This may be the first of some shorter entries in an attempt to catch up with where my reading really is by now.*
“The Secret History of Monument Point, Chapter Two: Weird Mystery Tales”
There are two narrative threads going on here. In one, confronted with a mysterious, ancient, and locked doorway far below the city as well as the mysterious death of his political opponent who had done all in his power to keep him from even knowing there was such a secret, Mayor Jay Garrick a.k.a. The (Golden Age) Flash, consults with his JSA teammates, who decide to bring in some real specialists – the Challengers of the Unknown. They end up picking the lock (no kidding – it's Dr. Mid-nite's idea) and a mixed team heads into the unknown. Evading certain “antediluvian counter-measures” otherwise known as “Booby traps!” they discover what seems to be an underground city. Secondly, we have what looks to be the climax of the subplot surrounding Mr. Terrific's declining intelligect. Briefly, several issues ago he realized that he was losing all the knowledge he had accumulated over his lifetime – not his memories, per se, as I understand it, but rather his ability to read as well as his understanding of any complex concepts and the like. It's not entirely clear to me – but whatever. Anyway, it's the doing not of some super-villain, but rather of one Richard Lusk, an obsessed fan of the original (Golden Age) Mr. Terrific who believes that Michael Holt sullies the legacy of Terry Sloane. There's an element of racism in his attitude toward “the dark-skinned poser who stole his legacy.” In order to complete his vengeance and deprive Michael of any chance of reversing it, Lusk destroys all records of how he had destroyed the hero's intellect, including his own brain by committing suicide, leaving a DVD along with his hanged body. “I guess I just hate you that much.” Whoa. But Lusk hasn't counted on one thing – Michael Holt's determination. Here's Mr. Terrific's monologue from the last page: “I wasn't born smart. At least I don't believe I was. And no matter what brains I started off with … I only managed to … What's the word? Enhance. I enhanced them through hard work. You can't take hard work away. You can take away the results, but you can't take away the drive. That's who I am. It's who I'll always be. So … Let's get to work.” And he starts a DVD: “Hi, kids! I'm Captain Carrot! And me and my amazing Zoo Crew are going to teach you how to read! … Doesn't that sound exciting?” Wow!
What, now, a couple issues before the end, things finally start getting interesting with the main plot, even as the Mr. Terrific sub-plot finally comes to a moving end that I quite frankly hadn't expected?! I've not really been impressed with this creative team's earlier issues, but if this is a taste of what could have been to come, dang I'm disappointed that the JSA is nowhere to be found after August except for some unconfirmed rumors.
“Kid Flash Lost, Part Two”
I didn't find the art quite so bad in this second issue, although I've not directly compared it with the first to see just what the difference is. Oh well. My only specific complaint is how they illustrate Bart's progressive fading from reality – he looks more like he's zombifying than fading away. The story, however, continues to be outstanding – I like Sterling Gates!
Briefly, Bart – staying true to his own somewhat happy-go-lucky (not sure that's the right way to put it, but it's what comes to mind) character even in a truly dystopian hell of a Flashpoint future – realizes that he had possessed his speed while in the virtual reality in which Brainiac had held him captive. That's how he had basically out-thought Brainiac's computer and freed himself. So he taunts Brainiac into recapturing him and putting him back! “HEY! Yoo-hooooo! Nerd-iiiac! Nyyyyaaaaaa!” Who else but Bart Allen would dare talk to Brainiac like that? Once back in, he uses his “super-speed-enabled brain to rewrite” the programs before breaking out again – “Haxxored and pwned, noob!” (Not sure what "haxxor'd" is, but "pwned" I get!) Rewriting Brainiac's security programs allowed Hot Pursuit to break in and join him – then tragedy! – she is impaled by one of Brainiac's weapons. But before she dies, Patty Spivot releases the Speed Force energy that had been contained in the tank of her bike, giving Bart his speed again. And away he dashes, determined to save her by pre-empting the future – “All I have to do is find The Flash. Even if it kills me.” Ominously: “Next: The Death of Kid Flash?”
"This is the World We Made"
Basically, in this middle part, we get the grand tour of the “World of Flashpoint.” Determined to thwart her father's genocidal plans to end the war by wiping out both the Themyscirans and the Atlanteans, Traci 13 teleports hither and yon in search of allies – fruitlessly. She first finds Madame Xanadu dying in New York City. The mystic can only give the girl her tarot cards as guidance – which then direct her jumps to Tokyo, where a half-built Red Tornado android is keeping lonely vigil waiting for his creator to awaken and finish him – T. O. Morrow is a dessicated corpse, long dead; to Brazil, where in the middle of a war against the Nazis, Natasha Irons can't understand why Traci would want to stop her father; to Namibia, where Changling saves her by betraying his murderous human-slaughtering gorilla master (is that Grodd?) in a pretty “disgusting” way (Traci's word) – changing to a bug, flying into the ape's mouth, then changing back to normal – “SKRRITCH—BOOMPTH” – but Traci recognizes that he's needed there; in Queensland, she finds a now-Buddhist Guy Gardner uninterested in fighting (but he does hit on her – then backtracks when he finds she's only sixteen). Confused at this “wild-good chase” that Madame Xanadu has put her on, maybe she gets a little insight from the lady she frees from chains in Antarctica – whom I don't recognize but who tells her, “No one cares about anything more than what benefits or hurts them. All these champions, both good and bad, are all driven by their own selfish motives. Each is caught up in his or her little drama. And each of them wants nothing more than to mold this world into the image of what they consider right. But who is truly right? It's all a matter of perspective... I suppose only the gods know better...” In Gotham City, she gets a pep talk from Fr. Jason Todd, who maybe sheds some further light on Xanadu's purpose – not to give Traci allies but rather insight: “Maybe you were just supposed to learn something....” Then the Magician card leads her back to her father - “the most infamous hater of magic” – who seems to have taken a bit of a liking to it.... “To be concluded.”
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* I should really know better by now not to begin an entry by saying it will be “shorter.” Try as I might, it just never is. But, just to set out the backlog that I'm facing:
I finished reading Perry Rhodan #14, Venus in Danger, over a month ago, just before I began a series of several trips hither and yon for various purposes – family vacation, dealing with issues for my elderly mother, and so forth – that haven't left me the luxury of a fairly extended block of distraction-free time to compose what has become, for my other blog, pretty intensive entries summarizing and commenting on each issue. At this point, I think I may have to go back and reread the story before undertaking that task! It is, after all, the beginning of a new “mini-cycle” in the series.
Bronze-Tempered Steel, the next installment in The Bronze Saga or “The Christian Adventures of Doc Savage,” which I finished during the aforementioned vacation. For various reasons I want to give this a fairly intensive treatment as well, both because of the particular story which brings together two of my favorite characters and because over the summer I've stricken up a long-distance friendship with the co-author. With various distractions (see above) I've not set myself down to cranking out something and have let enough time pass I'm wondering if I need to reread it too in order to do it right.
The Shadow #49 (a), The Shadow Laughs, and #9 (b), Partners in Peril. The first of these I finished on vacation as well; the second just last night. These will probably get fairly short shrift, unfortunately.
Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #1 – 5 and Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom #1, read over the past few days, getting me completely up to date on the Dynamite series I blogged about earlier this week.
And the shipment containing my July comics is (according to the UPS website) on the truck and out for delivery today (but I'm not home, alas – I'm a hundred miles away at my mum's), so I'm about to have a whole new box of stuff to go through!
Incidentally, I just started reading the newest Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story. I'm always reading something, usually several somethings.
Of course I have blogged some in the meantime – when I finished or saw something I just couldn't wait to comment on, or upon which it was fairly easy to write something up. So I'm obviously not striving to do things in precisely the order I've read them - nor will I probably do the things I've listed in the order above. But I have this nagging pressure to catch up and blog them all. I'm OCD enough that if I'm going to do this I don't want to leave anything out.
Oh, the millstones we take upon ourselves! It's not all fun and games!
Blogging is hard work!
Enough wasting time.