ending break-up between these two. Perhaps I should be worried for Stormwatch!

Jack, Apollo, and Midnighter have arrived to investigate the disappearance of an entire town. Jack felt it and apparently there was a lull in the protecting the universe game, so Stormwatch decided to head down and see what was up.

Midnighter is totally gay for Apollo, Jack. You know? Like how Portland is totally in love with Seattle? Except Apollo loves Midnighter back.

Apollo spots the residents of the suddenly vacant town a few miles away. He probably wouldn't be surprised to find out that they've all been turned into Mummies. Midnighter is just slightly surprised to find they're vampires.

Fuck basketball. Any sport where continuous fouling is part of a team's playbook should be considered a pseudo-sport. "Go in there and punch that asshole in the nuts to get the clock stopped! Hopefully he'll miss a free throw or two and we can get the ball back and get a three! Now go castrate that mother fucker!"

I just realized Stormwatch needs to be either really secretive while on missions or prepared to kill everyone on the scene. They no longer have Martian Manhunter to mindwipe witnesses. And the Projectionist is long gone so they can't manipulate the media into ignoring their exploits. I'm not even sure why they're dealing with this case except that DC Editorial probably demanded it. This isn't a threat to the world. It's just a big brawl in the desert. Perhaps Hawksmoor owed this town a favor. Also, I supposed Jenny Quantum is off doing homework. I bet she'd love all of this vampire drama.

Yeah, Jack! Trust him! His super power isn't knowing the plot to teen romance novels. His super power is knowing how to defend against and defeat any enemy he encounters. I'm pretty sure he's got this.

The vampires don't die from exposure to the sun but their heads explode when they bite Apollo. I kind of liked Apollo's plan to just let them all eat him. But what happens if one of the Mummy Zombies bites him? He's probably better off just sticking with the plan to kill Andrew Bennett.

Don't scoff at Lost Boy's rules! Earlier in the series, it was already established that was how it worked in this comic book too.

Even with a concentrated blast of Sunny D, Apollo can't kill Andrew Bennett. Bennett then mentions that he's trying to stop the zombies and Apollo instantly becomes his ally because comic books are only 20 pages now and what do you want? Pages of dialogue to make relationships believable or pages of zombies getting their heads cut off? Well DC doesn't care what the fuck you want so you're getting zombies getting their heads cut off!

I wonder if the editors at DC look at The Walking Dead and think, "You know what this comic book needs? Less fucking talking! Look at all of this goddamned characterization! What a waste of space. How come the zombies don't attack them every issue? How do they keep readers when the characters go ten issues sometimes without killing a zombie?"

This book has apparently decided that all Vampire Canon should just be thrown out. If you've heard a rumor about vampires, it's wrong! Pop culture told you something about them? Nope, different. Saw a vampire do something even in this reality? Hmm, you must have been seeing things. One of the things that seems quite different is how vampires are created. No transfer of blood. No consecutive nights of feeding until the victim is drained. Apparently all it takes is one simple bite.

Tig shows us how it's really done!

In the new DC Universe, Vampires act like zombies. And mummies act like zombies. And zombies act like zombies. And zombies zombies zombies. Zombie! Zombies? Yes! Zombies!

Once Tig is turned into a vampire, Andrew realizes that maybe he should get his friend John out of this dangerous situation. He grabs up John and flies to the top of a nearby mesa. Mary and Stormwatch join them to discuss zombie killing plans.

All DC's secret organizations suck at remaining secret. And since the loss of J'onn and The Projectionist, you might as well just give up on the whole idea.

So Stormwatch and a couple of ancient vampires can't figure out how to kill zombies but a bunch of crippled, tired, lost civilians in Walking Dead manage it every day. Maybe it's easier to deal with zombies when you have a gigantic rotating cast of characters, none of which are plot immune to being killed.

Midnighter suggests that since Andrew Bennett was once known as The Demon's Lock and once housed an ancient evil inside himself, that maybe he can do it again. Andrew agrees and he absorbs all of the evil magic infecting everyone in the area. Tig and all of the townsfolk and all of the vampires from earlier and all of the Van Helsings are instantly cured. Andrew has absorbed the magic that changed them. And one other person was devampirized: Mary. The only real problem with this solution is that all of the evil magic absorbed by Andrew Bennett has turned him into a raging, super magic, evil son-of-a-bitch Vampire Lord. And he's hungry. Or horny. It's hard to tell. Even in sign language it's practically the same movement!

Tig is the first course! Or first new vampire. Again, depending on if he's hungry or horny.

I, Vampire #12 Rating: No change. I was really losing interest in this title quickly. Most of this issue, I just couldn't wait to be done. It was definitely heading down the charts. But then Mary was turned human and I think that could actually move this comic book in the right direction. The Andrew becoming evil plot twist doesn't matter quite as much because I'm sure that'll be fixed in no time. But hopefully Mary will remain human. That should kill the incessant return to the "I love you so much but why won't you be evil like me" Mary Seward plot. Now it's gone all reversy time!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight #12

Oh Batman! Have you ever faced off against The Scarecrow without succumbing to his Fear Toxin? I'm beginning to think you get off on it.

Last issue ended with Batman being injected with Scarecrow's Fear Toxin while Batman was riding inside of a minecart beneath a ramshackle building where the Scarecrow was keeping Commissioner Gordon captive. It's probably not as silly or far-fetched as it sounds. Perhaps the only way to catch a genius like Batman in a trap is to make the trap really fucking ridiculous. So Scarecrow hides in a fridge on the porch with a cartoon shotgun. That's pretty nonsensical! Then he shoots Batman in the face when Batman decides to use the front door instead of crashing through a wall or a roof or a window like he would normally do because Batman's game is thrown off by the fridge on the porch. Then a trapdoor opens up in the front lawn and Batman falls through it into a mine cart which begins careening down tracks leading to who the fuck knows. And, of course, The Scarecrow has a trapdoor on the porch that allows him to drop directly on Batman and fill him full of chemicals. I might buy it if Grant Morrison were writing it!

That last line was a joke. Do I really have to explain that last line was a joke? I don't want people thinking that I seriously think a ridiculous scene would be better if written by a writer that usually comes up with terrific stuff (like having the Special Class in New X-Men! Genius!). What kind of a fanboy do you think I am?!

Apparently The Scarecrow's trap worked to perfection because this comic begins like this:

This Batman by Finch looks like something Simon Bisley would have drawn after eight scotches and being hit in the head by a two by four.

I've never quite understood why a villain would capture Batman like this and not unmask him. What the fuck is up with removing his shirt but leaving his cowl on? Some kind of stupid respect for the game between these two? I'm sure it will be explained away in a page or two. But I still find it ridiculous.

This issue is called "Mirror, Mirror." That doesn't inspire any hope in me that this will be anything but another "Look how similar Batman is to his crazy enemies" Batman story. The tragedy with Batman's parents is the biggest moment in Bruce's life. He loved them and was destroyed when they were taken away from him. But The Scarecrow's father tortured him constantly. My guess is Crane murdered his father at some point but still wants to make him proud. Batman will probably defeat Crane by using the similarities and differences between their relationships with their parents. Or maybe Batman will just put on some glasses and pretend he's Crane's father which will scare the shit out of Crane and he'll collapse in a blubbering heap.

Oh fuck me! It's explained away in the very next panel. And poorly! A locking mechanism! He should use the same mechanism on his shirt. I'm sure he uses it on his underwear.

Before Crane begins with his psychological fear experiments, he informs Batman that Gordon has been released. He was merely bait to collect the Bat.

That was my reaction too, Batman! This again! Maybe that means Hurwitz will change it up. Or it just means Hurwitz realizes he's treading the same old ground and thinks that having Batman realize it somehow pardons him of the offense.

I know the Scarecrow used to be a crazy psychologist (or psychiatrist. Whatever) so that's why he begins with wanting to discuss Batman's past. And the shadows of Batman's parents on the ground are likely caused by the Fear Toxin drugs still in Bruce's system. But the fact that Batman tells Crane, "I've dealt with my past," just seems batshit looney bins. Batman shouldn't be giving his enemies any clues to work with at all! Talking is bad, Batman! Just shut up and kick some ass. Now Crane is thinking, "A-ha! So there was something Batsy's past that he felt he needed to deal with!"

The next page confirms my speculations. The Scarecrow, of course, knows nothing about Batman's past. But it's a good bet to assume everyone had to deal with something. Batman becomes agitated and cries out, "You can't possibly know this! You can't see this!" And Crane agrees and says he doesn't care. He just cares how it feels. But again, Batman is just saying way too much. The Fear Toxin can be blamed for his mouthiness but I still can't believe that Batman went after The Scarecrow without a respirator or an antidote or something. Batman isn't the type to be caught going in overconfident. He fucking prepares for everything! Look over in Action Comics how he's bugging Superman! The fucking balls on that guy! But here he is, yet again shitting his batsuit in front of The Scarecrow.

Batman: "Hey, Alfred! I'm going to go catch The Scarecrow now!"
Alfred: "Yes, Master Bruce. I'll prepare the laundry."

See? Everyone is scared of something. The big twist is going to be Batman finding out what scares The Scarecrow.

After some flashbacks where Batman relives how much of a giant scaredy baby pantywaist he was, he turns the tables on The Scarecrow.

I think maybe Batman is still on that mine cart because this story line is on rails!

This story isn't satisfying my Batlust at all! And I love The Scarecrow. But since I'm being so negative, let's talk about something I like in the story.

Jonathan Crane's father would shove him in a tiny, dark pit to record his reactions to fear. So that's the big fear tie-in with The Scarecrow. He followed in his father's footsteps by studying fear as well. He also ended up testing unwilling subjects to learn as much as he can about fear. And a scarecrow is supposed to, you know, scare things! Crows, in particular! So that sort of ties-in to the fear experiments and all. But this image of what little Jonathan Crane would do when his father released him from the pit really ties it all together in a beautiful image.

I appreciate how he runs out to the most open space he can find after being confined by his father.

But then the comic hops right back on the manure truck. The shit express? The Space Shuttle of Diarrhea?

It's like Gregg Hurwitz read the first story arc of Batman: The Dark Knight and decided to rewrite it already! The first issue of this comic begins with Bruce Wayne declaring he will never be afraid. And then each subsequent issue exposes things that he fears. But forget all of those fears! Now the only thing Batman fears is fear!

The Scarecrow continues psychoanalyzing Batman by sheer speculation since he's not privy to any of Bruce's visions or memories. He finally decides that Bruce doesn't want to exist anymore. He doesn't want to feel loss or fear or pain. And that's pretty much how it ends.

The only way this comic can redeem itself is if next issue begins with Batman saying, "You'd like that, wouldn't you, Crane?" And then he punches Crane in the nose and says, "I'm so sick and tired of you criminals believing that there is a part of you inside of me. I'm not you. I'm not a scared little boy running from childhood trauma. I loved people who are gone now and I miss them but the memory of their death does not drive me to do what I do. The memory of their lives and who they were and what they stood for drives me. My butler Alfred reminds me every day that...oh shit! Well fuck. I guess I have to kill you, Doctor Crane!" The end!

Batman: The Dark Knight #12 Rating: No change. Maybe for a Reboot, this rehashed old Scarecrow story would fly for new readers. But, as I've said before, this is the third Scarecrow story in Batman titles so far this year. And the theme of fear is just a rehash of the theme of the first story arc in this same fucking title! Although I do like the look into the Scarecrow's past. I think that would give this book its own identity if each story really delved deeply into the criminal's story. But don't make every story the same old mirror of Batman shit. "Oh, look how similar Batman is to the Joker/Riddler/Penguin/Mad Hatter/Catwoman/Bane/Whatever."