Alright, first pull list of the year, and all of them were leftovers from the end of last year. That would be the case, wouldn’t it? Includes ALL STAR WESTERN #15, THE FLASH #15, BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #11, and MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #2.
One of these things is not like the other…
ALL STAR WESTERN #15 picks up with Doctor Amadeus Arkham, future founder of Arkham Asylum and erstwhile milquetoast partner to bounty hunter Jonah Hex, being force-fed a sample of the Jekyll formula. Yes, that Jekyll, and also that Mr Hyde doing the force-feeding. Obviously this leads to Hex doing battle with the British embodiment of repressed evil, while our good friend Arkham goes off his meds.
Or is that on his meds? It’s a bad set of meds, I’ll say that. Bad and also awesome. Seriously, watching Arkham go on a rampage, soliciting prostitutes and getting into fights while retaining a prodigious vocabulary is hilarious.
Let’s talk about Hyde for a second. In previous updates I referred to him having taken some cues from Hyde’s depiction in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. While certainly he doesn’t have an ape-like appearance, he is quite large and cannibalistic. For once, I’d like to see a depiction of Mr Hyde that isn’t physically grotesque or enlarged; rather relying on skill and sinister intellect to wreak his vile havoc.
Lastly, there seems to be some story thread being weaved throughout various New 52 titles. “The Black Diamond Probability” as it’s called, involving the titular ebony gem so associated with Eclipso. There doesn’t seem to be any overarching plot connecting them all, though I’m only reading so much of the total New 52 line. I’ll try to keep track of this business as it develops, and I think I know where next we’ll intersect.
The backup story continues the conflict of Tomahawk against the armies of George Washington. Tomahawk’s forces come upon a group of US soldiers, he and US officer Lanchester have at it. And yet after three or so months of this, we’re still not yet finished. Next time comes the finale, and I’m getting bored just thinking about it. I think I’d be more accepting of this narrative if it weren’t stretched out so thin.
Next is THE FLASH #15, and part three(?) of the Gorilla Invasion. Grodd, roided-out on speed force extract, has beaten the living tar out of our hero. Then he buggers off to get another fix, because I guess to gorilla’s with hyper-intelligence speed force juice is like glowing orange crack cocaine.
Patty Spivot and Turbine, the love interest and Top replacement respectfully, use the lull in action to carry Barry off to heal.
What follows is an extended sequence where those not yet captured by the apes plan their desperate next move, all while Barry, nearly fatally injured in his fight, goes into a speed force clairvoyance coma. It’s here I remember that, to the uninitiated to superhero comics, what I just described sounds completely insane. I’ve learned to cherish these moments of lucidity.
I mean not enough to stop. Why would I want to talk about normal things? Normal things are boring and pedestrian.
A consistent trend within the Francis Manapul/Brian Buccellato Flash comics is the way they incorporate the phrase “DC Comics Presents THE FLASH” into the art itself. This issue one-ups the previous dozen or so by taking several pages to lead into that phrase, to the point where I didn’t even recognize it for what it was until it was finished and I read it again. So intricate was this sequence in fact, that the promotional ads for other DC materials kindly stack themselves at the last few pages. That’s what I call using the medium well.
Moving along, BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #11 progresses the “10,000 Clowns” storyline further with a direct confrontation between future Batman and the Joker King. As well as a minor confrontation between old school Batman and the Joker King. We get to watch Bruce Wayne, eighty years old and dying of liver failure, kick a little ass. Amidst a few others things, we also get backstory for the Joker King.
Meanwhile, in the Superman Beyond plotline already in progress, we find out why aliens from another planet want Superman dead. As told from their perspective! So obviously the truth is significantly different than what we’re shown here. I can almost picture in my head exactly what really happened based on the story we’re shown.
Also Lobo is going to cameo next issue. Hurray. Have I mentioned I don’t care for Lobo?
And thirdly in this issue is yet another origin story for one of the future Justice League members, this time with Big Barda. It’s got an interesting art style that takes us up through the life of Barda’s mother (as well as of the woman who would become Granny Goodness). It’s through their inception, growth into their ultimate positions, to Barda’s birth, her love and marriage to Mr Miracle, their escape from Apokolips, and into the events that forced severance of ties between Earth and New Genesis, home of the New Gods.
And you just know half the sordid details involved in this origin never would have made it into either the Batman Beyond or Justice League animated series. Barda’s mom is named “Big Breeda”; the pun on that name is itself a plot point, and is exactly what you think it means.
Going from that to lighter fair, MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #2 is the book I dreaded bringing to this column precisely because of how jarring the contrast is from nearly everything else I talk about here. Don’t be surprised if I lapse into pony vernacular. Anyway, having repelled the onslaught of changelings, the mane six (case in point) have ventured into the wilderness. Their goal: reach the fortress of Queen Chrysalis, leader of the changelings, and free the captured fillies before some cosmic concordance occurs in three days.
I feel embarrassed talking about this in a serious manner. Then again, I consider the other things that happen in the comics I read, and wonder why THIS leaves me red faced.
The way is blocked by a mountain range, so the group must venture through the mines, Ala the Mines of Moria. One wonders why they can’t have Rainbow Dash or Fluttershy carry the others over the mountains one by way to save time. Then again, it also makes me wonder why they’re even bothering with a trek on hoof when they have a hot air balloon in their home town. But if they took that, we wouldn’t have a story arc, now would we?
It’s like “look, do you want an adventure or not?” asks the DM impatiently. “Get on the boat and don’t complain about the damn undead Loch Ness monsters.”
So obviously the mines are a maze, filled with trolls obsessed with toys and giant spiders dressed as prohibition-era street toughs. No I’m not making either of those up. This is Equestria; were you expecting a Balrog?
I like how the troll’s toys include both an eight ball (made of stone) and an Optimus Prime doll cobbled from rocks and vines. Half the fun of this comic is seeing all the background gags. Though since the comic has ventured far from the show’s mane setting, they can’t make use of actual background ponies, so it has to be creative.
Case in point, a spider that basically is Derpy Hooves, complete with cross eyes and bubbles for a cutie mark (thorax mark?). Wait, why do the spiders have cutie marks? There is so much messed up fanfiction to be had from this one issue alone.
Do you think I’m out of line talking about a My Little Pony comic? Should I come prepared to talk about the rest of the Black Diamond saga…thing? Is it better for me to make a big deal of those rare moments of lucid appraisal of how insane I sound talking about comics? Do you think they would have gotten away with calling Barda’s mom “Big Breeda” on the TV shows? Leave a comment below. Feedback is always appreciated.