The Weekly Pull – 8/15/12 (Part 1)

   

This was almost another one post week on the Weekly Pull, but then I decided to give some new series the chance to wow me. So now we’re back to two posts. Here in part one, we look at the books from DC and Valiant, including GREEN LANTERN #12, THE SHADE #11, HARBINGER #3, and BLOODSHOT #2. In part two, we’ll look at the offerings of Marvel.

As promised in the previous issue, GREEN LANTERN #12 pits Hal Jordan and Sinestro against a resurrected/re-killed Black Hand, after the two were transported by the Book of the Black to Black Hand’s home. And while it is as chilling a meeting as it’s supposed to be, I can’t stop thinking there was a reason Black Hand spent most of his time plotting while the actual Black Lanterns did all the work back in Blackest Night.

If we’re talking how instrumental he was in one of the biggest and best crossover events in the last decade or so, Black Hand was great. As a straight up villain in his own right, Black Hand doesn’t hold up as well. The guy was basically a joke when he was alive (the first time), and as a person he just had an obsession with death, only becoming a villain because he got lucky and retrieved an alien weapon that could absorb Green Lantern energy. Heck, I mentioned last time he spent issue eleven sitting around, eating Chinese take-out with his zombie family that he animated for the task (albeit with actual Chinese people on the menu). He can be menacing and creepy and a threat on his own, but on a smaller scale, and one that pales in comparison to what every other evil person is doing in the GL books.

Also, why hasn’t Nekron – the avatar of death that started Blackest Night – not come back yet? I thought the entire point of bringing him back to life with the White Lanterns was to make Black Hand alive and therefore not able to anchor Nekron here. What’s stopping him from coming back now? Apparently no, Nekron is not coming back (at least for now), so Black Hand is using the Book of the Black for his own ends.

Ends which are vague and ill-defined. Hmm.

Even the comic doesn’t take his reappearance all that seriously, given what the Guardians are planning to do. While Hal and Sinestro fight Black Hand’s animated corpse army (more like a small contingent than an army), the Guardians locate the home of the Indigo Tribe (though they do nothing now), and tell us where all the other Earth Green Lanterns are. While Guy Gardner is busy being lauded by the other corpsmen as awesome, Jon Stewart is busy moping about how he killed Mogo in The Green Lantern Corps, and Kyle is busy making his own group comprised of different lanterns.

So basically this issue, in addition to dealing with Black Hand (and hinting that he might actually be an ally maybe if I’m interpreting the signs right), it’s also getting readers caught up to the state of the franchise up to this point. This is probably a good idea, considering next issue is the number zero where we introduce a new Green Lantern. And then there’s the GL Annual coming in two weeks; and Annual I will be reading and talking about, I assure you.

Did I enjoy this issue? Yes, how could I not enjoy an issue where two Green Lanterns fight zombies?

Moving on, THE SHADE #12, while not the final issue in the limited series, basically ends the plot set up over the course of it. And believe it or not, everything we’ve seen over the past dozen issues contributes to the resolution in some way (well, except the unnecessary fight with Deathstroke, but that was always just a marketing gimmick). Last time our titular anti-hero came up against a cult with access to ancient powerful god-like beings. At the end, he broke their control over the beings, who summarily killed most of the cult and now go on a rampage through London. So how does The Shade avert this massive disaster?

With unholy rituals and blood sacrifice, of course! What, did you think the Shade stopped being an amoral man? You don’t know him very well, do you?

Anyway, with this plot ended, the only thing left for this series to cover in the last issue is finally, at long last showing how Richard Swift came to become The Shade. We’ve been told roughly how he came to be who he is, how he gained his powers (that is, we learn this in the pages of Starman, which this is a sequel to), but never were we shown what exactly transpired. This leaves me with only a single question: will the last issue be numbered 12 or 0?

What? It’s the kind of thing you think about as a comic fan.

Double dose of Valiant this week, starting with HARBINGER #3. Having been convinced to join up with the Harbinger Foundation, Peter Stanchek is taken to the Foundation’s Pittsburgh base, where the rest of the psionics in the organization have been moved. It’s here where Peter, not quite knowing what he got himself into, gets a crash course on what being part of the group is like.

He doesn’t take well to all these new people, nor do a good chunk warm up to him all that quickly. Turns out people are just as terrible creatures whether normal or psychic. Who knew?

Remember that infant Harada (the Foundation’s founder) found in India who turned out to be an immensely powerful psychic in his own right? Well we get to meet him again as an older boy named Darpan. We get to see Darpan use his powers of forcing a person to experience their past (usually their worst memories) on Peter, who as we’ve heard hasn’t had a pleasant childhood. And we get to see a psychic battle between Peter and an upperclassmen. Nice first day, huh?

I found this issue to be very painful, but in a good way. Because Peter hasn’t had a fun day, and we’re meant to go right along with him. If I had a complaint, it’s that with all the people we see, the particular artistic qualities in the character’s faces really grated on my nerves. It’s the lips, and how they pop out like everyone is pouting. I’ll get over it, but it’s just one of those weird traits of the artist’s style.

Speaking of artistic style, BLOODSHOT #2 confirms something I noticed in the first issue: two artists work on this book, one on the main events and one on the implanted memories Bloodshot periodically experiences. Neither is bad, though I find the one for the memories to be too…rounded, if that makes any sense. There aren’t as many hard lines and the inks seem too…perfect. It’s difficult to describe, though the disconnect does work well to enforce a sense of offness about these scenes.

Having escaped the clutches of a former scientist from Project Rising Spirit, only to be shot to hell and collected by the PRS, Bloodshot is confused from dealing with the knowledge that his memories are all a lie. But his many fake families aren’t just unchanging recordings in his brain. They’re apparently semi-sentient figments in his brain, working with his nanomachines (or “Goldies” as they call them) to help Bloodshot survive and escape his captors. Which he does, using bullets.

Which wasn’t such a great idea considering they’re traveling by plane. Oops.

Another thing we learn about is what that former PRS scientist pulls off from the data in Bloodshot’s head. The guy has been used by this organization for quite some time to solve some of their more sordid problems. Or in this case, just to do horrible, horrible things to prove it could be done. If you ever needed proof that Bloodshot’s owners/handlers weren’t on the up and up, you’ve got it.

To balance out (or possibly add to) that horror, in this issue Bloodshot eats an entire cow. Or most of it, we don’t get to see the grisly act. Just thought I’d bring that up.

I think I’ve screwed myself over by reading this second issue, because now I want to keep reading. Keep in mind I’ve been trying to cut out books from my pull lists as much as possible because of how much I read. But if you’re looking for a good, more mature comic to follow that isn’t based on superheroes (too much), I still recommend Bloodshot.

On another, less related note, both HARBINGER #3 and BLOODSHOT #2 include bonus material for the upcoming X-O Manawar storyline involving another Valiant staple from yesteryear, Ninjak. If I mistakenly said some months ago that Ninjak would be returning in his own series, I correct myself here saying he’s just in an existing series. I just thought people would want to know.

Anyone clamoring for Ninjak’s return? Were you around when Valiant was at its height? Or Starman during its run? Will anyone be picking up the Green Lantern Annual? Do you have suggestions for series I should check out, or ways I can fail less maintaining this site? Leave a comment below.

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