Even though it’s technically not the first of the month this time, it’s still qualifies as the dreaded “First Week Stack” of comic releases. At least so far as I’m concerned. Here in part one we look at the books made by DC comics, including ANIMAL MAN #16, SWAMP THING #16, EARTH 2 #8, and DIAL H #16. In part two we examine the offerings from Marvel, Dark Horse, and Boom!
As Rotworld nears its completion, we have another double header. First is ANIMAL MAN #16, where Buddy Baker and the red squad have ventured into Metropolis thinking they’d find Superman. Instead they find Green Lantern.
Which one? Well, that’s the hitch, isn’t it?
At the end of the previous issue when it was revealed to be Green Lantern imprisoned in Metropolis by the Rot, I was confused as to who it was supposed to be. In fact I initially thought it was Alan Scott somehow, given the blond-ish hair. Turns out it’s someone we don’t know, an alien named Medphyll, a Green Lantern corpsman sent by the Guardians due to his species’ plant origins. I presume these were the guardians doing this when it became obvious that the whole “Third Army” plan had to wait on account of the Rot, at least in this timeline. Certainly simplifies matters, though I can’t help but wonder what would happen if the forces of The Rot went up against the Third Army.
As is the pattern of Rotworld, we get another cameo, this time by a really obscure plant-based villain named Blackbriar Thorn. Which also confuses me, since Blackbriar Thorn was always associated with the Justice Society of America, a group that doesn’t exist anymore in this universe. Although Constantine seems to know him, so many he’s been hanging around Vertigo for the last few years. I don’t know.
And the flashback to what happened to Buddy’s daughter Maxine. It’s not pretty.
SWAMP THING #16 sees our titular hero arriving in Gotham, only to find Batman…as a slavering undead monster chained in his cave. He also finds Barbara Gordon, at one time Batman, now having injected herself with the Man-Bat formula to escape the effects of The Rot. On the one hand it’s kind of disappointing not to see Batman become an actual Bat Man, but on the other hand Bruce Wayne has always been the most human of heroes. He’d probably rather die than become a creature to win. Instead, he’s both died and become a creature to lose.
Should have thought things through, Bats. Gotham (what’s left of it) could have used your skills.
So what few humans remain in Gotham are protected by Girl-Bat and the few villains resistant to the Rot (Killer Croc, Mister Freeze, some plant guy) in the ruins of Arkham Asylum. As per Batman’s last orders, Barbara waited for Swamp Thing to return and finish the Bio-Restorative Formula Bruce was trying to reproduce. It’s about time that miracle juice was put to use, eh guys? And trust me, the way it’s used by the end of this issue is pretty sweet.
Almost as sweet as a dragon with a jet-pack. Almost.
In parallel to the Animal Man issue, the subplot about what happened to Abigail Arcane is resolved in this issue. Mostly, since I have to guess there will be the detail of Swampy himself finding out. Both heroes in fact will be learning the fate of their loved ones come next month, when the two-part finale to Rotworld comes.
About time, right? Maybe I’m the only one who gets tired of storylines that stretch on for six months.
Moving away from the massive events, EARTH 2 #8 gives readers the long-awaited introduction to Steppenwolf, general of the army of Apokolips that invaded Earth 2 and nearly conquered it. This guy has been referred to by countless characters over the series run, and now we meet him.
Makes sense why he’s so feared. Even with his armies routed and scattered, he’s a force to be reckoned with. That and his magnificent beard.
So what does a military officer do once their armies are destroyed and their only means of return to their home planet, the boom tubes, have been destroyed? Bum around the planet and sell technological secrets to micro-nations, of course! That, and twisting Wonder Woman’s daughter, Fury, into his own personal bodyguard. So while Power Girl and the Huntress get to go the main DC Earth (Earth A for Alternate), Wonder Woman’s progeny gets to still around her home dimension and become evil? The Wonder Woman mythos really does get the shaft in relation to her male counterparts.
And finally, DIAL H #8 reveals the origin and nature of the Centipede, a Canadian agent currently investigating the dials in opposition to Nelson and Manteau. What exactly the Centipede’s powers were was a sticking point with me in the previous installment, precisely because of how unintuitive the art was that depicted its use. Centipede himself describes it as being “unstuck from time”, allowing him to rapidly create a conga line of possible iterations of himself, a power that allows him, among other things, to move very fast. If my own explanation seems inadequate, it’s only because I barely understand what the book is trying to convey.
Anyway, having found evidence of an additional dial in an underwater ruin, Nelson and Manteau travel to Canada on the hunch that the Canadians retrieved the errant object. This is confirmed when Nelson encounters a dial user, disoriented by the dial’s effects on one’s identity. But not before Nelson has his own identity crisis, resulting in hallucinations taking the form of the allies of his then present incarnation, Flame War.
It’s both funny to see heroes from another universe whose theme is being openly insulting to everyone, and disturbing to see the effects of the dial on Nelson’s perceptions of reality.
Were you just as confused about the nature of Centipede’s powers as I was? Would you like to see a face-off between the Rot and the Third Army? What is your stance on Batman getting superpowers/becoming a Man-Bat? Should Steppenwolf have remained out of he picture longer, or was the existing sense of dread prolonged enough? Leave your comments below. Feedback is always appreciated.