The Trial of Lex Luthor, the confrontation with Mordecai, the plotting of the evil Djinn, the formation of a new Justice League, the machinations of Amanda Waller, the history of the Amazons and the torments of Diana Prince and Caitlin Snow.
There is a lot to go through this week, but by far the two books I recommend are themed around psychological issues, the struggles of Wonder Woman and Killer Frost were turbulent reads that you should not miss.
This is my look into the DC Universe this week!
ACTION COMICS #972
Men of Steel: Conclusion
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Stephen Segovia
Inker: Art Thibert
Cover: Art Thibert & Steve Downer
Variant: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson
A fight under a red sun ensues between a powerless Superman, Lex, L’Call and Zade. Superman analyses his opponent and grabs L’Call’s wrist laser and uses it to give he & Lex time to escape. The duo find cover in a darkened cave and have a much needed heart to heart.
While back on earth, the doppelganger Clark meets Jon and is promptly hustled out of Lois’ apartment. As Clark walks away he ponders why Lois is suddenly lying to him.
The hunters catch up to Lex and Superman and promptly split them into two fights; Superman versus Zade and Lex versus L’Call.
Despite his lack of powers Superman is able to best Zade and forces L’Call to back down.
Superman offers L’Call the chance to see into his own future as to his own mission to protect all life and that he would do anything to stop Lex or anyone from allowing the future they believe to ever come to pass.
L’Call wathed and then shockingly teleports them back home to Metropolis without explanation. Lex now feels Superman is not pretender but worthy of the mantle Superman and decides to retire from superheroics.
As things settled down to ‘normalcy’ back on Nideesi L’Call realises Superman will be the one to prevent their foretold future but as he looks closer he realises Superman has much more to worry about that Lex.
Some great art. The action is relentless and considering Superman can be hurt adds to the danger. There are a few too many great pages to pick any out, but suffice to say Segovia really makes sure you get the action from a finale that you crave for!
Delivering on the promise of a fight to the finish, this is a really bombastic cover that showcases everyone really well. Is this the final showdown? It certainly seems like Clark and Lex are up against some unbeatable foes.
The one negative is that Superman seems like Superboy in scale to Lex.
ISSUE RATING: 4/5
A great action packed finale that puts Lex and Superman on a new footing that is a rare balance of power and respect. We get a little more intrigue with Lois & Jon meeting doppelganger Clark. We also see tiny slivers on what is to come in Superman’s future. Ultimately however, nothing changes at least not for Lex. The determination and reputation of Superman wasn’t in question it was whether Lex would become a future despot. L’Call & Zade risk the wrath of their people as they let Lex go. Is Superman’s word enough? I’m not sure.
What will become of L’Call and Zade? Is this, like Lex’s time in the armour, the end?
BLUE BEETLE #5
The Best Laid Plans
Writers: Keith Giffen & Scott Kolins
Artist: Scott Kolins
Cover: Scott Kolins
Variant: Cully Hamner
Dr. Reyes is treating members of the Posse when a man barges into her surgery and transforms into a metallic beetle suit proclaiming himself to be Mordecai.
Blur manages to rescue the Doctor but Mordecai is able to track them.
When Jaime sees the fracas he transforms and begins fighting the villain as Blur teleports his mother away.
Jaime is quickly ensnared and Mordecai is able to pull the scarab from our hero but Posse arrives with reinforcements and rescue Beetle.
Before Mordecai can retaliate he is swept away and scolded by his master for acting alone to steal the scarab and elsewhere, Dr. Fate decides it is time to act.
To Be Continued…
Lots of action, lots of fun and lots of energy. Kolins knows action for sure and the story really doesn’t take a breath as Kolins ups the wow factor. Easily enjoyable and visually pleasing.
What does this cover even mean?
It is definitely action packed but its nothing to do with the story inside and in fact promises something you might buy the book for and not get. Foul play.
ISSUE RATING: 3/5
A non stop action sequence but five issues in and we are no closer to a solid story, to be honest I’m not kind of bored, aside from the art – there is nothing here yet.
I recently watched an episode of Justice League Action with Batman and Blue Beetle and there was more progression in ten minutes then in five issues, I am really hoping next issue kick starts the book into some real story to get your teeth into.
The Poison Truth: Part 6
Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Pia Guerra
Cover: John Cassaday & Paul Mounts
Variant: Neal Adams & Dave McCaig
Mercury has dreams of being in a lush paradise in The Green chased by a beast to a cliff edge. She awakens to find Constantine at her side as they travel through the channel tunnel.
Elsewhere Clarice has invited all members of the club to a party in London, unbeknownst to the guests once they arrive they are locked in a room together until they agree to work together with Clarice and the Djinn, Marid.
Back in the dream, a man named Adnan kills the beast and rescues Mercury. As the two navigate through the foliage Mercury reveals her hunt for Abby and tries to learn the secrets Adnan holds.
He reveals he is a Djinn and if they work together he can help her harness her untapped power and in return she could release him.
The pack of the beast they killed track them to a portal and they are forced to escape. Mercury hides the truth that she rescued Adnan and is keeping him prisoner on a mental plane but then the train pulls into Paris, France and the time for flashbacks is over.
To Be Continued…
Constantine is known usually for taking the darker side of stories and the art has always matched that point for point. Seeing a bright and airy chapter is a strange feeling though it doesn’t feel like it doesn’t belong, perhaps mainly due to the fact this issue focuses more in Mercury and her personal journey.
This has a real ‘Vertigo feel’ to it. I really like it though I’d be hard pushed to explain it. Its very dramatic, abstract and symbolic, I feel like I’m looking at a message rather than a cover (that’s good btw)
ISSUE RATING: 4/5
Overall the issue is interesting, it offers a spotlight on Mercury rather than John and pushes the story further still though it still feels very slow to fruition.
The plotline with Marid for example is exhaustingly slow that I am waiting for something to actually HAPPEN.
JUSTICE LEAGUE vs SUICIDE SQUAD #6 of 6
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Cover: Howard Porter & Alex Sinclair
Variants: Jose Garcia Lopez, Tomev Morey, Amanda Conner & Laura Martin
It’s a fight to the finish as Batman and the deputized Justice League/Suicide Squad fight the original team who have succumbed to Eclipso.
One by one they all fall except Lobo, Batman and Killer Frost.
As Lobo buys them time, Batman realises that with Killer Frosts power they can create an ice prism to focus and channel Superman’s heat vision into sunlight.
It works and everyone is freed from Eclipso’s spell, but it isn’t enough power and so channeling all of her colleagues and sapping life force from each of them she channels enough to drive Eclipso back into submission.
Despite Waller instructing her to kill, Caitlin refuses, but the world is safe once more, thanks to her.
Superman tends to a weakened Caitlin later in Belle Reve and through him she realises she was a hero at heart. Meanwhile Batman negotiates with Amanda Waller to release Killer Frost from the Suicide Squad. Batman admits that though he was initially against the Squad, seeing them work he sees value in them. Waller agrees but warns Batman that one day Killer Frost will return to her dark side.
Batman then recruits Lobo, much to his surprise. Bruce tricks him into it, of course, but the Main Man is a man of his word.
From within his prison Max Lord and Amanda Waller confront one another and though Max almost succeeded he realises now, too late that this was Waller’s plan all along. She had Checkmate shut down, tipped him off to the original Squad and the diamond. Her plan he deems a success. She played everyone for fools.
Max has only one question, why would Amanda Waller orchestrate this just to protect her Task Force X?
Waller smiles that Task Force X isn’t her endgame, Task Force XI is…
Howard Porter had a flair for artistic brilliance, his issues of Superman in the fight club were a cut above and this issue blew me away. I know there is a lot of action and there is little time to focus on character moments but they are there if you take time to look and there is a lot of detail there even in the big action sequences.
As a finale cover it’s a little disappointing.
Not artistically, I’ve already mentioned how in awe of the interior art I am. I’m just disappointed that after the build up this cover just doesn’t deliver the message that this is THE finale, the precursor to a new series, It does look great it just doesn’t say this is the end/ beginning.
ISSUE RATING: 5/5
I’ve always hated Amanda Waller and the revelation that this was all a set up was something that knocked me for six. I knew from the outset that Killer Frost & Lobo would be making it out of this series as new Leaguers but their sacrifices through the storyline really lent more to the impact.
The fact Eclipso was the big bad was inconsequential it seems as there are more than a few threads to be explored. For that, I applaud the entire team, I didn’t see this being the ending and like many I saw this as a cash grab – it isn’t and the ramifications look like they will cause many ripples in the DCU.
JLA REBIRTH: KILLER FROST #1
Writer: Steve Orlando & Jody Houser
Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Marcelo Maiolo
Variant: Mirka Andolfo
Caitlin is getting out of Belle Reve, or so she thinks.
Waller sets up a chain of events to try and break Killer Frost and keep her in the Suicide Squad.
First, she delays paper work so Killer Frost begins to weaken from lack of heat; then as the days go by Waller forces her into close quarters with villains of heat based powers in hopes she’ll kill them and remain in service.
First is Mister Toxic, then Heatstroke as her cellmate.
Heatstroke senses a kindred spirit and tires to befriend Caitlin.
Later some thugs from the gang ‘The Sun’ break into their cell to take revenge on Heatstroke for giving evidence against their boss. Heatstroke’s only chance to live is if Killer Frost intervenes.
Instead of draining and killing the thugs Caitlin uses the last of her power to create an ice wall that traps them all.
Waller reluctantly agrees to release Snow after her battery of tests but all it did was teach Caitlin ways to draw life force in tiny quantities instead of killing as she used to.
Batman meets her at the prison gates and welcomes her to the Justice League.
To Be Continued… in JLA: REBIRTH #1
Nice clean simple artwork that isn’t hampered with excessive details instead concentrating on character work and as Caitlin is pivotal Andolfo does a great job of making Cailtlin and her struggle a really heartfelt one.
With Ray being the last issue, his literal polar opposite seems fitting to follow and she really looks sultry and dangerous. A deadly mix and though the snowflakes seems a little cute perhaps that’s fitting to how deadly Caitlin can be.
ISSUE RATING: 5/5
Of all the new Leaguers, Caitlin is the most complex and interesting.
Switching for bad to good is something that’s been tried before, Poison Ivy comes to mind there, but she was never inducted into the team that the world looked up to. Caitlin after all. Like Lobo is not known for heroism, but instead for her long roster of victims.
Orlando delivers a great final torturous twist that expands more into just what a bitch Amanda Waller really is. It really adds to the JL vs SS ending as we start to see the threads coming out of it.
ODYSSEY OF THE AMAZONS #1 of 6
Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Artist: Ryan Benjamin
Inker: Richard Friend
Cover: Ryan Friend
The story begins with the Amazons of Themyscira under General Hessia battling the warrior forces of the O’Kunga, they fight valiantly and liberate the citizens of Zhu’Khara from under the dictatorship of the O’Kunga.
Hippolyta has sent the Amazons to find women to join them on Themyscira like Aminata of the Zhu’Kharans. The Amazons bicker, but Hessia reminds them they are only as strong as the sister next to them.
Their mission is to recruit and spread the words of hope. Some of the sisters quietly disagree as they have spilled much blood in this quest.
Later, sea bound on their journey back home, Hessia confesses to Thekla, her second in command that she is weary of the mission. They have recruited many lost women in their quest but Hessia has begun dreaming of the wider world now she has seen it. She is unsure of living in isolation on an island, if it is the will of the gods why exactly have they been kept away from the rest of humanity? Could it be that one day one of them will try to bring their message and lifestyle of peace to the mere mortals? Hessia wonders if that emissary of peace might one day be her.
The sisters arrive on an African shore and some of them take a little time out to relax and unwind. As they do they are attacked by a giant and each of them falls till the next morning the remaining sisters come to search for them and find only signs of a scuffle.
They discover a pendant with a Nordic rune and The Fates appear to them with a message. The Fates reveal Jotuns kidnapped their sisters.
Worse The Fates tell them that in the tapestry of fate Odin and his Godlings would be self contained to their shores and history but should the Nordics and amazons cross paths the Nordic gods would spread across the world, including Themyscira.
With this news the warring sisters band together and they sail to the Norwegian seas. In the rocky seas many sisters fall overboard from their fleet of ships and as the sisters arrive on the shores they are attacked by an army of rocky giants!
To Be Continued…
The art is fantastic but telling the sisters apart is near impossible. I had to scour through speech bubbles to ensure I knew who was who. I hope some ‘name’ dialogue boxes are added because I don’t want to have to do this every issue. Aside from the identities the battle scenes are amazing and well composed. The inking and colouring adds to the beautiful visuals.
The only woman I can definitely identify is Hessia, I want to say Thekla and Ophelia but I can’t be sure. I’m also unsure of whether the Jotun is their ally or combatant. They all look brilliantly illustrated but again as inside everything is a little unclear.
ISSUE RATING: 3/5
The story is engaging, the characterisations are a bit difficult to discern who is who unless they name check. The set up for the saga is an interesting one and I’m sure there is more to The Fates involvement than they are letting on and I look forward to finding that out.
How this story fits in now that we’ve learnt the series of events in Wonder Woman is perplexing but I hope as we move along more becomes clear?
One last point, please change the narrative font, it is so difficult to read!
WONDER WOMAN #15
The Truth: Part One
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Liam Sharp
Cover: Liam Sharp & Laura Martin
Variant: Jenny Frison
Wonder Woman, as a ‘deluded’ Diana Prince is in a padded cell in Nightsong Hospital, London.
Her memories are a shattered series of images, her sorrow seems overwhelming to her and similarly on Themyscira, Hippolyta is also feeling a sense of sorrow.
Castalia interrupts a heart to heart with Philippus and they saddle up to find a withered tree.
Castalia tells them it is a warning of an impending event and Hippolyta instructs the amazons to converge near the tree ready with arms.
Elsewhere Colonel Maru has returned from her failed mission having lost not only Wonder Woman, but the possible gateway to Themyscira.
Cale also tells of Etta Candy evading them but as The Picket is gone she has only Steve Trevor and Doctor Minerva as allies. Cale decides that Minerva is the weakest link and the one they should focus on to track Etta down.
Unbeknownst to those hunting them, Steve Barbara and Etta have already met and gone into hiding. Barbara reveals that the organisation Godwatch is who has taken them down from the inside and that she used to be a member.
Back in Nightsong Diana is being taken around the grounds for fresh air. From her snakebite a mirage appears and explains the difference to her between, the facts and the truth, it also tells her that eventually she’ll figure everything out.
Barbara explains that she was part Cheetah back when Godwatch recruited her. She answered to Veronica Cale and Adrianna Anderson aka Dr. Cyber, also working with the team Poison (Maru’s squad) and helped them research Themysicra. Steve and Etta make a run for it while Barbara surrenders to Cale’s mercenary team.
With Barbara in the enemy hands Steve and Etta seek out an old friend hiding out in a homeless community… the Minotaur!
To Be Continued…
There is a minimum of action this issue but that doesn’t mean Liam Sharp lets up on the visuals, in fact it’s the opposite as the character moments are a major focus but rather than skate over that, the drama is still conveyed with focus. Hippolyta looked breathtaking in beauty and grace, full of emotion but equally steely when faced with a mission just as an example.
I feel sad looking at this cover because it’s a Diana, lost and alone. I just want to take her in my arms and hug her, reassure her that everything will be ok. This is not a Wonder Woman I’m used to seeing and it breaks my heart. Liam Sharp you really know how to reach out and play with my emotions!
ISSUE RATING: 5/5
Mental illness is a tough issue to tackle and Both Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp handle it delicately and work hard to convey her emotional struggle. Mirroring it with Hippolyta and her resolve really makes it hard to read, because of the anguish it evokes. In addition to that we have Etta, Steve and Barbara taking on Godwatch alone. The momentum definitely hasn’t waned!