The Weekly Pull – 11/21/12

     

Includes GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #14, SWORD OF SORCERY #2, DAREDEVIL #20, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698, MINIMUM CARNAGE OMEGA, and HARBINGER #6.

In his his continuing quest to master the channel all the colors of the emotional spectrum, Kyle Rayner spends much of GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #14 with the book’s resident Yellow Lantern, Arkillo. What I find special about this issue is that it actually uses the title “Yellow Lantern”, which is odd since the color was always associated with Sinestro’s self-named Corps (or variably by Mongol’s, but we’re splitting hairs). Meanwhile, Carol Farris returns to Zamora, the homeworld of the Star Sapphires. Unbeknownst to her, the masters of love have entered into an unholy union with the Guardians of the Universe.

Oh, and Kyle masters Compassion mostly off panel. It’d be too boring anyway to watch him come to grips with positive emotions. Though Indigo 1 makes the very correct assertion that no, compassion isn’t necessarily “good”. It’s what it is, and Kyle will need to recognize the difference between a positive/negative split and a good/evil split so far as the spectrum is concerned. See also the above business with the Star Sapphires.

So let’s talk about Arkillo for a second. He’s gone a long way from the generic mook from the Sinestro Corps War. And now he’s basically got the entirety of that fallen corps on his shoulders. Between that and his master apparently betraying the force he helped create, and Arkillo is having an identity crisis. While the previous issue with Atrocitus could be fully about Kyle Rayner’s latent anger, this one is Arkillo’s time to find what he wants in life. Especially since he’s working with a custom made yellow ring that’s not working, and the guy who made it (The Weaponer of Qward) ran off with a super massive spaceship. Oddly enough, this guy is turning out to have the best character arc in the series thus far.

So is there going to be an alternate team coming together soon? Bleez is presumably still busy with whatever the Red Lanterns are doing, so is she coming back or will a different Red Lantern come in? It’s up in the air as to how the “New Guardians” part of the title is going to be maintained.

Next up is SWORD OF SORCERY #2, which I remind potential readers is the third issue in the series via zero issue. It’s one of those oddities of the comics industry that I’m required to specify that. Amy Winston weathered her first battle, and is understandably disturbed by her first human kill. But she’s in the Capital of House Citrane, her mother’s sworn allies and seat of Gemworld’s knowledge.

Yes, I’ll continue referring to the place they’re in as Gemworld, even though it has a name. It’s the other thing I must keep mentioning.

More backstory and setting details come out this issue, like who Amy’s father was and how her mixed parentage makes her politically powerful, moreso than she already is. See, not only is she the heir to another gem house entirely (kind of by default really), her aunt Lady Mordiel is incapable of bearing children. We see evidence that this will factor heavily in the plot to come.

We also get more insight into how House Diamond fits into the whole mess, and get more scenes of the brothers of that house, Princes Hadron and Zushan, finding reasons to squabble and threaten each other with death. I’m sure they too will become more important later on, though I find their scenes enjoyable at the moment.

Oh, and there’s some power sharing and attempted matricide or something. It’s not nearly as final as the cover would have you believe.

In the backup story, future!Beowolf finally meets future!Grendel, and we find out that indeed the beast is some scientific abomination from the old world. Once the fight ends, Beowolf and the young Wiglaf (the narrator of our tale) head off the the beast’s lair/lab so as to finish him off. Anyone who knows the classic tale knows what they’ll find there.

Thanks to Beowolf’s electronic eye, we get more dropping of references to the DC of the present, including mentions of The Red and The Rot. Whoever created Beowolf evidently had plenty of knowledge about the forces lurking in the present day world, because I’m pretty sure outside of the main players in Animal Man and Swamp Thing, no one was aware of either the Red or the Rot.

The pace of the story suggests this backup ends next issue, so look out for that.

Moving on to Marvel comics, DAREDEVIL #20 picks up where the previous installment left off…with Daredevil’s head separated from his body by Coyote, the apparently reinvented identity of The Spot, a minor villain from the beginning of the series. Not so minor anymore, it seems.

I say “apparent” and “it seems” for reasons spoiler-tastic, and because I don’t quite understand yet what’s going on.

The actual motivations for Coyote and why he’s got Daredevil’s head apart from his body I get perfectly. Coyote is using his portal abilities to engage in a one-man criminal operation, specifically in the drug…and human trafficking trades. For the evulz of course, since as he states himself, there’s no material thing he could want that he couldn’t just take. As such, the terribly cruel things he’s been up to in between making Matt Murdock question his own sanity.

So what does a blind Man Without Fear do with a detached but living body (due to a science collar of unknown origin) and a deranged man flinging his head around like poor Yorick? Multitask, that’s what.

When I say I don’t quite get it, I refer to the end reveal. We’re shown plenty of stuff that puts everything we’ve seen so far into question, but the book doesn’t stop to explain what it means, though it probably will next issue. Maybe. It’s the same feeling I got during issues #10-12 of Detective Comics, where I had a lot of elements of plot but little idea how it all fit together. Except unlike that exercise in pointlessness, I can at least follow the plot, and the confusion is minor.

Seriously, I could do a full review of those three issues and still not know what’s going on. At least this one can say it’s confusing because it doesn’t explain the twist. There was all kinds of exposition for the Detective Comics storyline and it still held together like tape on toilet paper.

Next is AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698, and what’s shaping up to be the final story arc of this illustrious 700 issue run. Everything is coming up roses for Peter Parker. He’s got a bright career as a scientist at Horizon Labs, youth and vigor of a 25 year old who really should be closer to thirty given his rich history, and he’s even been attempting to get back together with Mary Jane after the whole One More Day/marriage selling/erasure from continuity thing happened. Longtime fans drool with expectation.

And to top it all off, Doctor Octopus dies. Or did he?

This issue plays a long and subtle game with the readers, setting up the whole affair with hints about what’s really going on. The ruse was so tight it took me a second reading to realize exactly how I’d just been had. Well played, Dan Slott. Well played indeed.

Speaking of the creative team, art duties for this issue fall to Richard Elson as opposed to Giuseppe Camuncoli and Dan Green who did previous issues. It’s not bad, though I admit I’ve grown attached to the previous style. To Elson’s credit, he does a find job on his own, and there’s even a great reproduction of the famous panel that first introduced Mary Jane Watson to the Spiderman books. To my relief, it would appear the old art team will be back for later issues, or at least issue 700, if promotional pages are to be believed.

By the way, if you value not being spoiled, even slightly, steer clear of said pages. They tell too much even when edited to preserve spoilers.

After that – but still in the Spiderman sphere of titles – is MINIMUM CARNAGE OMEGA #1, the final part of the storyline documenting the return of Carnage and the adventures of Venom and the Scarlet Spider in the Microscopic universe. Except that’s not important here, because the fight spills up from the Microverse to the regular Marvel universe.

So in the previous issues of Minimum Carnage, the villain Marquis Radu wanted to use the Venom and Carnage symbiotes to kill the god of the Microverse and take his place. This ended up not happening because he underestimated the entropic influence of the symbiotes and the many clones under Carnage’s control. Fittingly, Carnage returns to the Macroverse, killing dozens of people in Houston using the little clones from the inside out, like a disease. And of course, Venom and Scarlet Spider have to stop him. But can they stop Cletus Kasady without killing him?

More importantly, should they kill him?

I’ll get more into it when I do my retrospective, but suffice to say I’m glad this is over. Then again, I’m glad when anything is over if it goes really long. I will say that there’s a plot point here that states Carnage somehow lost what remained of his humanity during the events of Minimum Carnage. To that I say I really couldn’t see the difference. During the whole fight he talks on as he always did, and only near the end do we see even a shred of evidence to support that the human part of Kasady was lobotomized by his whole ordeal. And really, what part of shrinking down and bopping around a smaller universe made him abandon rational thought (such as he had)? Seems like a transparent attempt to make Carnage threatening again.

Marvel, Carnage really isn’t all that great a villain. He’s classic Eddie Brock Venom, if Venom were straight up insane. That’s about it.

Last for this week is HARBINGER #6, which promises on the cover the “Rise of the Renegades”. Said renegades do more or less rise, and it’s exciting. Peter Stanchek, super psiot that he is, launched an enraged attack on the Harbinger Foundation upon learning they engineered the death of his friend. Though he did quite a bit of damage, he got trounced, only being saved by Faith, the overweight geek girl whom Peter unlocked as a psychic of the flight persuasion.

At which point we switch gears back to Kris Hathaway. For those who forgot Kris, she was the schoolgirl who knew Peter as a child, and who briefly loved Peter due to his desperate mind control. Since being freed from psychic influence, she’s gone on with her life for the most part, except checking in on Peter’s (now deceased) friend Joe. Because of her connection to Peter, she’s been under the eyes of both the Harbinger Foundation and Project Rising Spirit. This issue is about Kris’ motivations as a person, and how she comes to help Peter in his time of need.

Help him by way of beginning what may be a rival psychic force against Toyo Harada, HF’s powerful leader. And it’s awesome.

The thing about the previous issues was how cliché the idea of Peter enrolled in a school for psychics was. Thankfully, the series moves in the opposite direction, while allowing the tension to be kept high by the new “Renegades” being on the run. Faith donned a costume – honestly, do you blame her – and implemented a new tool for the new alliance: foil hats!

I’m not joking; Peter, Faith, and Kris spend a lot of time in this issue wearing tin foil hats like stereotypical alien conspiracy theorists. Not sure if they actually block psychic probing, since we’re not shown evidence of it working or not working. Yet the Foundation seems no closer to finding them, which might not entirely be due to Peter blocking probes with his powers since he’s busted up. This could either be really silly or really tragic. Faith in general seems to be a setup for tragedy, given her bubbly personality, naivete, total lack of subtlety, and her apparent non-understanding of just how much danger she’s wrapped herself in.

Also she’s a fan of 50 Shades of Grey. This won’t end well. Although it is nice to have a character in comics that represents fat people. She’s a fat woman, so that’s even more rare in comics. Kudos Harbinger.

Do you think comics need more overweight representation? Which characters do you think have had the best character arcs in comics in recent years? Is anyone yet confused about the numbering of the DC third wave? Is Coyote not one of the most diabolical yet low key villains to come out this year? How long did it take you to realize the trick in Amazing Spiderman? And does Carnage still have merit as a villain? Leave your comments below.

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