The Weekly Pull – 7/25/12

     

At long last we get a pull list that can fit in one post. Today it’s ALL STAR WESTERN #11, THE FLASH #11, GREEN LANTERN #11, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #11, WINTER SOLDIER #8, and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #690.

In the last issue, we met the nineteenth century’s version of the Court of Owls. In ALL STAR WESTERN #11, we get a peek at the other end of the old-time Gotham power struggle with the heads of the followers of the Crime Bible. But before that, Jonah Hex and Tallulah Black confront the Lord of Extortion, Lucius Bennet, intent on revenge. And such vengeance would be had, if not for interference from the Talon.

Not going to spoil things, but someone dies, and the Followers of Cain aren’t happy. And now they aim to get revenge, if only to be rid of the thorn in their sides that is Jonah Hex. Also there’s a steam-powered death machine in there somewhere. I’ve always been more of a Diesel Punk man myself than a Steam Punk one.

Our backup story starts the two-part “Haunted Highwayman”, introducing us to Doctor Terrance Thirteen. Or is it Dr. Th13teen? And why does Open Office recognize “Th13teen” as a word, but not Bennet? Anyway, Doctor Thirteen belongs to that particular brand of nineteenth century science hero that champions reason over superstition. As you do. His goal is to unmask frauds Scooby-do style and disprove the supernatural.

Which I find hilarious, given how he lives in a universe with fish-people, wizards, demons, at least two major immortal supervillains, ghosts, and sun elementals. The very backup features in this book have introduced us to a man possesed of a spectre (and let’s not forget the actual Spectre running around the DCU), zombies, and Indian medallions that restore a person’s health. I get what they’re going for, but like Mister Terrific’s atheism, this kind of philosophy for a character just doesn’t work within the setting.

Moving on, THE FLASH #11 pits our titular hero against another of his rogues, Heat Wave. Describing him as basically Captain Cold but with a fire gun instead of a cold gun is more apt than one would think, since he too had a retooling in the form of new inborn fire powers to match the latter’s new inborn freezing powers. In fact, it’s a plot point.

Barry Allen is looking for a new life on the more seedy levels of Keystone City after just letting people think he died. His mission obviously is to get closer to the ground, but more immediately to get a new job and investigate a wave of arsons. And if you have half a brain, you know where this is going. Through a chance meeting with a depressed Captain Cold and then Heat Wave, we learn that something happened to the Rogues as a whole that somehow cursed them with new powers. Or at least I think that’s what they’re going for here, since we only see or hear of the two and no specifics are given other than Captain Cold somehow being accidentally responsible.

Now when I found out Captain Cold got actual ice powers, I wrote it off as a simple reboot for the character to make him more interesting (which did work, since Cold apparently can’t enjoy a normal beer anymore because they keep freezing in the glass on him). It never occurred to me that the comic would not only do it again with the other Rogues, but would make an entire subplot around their new abilities. Which is awesome! This could just have been an arbitrary change that defied old continuity, but it’s become an in-story alteration that lends itself to narrative possibilities. That’s what I like to see in a reboot. It’s why I didn’t feel all that bummed about Mr. Freeze and his new psychosis. They lend themselves to more stories, which are the lifeblood of ongoing narratives like you see in superhero comics.

The way I differ from most comic book fans is that I don’t see all change as inherently bad. It can lead to stupid, counter-productive things, and it can be made at the expense of other stories, and it can take the form of terrible plots that usher the new status quo in. But stagnation can be just as bad, if not worse than a betrayal.

GREEN LANTERN #11 promises us the “Revenge of Black Hand”. A revenge consisting of going back to Earth, resurrecting his dead family as shriveled zombies, and chowing on Chinese take-out. Such is the evil will of Black Hand, the master of the Black Lanterns and the second biggest bad in Blackest Night!

Okay, so the scenes with Black Hand hanging with his undead family are pretty menacing (as well as morbidly humorous), and besides that there’s plenty of Hal Jordan and Sinestro bickering to be had. Because that never gets old. In all seriousness, the two talk about how the Indigo Tribe let Sinestro free from their influence because Hal thinks there’s good in him yet. And of course they remind us that the Guardians of the Universe are what we’ve known them to be for about a decade now: supervillains.

This is an issue light on action but heavy on the plot progression. And as much as a crack wise about Black Hand’s menace juxtaposed with “dinner” and the two leads going at it like a married couple, I liked it a lot. It’s an important issue, at least for the events thus far. Oh, and we get our first glimpse of the green lantern coming up.

Yeah have I mentioned DC is adding a new Green Lantern from Earth? One that’s black (is Jon Stewart dead over in Green Lantern Corps? I don’t read that), wears a costume that reminds me of Kick Ass, and carries a gun? Because that’s going to be a thing in one of these books. I don’t mind – I always found Jon Stewart the most boring of the Earth Green Lanterns – but it’s pretty odd. Especially the gun.

Ironically Jon Stewart himself used a gun in a recent issue of Batman Beyond Unlimited, so now I’m amused and confused.

Double dose of Green Lantern this week with GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #11. Enough crapping around and dismantling lantern corps, it’s time to finally kick Larfleeze in his greedy little face! What, you mean he isn’t the source of everyone’s problems, and none of the readership actually bought that the solution would this simple? Well the New Guardians beat Larfleeze up anyway because he’s a jerk anyway.

Speaking of, let’s discuss Larfleeze, also known as Agent Orange (a nickname the comics almost never bring up). Since his first appearance as an ancient enemy of the Guardians who wielded the orange light of avarice, the guy hasn’t been what you’d call a menacing figure. After initially being a pretty decent threat, the guy went from slightly dumb beast to comic relief in recent years. It seems the writers of this book agreed of how much of a joke he was (as well as how little attention the Blue Lanterns got), and now he’s a proper villain again. A villain who’s still dumb and prone to animalistic rages/tantrums, but still a bad guy with a sense of danger about him.

It helps he kills Glomulus. Again. I wonder when we’ll be seeing the little guy for more than five minutes at a time?

Heck, even Invictus gets in on the action of approaching that moral event horizon. He said he was going to start destroying planets in the Vega system and replacing them with his own. Did you think he was kidding?

Although that does mean we’re right back to batting the plot ball back and forth. Seriously, much of the last few issues was the team going to Larfleeze, being directed towards Invictus, then back to Larfleeze, and now Invictus is the target again. At least it seems like the comic is as tired of these shenanigans as I am, and wants to bring the indirect war of the proxies between the two villains to a head.

Next is Marvel and WINTER SOLDIER #8, with a very inaccurate cover. At no point in this issue do Barnes and a brainwashed Black Widow fight or even interact. Which is not to say it isn’t going to happen later, but is it too much to ask for covers to not promise things that are entirely absent from an issue? At least if it’s not a Silver Age comic?

So yeah, at the end of last issue, Black Widow got captured by the rogue soviet sleeper Leo Novokov. Using an equally captured former soviet agent programmer to do his old work, Leo probably intends a fight between the couple. The Winter Soldier, meanwhile, goes nuts on the underworld looking for information, breaking legs and faces with impunity. Not much else to say really. It’s all set up for the upcoming confrontation.

Last on the list is AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #690. Doctor Conners is back to being human in body, but his mind is the Lizard, who only wants to return to being a reptilian monster. To that end, he’ll sacrifice as many Horizon Lab staff members as it takes to counteract Michael Morbius’ Lizard cure.

Speaking of the human vampire, Morbius gets beat around and captured by Spiderman, who has had enough of crazy people messing with his life. So much so that he almost brushes off the advice of Madame Web when she says – repeatedly mind you – to return to the Lab because shit is about to just get real.

Also Silver Sable isn’t actually dead. Yeah I never mentioned this before because it massively spoiled “Ends of the Earth”, but Silver Sable allegedly drowned alongside The Rhino, and Spiderman has been pretty bummed about the whole thing. I remember not buying it then either, since the character appeared elsewhere around the same time, and I doubt Marvel would just off a character like that.

Not saying they wouldn’t – they have in the past – but rather why would they pick now of all times to do it to this particular character?

Anyway, remember when I said the Lizard was trying to get back to being a Lizard? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. I’m not going to go into details, but there’s a subtle build to a crisis of priorities here that calls that into question for him. And begs the question: is Doctor Conners reborn? And was he ever really gone? How much of the Lizard personality only consists of Conners? Whatever happens from here on out, I’m excited for the conclusion.

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