The girls rule the world this week.
Velma Dinkley has her chance to shine in several stories that will take you by surprise. Supergirl gets to grips with her powers with the help of a face from the past. Agent Bea has to put Secret Squirrel in his place. Wonder Woman discovers a lie to be a truth. Lana Lang is still procrastinating. Lois Lane smells a rat in the family and uncovers a mystery in Gotham, while a powerful armada of warrior women team up to save all men from certain death.
Just so you know, there are men in the books this week, too!
Here’s my glimpse into the highs and lows of the DC Universe this week!
WONDER WOMAN #32
Children of the Gods – Part 2
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Sergio Davila
Dr. Peril at an ARGUS facility calls in Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor to view the body of Hercules. Peril reveals that Apokoliptian energy signatures were detected at the murder scene and that he was not the only victim in recent weeks drained of life energy.
The recent rise in Parademon activity around the world supports their findings. An appointment with Mr. Hooper leads Diana on a trail of mystery as a letter she has inherited reveals some shocking secrets…
… Diana has a twin brother!
Diana’s brother, Jason, was hinted at a while back and Diana was unsure whether to trust the stories she heard and his arrival feels a little strange.
A natural sequel to The Truth & The Lies, The Apokolips subplot is almost irrelevant to that of Hercules and Diana.
They barely had a relationship so it’s strange to me she would inherit his worldly goods out of the blue. I suspect James Robinson has more up his sleeve and this mix of beautifully rendered art and emotional script has definitely elevated the book.
The Midnight Hour: Part 1
Writer: K Perkins
Artist: Sami Basri
Maxima alerts the Steelworks of black holes appearing all over Metropolis seemingly retracing Lana’s movements. Meanwhile, Lana is having a crisis of confidence, so John Henry calls Lois Lane for help despite Lana’s misgivings.
The black holes manifest as a female android hunting down any connection to Superwoman. Traci 13, Natasha, Lana and Maxima try to locate the source of the black holes and are stunned when an injured Lois seeks them out and reveals Steel has been taken hostage.
Lana never struck me as stupid, so this mystery of where her powers come from seems to be going around in circles. Anxiety and insecurity as a tool to exasperate her ‘character’ seems unnecessary. It also seems to me that she played second fiddle to Midnight and Steel, I hope they redress the balance that was there when the book began.
Heaven to Earth (Read this week’s New Super-Man #11 first)
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Jose Luis & Norm Rapmund
Supergirl’s powers may have stabilized after the recent surge but they are still at levels she is struggling to control. Some advice from Clark leads Kara to China to meet Kenan; aka New Super-Man.
Kenan takes Kara to meet I-Ching so she can learn the ancient techniques of focus and Qi. A disaster in Mongolia halts their training and opens the eyes of a Russian soldier to see things more clearly.
In National City Cat Grant decides to expose the secrets of Supergirl and charges Kara and Ben with the task.
I’ve never been a fan of New Super-Man but he was used to great effect in this story that was all about embracing change. The Red Rocket subplot in Mongolia reinforced changes and remade the man under the armour.
It was excellent to see there were lasting effects for everyone in the issue and having I-Ching back in the limelight was brilliant for the cult comics fans. There was great artwork here, with some of the scenes saving civilians in Mongolia looking particularly fantastic.
SCOOBY-DOO! WHERE ARE YOU? #86
Medical Mystery Tour; It’s A Mystery!
Writers: Ivan Cohen & Paul Kupperberg
Artists: Randy Elliott & Fabio Laguna
Velma suffers a bee sting that hospitalises her, leaving the team without their greatest detective. The guys visit her regularly to consult on cases but while there, Velma realises that the case landed her in hospital may have been a ruse to get her out of the way. Will she be able to rally the rest of Mystery Inc in time to stop a master criminal?
It’s Velma’s birthday and she is late for her own party. A woman seeks out Velma’s help by chance and reveals she is in a race against time to find the antidote to a slow acting poison she is the victim of. Why is Velma’s party a major clue to the mystery?
A double whammy of stories centered around Velma Dinkley.
Neither are typical Scooby-Doo stories, but both definitely show how integral she is to the team.
The first highlighted Velma’s ease with mysteries and how the team couldn’t help but rely on her, despite illness. I think the second story, was the more interesting tale as it deviated from the formula so much.
Somehow it still felt like pure Scooby. A fun issue for the family.
SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #18
Haven!; To Bea Or Not to Bea!
Writer: Keith Giffen & J. M. DeMatteis
Artists: Ron Wagner, Andy Owens & Ben Caldwell
Scrappy is missing in action and the team now whole, plan their next move. Cliffy and Scooby bond over memories of Scrappy while the rest of the team gather supplies. Has Scrappy really died? They dare not dwell on it as they near a town called Halcyon. The group of friends are taken in by the citizens and are stunned to find a town unaffected by the monster plague. Are things as they appear to be or is this town hiding a dark secret?
In Secret Squirrel, our hero and Agent Bea are quarrelling over the direction of their investigations, when a helicopter suddenly begins chasing them down and spraying a flurry of bullets. Will the world’s greatest secret agent survive to save the day or will Agent Bea be the one to kill him?
Scooby Doo or Walking Dead? Remember the Terminus storyline from the Robert Kirkman’s zombie comic serial?
This issue was a twist on that storyline and honestly didn’t really attempt to hide it. If you haven’t read that story, or how it turns out, you’ll enjoy Haven.
Perhaps if you have, you’ll enjoy the homage, but I suppose the theme was in Z for Zachariah before either story so I shouldn’t be too harsh. The one thing I found really touching was the loss the team has felt since Scrappy sacrificed himself. I found the scenes particularly heart breaking with Shaggy, Scooby and Cliffy suffering so much. I’m not sure Scooby Doo is the right place for such depressing themes.
The Secret Squirrel story was a series of barbed comments and enjoyable banter. The story needs a little more fleshing out I feel,but that artwork was fantastic You should definitely check it out just for the visuals.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #16
Panic in The Microverse: Part 5
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Felipe Wantanabe & Ruy Jose
The story of how Ray Palmer was lost in the Microverse finally comes full circle as we learn that Aron Aut is not the friend to the League they were led to believe.
As Ray worked to repair the cracks at Ignition Point he discovered the natives were not as keen to save reality. As the villain; The Null reveals himself, the Justice League realise by finding their lost colleague they have caused the destruction of existence.
This storyline is perhaps the best of the JLA stories do far. It was fantastic to see Ray Palmer front and centre in a story again and his battle over adversity was thoroughly enjoyable. Aron’s transformation from eager student to his ultimate fate felt like a natural journey. The page where Ray was finally betrayed was foreshadowed brilliantly in the artwork and still retained the shock value despite it being a flashback. I love this book.
HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #30
Mind Games Part 1: Rude Awakening (Read Superman #29 & #30 first)
Writer: Robert Vendetti
Artist: Patrick Zircher
The Justice League contact the Corps and formally hand policing of Sector 2814 to the Green Lanterns, but as they do so an alert comes through from Superman for a Lantern’s immediate attention. John, Hal, Kyle and Guy are all eager to return to Earth but Hal is elected for his long-term friendship with Superman.
Superman reveals the events with Sinestro and Parallax and returns the yellow ring to his friend. Hal is curious and upon investigation is horrified as his mind manifests a Yellow Superman.
To Hal, Superman is possessed by Parallax, but as he fights frantically to save his friend he falls to the Yellow Superman’s powerful combination of powers and ring energy. Hal is about to die but at this point he wakes up.
A puzzled Superman questions what prompted Hal to ‘shadow box’ so frantically. Hal realises it was all an illusion and someone was reaching out psychically, triggering, the visions in his search. Who could be powerful enough to do that?
Mind Games is a sequel to A Minute Longer and though it may not be what I expected it was still a fantastic read.
I was hoping for the fight between Hal and Clark to be real, but it was still pretty awesome. Zircher’s art packs as much a punch as Parallax! The psychic responsible is not a favourite character of mine but I am interested to see how the elaborate illusion links into the rescue.
BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #15
Manslaughter Part 1: Quarantine
Writers: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artist: Roge Antonio
It is the battle of the sexes. Sort of. A mysterious flu has suddenly swept over Gotham City and done the unthinkable, defeated Batman. When Commissioner Gordon is struck down too, Barbara and her friends become worried as more men of Gotham fall ill. Lois Lane is in Gotham and stumbles onto the same findings, warning Superman to stay away until they know more.
Soon the Birds are joined by Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Batwoman, Orphan, Gotham Girl and Spoiler. As Gotham City is quarantined by order of the President, the women cast aside their differences and band together. One last woman joins the cause but will even her power be able to save ‘Men’ kind?
In solicits this sounds like a pretty lame idea.
When I read the blurb I let out a groan as it felt like the plot of a straight to DVD sequel.
Happily, after finishing Part 1, I’ve discovered this was not the case.
The Benson’s have clearly thought out this story and how to bring such a diverse cast of women together for one goal… to defeat the common cold. Once you get over the concept and discover the writing you’ll see there is much more to the premise and it’s actually a very strong action story and emotional drama hook.
ACTION COMICS #989
The Oz Effect Part 3
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Dan Jurgens, Viktor Bogdanovic & Trevor Scott
Clark and Jor-El are in the Fortress when news of a civil war in Logamba reaches them and Clark races to intervene. While this goes on, a man arrives in the Daily Planet newsroom and takes everyone hostage.
He mentions to Lois that he is a follower of Oz and this sends Lois’ mind racing. With Superman busy half a world away, Jor-El steps in and saves Lois, defeats the terrorist leaving Lois more puzzled than ever.
While both parents are distracted, Jor-El whisks Jon away to the Fortress. What manipulative ideas is he filling his grandsons head with?
Mr. Oz/Jor-El is clearly not a good person and for me this is way too soon after the storyline with Manchester Black manipulating Jon to have it happen all over again.
I know there is more to this story but this issue felt quite disappointing especially after the first two chapters. I know it won’t end well for Jor-El but I hope this doesn’t deteriorate into soap opera.
There was a hint from the terrorists co-conspirator that this might not be the case, but that’s the optimist in me.
RAGMAN #1 of 6
Ragman Part 1: Return Fire
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Inaki Miranda
Rory Harper is a war veteran plagued by the deaths of his entire team in Israel. They were raiding a tomb at the time of their demise and Rory inadvertently brought something back to Gotham with him.
Whatever the magical life form is that has bonded with Rory it is being hunted. Some mysterious creatures have followed Rory across the globe and are adamant the life form is taken back, whether Rory lives or dies.
Originally created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, this is an intriguing retelling of Ragman’s origin. Over the years Rory has switched religions, fought in different wars and had a variety of different powers. This issue goes back to the beginning and offers a fresh perspective. It was a strong atmospheric script backed up with art that complimented its darkness. The only time I can think of a similar balance was The Vigilante miniseries.