The Weekly Pull – 3/21/12

     

When I originally devised this column for the site, I wanted to read the comics on Wednesday, and have my thoughts up by Friday. However, this progressively turned to a Saturday column, and then now when I’ve procrastinated on it until Sunday. And that’s not including the times I’ve delayed the multiple parts of a Weekly Pull when the comics came in large numbers. This is something I want to rectify in the future, since not everyone wants to read about comics released days ago, when we’re already halfway to the next release day.

So for what it’s worth, I apologize. Onto the list.

With the whole Darkseid business done, JUSTICE LEAGUE #7 moves to the present day, where the heroes have barely learned to work together as a team, and yet are beloved by everyone without question. Except the government, which naturally questions how the superbeings in their midst operate and what they’re planning. But to my surprise, the general public is seriously considering abolishing the representative form of government in favor of just letting the JLA run things. Also there’s something about the guy that wrote the book on the Justice League apparently becoming a villain, and plotting against them.

First things first, maybe I’m just too used to the jaded world where people view those with great power with great suspicion. Or I’m just too used to people acting like emotionally stable and professional adults. Because the random people running around and interacting with the Justice League and ARGUS (the liason between the state and the JLA) don’t act like normal humans. Or at least not respectable humans. And I guess if that’s what Geoff Johns is going for, to portray society as becoming too enamored and worshipful of powerful but flawed beings, then I guess this is a rousing success. It just seems weird that not distrusting superheroes is more strange to me than distrusting them. Too much Alan Moore I guess.

Never thought I’d say that.

This issue deals considerably with Steve Trevor, classic Wonder Woman supporting character and current go-to guy for ARGUS. I like this direction, focusing on how the normal humans surrounding the league deal with their behavior and the prying eyes of the state. Not to give out spoilers, but due to his tension as the liason between these two forces, and just his sexual tension with Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor stands to figure prominently in the issues to come.

Another significant aspect of issue seven is the beginning of the Captain Marvel side story. Like All-Star Western, we’ll being getting this side story in addition to the main draw of the JLA. Captain Marvel, for those unversed in classic DC comics, is an orphaned boy named Billy Batson, endowed with great power and an adult form by the wizard Shazam. He was Superman’s principle rival for many years, which lead to legal battles between DC and Captain Marvel’s publisher until that publisher went to the toilet, and DC bought the rights to the character. Also, for reasons heavily involving copyright law as it pertains to naming, DC’s Captain Marvel cannot be advertised as such, and must go under the header of SHAZAM! Which is why JUSTICE LEAGUE advertises Shazam as a side story.

Let’s get the semi-spoilers out of the way first. Billy Batson is an unlikable jerk in this continuity. He’s such a brat that the adoption agency cannot for the life of them get him into a good home, and they’re running out of families to take him. To longtime fans, this could be a considerable betrayal, basically making the otherwise good little boy into a creep. I think DC wants to do the same to Billy Batson what it’s been doing with Superman. Making him into a bad guy early on, so that he can go on a journey of personal growth over the course of the series run into the good superhero he’s meant to be. At least I hope that’s the case, and if so I’m willing to give the writers some slack. We’ll need to wait and see how his character develops.

Speaking of development, BATMAN #7 shows the Court of Owls saga developing nicely, and threatening to spill into the surrounding Batman books. Some of the plot threads set up early in the run are starting to pay off, and we get an explanation for the Talon’s apparent immortality. Apparently they are actually immortal, or at the very least capable of coming back from the dead due to some techno babble. This struck me as a bit out there, but then again we also have a long-standing Batman villain who baths in a pool of chemicals to restore his youth.

And it’s now that I kind of regret not reading yet another book in the line, this time NIGHTWING. Not only does this issue (apparently) intersect with the recent issue of Nightwing, but uses the former Robin as a prominent plot point in this storyline. Let me just say there’s a reveal that stretches back to the very beginning of the Batman mythos, and makes perfect sense. I’m actually thinking of picking up NIGHTWING from now on, or at least to fill in the other parts of the Court of Owls storyline in them. Thankfully a few of the series I’ve been following are ending.

Then again, in two months I’ll be picking up at least one new ongoing, maybe more. Oh comics industry, why do you torment me so?

Meanwhile in DCAU continuity, BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #2 introduces an entire generation of Batman fans to one of my personal favorite villains from the TV series, Mad Stan. He’s basically the world’s greatest, most violent anti-statist, anti-authoritarian terrorist. He’s kind of like Flag Smasher from Marvel, except angrier and with more guns. And for both of these guys, I can’t say they don’t have legitimate grievances, though obviously their methods are villainous. This issue starts off a two-issue storyline involving future Batman fighting against, and then helping Stan, whose little doggie is stolen by Russian arms dealers.

Obviously Stan did plenty to make them steal his dog, but regardless. I also like how this series keeps continuity with the previous comic run of Batman Beyond, which had future Hush killing off villains, and everyone heard that Mad Stan was among his victims. And Stan is none too happy at people who keep saying that.

The secondary plot with the future Justice League continues the search for Ray Palmer…er sorry, I mean Micron, and the infiltration of DC’s Cobra. It also makes reference to a little known comic series called The War That Time Forgot. I find that for all its bizarre (yet often necessary) breaks from comic continuity, the DC Animated Universe and the properties therein seemed to genuinely revere the old parts of DC’s past. There was that episode of Justice League that was basically a direct adaptation of that one Alan Moore story (minus Jason Todd, for obvious reasons). And that show also devoted an episode to a tribute to the Justice Society, though to avoid confusion many names were changed.

Alan Scott: “Hello Green Lantern! I’m Green Lantern”

Child Viewers: “What the hell is this crap?! So confused!”

Anyway I enjoyed this storyline, even though everyone other than future Batman didn’t get to do much. Also we get a cameo of a reveal at the end, which just made me smile. Needless to say this comic succeeds in that I want to read the next issue by a wide margin. Unlike Red Lanterns, which is teetering on the edge of a drop and has to get its act together now if it wants to stay in my good graces.

Speaking of a series that overstayed its welcome, we move over to Marvel with AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #4. This miniseries basically managed to get me reading it by the virtue of only being four parts long, and able to distract me from how poor it was long enough that I finished it by momentum alone. There are plenty of times I struggled through badly written comics, and got through them since, come on, I had to see how it ended at least. It worked for the Rise of Eclipso storyline in the previous Justice League run.

X-SANCTION was meant to lead up to the AvX crossover event, which begins next month. And I have to say, it doesn’t do a whole lot in that front. In this issue, Cable gets taken down by the Avengers, and all his work to thin their ranks ends up coming to nothing. Even Red Hulk, infected with the techno virus and dying, just burns it off by the power of his rage. Way to undermine the threat that’s been building over it this entire time. I think there’s only two things this issue managed to accomplish towards the coming crossover. It supplied the Avengers with a lot of anti-mutant future technology, and Hope finally got in touch with the Phoenix Force. And if that seems like a spoiler, it’s really not. Nearly every book put out in the last month has a preview at the end for the crossover, so it’s hard to go unspoiled.

We don’t even get the thing this book has been promising since issue one. Cable doesn’t die, even though we’d been building up his death the entire time. Not that those free preview books didn’t already sort of spoil his survival by listing Cable as a wild card in the upcoming AvX event. And the way he’s saved feels like such a cop-out.

Oh, and while Wolverine and Spiderman do appear in this issue, they aren’t in their respective black outfits, and Spiderman barely does anything. I’m just disappointed with this title, and with Marvel. You guys were on such a roll with pretty much everything I bought from you. So what happened?

To cheer myself up, let’s talk about AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #682. Which is good, because this issue was generally good. It’s the start of this year’s big Spiderman event, and it has a solid start. Doctor Octopus, dying, has built a technological marvel that creates a bubble to heat the Earth. And he claims that, with the right modifications, it can be used to reverse this, and stop global warming.

Now just speaking from me personally, I think global warming is a huge, unscientific crock, perpetuated for political reasons rather than being in any way a viable idea. Let’s just put that on the table. But I’ve suspended my disbelief for far worse works of fiction, and regardless of how I feel about it this creates a great conflict. Basically Doc Ock says he wants to help mankind with what little life he has, and most everyone is considering his offer. Spiderman of course doesn’t trust his old villain for a second, and suits up for war against the Sinister Six. And even though everyone around him can’t see past the villain’s tempting offer, Spiderman is prepared to bring all his scientific knowledge to bear on this. This is the kind of story I like to see; a hero facing massive odds, with others unwilling to lift a hand to stop the antagonist.

Needless to say, despite my reservations, I’m eagerly awaiting part two. Yet another event to get in the months to come. My poor wallet.

Luckily we have another miniseries ending with STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPERHEROES #6. The end of a six month crossover between the original crew of the Enterprise and DC’s heroes from the 30th century, and it ended in a way I wasn’t exactly expecting. Which is not to say it didn’t work, or make sense. Basically, because this crossover heavily involved time travel, by the end of it the status quo was restored in the most definitive manner possible. By making it so none of it ever happened.

That’s the problem with adapting a licensed property, and thus what IDW deals with all the time. Unless a comic has its own continuity entirely (like GI Joe), the producers have to abide by the continuity. This means that even though this comic basically tied together the Star Trek timeline and the main DC universe timeline together, this crossover can’t be allowed to remain a part of either. You can’t have an aged Spock, in the new movies for instance, recall with fondness that one time he hung out with Brainiac Five. Both logistically and legally it’s at best questionable.

So did this miniseries succeed? I think so, since it nailed the concept I like to call “nerd awesome”, that nebulous quality that vaguely describes such things as crossovers and references to Benny Hill. And this is from a guy with vague ties to original Star Trek, and almost nonexistent ones to the Legion of Superheroes. I certainly want to read that upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who crossover.

Until then, let’s just enjoy the time when Q inhabited the same space as Vandal Savage. And when Vandal Savage had a TARDIS. So…topical?

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