“The Signal Masters, Part 2”
As Briggs and Emerson, the UN agents who headed up the recruitment of the new multinational Justice League observe the aftermath of the bombing of the Hall of Justice, they learn that their team is getting its collective butt handed to it down in Peru by the mysterious metal giant. As leader – as inadequate as he feels – Booster Gold makes a command decision to retreat, which itself calls into question his adequacy for the job. As news hits the air that among the casualties was Ice, whose injuries are unknown, Guy Gardner Green Lantern races back to take charge. Back in the states, Batman's presence on the team is unwelcome news to Briggs – but Booster again asserts his command to bring the team to focus on the real threat … which consultation with Skeets (yay!) reveals is bigger than they knew, as there is not one, but rather four such metal giants appearing all around the world. Little do they know how bad it really is, for “Far beyond the edge of Earth's Solar System” the appearance of the giants has revealed that “Planet 3-147 is active. An ominous-looking, scythe-wielding alien with a funny-looking headpiece declares, “Not for long. Planet 3-147 dies today.” Continued next issue – we hope!
It's nice to see Booster manning up here, and – as in last issue – Batman giving him more credit than the others are willing to do. Dare I hope that at least something of the previous run of Booster Gold and Batman's knowledge of the true hero beneath the mask of ineptitude is intact? It's great to see that Skeets is still around, although still unseen. I was really worried about him when he didn't appear last issue. The overdrawn nationalistic jingoism of Rocket Red – what can I say except funny in an Ensign Chekov kind of clichéed Russian way. August General in Iron manages to take an air of superiority with the claim that he's the only real soldier there – and throws his support behind the wisdom of Booster's battlefield decision.
I'm still not sure what the purpose – even the power – of Godiva is supposed to be. It looks like she's basically a knockoff of Medusa of the Inhumans with the prehensile hair. But she gets to be part of a Greek chorus peanut gallery made up of the three women in a funny exchange on Briggs' chutzpah in trying to tell Batman what he can't do. All in all, an entertaining read ….
Maybe I shouldn't have been blindsided given the Kirbyesque Medusa-like character of Godiva (who, come to think of it, looks more like her sister Crystal), especially with the very Kirby-looking metal giants, but that that last full-page spread of the alien approaching Earth made my jaw drop! Galactus?! – huh? – wha– ?
“Superboys and Their Toys”
I'm not nearly as taken with this second issue as I was the first issue. Very quickly I do not like the way these characters are developing. Not that the characterization of Superboy himself as an amoral weapon wasn't part of the initial series blurb revealed 'way back in June. It was. But in the first issue the sense was one of an innocent who just needed to discover empathy with others. Here there is more a sense of arrogance. And the supporting characters don't come off that well either.
That creepy agent of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., Templar, takes the Superboy and his “minder,” Rose Wilson, on their first mission, to put down a riot in a facility called Pen 51 which holds aliens suspected of criminal activity. It's a situation … “facilitated” … by Templar as a test. The alien “bait” looks very much like the pre-Flashpoint's old foe King Shark (I think that's the name – I never read that series and didn't develop my liking for the character until Geoff Johns pulled him into his relaunch of the Teen Titans, and his year or so shortly after that in the Legion of Super-Heroes). The aliens end up giving Superboy a beat down that ultimately has him crying out “STOP!” in Kryptonese – written here in the pre-Flashpoint hieroglyphic alphabet that was pointedly not used in Action Comics #2. ? But even in unconsciousness (or is he?) Superboy's tactile telekinesis powers unleash in a burst that destroys the facility altogether – Rose is barely extracted before it implodes/explodes (it's not clear). Next Issue: Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose!
Honestly, the parts of the first issue that I liked – the sense that this was the same character that I'd grown to like, Conner Kent; the idea that his innate heroism as a clone of Superman was there, just untapped; while there was a mystery as to who provided the human DNA that stabilized it, but that they must be a psychopath – little of that appears in this second issue. I found it a lot less interesting. To me, this is not Superboy. And his “Tron” costume is just ugly. It's amazing how quickly a comic can fall off from the first to the second issue, if not in its quality at least in my estimation of it.
Thanks for reading, and Cheers!