“Seven Against the Dark”
When the New 52 line-up was first announced a few months ago, I didn't immediately jump on this title. I've never been a fan of the character of Jason Blood, The Demon, even if he is a creation of Jack “the King” Kirby's from his tenure at DC in the early 1970s that added so richly to DC's mythology – Darkseid, the New Gods, OMAC, Kamandi, and so forth. I was familiar with the character from various appearances, but he never really grabbed me. But the medieval setting, for one, made me look at this one again, and the fact that another character I recently developed kind of a liking for – Madame Xanadu (see the wonderful recent Vertigo series by Matt Wagner) – is announced as part of it, and the fact that it's written by Paul Cornell made me decide to give it a shot. Then, for what it's worth, in Cornell's Stormwatch there seems to be a hint that there's a connection there as well. I'm in for at least the first arc. This first issue is mostly just set up, letting us see such things as the “origin” of The Demon when Etrigan is bonded to Jason Blood by the wizard Merlin, the coming together of several characters from DC's occultish titles into a group opposed to what looks like the Big Bad for at least the beginning arc – none other than old Legion of Super-Heroes, latter-day Justice Society foe Mordru (and those temporal tags neatly invert the actual internal chronology, but that's comics for you!) along side some Queen who seems to command a ravenous Horde – a group that includes such as Sir Ystin The Shining Knight, Vandal Savage (amazing that he ever was on the side of the angels … not sure he is here, considering I think he's going to be an ally of Etrigan's), and some warrior woman whom I wouldn't want to cross! The appearance of The Shining Knight in the incarnation created by Grant Morrison a few years ago, plus the title “Seven Against the Dark,” further makes me wonder if there's going to be overt connections between this story and Morrison's mind-bending Seven Soldiers epic wherein Sir Ystin first appeared. I'm intrigued at the very least. Next: Here Be Dragons!
“Run from Tomorrow, Part One: Present Tense”
Even though this is one of the two New 52 Legion titles, and Legion of Super-Heroes is my all-time favorite superhero franchise bar none, I can't say I really cared for this that much. Part of the wonder of the Legion is the generally bright, shiny future that is presented (even as tarnished as it has been in recent years), and the idea of a group of Legionnaires cut off from the main group, stranded a thousand years in their own past in our present, is not entirely appealing to me. Even though I think it's been said their exile is permanent, I hold onto hope that it's not and this will just end up being a second Legion Lost miniseries. Whatever, it's not so bad as to make me not buy it – as a Legion title it would have to be worse than dreadful for that to happen, and it's not. It just doesn't catch me in and of itself.
The gist of the plot is a group of Legionnaires chased a villain from the 31st century back to the 21st century to try to head off his intention of releasing some future plague in our present to destroy the future. They fail – and end up themselves infected. And in the process, a couple of their number appear to be killed in the destruction of their Time Bubble. The issue ends with Timber Wolf asking the question, “What do we do now...?” Next: Outbreak!
This is another one I'm not so sure about. Of the mainstream DC titles relaunched here, I figured Wonder Woman was probably the one in the most danger of being dropped by me pretty quickly. I've seldom collected the individual comics, although I've picked up a number of trades of her more notable stories through the years. I really like the character, but her solo adventures generally just haven't grabbed me, not enough to make me buy the monthlies. I mainly jumped in here because she is one of DC's Big Three, the “Trinity.” I figured I'd give it a try. Another point of hesitancy for me is the writer, Brian Azzarello. He's written some good stuff and some bad stuff. Since I mainly am into the superhero stuff, I've read more of his bad stuff than good stuff because generally that just ain't his forte! And the recent First Wave DC “neopulp” experiment that he oversaw was, for me, a bitter disappointment. But here I am.
I must say this is a different Wonder Woman – visually not so much, but in mood and mythology seemingly so. I think I'll grow to really like the much deeper connection with Greek mythology that is being cultivated here, although as a Wonder Woman/superhero story it is a shift in tone that by its nature I find quite jarring. It'll have to grow on me. I think it will. It does play explicitly to one of the basic tropes of Greek mythology – mortals are just playthings in the rivalries of the gods, which manifests in one way that the head of the gods, Zeus, is a randy old fart who routinely goes around impregnating mortal women and thereby pissing off (to paraphrase one of the characters) his wife, Hera. Wonder Woman ends up in the middle, protecting a young woman targeted by Hera because she is unknowingly pregnant by Zeus. We get to see other of the gods, such as Hermes, as well as other creatures from mythology along the way as well. And there are other conflicts between the gods sure to spill out into the mortal world. As I understand it, that's the overall gist of this new Wonder Woman – protecting humanity from the capricious whims of the gods. It sounds interesting. I'll stay aboard for at least a while, give it time to develop. I've probably overused this word lately, but it is if nothing else intriguing.
Cheers, and thanks for reading!