Last of the month, and it’s a one-parter. We look at ALL STAR WESTERN #10, THE FLASH #10, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #10, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #688, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION/DOCTOR WHO: ASSIMILATION 2 #2, and THE STRAIN #5.
In ALL STAR WESTERN #10, the Court of Owls has yet to suffer the fate depicted in the last issue of Batman (because it’s in the 19th century). In fact, it’s here where we get probably the best depiction of the actual inner workings of the court that we’re ever going to get for much the same reason. One of Jonah Hex’s associates (and lover) Tallulah – a heavily scarred woman with a mean streak, a heavily deranged moral fiber (as Arkham would put it), and a desire for revenge – gets tossed out of the window of Wayne Casino after a failed attempt on the life of Lucius Bennet. The latter happens to be a strong-arming real estate salesmen and developer, as well as one of the highest ranking members of The Followers of Cain (the crime worshipers from the beginning of the series).
So basically, in addition to Hex’s continually thwarted desire to leave Gotham, Tallulah’s desire for revenge on the man who stole her family’s land, and a Talon running around assassinating people, we also have what amounts to a turf war between the Court of Owls and the Followers of Cain, two mysterious and insular organizations vying for control of the city from the shadows. This is why I like this series. Well, that and Hex being amazingly irate and uncouth.
Also, Hex laughs in this issue. It is exactly as creepy as it sounds.
The new B plot – or maybe just a one-off – involves another DC western character, Bat Lash! Traditionally a pacifist by nature, Bartholomew Aloysius Lash was a handsome man constantly encountering danger in the old west, and would use his wits, charm, and maybe the flowers he kept on his person to solve problems. This rendition adjusts the character – no doubt to make it more realistic, or with a more contemporary outlook, or just to be funny – to a less savory character, with irresistible charisma and guile, with more of a gamblers outlook. Oh, and he’s a pacifist in the sense only that he likes to “pass [his] fist to [his enemy’s] face.”
Not sure whether I like this, though I admit not reading much of any old Bat Lash comics. And he does have a pretty interesting rogue-like thing going for him. If I played D&D, I’d make a rogue built like this guy, with lots of charisma and an inflated bluff skill.
Speaking of rogues, THE FLASH #10 introduces the New 52 to another old Flash villain, the Weather Wizard. In the old continuity, the Weather Wizard was a guy who obtained a weather control wand from his scientist brother, who he may or may not have killed in the process of getting it. As this detail may suggest, the Weather Wizard was a fairly unsavory character, even among the Rogues. He once tried to kill his own illegitimate (infant) son to gain the baby’s naturally manifesting powers of weather control.
I’m all for villains being allowed to be evil, but I can see why Francis Manapul decided to go for a more sympathetic character.
This time, the Mardon brothers were members of a South American crime family, one named Claudio who became the head of the family, and Marco who left for Central City and became the Weather Wizard we all know and loath. This does make me wonder where Marco got a wand that lets him control the weather, but let’s not make this any more complicated than it has to be. Long story short, Claudio disappeared two years prior to the present time, and Patty Spivot (Barry Allan’s girlfriend) goes investigating his cold case under the assumption that he’d been murdered. Which he was. Not to spoil anything, but it had a lot to do with internal politics within the Mardon family.
All the while the Flash is hunting WW under the assumption he kidnapped Patty, who he’s debating about revealing his identity to. See, at this point everyone still thinks Barry Allan dead, and the Flash responsible. Naturally, Barry feels kind of bed for letting his friends think he’s dead and also a bastard, hence the dilemma.
Lastly about the issue is the end, which hints at a kind of alliance of Flash villains, including Weather Wizard. I suspect this has everything to do with the upcoming Flash Annual, so I’ll be checking that out when it comes.
Next is GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #10, which sees the fall of yet another lantern corps. Which is not to say the Blue Lantern Corps is dead for good. In fact, they get off pretty light in comparison to the Sinestro Corps. As did the Red Lanterns, despite being in a state of “dying” when I last abandoned the series to its fate. Using “dying” loosely here.
The Reach come in hard and fast this issue, and all hope seems lost to the corps that runs on the stuff. But then the gang (the New Guardians I guess?) comes in to bring aid. But before as after this happens, the Blue Lanterns fight better than I ever thought they would. I’m serious, Saint Walker in particular – the guy known among the lantern corps as being one of the biggest softies with a ring – acts like a total badass in this issue.
Let it never be said meek means ‘weak’. It’s controlled strength, yo, and the meek shall inherit the Earth. In this case the meek totally got their inheritance jacked by a bunch of bug people, but it’s the thought that counts. And there’s something about finally going out to confront Larfleeze, but I wonder if they’ll actually do it this time.
Two other points. One, Arkillo comes with his new ring and the Weaponer of Qward to the fight, the latter getting the show off why he was such a threat after the Sinestro Corps War. To those not in the know, he’s the guy who originally made Sinestro’s yellow ring, back before having different colored corps was a thing. Second, Glomulus the sentient orange light construct got…I want to say deconstructed as a result of events in Blue Beetle. I bring this up because, while the comic does bring this up, it’s still sort of getting rid of a character in a crossover outside the main book. So it might otherwise confuse people why the quirky comic relief character is entirely absent for the time being. Presumably the orange blob will be back in the coming issues, but it’s still a dick move.
Moving on to Marvel comics, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #688 begins a thematic tie-in with the soon-to-be-released Spiderman Movie, by way of resolving that long-standing Lizard plotline.
Come to think of it, I’ve been explaining a lot of characters and their history this week. Maybe I should start another column showcasing obscure characters and giving a (hopefully brief) explanation of their publication history and backstory. Another time maybe.
Anyway, the Lizard was a scientist named Curt Connors, who began experimenting with reptile genetics (as you do) in an attempt to unlock the secret of rapid limb regeneration (being himself partially disarmed). As is often the case, this resulted in him becoming a wild, cold-hearted (cold-blooded?) reptilian monster. Over the years, he’s gone back and forth between the man and the monster, before recently turning Lizard full time as it were. The Lizard even killed his own son Billy to destroy what remained of Curt’s connection to the world, effectively destroying Curt in the process and leaving only the sinister Lizard. This becomes a plot point in this issue.
Oh, and he also lead an army of fanatical humans into the sewer, bent on making them lizards too. As we learn in this issue, this plan didn’t work out for the best.
So with Doc Ock out of the picture as it were, seems now is the time for Spiderman to finally solve that Lizard problem…with the help of Doctor Morbius…
Damnit not another one! Morbius is a living vampire (as opposed to actual vampires in the Marvel universe like Dracula or Jubalee), a man madified by more genetic research (as you do) into a creature dependent on blood to survive. He cropped up in the last Amazing Spider-man Point One issue as a secret member of Horizon labs, bent on using discoveries used to cure that Spider Island thing to cure his own affliction. He’s not exactly welcome at Horizon, not by Mayor Jameson at least and his actions here don’t help matters.
Anyway, Spiderman works with Morbius and the members of Horizon to finally take care of the Lizard problem. There’s also something about Mary Jane Watson opening a nightclub in celebration of the world getting saved from doom (as you do?), and throwing a party for everyone but especially for her ex-boyfriend/ex-husband from before Joe Quesada got retcon happy and had Peter make a deal with the Marvel universe devil.
No really, that happened. Most longtime Spiderman fans still hold a grudge. And no, it doesn’t make any more sense in context.
On to IDW and the series with the annoyingly long name, it’s (gasp for breath) STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION/DOCTOR WHO: ASSIMILATION 2 #2. Maybe it’s Assimilation Squared, but for the purposes of this post I will refer to it as A2, if at all. Last issue introduced the readers to the crew of Doctor Who’s The TARDIS, by way of having the Doctor, Amy, and Rory solving an alien problem in ancient Egypt. This time its the crew of the USS Enterprise that get an introduction for those not familiar with them, by way of solving a safety protocols lapse on a Federation mining project on a generic water planet. It’s a bit more interesting than it sounds, and while it might seem mostly pointless it does have one major tie to the overall plot. That being that the Federation lost a lot of ships fighting the Borg, and need as much raw materials as possible to recoup their losses, engineer lives be damned in the process. Overall the whole exercise was infinitely more interesting than the ancient Egypt plot from last issue.
Maybe I’m just getting old, and politics hold my attention better than chariot chases and blasting evil alien advisers.
After the Enterprise introduction plot, we come back to the scene where The Doctor and companions walk in on the Enterprise crew lounging on the holodeck, the former managing to somehow transport to a place wholly unlike where they intended to. Which makes sense, given the TARDIS is semi-sentient and seems to actively seek out places and times where the Doctor is needed. After the two groups meet and exchange bewilderment, they finally learn there’s a entire Cybermen/Borg invasion going on without them.
Also some stuff with Data explaining to Geordi why he doesn’t upgrade his sophisticated but currently out-of-date parts for philosophical reasons. It feels more like a topic the show would build an entire episode out of, but then maybe they did just that or Data grew as a character enough to warrant it. Just seems like a waste to bring up a potential character issue and immediately resolve it.
Finally, we have the long-awaited THE STRAIN #5. In what may be one of the only examples of a comic invoking Godwin’s Law and running with it anyway, most of this issue takes place during WWII, in or around a Nazi concentration camp.
By the way, the other example of Godwin’s Law in comics that comes to mind is Hellsing, which reveals the big enemy to be a battalion of Nazi vampires. And it’s awesome.
This issue takes the form of an extended flashback by the old guy from earlier issues, Abraham. Turns out he knows so much about both Sardu and vampires in general not just because his grandmother taught him as a child, but because he also spent much of his life as a vampire hunter. You know, after surviving the horrors of a concentration camp, using his skill in woodworking to avoid being offed and burned in a pit. Suddenly Abraham the old vampire hunter is my new favorite character.
I liked how in this issue, despite the presence of Third Reich, it treats Sardu the vampire lord as the obvious worse threat to humanity. And it makes a good case for it. Additionally, it didn’t go the obvious route by having the holocaust ordeal make Abraham lose his faith. The closest it comes is a line I find particularly satisfying: “If God has abandoned us, it is only because we have allowed a thing like you [ie vampires] to live amongst us.”
In reading comics for this post, I learned that Saint Walker and an old Jewish man can be complete badasses. It’s been a good week.