Tuesday, October 4

Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #3 of 3 and Justice Society of America #54 (Oct 2011), and Teen Titans #100 (L. Oct 2011)

“Chapter Three”

This bucket of swamp-water doesn't warrant much attention. John Constantine manages to pester Madame Xanadu into helping him contact Deadman (who's remarkably ebullient considering he just became dead again after becoming comfortable with being alive again … Man, only in comic books!) and through them finding where Alec Holland is, because Constantine wants to kill him because that's the only way to get The Green to quit pestering him. Batman and Superman show up as well, not sure why, but it all boils down to – after all the build up that Constantine was out to kill him – Constantine asking Holland what he wants. Well, it ain't to die! … again. And Constantine saunters off, proclaiming that The Green “will just have to sort itself, won't it? … Don't look at me, lads. I did my bit.” What did you do? Even Batman (Dick Grayson, I'm pretty sure) is incredulous … and in a closing interior monologue Holland questions if maybe this is The Green's influence. All in all the story just kind of goes KERSPLOOSH!

What a waste of paper and money.

“The Secret History of Monument Point, Chapter Four: CRISIS”

Following the lead of previous parts, this concluding title is in the font associated with the logo of Crisis on Infinite Earths (which, by the way, along with all the other Crises, is no longer in continuity in any way shape or form in the New 52, according to Dan Didio reporting on “further reflection” by the DC Editorial team. Huh – wha–? But plenty of crucial events in characters' histories that are being retained are pretty closely tied into one Crisis or another...). The story is told achronologically, jumping back and forth from what turns out to be an empty-casket burial for Alan Scott Green Lantern to the aftermath of the freeing of the dark god D'Arken. Jesse Quick's remorse for her actions last issue lead her to effectively attempt suicide, but she's saved by Jay Garrick Flash, but the battle goes worse and worse for the JSA until Mr. Terrific shows up – “Yes, I know I was … a little slow … for a time. I got better.” Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew's speed reading course must be amazing! Luckily, although his recovery is never really explained, it's obviously as mysterious to his teammates as to the reader – witness Ted Grant Wildcat's “Huh. He really did get better.” Mr. Terrific's big plan is for Alan to unleash the Starheart on D'Arken – and in subsequently recontaining it, well, as Jay says, “It took all of Alan's strength to keep it under control. … And in the end … It took all of Alan's self to bring it back.” “Never the End.”

I'm glad we have a new alternate-Earth Justice Society series to look forward to. Frankly, since the departure of Geoff Johns a couple years ago, and especially since the departure of his successor Bill Willingham, this title hasn't been the same. Mark Guggenheim's run just didn't really do anything for me. I love these characters, and I hope James Robinson can re-revitalize them as he did a decade or so ago in beginning the long JSA run that ended up being more associated with Geoff Johns. Never forget that Robinson launched that one, playing off his great Starman series of the 1990s. With Nicola Scott on art, as has been announced, and unconstrained (I hope) by the mashed up continuity that is being imposed on the main DCnU, I'm hoping for great things to come.

Oh – kudos to Darwyn Cooke for the cover art. It's appropriately retro for the traditionally Golden-Age heroes of the DCU … even if he had to put Alan Scott in that awful power battery costume he's been sporting lately. The art inside by Jerry Ordway had a similarly retro feel, just not to the same degree. Ordway is one of the underappreciated greats. At least we didn't have to go out on that dark, not-so-appropriate art by Scott Kolins that several earlier issues of Guggenheim's run had.

“Family Reunion”

Long story short, a small army of present and former Titans manage to prevail against Superboy-Prime and his “Legion of Doom.” Which is actually amazing since Prime alone has fought and defeated more powerful enemies. I guess that time in his home universe, where he was initially depowered if I recall correctly, has left him weakened. Anyway, again, the actual battle itself is far less interesting than the character bits, both that emerge during the fight, and afterward, tying up loose ends bringing this series to some kind of resolution.

One of those is when Conner (that's how it's spelled here – is it how it's always spelled? – I always write Connor – oh well) sends Rose to grab the box out of his room (remember, the box he got back from Cassie last issue). It contains a stake made of green kryptonite, and they then go about staking the Conner-clones through the heart as if they were vampires! Oh well, it gets the job done, but I was worried that they would try the same thing against Prime without remembering that being from a different universe our kryptonite doesn't affect him. Later, however, once the crisis is over, Conner ends up breaking Rose's heart by entrusting her with the kryptonite: “Contrary to recent events, I don't keep this for when clones come attacking. … I keep it for myself. … If I ever do succumb to Lex's genetics or someone takes control of me again, I'll need someone like you.” – Her face falls: “Someone like me? … I get it. If you lose it – lose it for good – you'll need me to kill you. … Because that's what I do.” – “Rose, wait. I just meant that – ” – “No, Conner. You're right.” She takes the box and turns away, a tear running down her cheek. “I'm your girl.” Ouch.

There are a couple of others. During the battle, Bart's blurring the lines between the virtual and real worlds (was that ever a plot point before last issue?) leads to him almost killing the new Inertia. And in the epilogue, we get to see Gar and Raven finally get back together.

I did like the disposition of Prime once he was defeated. I guess Damian doesn't know about the alternate-universe kryptonite issue, since he suggests “fillet[ing] him with that dagger of yours” – to the righteous horror of Solstice and Megan. But Conner has a plan – and our last view of Prime is him trapped like a fly pinned against the Source Wall – “An interdimensional purgatory at the very edge of the universe ...” I say once again, I hope we never see this character again in the Relaunch.

For $4.99 cover price, we got a beefed-up thirty pages of story to go out on, and I'm not sure any were wasted … but the next eight pages were just a series of pin-up pages of various eras in Teen Titans history. Some were good, some were bad. The lead off with one by Rob Liefeld. Okay. I know his reputation – but surprisingly I don't think I've ever bought anything with his art in it ever before – or if I did it was before he became a Name and it didn't impress me good or bad. His piece is an example of the worst I've read his art described as – totally distorted proportions and bodies. Red Robin looks like he was hit with a head-shrinking ray – which must have hurt because his mouth is locked in a distended grimace that must be of pain. On the other hand Kid Flash's forced perspective makes it look like his head got the mass that came out of Red Robin's. And Rose Wilson's jawline looks hard and sharp enough to cut glass. Yuck. A few pages further on it looks like they let Brett Booth get an early crack at the Teen Titans team that's preceding his own New 52 book. I just don't think I'm going to like his style on that very much, but we'll see. Nothing impressive here, though. Overall, although a couple of the pin-ups are good – José Luis Garcia López's, Amy Reeder's, and Marcus To's I did like – frankly I'd've rather paid a dollar less and dispensed with them – even for this special issue #100 that's also the last issue.
* * *
And with that, my reading of the old DCU monthly comics I've been getting has come to an end. I'm caught up – late, I know, but still before I've gotten my September comics with the bulk of the DCnU books. I am both anxious and fearful for what's going to be in my box come the end of this week (probably). The two books I've read already weren't bad – the Action Comics #1 was actually quite engaging – but I still have my skepticism as to the need for or how well this Notaboot Relaunch whatever it is will be executed. Didio's announcement linked above just adds to a perception that they really haven't thought this out very well – “after further consideration” indeed! I'll just have to wait and see.  I don't have anything more profound than that to say, other than that I was there at the beginning of the post-Crisis DCU in 1986, and now I'm here at the end.  But I was there before the beginning, from well back in the 1960s Silver Age, and, God willing, I'll be here for a while longer, well into the 2011-forward DCnU.  I mean, I'm a fan of comics, generally DC Comics, and even with all the changes I don't see that changing.  The past five years of the DCU have been a particularly chaotic time, with continuity shift after continuity shift, and I've weathered them all.  One ray of hope is that the center of my devotion to DC Comics, the Legion of Super-Heroes is this time at least allegedly continuing with only minor tweaks and under arguably the greatest Legion writer of all, Paul Levitz, so there is an anchor of stability.  I'm sure I'll find other things I like going forward.  They may not be the same titles I was reading before, although that is the core of my "first tries" coming in a few days.  We'll see.

In the meantime, I do still have a few other comics from other publishers I still have to catch up on, as well as other books in various stages of reading. So many books, so little time!

Thanks for reading – and Cheers!

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