The New 52 – 2nd Week

Well, since I had such fun last week, staying up late and burning pixels into my retinas, I thought I’d do it again! The second wave of #1 comics was released this week, with a few gems, a couple of head-scratchers, and an overall sense that the kids over at DC have some interesting tricks up their sleeves. Spoilers will be aplenty, of course, so read at your own risk.

But enough of my yakkin’.

Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

The story starts with a bang as we meet the Batman of Moscow – briefly – and then moves on to re-introduce us to Bruce Wayne and his son, Damien, who are fighting together as the titular Batman and Robin. They argue a bit about the nature of their neverending battle and then go on to foil the heist of nuclear fuel rods from a research lab. Insofar as the action goes, it’s not bad – a little splashy, and some good, solid B&R action scenes. But that’s not really what this story is about, nor is it what the book will really be about, at least not for a while. It’s more about the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Damien, both as father and son and as Batman and Robin.

Starting here, there’s really very little of that father-son relationship to be seen. The fact that they’re blood relatives seems incidental to their relationship as a crimefighting team. Damien has been trained by the League of Assassins and, by his own judgment, is probably the most capable Robin that Batman has ever had. Batman, of course, is Batman, and reserves any kind of praise for when he feels it’s time. Damien wants to be equals, Bruce wants to be the boss. That should keep the writers busy for a long time.

It’s time for closure: This raised my eyebrows right up into the fleeing front line of my hairline: Bruce looks like he wants to get over his parents’ death. He brings Damien to Crime Alley for the last memorial of their passing, and says that he’s done brooding over the miserable way they died, and would rather celebrate their lives. This is, of course, utterly earthshaking, since the whole reason Batman exists is because of the miserable way they died. Bruce Wayne deciding he’s had enough brooding is like Aquaman deciding to retire in Phoenix – it just comes as something of a shock.

On the one hand, it’s great to see Bruce making strides towards better mental health after seventy years. It just takes some people longer than others. But on the other hand, Batman is not a mentally healthy individual. His grief-driven obsession is what fuels him, it’s the main theme of his existence. He doesn’t want to see any more kids orphaned like he was, families destroyed like his was, and if that means putting on a bat suit and fighting clowns, then so be it. Now I’m not saying that a Batman with closure can’t be Batman, but it’ll be a different kind of Batman. The really big question now is whether all the writers handling this character are in on this little secret, or whether this is something Tomasi will be playing with by himself. We shall see.

Someone’s been reading Beckett: Batman and Robin’s opening scene as they head off for a final rose-laying ceremony at Crime Alley. Here’s a taste:

Batman: I can still see my mother’s pearls rolling into the sewer.
Robin: Life’s a battlefield, father. Good people meet horrible fates the same as bad ones.
Batman: The sound of her pearls hitting the water seemed as loud as the gunshots that night…
Robin: Grief and remorse are a disease of the weak. You wage war and destroy your enemies before they destroy you.
Batman: The future’s always in the process of interpreting the meaning of the past, Robin.
Robin: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Honestly, I’m surprised no one hanged himself by the end.

Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman

This book is arguably one of the most beautifully-rendered books so far. Williams has an outstanding command of color, tone and – most importantly for this book – layout. There are these beautiful, complex double-page spreads all through the book that are a joy to just look at. You go from the muted blues of the background to the screaming red of Batwoman’s hair; have an almost painterly flow of light and shadow on one page, and then turn the next and it’s heavy, sharp-lined inks that define an entirely new place and situation. It’s clear that Williams is an artist who knows how to let the art help the reader understand the world the story is in, and he makes use of it to the fullest. Bravo to you, sir.

Having said that, the story itself felt kind of jarring. Perhaps because I know so very little about the new Batwoman – I know she appeared during DC’s 52 series a few years ago, and that she’s a lesbian who used to have a thing with Renee Montoya, who is currently (I think) The Question. But there’s a lot I don’t know, and the writers’ attempts to fill me in felt kind of forced and graceless at times. At one point, Kate Kane (Batwoman) recites a list of the reasons why she hates her father, basically recapping an entire story arc about how she had a twin sister that she thought was dead, but who actually turned into a supervillain and died for real, maybe, and he knew the whole time. It’s an info-dump, and it threw way more information at me than I wanted at that point in the story. On top of that was Kate’s relationship with her partner/ward/assistant Bette Kane, who is Batwoman’s cousin, and who used to be a member of the Teen Titans under the name Flamebird, except that she isn’t anymore and Batwoman has burned her old costume and now wants to make a real hero out of her. Or something.

All of this on top of a story of children being abducted by a mysterious crying ghost. Who may or may not be Batwoman’s sister. I can appreciate a complex story, but a complex story should be presented to the reader like an intricate puzzle box, wherein one secret is revealed, then another, then another, all the while the connections between secrets are surprising and delighting. This was more like Williams and Blackman dumping a bag full of secrets in my lap and saying, “There you go. Have fun.”

One thing I still don’t understand (One thing?): Why is Batwoman so vampire-pale? I mean, really pale. And it doesn’t seem to be a costume-specific thing, either. Even when she’s just being Kate Kane, she’s fresh-from-the-morgue pale. With all the information we get in this book, what we don’t learn is why she looks like she’s just been pulled out of Gotham Reservoir.

Deathstroke by Kyle Higgins and Joe Bennett

Slade Wilson (AKA Deathstroke the Terminator) is a hard character to get behind, probably because he’s an unrepentant bastard. And while that can be done well, I never really felt any great attraction to this character. He’s a metahuman assassin, with amazing strength, speed, reflexes, durability, etc, who can also out-smart damn near any opponent. He’s a classic DC Universe badass that people underestimate at their peril – he once came pretty close to taking down the entire Justice League in under two minutes, only to be distracted by getting an arrow in his eye.

But from my reading, that’s pretty much all Slade has ever been – a badass. The closest he came to depth of character was when he was originally introduced in the old Teen Titans run, where we learn about his history as a soldier and his involvement in a super-soldier program which basically made him Captain America if Cap had been made for the Vietnam War and turned into a hateful sonofabitch. In addition, his kids have all either been mutilated, killed, or turned against him. So that Slade Wilson was moderately interesting. This one has struck pretty much one note: I’m a badass.

Which – don’t get me wrong – he is. Very much so. In this tale, he’s been given a support team that he doesn’t want, full of post-modern hipster Damn Young People who are supposed to back him up while he foils the evil plans of an arms dealer. The dealer’s plans turn out to actually be much more evil than we thought – Clayface zombies, Max Schreck clones and Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase are all involved somehow. It’s all very violent and full of the kind of things only Deathstroke can pull off, which is good fun. But there’s not a whole lot more than that.

Although I have to thank Higgins and Bennett for ending the story exactly the way I wanted it to end.

Time Marches On: There is one thin runner of a character theme in this story, one that I hope Higgins takes advantage of: Slade Wilson is getting old. His jobs-man tells him that there are those who think he can’t handle the jobs he used to do, and that kind of implied impotence is one thing that hits any man very, very hard. I’d really like to see Slade deal with this head-on and actually wrestle with the problem of being one of the older active metahumans that DC Comics has on its roster. Done well, this could be a very nice exploration of his character, and I might enjoy reading that.

Demon Knights by Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves

DC has always enjoyed telling stories in different eras, and over the decades they’ve racked up an impressive number of characters who either lived through or started in the Medieval era of Europe. For this book, it looks like they’ve decided to throw them all together for one great big party.

We begin at the fall of Camelot, where Merlin binds the demon Etrigan to the body of Jason Blood, making him both immortal and cursed. Meanwhile, one of the ladies who was supposed to take King Arthur to Avalon says “Sod this” and decides to stick around to see if she can make some real, meaningful change in the world. They travel through Europe and and meet old DC stalwarts such as Vandal Savage and the Silent Knight, as well as some new ones (to me, anyway) such as Exoristos, who looks like she might be an Amazon, and Al Jabr, who seems to be an Arab merchant of some kind. Together, they find themselves standing up to the vanguard of the Questing Queen’s horde. Assisted by Mordru (*ahem* LEGIONSQUEE), she’s determined to carve out a kingdom, whether anyone wants her to or not, and only these few magical and mystical heroes can stand against her.

It’s a fun read, actually. The language is fairly modernized, perhaps in the A Knight’s Tale tradition of believing that while people may not have said “My arse” as an expression of doubt, they probably had something they did say, and so “My arse” will do as a substitute.

So what we have is – basically – The Magnificent Seven, if they were in medieval Europe and could use magic. That’s a story I never really get tired of.

LEGIONSQUEE: I’m a lifelong fan of the Legion of Superheroes (more on them later), and so seeing their ancient enemy Mordru as a player in this story just made me very happy. He’s an utter bastard, and fortunately not being drawn in his traditional evil clown costume.

Pretty pictures…. Neves’ art is gorgeous, I must admit. There’s a ton of detail, creative uses of panels, and some very good characterization in drawing our seven heroes. Added to wonderful coloring from Marcelo Maiolo, it’s a beautiful book to look at. Definitely one I think I’ll follow for a while.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli

There has always been a tradition of monsters in comic books – that’s one of the reasons the Comics Code was established in the ’50s. Monster comics were gruesome enough and scary enough that the more conservative community leaders thought they would do damage to the delicate minds of their innocent children. So rather than wait for Congress to come up with guidelines on the content of comics, the industry decided to police itself. Through the Comics Code, their stories became flat and wholesome, and their monsters were divested of their ability to truly terrify.

Needless to say, the Code ain’t around anymore, and Lemire has decided to go all out with this new monsteriffic book. It brings together the classic Monster of Monsters – Frankenstein’s reanimated creature – along with DC Comics’ Creature Commandos, a group of soldiers who have become iconic movie monsters. There’s a vampire, a werewolf, a mummy, a fish-woman… And they all work under the auspices of S.H.A.D.E. – Super-Human Advanced Defense Executive. These guys handle the weird stuff, the problems that seem incredible even in a world where men can shoot fire from their eyes and women can break walls with their screams.

Bone Lake, Washington, has been overrun with horrifying creatures. A S.H.A.D.E. agent is missing in action, and it’s up to Frankenstein and his Creature Commandos to retrieve her and save the town. But will their aid even be welcome, or are they just another kind of monster – ones which must be destroyed?

In a recent interview, Lemire has said that he really enjoyed writing this story because he’s long had a love of monsters and science fiction. What he’s made is a nice blend of the two, with these classic Universal monsters working for a mad scientist who is, in turn, working under the auspices of the U.S. government. It has a certain darkness to it, but it’s also weirdly funny. Father Time, for example, is the head of this organization. He’s an immortal who gets a new body every decade or so, and the current one looks to be a ten year-old schoolgirl. This kind of tongue-in-cheek humor is laced throughout the book, with promises of more to come.

A little more backstory… One thing I’ve been hunting for during this reboot is evidence of the greater DC Universe, and we get it in little bits here and there. For example, Ray Palmer – the Atom – is working with S.H.A.D.E. to help them maintain their shrunken secret headquarters. Also, the vampire character, Vincent Velcoro, gained his new abilities by using a variant of the “Langstrom Serum,” so we know that Man-Bat is lurking around somewhere in the DCU.

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

There are a few titles that I have just been aching to see. Some of them because they’re characters I really like, or because of the creative team working on the book, or even just a really cool cover. This book manages to hit all three points.

Sinestro is a Green Lantern again.

Let me repeat that, in case you didn’t get it the first time. Sinestro. The guy who was the first to betray the Corps. The one who has been Hal Jordan’s nemesis since time immemorial. The guy who had his own ring made so that he could build his own corps for the express purpose of killing each and every Green Lantern in existence.

Is a Green Lantern again. When this cover was released, the entire DC fan base turned into Sheila Broflovski: “whatwhatWHAAAAAT?”

According to Johns, this has been the plan all along, reboot or no. While we don’t know exactly how this happened, what we do know is this: a Green Ring chose Sinestro, and the Guardians of the Universe are going to let it stand. What makes it interesting, of course, is that Sinestro doesn’t want the damned ring. He was fine with his own ring and his own corps, and spending the rest of his life hating Hal Jordan and the Guardians. But it seems that was not meant to be, and now he has to figure out what he’s going to do about it.

Now, while the GL Corps has gained its most improbable member, it has also lost its most famous. Hal Jordan has been stripped of his ring for being utterly reckless and insubordinate. I suppose he’s had this coming, really. The Guardians have been complaining for years about Jordan and how he doesn’t just do as he’s damn well told. Whatever he did, I guess they’ve finally had enough of his shenanigans and kicked him out.

Back on Earth, he has his own problems. His involvement with the Corps has cost him his jobs with the Air Force and Ferris Aircraft. He has to adjust to life without the ring, and he’s not adjusting well. No income, no car, and he’s pretty close to being homeless, Hal is looking at the bottom of his life right now. Mind you, he’s been lower: dead. But this is a whole new type of low for Hal Jordan. It’s the kind of low that normal people have to deal with, not super-heroes.

So we have two men who are in places that they absolutely don’t want to be in, and if they want out, then they’ll have to work together. It can only get better from here.

I’m a big Green Lantern fan, and I love what Johns has done with it. He has a particular talent for long-term planning and taking characters in new and interesting directions, so I’m really looking forward to seeing where we go from here.

Wait a minute…. How will Jordan’s expulsion from the GLC affect his involvement in the Justice League? As it stands, that book is taking place about five years in the past, so I figure Hal Jordan should regain his ring before the current JL arc resolves itself and we snap forward to the present. Of course, Johns is writing that one too, so any assumptions I make could be entirely null.

Grifter by Nathan Edmondson and Cafu

Grifter is another import from DC’s Wildstorm imprint, much like Stormwatch, which means I have little to no knowledge of who or what he is. So that pretty much puts me on par with most other people who are picking this up for the first time.

Cole Cash is a con man, and a very good one. He scams people, he cheats them and he’s generally a lovable reprobate. Unfortunately, he is currently plagued with the ability to hear the voices of strange, otherworldly creatures who seem to be able to possess people at will. This is a bit of a problem, especially when a couple of them attack him during an airplane flight, which makes him look like a murderous hijacker.

He has a brother in the military who’s looking for him, and a girlfriend who’s fed up with his general irresponsibility (never mind that he was kidnapped by Horrible Indescribable Creatures.)

So, there’s still a lot I don’t know about this guy. His Wikipedia page says that he had some interesting powers and adventures in his Wildstorm incarnation, but it’s unclear if any of those have carried over into the DC Universe proper. We shall see.

What’s he thinking? The mask. It’s a neat mask and all that, but what’s the point? If he’s trying to hide, it’s not going to help – it’ll just attract more attention to himself. And the alien-things not only know what he looks like, they seem to be able to find him wherever he is anyway. *shrug*

Legion Lost by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods

Other than the Green Lantern books, this is one of the ones I’ve been waiting for like a schoolgirl at a Bieber concert. The Legion has always been my favorite supergroup – it has a vast and diverse cast, adventures that are truly cosmic in scale, and grand storylines that are unrivaled anywhere else in the DC Universe. Not to mention interesting characters, complex relationships, and a good helping of science fiction. It all adds up to a lifelong love, and I was thrilled to know that there would be more than one Legion title in the reboot.

This one, however, is just the prelude, in my eyes. A group of Legionnaires has traveled into the past (i.e. Now) in pursuit of a criminal named Alastor. Who he is and what he did back in the 31st century are a little unclear, but we do know that he’s really, really angry at humanity, and will do whatever he can to avenge himself and his dead sister. His means of revenge is a pathogen, a terrible disease that he’s brought back in time in order to punish the human race for whatever it did to him.

Seven members of the Legion have come to the present to stop him – but they fail. Whatever this pathogen is, it’s out now, and Earth is compromised. What’s more, the attempt to take Alastor back to the 31st century fails, taking the lives of two Legionnaires in the process. Their friends are dead, their criminal is missing, and they are stuck in the 21st century with no way home. You’d think things couldn’t get any worse, but I’m pretty sure they will.

I like the characters they’ve chosen, too. It’s good to see Tyroc back in action, since he was a character that they seemed a little unsure what to do with back when he was first in the group. He’s got a much better costume, and advances in art techniques seem to have allowed them to do away with the goofy sound effects they used to use in order to tell us that he was using his sonic powers. Having Dawnstar and Wildfire together is always good, if only for the romantic tension. There’s also Timber Wolf and Tellus, complete opposites, as well as Chameleon Girl and Gates. Which brings us to….

Aww, hell. One of the dead Legionnaires is Gates, and I found that to be an… unfortunate choice. He was created back in the 90s after the Zero Hour reboot of the Legion. You see, perhaps being a Legion fan has made me far less upset about this DCU reboot than others, since I’m used to it. DC Comics has re-started and re-imagined the Legion of Super-Heroes several times now, and assumed its fans would be intelligent enough to follow along – which, of course, we are.

Gates was a fascinating character when he was introduced in 1994. He was not humanoid (preceded by that point only by Quislet and Tellus) and he was the only LSH member who had to be forced to join. He never wanted to be in the Legion, and he never really got over being drafted. He once referred to the group as a “teenage death squad.” Even though he came to appreciate his teammates and their mission, he’s always been resentful of the system that took him from his people.

When that version of the Legion was replaced by the “Threeboot” Legion, Gates was presumed lost, along with all the other original characters that were created or revamped during his run (including the revised Ferro, which is something I may never truly forgive them for). But Gates – and his Legion – came back during the Legion of 3 Worlds storyline, and he was allowed to stay with the original post-CoIE Legion, while the other two Legions faded away into that place where canceled characters go.

So, he was a reminder of one of my favorite incarnations of the Legion, probably the first one I was able to follow regularly, and he’s an original and unique character.

And now he’s dead.

Not happy, Mr. Nicieza. Just so you know….

Mister Terrific by Eric Wallace and Gianluca Gugliotta

Michael Holt – Mister Terrific – is the third smartest man in the world. He’s behind Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor, I believe, and he’s definitely made the most of his intellect. Not only does he head up a multibillion-dollar technology company, but he saves the best of what he has in order to be – of course – a superhero. Of course, part of what spurred him on was the death of his beloved wife in what appeared to be a random car accident, followed by meeting his unborn son through the use of a quantum-dimensional-time-space doohicky. Spurred on by both of them, Michael puts on a mask, get a “FAIR PLAY” tattoo, and decides to fight evil. Good on him.

As we start our story, something weird has happened. An ordinary man has been turned into a super-genius. And a murderous super-genius at that. Michael’s attempts to figure out what happened may well have affected him, as he prepares to cause a massive earthquake in order to kill a U.S. Senator.

Not something most super-heroes are up to doing.

It looks like an interesting book, though it hasn’t really caught me yet. We’ll see how it turns out.

Cameos! Again, we get to see a little more of the greater DCU with a one of Mister Terrific’s old Justice Society friends! The JSA has not been included in the New 52 Reboot, which raised a few eyebrows, but one of them shows up here. Karen Starr – A.K.A. Power Girl. Power Girl has had a severe backstory problem as long as she’s been around. She’s been Superman’s cousin, an Atlantean princess, a supergirl from another universe… No one’s been really sure what to do with her, so they just put her in a revealing costume and have her beat people up. We don’t see her do any heroics here, so we don’t know if Karen Starr is/will be Power Girl again. Although, the evening dress she wears was clearly designed as an homage to her old “Cleavage Window” costume, so that may be a clue.

Not a believer: One of the really interesting things about Mister Terrific is that he is an atheist. That’s a pretty big deal, seeing as how atheists have been polled as America’s most hated group (PDF link), beating out pretty much every ethnic minority and sexual orientation. Michael Holt is an unapologetic atheist, however, turning to science to answer the questions he needs answered. And not just science – super-science.

What makes this most interesting is that he is an atheist in a universe where the existence of not just God but many gods is a provable fact. There was an angel in the Justice League. Characters die and come back constantly. Ghosts and demons are very real. Hell, The Spectre is one of the most powerful beings in Creation, and he says he is the Vengeance of God. Against all that, Mister Terrific is an unbeliever. It makes for an interesting choice.

Red Lanterns by Peter Milligan and Ed Benes

KITTY!!

Sorry, wait, back up. A little backstory first.

The Red Lanterns were created by Geoff Johns during his epic revamping of the Green Lantern Corps and all they entailed. He created an “emotional spectrum” of light, each with its own particular qualities and powers. Green was the color of willpower, and was at the center of everything, thus its popularity over the years. But he went through the other six colors, giving them each a unique and compelling view of the universe and their place in it.

Red is the color of rage, and they are the ones lucky enough to get their own book. The first Red Lantern was Atrocitus, an evil-looking being who probably wasn’t all bad, back before avery other sentient being on his planet was murdered by the Manhunters, the android predecessors to the Green Lantern Corps. Atrocitus’ rage is so potent that it calls forth the Red Lantern and allows him to build his corps. Members are chosen based on the great anger in their hearts, and they become nearly mindless beasts of destruction, controlled by the red rings.

That’s what we English teachers call a “metaphor,” kids.

As our story begins, Atrocitus is having an existential crisis, which doesn’t really go well with boundless anger. The man who orchestrated the death of his people – the renegade Guardian, Krona – is dead. But Atrocitus was not the one to defeat him. For millennia, his hate for Krona is what kept him strong, but now… Now he’s asking questions like, “What’s it all about, really?” while his Corps is slipping through his fingers. The rage of the universe calls to him, but it may be too late….

I said, “KITTY!!” Dex-Starr was originally created as a joke. He’s an adorable blue cat in a Red Lantern uniform who turns into a flame/blood-spitting ball of fur and death. Other than Ch’p in the Green Lanterns, there’s really no one else quite like him. When Geoff Johns saw what artist Shane Davis had designed, however, he just fell in love with the adorable, hateful kitty, and insisted he be given a part in the Rage of the Red Lanterns mini-series. From there, be became a fan favorite.

What cemented Dex-Starr’s underground popularity, though, was his very brief origin story in Green Lantern #55. He was a cute blue kitten named Dexter, adopted by a lonely young woman who took good care of him and built that weird, codependent relationship so many cat owners (guilty!) have. One night her apartment is broken into and she’s brutally murdered. Dexter is kicked out onto the streets and then picked up by a bunch of punk teenagers who throw him off the Brooklyn Bridge in a sack. Dexter’s boundless feline rage attracts a Red Ring and he is reborn as Dex-Starr, the angriest kitty. Here is the last part of the story, panels which will undoubtedly go down in comics history as one of the saddest scenes in the medium. Lois Lane holding on to a dead Superman in the rubble of Metropolis. Aunt May raging at Captain America during Peter Parker’s funeral. Dex-Starr:

Maybe it helps to be a cat owner. Okay. Keep it together, Gladis. Only a few more to go.

Resurrection Man by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

The Resurrection Man is a man who cannot die.

Wait, let me correct that. He can die – quite often, actually – but it never sticks. No matter how he meets his end, he always comes back, and with his rebirth comes a new super-power.

And that’s pretty much all we know about him. He’s got this little problem, he’s not very happy about it, but it seems like he’s got a handle on how it works. He dies, he comes back, he can do something new. The problem is that while he’s not entirely concerned about how or why he should be able to do this, there are… entities that have a very definite interest in making sure that the next time he dies, he stays dead. Both humans and mysterious Otherworldly Beings are after him, and he has no idea what they want. Always exciting.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about it, because that’s all I know. Wikipedia tells me that he’s been around since the current team created him back in ’97, but by that time I had no money to read new and interesting comics, so I never picked this one up. His original origin seemed to be rather confusing, his powers coming either from technological nanobots or a curse that spanned the entire history of the DC Universe. How his powers work in this version, we have no idea. I’ll be interested to see what comes of him, though.

Suicide Squad by Adam Glass, Federico Dalloccio, Ransom Getty, and Scott Hanna

The Suicide Squad has always been an interesting idea: take super-human criminals and use them to do good. Or, barring “good,” to achieve national interests. Promised a shorter sentence and outfitted with an explosive device in their heads, the members of the Squad are set loose on the enemies of America, allowed to semi-legally enjoy their hobbies of murder and mayhem. It’s not a great gig, and there’s a reason for the name, but it’s a great chance to do something that’s always fun: put a bunch of villains together and make them work as a team.

That’s always been one of the great weaknesses of Villainy, really – it doesn’t play well with others. There have been evil teams before, yes, but they invariably lose to the good guys, who are much better at it.

This issue starts us off with torture. Nasty, salt-in-the-wound, rats on your chest, fingernail-pulling torture. Fun for the whole family. The Squad has been captured, and their torturers want information on who runs the team and how. As we go from member to member, we learn a little bit about who they are and how they got into the Squad. As far as exposition goes, it’s actually not bad. It sets up the tone of the book very well, drops a few secrets in our hands, and gives us just enough information so that we can get right into the action in the next issue. Which promises to be a doozy.

There’s something different about you…. This isn’t quite up there with Barbara Gordon being given her legs back, but a lot of fans have picked up on this and are wondering why. Even Mark Waid got snarky about it on Twitter a few days ago, and when you have his attention, you know you’re making an impact.

The head of Task Force X, which runs the Suicide Squad, is Amanda Waller. She is a tough, no-nonsense woman who is devoted to her country and utterly ruthless. Just the kind of person you need to run a team of supervillains against their will. She bridges that grey zone between hero and villain, and I’m not sure even she knows where she falls.

She’s also built like a tank. Or at least she used to be.

Now it looks like she’s de-aged about twenty years and shed a good deal of weight.

The reasons for this are unclear as yet, of course. Hell, for all we know that’s not the real Amanda Waller. The woman is a master of intrigue and deception, and she probably has many layers of security set up between her and the rest of the world. Whatever the reasoning was, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

Superboy by Scott Lobdell and R.B. Silva

Superboy begins this time, as he did last time, as a clone. He is a human-Kryptonian hybrid, unlike anything else the lab boys at N.O.W.H.E.R.E. have ever seen. His powers and abilities aren’t quite like Superman’s, and his mind suggests some disturbing things about where his human half might be from. He’s a lab rat, a strange creature who never asked to be born, who doesn’t understand the world he’s in, and who has no control over his own destiny.

Again. Metaphor. If you’ve ever been a teenager, you should be able to spot it.

It’s a good introduction to the character, with some moments of levity mixed in. This incarnation reminds me a lot of the one from the Young Justice cartoon – serious, focused, and not entirely sure what it means to be a human being. We know he’ll end up with the Teen Titans eventually, but how he gets there should be a rocky and difficult path.

The one thing I’d really like to know is when this is occurring, in-universe. Given conditions at the end of Action #1, it’s entirely possible that the DNA sample needed to create Superboy was created about six years prior to “now,” so keep your eyes on that. And there’s a Teen Titans book on the way, the cover of which implies that Superboy has shed his lab suit and has gone over to the side of the angels. So we shall see…

FINALLY, the Mystery Lady of the 52 Reboot is still hanging around. Here’s where I found her this time:

And that’s it for this week! See you next time….

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