Friday, November 30, 2012

Supergirl #14

Please please please please let her be his destruction!

Last time I checked in on Supergirl, she was hanging out with Superman in Ireland and calling him a liar. She made the assumption that since he just killed a prehistoric Kryptonian Dragonmonster that Krypton still existed. Logically, I think the only thing she can assume still exists from that situation are prehistoric Kryptonian Dragonmonsters. But since Superman just killed that one, Supergirl can't even assume that anymore!

Apparently Superman doesn't take Supergirl's aggression personally anymore. You can only get socked in the face so many times before you begin taking it in stride. Superman invites Supergirl to The Block, the stupid laboratory near the center of the Earth run by Dr. Truth the Everything Scientist. This was the dumb place that Scott Lobdell invented. Or maybe it was created in an editorial meeting but the science behind the entire thing is flaccid, so it's pretty clear that Lobdell wrote it himself.

Just a reminder for those of you not keeping up with the overarching story that is my commentary: Flaccid Sci-Fi is the opposite of Hard Science Fiction. Hard Science Fiction emphasizes scientific accuracy. Flaccid Science Fiction can't stand up to the slightest scrutiny. Yes, it is a penis joke. Thank you very much!

Dr. Veritas makes a bunch of wild claims that make me sincerely doubt she has a doctorate in Omniology. I think she has a doctorate in bullshit. She looks far too young to have a doctorate in every fucking scientific, artistic, business, and pseudo-scientific subject taught. I think she just slept with all of her professors. That's why she's got the cane. Her body has been ravaged by sexual diseases. Perhaps it's the spirochetes infesting her brain that make her think she can invent anything she wants in just a few hours. Also, she invents things she doesn't understand yet. Idiot. I mean, genius! No, wait. Idiot.

After leaving the center of the Earth and a quick visit with Siobhan, Supergirl heads back to her underwater lair to FINALLY get some fucking rest.

To be fair, before she crashed to Earth, she slept for around 25 years straight.

Kara wakes up from her nap on the surface of the sun face to face with H'el. She greets him in her usual manner.

Perhaps she'll Fwaaash him next.

H'el explains to Kara that he was a student of Jor-el. Jor-el sent him into space before Krypton exploded. His spaceship is loaded with all of the accumulated knowledge of Krypton. At least that's what he's saying. If this guy is Bizarro, then reverse all of those statements! That means Jor-el sent him into Krypton! Or maybe it means Jor-el sent space into H'el. Or he sent H'el into space after Krypton exploded. Or maybe deep into Krypton after it exploded? Fucking Bizarro speak is too confusing.

H'el realized some other Kryptonians survived which is why he's investigating their presence on Earth. He claims he needs their help to go back in time and return to Krypton to save it. What a jerk! Hasn't he ever heard of Flashpoint? Good luck! Even Brainiac 5 from the 31st Century can't figure out that one! Although Echo Officer Nathaniel Adym of the Science Police figured it out somehow. Maybe Brainiac 5 isn't as smart as I thought he was.

Wait a second. Does that mean this is home? That Earth is Krypton? Fucking Bizarro!

While trying to prove to Kara that he means what he says, H'el teleports them back to Kara's sanctuary where he has Superboy held captive. H'el only knows that clones are destructive, so he tells Kara he will kill Superboy for the good of Krypton if Kara just says the word.

Say the word, Kara! Say it! WORD! WORD! Say the word!

That means do it in Bizarro talk! Do it! Do it now!

Even though H'el has the backwards "S" on his chest, he apparently isn't Bizarro because he doesn't kill Superboy when Kara tells him not to. That sentence makes sense somewhere.

Before Supergirl decides to let H'el kill Superboy, she wants to speak with her cousin Superman first. Why do they all have to be Supergenders? Use your imagination, you assholes. Come up with a cute name. Anyway, H'el teleports Supergirl into Clark's apartment so she can confront Superman about the Superboy problem. He also gives her the gift of language so that she can speak and understand English. Again I must say, "Finally!" Now she'll at least be able to understand Lois's swearing when she barges in on her and Clark.


Supergirl #14 Rating: No change. I don't think I like where this whole H'el on Earth crossover is heading. H'el is apparently all powerful and he wants to take everyone back in time to save Krypton. Since he's so powerful, why doesn't he do it himself in his own New 52 mini-series? That way I wouldn't have to buy it since I only read the core 52 books!

New Guardians #14

Looks like there's a new Guy in town!

That caption was because I've been reading old issues of Shade the Changing Man and get to read all the old adverts for movies and new comics from the early nineties.

Too bad the Yellow Corps' rings weren't imprinted with Guy's "G" instead of an image representing Arkillo's sphincter.

Let me apologize to anyone that found this commentary and thought they were going to dive directly into some kind of review of The New Guardians and the big Rise of the Third Army crossover because that isn't going to happen. The title of this comic book got me thinking about a universal police force and exactly how fucked up that would be. How do you police billions of different cultures even if you have a ring that translates for you and interprets local customs and mores? You still can't really relate to the people you're policing. And what about the percentage of assholes that simply care about the power they wield? The Green Lantern rings mostly judge a person on how well they overcome great fear. The ring isn't looking for honest people, or compassionate people (that's a different color ring altogether!), or even intelligent people. It simply wants the bravest jerks out there.
Even here in America where we're all living under the same umbrella of laws, the police can't treat everyone equally and with respect simply because each police officer's background can vary so wildly from every single individual he or she encounters. And just like the Green Lantern Corps, the police training academy isn't exactly looking for kindness, honesty, and compassion. Sure, they'll call all sorts of public relations conferences to say differently but if it were true, police officers would more generally be thought of as assets to the community rather than untrusted sticks-in-the-mud ready to beat the shit out of anyone that rolls their eyes.

What if you lived in a sector of space that was patrolled by a brave Green Lantern who was the laziest guy in the universe? My girlfriend recently received a parking ticket in Portland even though she had the parking receipt stuck to her window. The police officer wrote on the ticket that he checked both windows. An obvious lie because why? He was actually just too lazy to walk around to the other side of the car? Did he just glance through the car at the other window and didn't see it, so he lied on the ticket to make it seem like he was thorough? Whatever the case, he just didn't care enough to really do his job. But he cared enough to cover his ass on the ticket. My girlfriend took pictures and paid the fine with a letter of protest. Just this week, she got a check refunding the amount. But what about that lazy ass cop? Do you want him in an altercation with a mentally ill person? Should this guy have access to a gun? I ask that because if he can't be bothered to walk around a car, is he really going to be bothered to have the patience to avoid violence as a first resort in an altercation?

I think I'm finally on the side of the Guardians of the Universe! Get rid of that fucking Green Lantern Corps, those self-righteous pricks!

Finally getting around to the comic book, it begins with Kyle Raynor having just learned to harness Compassion. Too bad he's also already learned to use Rage as a tool. And he's going to learn Fear this issue as well. But then he'll temper that with Love. I know he's learning all of these things as tools to be used one at a time but it just seems like he's going to be a chemically-imbalanced chaotic mess when everything is done.

Well then. I guess you can't have Love without Rage either. Excuse me for a second while I go punch my girlfriend in the vagina.

Indigo-1 gives Kyle some more poorly thought out bullshit, cliche lessons about emotions before she teleports back to her homeworld to oversee the making of the rings of compassion that will be forced on the Guardians of the Universe. Kyle has now learned that love and rage are the same thing. Compassion isn't exactly a good emotion. Good cannot exist without evil. Love is the most dangerous and unpredictable emotion. Fear is a healthy reaction. And everyone is an asshole. Indigo-1 is the second worst Yoda ever just after Yoda.

After Kyle is done learning about compassion, he heads off to Space Sector 674 to visit Arkillo on the Planet Vorn. According to my notes, Vorn is actually in Space Sector 676. Come on, DC! Don't you even know the layout of your own fucking universe?! When Rayner finds Arkillo, he decides to torment him for a bit.

I think Kyle already has the hang of this fear thing. Next!

Kyle Rayner actually has no idea how the Yellow Lanterns work. Turns out all he has to do is admit that he's always scared and voila! He's now a Yellow Lantern! How could it have taken him so long to learn this secret after countless hours of children's programming has been devoted to teaching people that bullies are the biggest cowards of them all?! And Kyle finally admits that he's a Green Lantern not because he doesn't feel fear but because, like the ring says, he has the power to overcome the great fear that he has. Just like Guy. And John. And Hal. They all have very serious issues that might paralyze other people into inaction. But these guys manage to fight through the fear every day. Kyle admits that he's afraid of failing the universe. He's afraid of getting another girlfriend stuffed into another refrigerator. And he's probably afraid of spending the last good years of his artistic life drawing comic books written by Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco.

Kyle finishes his Yellow Lantern Training and Carol zips by to pick him up. They fly off to find Arkillo so Kyle can learn a little something about selfishness.

This is the face Arkillo makes as he stares at Carol's ass when she flies off.

After seeing Carol's assets from behind, Arkillo decides to tag along with Kyle and Carol. He figures when they find Hal Jordan, they'll also find Sinestro. And then he can kill him because he loves him and love can only exist with rage and murder.

New Guardians #14 Ranking: No change. I'm not a fan of Andrei Bressan's art in this book. It reminds me of the mediocre art of the 1980s which caused the grim and line-filled Image art renaissance of the 1990s. Also, if Kyle is to become the greatest Lantern of all time, I think he'll need a little more training than learning standard bullshit sayings about emotions.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sword of Sorcery #2

Umm. Amethyst kills her own mother in this issue? [After reading the comic, I get the cover. It's a mislead down the Path of Blood!]

This issue begins with Amethyst trying not to puke as she remembers killing that guy last issue. And then the title page pops up with "The Path of Heart." Well fuck me! They pulled the old switcheroo! The tag at the end of last issue said, "The Path of Blood"! That sounds way more exciting. I'm so disappointed. Maybe the Path of Heart means someone is going to get their heart pulled out of their chest! I hope so because otherwise Amethyst's confrontation with Mordriel will be filled with hugs.

Some boring business takes place where Graciel tends to the Portal Crystal which leads to Earth.

Never say never! Or, um, never say no chance!

Why do people in fiction insist on giving their children names that will inevitably set them up against one another with one being inherently good and the other inherently evil? Who decided they would name one daughter Graciel to represent grace and goodness. But then they named the other one Mordiel to represent death and badness. Way to go, parents!

Man. Now I want to have two children so I can name one Good and one Evil. Now anyone reading this that knows my last name is just sighing and saying, "That would be fucking ridiculous." You can skip that comment if you don't know my last name and feel left out by the comment.

In the bathroom, Amethyst learns that her clothing is called "Mist-Silk." It allows obstacles to pass right through it while Amethyst, whom it was made for, can grasp it. That sounds like the worst clothing ever! "I can't punch myself but anybody can grope me at their leisure!" I wonder if she can pee straight through it? Oh, she also learns that she's not just a princess of House Amethyst but of House Turquoise as well. But she doesn't learn why she is because her new best friend, the Citrine Princess, won't speak on it.

Later Amethyst learns a bit about her lineage and some of the history of Nilaa (Gemworld!) when she has dinner with her grandfather, the leader of House Turquoise.

Amethyst's father is apparently dead. But I bet he's not really! Twist!

At dinner it is decided that they will all take the Path of Heart! Or something. I don't know, it's a bunch of diplomatic bureaucracy. I've never had much of a taste for court intrigues. I guess I'm too low brow for it. Let's get back to the high school drama! I'm more of a Cruel Intentions person than a Dangerous Liaisons guy.

Except I've never seen either so I'm sure that's a complete lie since I prefer well-written things to the opposite of well-written things. In fact, that whole last paragraph was a complete and utter lie. I was just trying to come off as cool and casual and above it all when really I've been hanging on Queen Graciel's every word! How she was supposed to marry the heir to Throne Diamond but she fell in love with the heir to Throne Turquoise which meant a Thrown Away Opportunity. House Diamond didn't appreciate Graciel backing out of the arranged Diamond Marriage Plan, so the Lord of House Turquoise shared his power with his son to prevent Diamond from getting revenge. And that's when Graciel became knocked up by Vyrian, now Lord of House Turquoise. He was probably killed later by Mordriel and the House Diamond Ruffians which caused Graciel to flee to Earth with her daughter. Or her fetus. I don't know when she had to flee. Besides finding out that Mordiel was barren, that's about everything that was learned at dinner.

Before the Path of Heart takes place where the Amethyst girls will share the Amethyst power equally (that means Graciel, Mordriel, and Amaya (Amethyst!) will all have 1/3 of the power), a scene takes place in House Diamond to show that the youngest son, Hadran, is actually a good man. That must mean he'll be Amethyst's love interest later!

The sharing of the blood-power of House Amethyst goes according to plan even though Mordriel tries to use her influence to have Amaya choose the Path of Blood which means killing her mother and taking all of the power. But Amaya chooses the Path of Heart, surprisingly. Mordriel isn't exactly happy to have lost one-sixth of her power, so she contacts the Shadow Walkers of House Onyx to hire them for a job.

Of course the House of the Black Gemstone is shadowy and dangerous.

What Houses are there? I'm guessing there will be twelve by the looks of the portal room in House Citrine and simply because the whole link to birthstones and crap. The Houses that have been acknowledged so far are Diamond, Amethyst, Turquoise, Citrine, and Onyx. Maybe there were some others that I've forgotten. I'm sure there will be Houses for Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire. The last four might be Opal, Pearl, Garnet, and Aquamarine. Maybe there will be minor houses as well to represent all of the gemstones. Maybe the names of all of the houses are the secrets that will be revealed next month!

Anyway, it's time for the boy's story! This book is so gender coded! No, wait. That's me gender coding the book! I mean, now it's time for a story that can be enjoyed no matter what genitalia you have and no matter what genitalia you want your genitalia to interact with.

Last issue, Grendel had infiltrated Hrothgar's long house and was about to eat Wiglaf. Luckily, Beowulf comes to his rescue just in time! Or perhaps it was just lucky that Beowulf was using the kid to lure Grendel to him?

Well, that was a quick battle.

Cutting off Grendel's arms doesn't even come close to ending the fight. It just sprouts new ones out of its chest and presses the attack using its poison tipped tail and it's disgusting jelly fish jaws. Beowulf loses his sword and takes a moment to assess his opponent.

Come on. How awesome is this? This story is my absolute favorite piece of DC's world building experience so far.

Grendel flees from the hall screaming, "UNGLAU!" That might be a clue! Beowulf promises to track it to its lair and bring back its head for Hrothgar. He takes Wiglaf with him to help lead the way. Grendel's lair looks like it might possibly be the Blackhawk's Eyrie. As they enter, they find Grendel inside an Empire Strike's Back healing tank. But before they can smash it and kill the beast within, Grendel's mother stops them.

Mother Machine?

Sword of Sorcery #2 Rating: +1 Ranking. Yet again, the back-up story really carries this book. I think if the Beowulf story were the main story though, it would reveal too much each month and use up all of its tricks. As a short in the back of the book, it's perfect. It gives me just enough to want to see more of this post-apocalyptic New 52 world. I'm enjoying the Amethyst story but I think I'd like it better if we got back to some high school action and the plot sped up a little bit. Overall, this is a pretty well rounded comic book series.

DC Universe Presents #14: Black Lightning & Blue Devil

I didn't remember Nebiros so I read his Wikipedia page. That might be the most poorly written Wikiepedia page I've ever read! It ends with "He has a sense of honor, which is his only known weakness." I read it as he has a sense of humor which is his only known weakness. I think that would be more interesting.

Last issue, Blue Devil and Black Lightning inexplicably ended up in the same title together in some kind of Brave and the Bold team-up. Obviously this idea was hatched by some super imaginative editor that couldn't resist creating a team they could dub "Black & Blue." I like both of these characters and I was in a good mood, so I think I liked it. But brain chemistry being what it is, I could have been deluded. I'm looking at the cover of this one and wondering why I was so intrigued by it last time!

At the end of the last issue, both heroes were watching someone close to them die or about to die because the Great White Whale, Drowned J. Jonah Jameson, put a hit on the heroes. Or maybe that's only why Blue Devil's grandfather died in the crossfire. I think Black Lightning's dad was just getting attacked because he's butting his nose into something that isn't any of his nose's business.

Blue Devil immediately gets about his nose's business of vengeance.

Looks like that trident is a little more than a simple movie prop.

Before Blue Devil's grandfather died, he told Daniel (Blue Devil!) that the suit was more than a movie special effect. But now that his grandfather is dead, Daniel will have to learn about the suit on his own. It looks like whatever it just did to this thug's soul is a clue!

Blue Devil chases after a different thug while spouting B Movie cliches. For once, a super hero spouting bad dialogue has a character driven reason! Blue Devil is just regurgitating movie lines from his roles while a stunt man in shitty movies. Unless the demon that seems to be possessing him just has a shitty imagination. Blue Devil learns from this thug that Tobias Whale is the man behind the attack.

Meanwhile, Black Lightning finally remembers that he has a secret identity to protect as he's saving his dad.

Too bad he already screamed out "DAD!" while dropping to the street. Good thing Blue Devil sucks out there souls a page later.

Blue Devil and Black Lightning randomly meet up once again just as Blue Devil learns that Tobias Whale put a hit out on both of them. Los Angeles really is a small town. Black Lightning's dad gives them all a ride home and that's the end of that exciting night.

At Dan Cassidy's grandfather's funeral three days later, Dan runs into Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning!). They went to the same high school and played football together. And Dan Cassidy realized that Jefferson Pierce was Black Lightning when they met a few days ago. Because he's as good a detective as Tim Drake! No, it's because they spent so much time in a locker room together. You really get to know a guy when you casually talk about banging high school chicks while your dicks are hanging out. I should know! Although I never played high school football.

Why is this comic book suddenly reminding me of Firestorm?

Meanwhile, the only one of Tobias Whale's thugs to survive the encounter with Blue Devil returns, although not of his own accord. To try to save himself from the wrath of Whale because he failed his mission and ran, he gives Whale the Demon's Cup prop he stole from Grandpa Liam's movie studio. Turns out, like Blue Devil's suit, it's more than just a prop. When Whale shoves it down he thugs throat, the cup mixes with blood and activates.

"I am Nebiros! My only weakness is Knock Knock Jokes!"

Back at Graveyard Studios, Jefferson Pierce actually meets with Dan Cassidy to discuss naming their new team. Blue & Black? Devil & Lightning? DELIGHTNING! There is also some foreshadowing in a movie poster for the version of Nebiros that I've created!

See? The Killing Joke! They're going to kill him with laughter!

Cassidy's grandfather left him a note along with the entire movie studio. Cassidy reads the note to Pierce and it all makes awesome sense.

I love this explanation!

Now the responsibility falls on Blue Devil to keep the world safe from his movie studio full of mystic Macguffins! Once Cassidy and Pierce realize all the crap around them is magic, they turn their attention to Cassidy's Blue Devil suit. Cassidy always thought the suit was made with fiber optics but Pierce takes one look at it and realizes it's simply skin with veins and nerve endings running through it. Cassidy has been wearing the skin of a demon that fuses to his body! Gross!

Blue Devil suggests that he and Black Lightning team up. What a surprise! I'm guessing they'll come to some sort of agreement since the story isn't quite over. And they still have to stop Whale, so they might as well work together.

Back in his office, Whale is striking up a deal of his own. He'll bring Blue Devil to Nebiros (who seems to hate him for some reason) and Nebiros will provide Tobias with powerful power or something. You know. Standard deal with a devil.

DC Universe Presents #14 Rating: +1 Ranking. The story is well told and I like the movie studio that humiliates evil relics to keep the world safe twist. Now I'm beginning to suspect Death Bed was a true story!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nightwing #14

How many pages until these two are fucking? The over/under is 15.

I wonder if the good writers at DC hang out with the bad writers at DC? I wonder if everyone in the office walks around thinking they're one of the good writers? I bet the good writers don't even enter the offices at DC since they'd have to take a plane from somewhere in the United Kingdom to go to work in the morning.

But perhaps I'm wrong? I have a feeling the really amazing writers spend way too much time writing while Scott Lobdell (even though he's writing something like four books a month!) and Tom DeFalco just sit down and piss out their story over one weekend. So they're probably the guys that go out drinking and carousing every night. Maybe the bad writers are the ones that everyone wants to hang out with! I bet Winnick does shots with Ann Nocenti all night while his wife is in surgery saving lives. And since Tom DeFalco seems to telling the same story every month in Superboy, he's opened up a whole shitload of free time. Maybe that's why DC forced him to write a story in Nightwing so Higgins can recharge. "Come on, Tom! Just take one of your Superboy scripts and do a search/replace on Superboy with Nightwing. And replace the current bad guy with Lady Shiva! That'll work."

I think putting "Dick" in quotation marks sets the wrong tone for this entire "getting to know the protagonist" box. Now when I read it, I also see "partner" and "became a man" in quotation marks too!

First off, I'm glad to see Tom DeFalco is still labeled the "guest writer." Let's just hope he doesn't end up "guest writing" the book for three years! Hurry back, Kyle Higgins!

Second off, Nightwing reminds all of the readers that The Joker is back in Gotham City so don't forget to read Batman #13! Still on sale!

Third off (although my numbering is probably off since the Narration Box I scanned was really the first off!), Nightwing is hunting for Lady Shiva by following a trail of slit throats across Gotham. But the first murder he investigates doesn't turn out to be her.

So Nightwing likes to beat up kittens?

Now that I've wasted twenty minutes laughing and crying at that video, I should probably donate some money to an animal shelter. And finish reading Nightwing. Or start reading it even!

Nightwing finishes up with the kittens, turns the research over the next murder to Lucius Fox, and heads out to check up on his Amusement Park. For new readers and people not paying attention and, since he's only thinking this, himself, Nightwing explains that Amusement Mile is a project he's spent all of his money on so that Gotham can have a nice, safe, fun place for families to go.

A shining beacon. Or a flaming wheel of death when some psycho sets it ablaze and unbolts it, sending it rolling downtown!

Nightwing promises the daughter of the new trapeze artists that she and her family will be safe. She's heard the rumours that the circus is jinxed. Little does she know it isn't jinxed at all! It's simply the breeding ground for the best assassins that have ever lived and died and lived again! I'm not sure how Nightwing can promise anyone that they'll be safe as long as they're in Gotham. Batman and the Bat Family might always come through and stop the bad guys in the end but a lot of people always seem to die before that end happens.

Later Nightwing speaks with Sonia on the phone. DeFalco had a few pages last issue where he wrote Batgirl and they were awful. She was a snotty bitch that was worried about The Joker being back in town. Maybe The Joker being back is an excuse to have her on edge but the caption said the scene took place after Batgirl #14. But in Batgirl #14, she was strong and confident and really at her best. Nothing like the shaken, bad-tempered woman seen in the last issue of Nightwing. I mention this because now Nightwing is acting really stupid in the scene where he speaks with Sonia. Maybe Nightwing's detective skills fail him when he's trying to read women. That's kind of understandable. But he speaks with Sonia who apologizes for standing him up the night before when they were supposed to have a business meeting. His reaction?

I guess the typical business thing is to not give a shit if you miss a meeting?

Dick is a great detective but he thinks someone apologizing is intimate? That's okay. He does seem to be a bit clueless when it comes to women. Especially redheads. And he seems interested in Sonia so he keeps second guessing every comment she makes. I'm actually fine with this scene and his characterization but I brought it up so I could talk about the Batgirl incident from Nightwing #13 after having now read Batgirl #14!

Lucius gets back with some information that makes him realize that Lady Shiva may be in town to kill all of the witnesses for that S.E.C. case mentioned last issue. Remember where I said Sonia Branch was probably Lady Shiva's next victim? Yeah, that's about to happen. Unless she's really just out here to ask Nightwing on a date. That's a definite possibility and the way I hope this story is headed.

Once Dick Grayson puts on the Nightwing costume and hits Gotham's roofs, he runs into Lady Shiva. She's such a super assassin that she can tell the instant somebody is onto her plans! They tussle for awhile and then Nightwing makes a comment that makes me think the two of them fucking isn't going to happen this issue.

Or what? Brunette?

Nightwing manages to stop the hit on Sonia. Luckily the hit was taking place just outside the building as Sonia was entering to testify. Lady Shiva has the single chance to assassinate her but fails. Sonia ducks into the courthouse to testify! Lady Shiva's reputation is fucked and she takes it out on Nightwing.

Great. Now his ribs are never going to fucking heal. Maybe The Joker will just put him out of his misery in an issue or two.

Lady Shiva lets Dick live for now. Partly, I suspect, because he was fighting at a disadvantage with the cracked ribs. Martial arts villains don't like to defeat foes that aren't at the top of their game. But she also mentions she may need "even more" from him later. Like sex! I knew it! The encounter ends as Lady Shiva jumps to another roof with pathetic, beaten Dick Grayson screaming after her, "Can you at least tell me who hired you?" Seriously. Batman would be ashamed!

The plea from Nightwing is really just to set up the next scene showing The Penguin speaking with Ogilvy and telling Shiva, over the phone, that her fee has been wired to her. It's a nice segue except for the part where it makes Nightwing sound like a real, whiny, impotent bitch!

And that segue segues nicely into the Death of the Family plotline.

How long has Ogilvy been around? I like this guy! I hope he and Alfred engage in some fisticuffs during Death of the Family!

The last page shows The Joker breaking Raya Vestri out of Blackgate Prison. She's the other red head from Dick Grayson's younger days with Haly's Circus that tried to destroy Nightwing and Haly's Circus with the help of Saiko half a dozen issues ago. I guess she's invited to the party! Yay!

Nightwing #14 Rating: +1 Ranking. Holy fuck cows! Did I just increase a comic book's rankings while Tom DeFalco was at the helm? I can't believe it! Maybe it's because I'm all hopped up on caffeine and YouTube videos of kittens getting their hats smacked off of their heads. Seriously though, I enjoyed this story and I still really like Nightwing even with DeFalco writing him. Fuck. I think I'm becoming a Fanboy!

Oh, um, plus the art was enjoyable. Good job, Guinaldo and Irwin!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blue Beetle #14

If you can fart, surviving The Reach is a piece of cake.

Blue Beetle only has a few more issues left so I'd better praise it while I still have a chance. Tony Bedard and Ig Guara have done a fantastic job on this comic, maintaining wonderful art and engaging characters across its fifteen issue run. I've always been a big fan of Ted Kord's Blue Beetle and I wasn't reading comics when Ted got the shaft. This is series is my first introduction to Jamie Reyes and I like him. At first I thought he was just another high school kid too cool for everything and full of bravado. But he actually comes across a lot more like Peter Parker. He's quite a bit over his head with his new life but he's still trying to be responsible and keep what he can under control. And his little girlfriend Brenda is sexy and rich!

So it's too bad it's being cancelled. I also have it ranked 32nd out of 52 comics which really doesn't do it justice. My ranking system is severely flawed, especially if two adjacent comics both go up one rank each month and they're bracketed by comics that don't move, the two comics can just spend six months in the same position as they leap frog each other and never move. Sometimes I try to correct this and since Blue Beetle is ending soon, I'll be sure to bump it up to about where I think it should be when DC finally shitcans retires it.

Anyway, I'll let Jaime catch everyone up on what was going on last issue.

I know I'm currently in a good mood because the B Minus in Spanish line made me laugh.

Blue Beetle and his new buddy, Khaji-Kai, killer of worlds, are about ready to land on Scarabworld where The Reach enslave the native Scarabs and force them to become living armor for The Reach's warriors. Following close behind them in another ship is Sky Witness, Khaji-Da's original human receptacle. Khaji-Da is Jaime Reyes' Scarab for those not following along very closely. He's also a dessicated corpse with some inherent Blue Beetle powers left over from his long contact with Khaji-Da. My supposition from my last commentary is that Jaime will never even notice that Sky Witness is after him. He'll just keep barely missing his chance to get Jaime before Jaime finally returns to Earth. Sky Witness will then have to spend many years traveling to Earth to try again. Good thing he'll have time while Blue Beetle waits for a new series.

Jaime and Khaji-Kai discuss the Bugsuit's ability to translate other languages for the wearer.

The mice and the dolphins, of course!

And then I learn my earlier supposition was wrong as Sky Witness crashes his ship into Khaji-Kai, crushing him against the surface of Scarabworld. Oh, I'm sure he's okay. But he's probably out of commission so that Jaime will have to face Sky Witness alone.

This isn't revenge. It's a romantic rendezvous.

Khaji-Kai breaks up the reunion since Blue Beetle is powerless to hurt Sky Witness. His armor simply refuses to attack the creature because it recognizes it's own energy signature inside of him. Khaji-Kai chases Sky Witness away but in doing so alerts all of the other Reach guards of their location.

Spoiler: One of them doesn't die like a warrior.

Blue Beetle and Khaji-Kai manage to evade the guards and set the reactor to blow. This will take out the entire planet so Jaime quickly finds a way off of this doomed world. He shoves his way into an escaping ship manned by an alien making a delivery while Khaji-Kai gets trapped outside the ship. The planet blows, Blue Beetle escapes, and Khaji-Kai dies like a warrior. Unless a warrior wouldn't have been trying to flee the planet in the hopes of surviving. Then he just dies. And Jaime now has a ship and a pilot to help him get back to Earth.

Looks like Jaime's going to have to petition for a Galactic Restraining Order against Khaji-Da's ex.

Blue Beetle #14 Rating: +3 Ranking. The story feels like it's being rushed or cut short but that's probably due to the series having a definite end date now. But it did make me laugh a few times and this comic is much better than the 32 Ranking it currently has, so I'll give it a bit of a goodbye boost.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Ravagers #6

Fuck me. More Superboy?

The Ravagers have finally bonded and they're ready to destroy all of Harvest's N.O.W.H.E.R.E. facilities. The first thing they need to do is practice in Nile Caulder's Danger Room (I should call it the Doom Room) and cost him millions of dollars in repairs. The next thing they'll have to do is head to New York to beat up Warblade and Rose Wilson. After that, they'll have to go to Arizona to fight the Cosmic Butcher. Then Superboy will need to take a break from them for awhile to go fight H'el in the Superman crossover. Why do I even bother reading these comics since I already know everything that happens in the next few months simply because these comics are all taking place out of order and referring to plots in comic books that won't be out in months? And people think DC's editors have some kind of control over the new DCnU. I think they barely know what they're doing.

As The Ravagers watch Nile Caulder's Doom Room begin to transform into a prehistoric simulation so they can practice fighting dinosaurs (might as well begin with something practical, right?), they listen to Niles drone on and on about how different he is from Harvest while being pretty much exactly the same. And instead of commenting on the comic book story, I, once again, find myself more interested in the editing of this book.

Technically nothing wrong with leaving every quote in each Narration Box open and finally closing it in the last one since it's one long monologue by Caulder. Aesthetically? It just looks awful. Note Mackie's use of his favorite imaginary punctuation at the end of Narration Box six. 

The title of this issue is "...ENGAGE!" Even in the title, Mackie can't resist throwing in one of his fucking ellipses. So "Ravagers . . . engage!" really is the rallying cry of this group?

Caulder watches The Ravagers practice while speaking with somebody off-panel. Could it be Rose Wilson? Or Warblade? Will I even find out before this issue is over? Whoever it is, it sounds like Caulder isn't being totally honest with The Ravagers. Caulder and the mystery person have some connection to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. They think Fairchild pulled The Ravagers out of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. too soon although I don't think it was really her choice. She just helped them escape once everything fell the fuck apart.

As Caulder watches them train, he explains their powers to any new readers. He also explains to all of the old readers that Superboy was built by Harvest as a weapon that could destroy The Ravagers if they ever got out of his control. So there's Superboy's purpose! After a year of pouting and wondering why he was created as a living weapon, Superboy almost finds out! Except Caulder simply drops it casually in conversation with the mystery person he's speaking with. So while other secrets in the DCnU drag on and on, this one is revealed in a place where most people are likely to miss it.

What Caulder learns from The Ravagers' first training session is that they suck but they're potentially the "world's most dangerous threat". DC Comics: We Have the Most Superlatives!

Turns out the mystery person is Red Robin. Yeah, that makes more sense than Rose Wilson. I guess Niles Caulder can be trusted. For now!

I can't wait until Red Robin confronts Harvest. Harvest will probably let Red Robin kill him because that will be the moment that Red Robin becomes Harvest. Harvest must ensure his existence through his own death.

After the single training session, Caitlin thinks The Ravagers need a break. She takes them out to spend some time at the beach. Superboy learns that Ridge believes Superboy is a fail-safe to destroy The Ravagers if they get out of control So apparently this isn't Niles pet theory. Once it's mentioned, everybody gets to think it! Because it must be true (as seen in Legion Lost #14 where Harvest is able to control Superboy with mental suggestions). And when Superboy hears this theory, he just kind of shrugs it off because he hasn't spent every fucking second of his own comic book trying to figure out why he exists.

"You know, I've been dealing with this existential angst for close to a year now. And I came out to California to beat you up a bit and force you to answer my questions so I could figure out who I am. But stop bothering me with possible answers. Let's talk about how I want to be friends with you guys!"

Elsewhere on the beach front, Terra has a minor conversation with Ridge which turns Beast Boy into a jealous mess. How dare that bitch speak kindly to another monster?! That isn't how love works!

I bet Gar's jealous panel was supposed to be bigger and they jammed in the panel to the right at the last second. "We need to acknowledge Rotworld!" Also note Mackie's weird love of stupid punctuation with the legendary dash-question mark.

I keep getting distracted by other stuff but I've been wanting to mention Lightning. Everyone seems to be concerned with a lot of things that might be troubling each of the other members of the team but the one thing nobody talks about is the loss of Thunder's sister, Lightning, just a few weeks (possibly days!) ago. Perhaps all of the Lightning talk is happening off panel. But eventually while they're buying tacos, Thunder brings up his sister and how maybe she's still alive somewh....

"Yeah, whatever. I gotta get this."

The Ravagers day at the beach is interrupted by Niles. He needs them for a mission in New York. What a surprise! They need to go help some super-powered kid before N.O.W.H.E.R.E. can get their hands on her. N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is still active? Perhaps Harvest didn't tell them that part of his plan is over.

Once they arrive, The Ravagers are ambushed by Windshear and Bright Eyes in one of the ugliest double splash pages I've ever seen. These two jerks escaped with The Ravagers from the Antarctic N.O.W.H.E.R.E. facility before they split up with the main group over the Arctic. Hey, don't fucking look at me! I'm not the one with the horrible grasp on geography or the location of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. After they split up, they were captured by Rose Wilson and Warblade. It looks like they decided being free wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Or even an option, probably.

The Ravagers defeat Windshear and Bright Eyes because Windshear and Bright Eyes are two of the stupidest characters I've ever seen. They never stood a chance! But immediately after taking them down, the real challenge begins.

Don't worry! According to Legion Lost #14, The Ravagers win this battle too.

The Ravagers #6 Rating: -1 Ranking. Someone needs to send Howard Mackie to punctuation school. I can't fucking concentrate on the story because of--all of know--stupid punctuation...--!?.

The Phantom Stranger #2

Is Pandora's quest to institute the old DCU? If so, I'm one of the few that hope she fails!

Last issue, I learned that The Phantom Stranger's current name was Philip. He had a wife and two children. I don't much about the Phantom Stranger so I don't know if any of that should be familiar. Let me see if he's in the Who's Who!

He is and it wasn't much help. Although it did mention that he once became close to the mortal Bruce Gordon, the human half of Eclipso. And since Eclipso is appearing in several DC Comics right now, maybe their friendship will come into play? But probably not. This is The New 52! Forget the old rules! Everything is new now! Not because anything is really new but because DC said it was new so that they can erase some aspects of their characters' histories to keep from paying royalties to writers they hate. But that's just a cynical theory! I believe DC's main goal in creating The New 52 was to make the fans happy!

Pandora begins the issue by confronting The Phantom Stranger at his kids' soccer game. She accuses him of living a lie. She sticks a gun in his face. And then she asks him for help. Well, that's how I normally go about asking for a favor. Although I've never asked a favor from mankind's collective unconscious, so perhaps the gun in the face and the accusations are the best way to go about it.

So if The Phantom Stranger doesn't help Pandora find someone to crack her box, she's going to break up The Phantom Stranger's sham marriage. What is this? Invitation to Love?

When the Stranger returns home, he finds Trigon's son Belial waiting for him. It looks like no matter how much The Phantom Stranger would like to leave his work at work, he can't avoid it seeping into his home life. It's only the second issue and his family is being threatened by the mythical Pandora and the bastard son of Trigon. Maybe The Stranger can save his family by betraying the marriage vows he took and divorcing Elena. Perhaps he'd even lose one of his silver coins for doing so.

After dealing with Belial, The Stranger receives a phone call from someone named Terrence Thirteen.

Remember this guy's ancestor from All Star Western?

Interestingly enough, this Terrence Thirteen is completely obsessed with the paranormal. His great, great grandfather (plus or minus a few greats) was a completely rational and scientific man. He was the Scooby Doo Gang of the late 19th century. His only appearance so far in The New 52 was when he solved the case of The Haunted Highwayman by using logic, science, and the technology of the time. When the criminal 19th Century Terrence Thirteen was caught and about to be hanged, he cursed Terrence Thirteen across all of his generations. Of course, Terrence didn't give the curse any heed. As far as the man of science was concerned, curses were bullshit.

But then this is the comic book world where reality is a bit different. To believe in ghosts and curses and gods and super powers in this world makes you, at least, a bit credulous and, at most, a complete fool, it's exactly the opposite in the world of comics. The evidence of the supernatural and paranormal is everywhere in the DCnU and to take Mister Terrific's and Terrence Thirteen's stance of disbelief is to completely ignore all of that evidence. But that was the old Terrence Thirteen! This Terrence Thirteen has a reason to track all of the supernatural and paranormal phenomena in the world. Because the curse apparently worked!

Now this is the way to world build!

This is a much more natural way to build cohesiveness amid the different series in the New 52. Instead of forcing crossovers between titles, just use characters and history set up in one book to have some kind of impact in another title. A person doesn't have to read All Star Western to understand any of what has happened. It means a lot more if you have but that's why this works as solid world building. It feels seamless and organic because you don't have to read the other title. I can see why DC would want to force you to read more of their books. But this kind of thing will work much better in the long run to build loyal fans of your universe.

The Haunted Highwayman gets the better of The Phantom Stranger and strings him up in a noose when the scene ends. But I have a feeling that since The Stranger already died once that way, he's kind of over it. He'll be okay next issue! Right? His name is on the cover!

The final page shows that Jim Corrigan is looking for The Phantom Stranger. That job by the Phantom Stranger was probably a big mistake. You don't betray a guy into becoming the Spirit of Vengeance! That just seems like a really stupid move.

The Phantom Stranger #2 Rating: +1 Ranking. Other than the art, I'm enjoying this comic book. I might not be remembering this correctly but I think the art reminds me of The Specter's comic book run by John Ostrander. The one with the glow in the dark issue #1! I'm not a fan of the style.