All posts by Logan

“Stormwatch” Vol.3 issues 15 – 18

Written by Peter Milligan

Wildstorm Concepts: authority-engineer authority-doors authority-apollo authority-midnighter authority-jenny-quantum authority-jack-hawksmoor stormwatch

All-star WesternThis is it! The fall of StormWatch. Everybody reports on board, ready to listen to the Shadow Lord which has appeared, who’s secretly Henry Tanner. He lets them know that he’s spoken with the other shadow lords and convinced them that StormWatch must change his ways; Henry is convinced that they must become more proactive, eliminating threats before they rise to power. He orders the team to declare war on Earth’s super beings, taking down Batman, Superman and Green Lantern first. The team isn’t quite convinced, and while they argue with the Shadow Lord, Midnighter begins reading his body language and realizing who he really is. But before he can say something, Jack has some news: The ship has found Projectionist! She’s run off from her base in Antarctica.

A door soon appears in front of her, bringing her on board. Engineer’s immediate reaction is to strangle her, demanding to know where Henry is; the poor Engineer is almost completely dehumanized due to the Devolver she ate. Projectionist has had her memories altered, so she claims Henry died when his headquarters blew up in an accident. Aggressively, Angie sticks wires inside the Emma’s head, digging into her hippocampus to see inside her memories and confirm her story. She does see images of Henry dead, like she claims, but she sees something else: Midnighter conspiring with Henry, plotting to take down StormWatch by making Apollo fall in love with him.

Seeing these planted memories make everyone turn against Midnighter, who sounds like a fool when he claims the Shadow Lord is actually Henry. Heartbroken, Apollo doesn’t even want to capture Lucas, he wants to break his neck! Friend is turning against friend, just like Adam One had prophesized years ago. Outnumbered, Midnighter is forced to call forth a door and run away to Antarctica, taking Projectionist with him while he’s at it. He grabbed her because he needs her to recover her real memories to clear his name, but she’s completely convinced of what she remembers; she thinks Midnighter is a filthy traitor. Either way, they find a local science station right before they die of hypothermia.

Meanwhile, Apollo flies off to the sun, wanting to super-charge himself to take down Midnighter more easily. Engineer thinks he’s going to kill himself, so he orders Jenny to stop him. Apollo finds the teenage girl waiting for him on the surface of the sun; it’s an awe-inspiring encounter, but a short one, and they both get on their way. By this point, Middy and Emma are already on the move, so when the Shadow Lord checks on the Science Station he doesn’t find anything. He can’t let Midnighter convince the others of his real identity, so he kills all the humans in the place. Afterwards, he calls StormWatch, claiming Midnighter did the killing. Due to his crimes, the Shadow Lord issues a death warrant on Lucas.

While they walk around the destroyed camp, Jenny finds a little wormhole. When she looks inside it, she sees the supervillain Fox! He has an interesting story to tell, having been used by Henry to become a Shadow Lord and all. All the while, Midnighter has been trying to get Projectionist to come to her senses, but she can only remember the memories implanted on her. Suddenly, they’re found by Apollo, full of rage at the sight of the murdered innocents. He begins beating Midnighter up. Back at the base, Engineer mentions how convenient the destroyed camp is; she’s begun to suspect of the Shadow Lord. She accesses her memory banks and compares Henry’s way of speaking to the Shadow Lord’s, and she seems to realize the truth.

The team captures Midnighter and takes him to Eye of the Storm for his execution. Before it gets delivered, though, Jenny irrupts into the place with the Fox, who exposes the truth: the Shadow Lord is Henry Tanner. Supporting him, Engineer mechanically expresses the odds of him not being Henry are of 350.000 to 1. Apollo can’t believe it; he begins apologizing to Midnighter like a mumbling fool, and Henry drops his disguise, revealing his true self. He refuses to keep hiding and playing the villain; to his mind, he’s in the right, doing whatever it takes to protect the world.

This seems to strike a note with Engineer; her mind is almost completely robotic by now, so she sees the validity in Henry’s point. Right before Apollo beats the crap out of Henry, Angie knocks him out with overheated gases which deplete his solar energy. Jenny is the next person to react, but Angie deals with her by exciting the “god spot” in her brain, giving her a seizure. Desperate, Midnighter grabs the unconscious Apollo and jumps to hyperspace. If Andrew doesn’t pull himself together they’re both dead men. Lucas solves this by slapping the crap out of him, working out some of his frustration on the process. Finally, Apollo manages to wake up and land them in Australia.

Almost as soon as they land, they receive a laser blast from Eye of The Storm; Angie is aiming at them coldly. Before she can correct her aim, though, she’s intercepted by Jack and Emma, the only sane members left. The ship functions as a city, so Jack has a means of attacking, but Engineer has impregnated every cell of Eye of the Storm with her nanite blood. Having control, Angie summons a door underneath Jack and sends him falling to Brazil. Taking a leap of faith, Emma jumps after him. As he lands, Jack mentions he had the hots for Angie once; this is a nice Wildstorm continuity nod.

By this point, Engineer has lost sight of Apollo and Midnighter, who ran off to get help. She’s technically not Angie anymore; her brain has become completely robotic. She shares her new plans; using Eye of the Storm’s guns to wipe out humanity, who carries the curse of Cain. She believes something went wrong with evolution, so they should design a new species that would live by their rules. This creeps out even Henry, but he has no hopes of beating Engineer; she has the ship propel a small parcel of compressed air at him, knocking him down. A little more pressure and it would have ripped his skull off. She leaves him alive because he broke her heart, he had power over her; he shall act as a symbol of her former human frailty. A memento of where she was, of where she came from – a museum piece, if you will. A great villainous moment.

Meanwhile, Apollo and Midnighter fly all the way to Moscow, where they meet an unlikely ally: Zealot! She’s still chasing outlaw aliens as a living, even though she believes it’s beneath her to work in such a filthy planet. Apparently she and Midnighter go way back, so she agrees to help them. This is being monitored by Engineer, who takes a decision: if they’re recruiting troops, so will she. She takes control of OMAC, an android created by the evil satellite Brother Eye in the pages of “OMAC.” Brother Eye will become important later on, during “Future’s End”.

OMAC is thrown upon our heroes, who begin defending themselves with help of Zealot’s ship; an alien vehicle she confiscated from a mass-murdered near the Orion cluster. All the while, Apollo is fighting with his jealousy as he mistakes Midnighter’s respect of Zealot with sexual attraction. It’s quite a silly love triangle to include in the writer’s last issue in the book, but I don’t know, I’m not the professional writer here.

OMAC throws everyone into a door, dropping them off in hyperspace, in front of Eye of the Storm. Engineer casts herself as a giant hologram and tries to reason with them; if they allow her to change them, they won’t die in hyperspace where nobody will find their corpses. She just wants a few adjustments so she’ll have control of some of their higher decision-making processes; as long as they don’t try to disobey her they won’t even notice she’s there. Damn it, her evil speeches are too damn fun. She reveals she’s already “adjusted” Henry: he is now a bald, mumbling fool.

Apollo tries to exchange a few words before charging in, but Zealot will only take freedom or death; everybody begins shooting at Eye of the Storm. OMAC attempts to get in the way, but the damages loosen Engineer’s control in him, so he turns against her and begins helping. Even Henry acts against her; his programming won’t let him cut her, but he can still cut through the atoms around Jenny. This causes quarks to enter her skull, setting off tiny synaptic fissions in her brain. Jenny wakes up with a bang, causing Eye of the Storm to crash into Moscow. While Midnighter and Apollo climb out of the rubble, they wonder if they’re the only survivors; all they know is it’s the end of StormWatch. Zealot proposes Midnighter to come with her to visit the stars, but he chooses to stay. After all, he’s not straight, and he proves this by kissing Apollo. This might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The End!

Question is… where does the team go from there? What happened to the remaining members of StormWatch? Although we won’t find out until later, everybody has arrived in an alternate reality, one where powerful aliens known as the Kollective want to replace StormWatch with a new team. What’s more, back in their native Earth, the shadow lords still think they have lost a member, and they aren’t happy about it… This is not an end, but the beginning!

Next: “Stormwatch” Vol.3 issues 19 – 22, written by Jim Starlin.

Advertisements

“Stormwatch” Vol.3 issues 13 – 14

Written by Peter Milligan

Wildstorm Concepts: authority-apollo authority-doors authority-engineer authority-jack-hawksmoor authority-jenny-quantum stormwatch authority-midnighter

All-star Western.pngTwo generations of StormWatch officers clash! Shortly after the Demon Knights disbanded, the demon Etrigan and his human host, Jason Blood, managed to break the spell binding them together and become two separate people again. Afterwards, Etrigan was sealed underground by Madame Xanadu, Jason’s lover. Centuries passed…

Etrigan’s grave became a place of dark influence; the demonic presence attracted all kinds of psychopaths to the place. First it was the hunting grounds of a Georgian-era killer named Bloody Ben; afterwards it was an infamous Victorian madhouse. Nowadays it became Malory House, an apartment building which drew several designers and builders insane creating it. All of its inhabitants are insane in one way or another, and its corruption spread to the entire neighbourhood. In the last year, four arsonists and two serial killers came from the House’s block.

That night, Apollo and Midnighter felt like disappearing from StormWatch, going AWOL to have some time for them, to take the edge off. In truth, Midnighter wants to visit the area around Malory House because he worked around it before joining StormWatch, and he could never get to the bottom of why it drove people so crazy. Apollo is a bit upset that Lucas wasn’t honest with his motives, but he joins him anyway; they both happened to bring their costumes. Etrigan’s presence is growing stronger.

The demon had waited for a child to enter his building, a sensitive soul that he would be able to control. Tapping into his mind, he’s slowly driving him insane, trying to force him to say the spell that would free Etrigan.

Up in Eye of the Storm, Jenny is passing time with Hawksmoor, who was tasked with babysitting her.  She’s trying to analyse the big horn they picked from the Himalayas back in issue #1. They’re interrupted by Angie, who seems in a bad mood. She tells Jenny to leave that damned horn alone and she’s pissed at Apollo and Midnighter for going off the grid; she’s “this close” to reporting them to the Shadow Lords. In reality, she’s being affected by the Devolver she swallowed from the Hidden People; it is slowly turning her evil.

Back in the streets, Etrigan’s influence is drawing all the people from the neighbourhood towards Malory House. He manages to make the kid he’s seducing say the terrible spell: “Concealed within the world of man, release the Demon… Etrigan!” And the demon is back on Earth. Fortunately, all the centuries sleeping have him weakened, but he’s still powerful enough to give Midnighter and Apollo a hard time. Apparently, Midnighter learns his powers of prediction don’t work against magic creatures. All the other StormWatch members teleport into the action…

Right around that time, Henry Tanner conceals himself as one of the Shadow Lords and teleports to the Island of Avalon. He pretends he’s the fourth Lord who disappeared so many years ago, claiming he was captured by Mayan priests. Still affected by the information he received from the moon and wanting to save Earth through extreme means, Henry attempts to convince the Shadow Lords to change StormWatch’s way of operating.

As the team fights Etrigan, they discuss among themselves and deduce that he’s from the Demon Knights. Etrigan hears them, concluding that the Demon Knights and StormWatch are two different incarnations of the same thing and deciding that makes StormWatch his enemies. After all, the Demon Knights imprisoned him.

Without Projectionist in their team, they have no means of concealing their presence to the media. Jenny comes up with the idea of creating a bubble of dark radiation around them, but it could cause everyone around the perimeter of the bubble to catch some kind of cancer. But Engineer is turning evil, so she forces Jenny to do it.

As Midnighter strikes a lucky blow on Etrigan, the demon decides to step back and run while he can. After all, he has all the time in the world to release his centuries of frustration on StormWatch. He hides within the body of the kid who summoned him. It is right then that Jenny disintegrates her radiation bubble; orders or not, she won’t give people cancer. While Midnighter and Apollo congratulate each other for being in one piece, Engineer gives them crap for having gone AWOL: she prohibits any close personal relationship between agents. Engineer’s dark transformation gets stronger by the moment.

Back in Eye of The Storm, Midnighter and Apollo discuss their relationship. Apollo isn’t willing to date in secret; he’s spent too much of life in the closet. But Midnighter can’t quit StormWatch; he needs to be part of it to keep his psychopathic tendencies at bay. Apollo begins doubting their relationship. Meanwhile, Jenny confronts Engineer on becoming less and less human, but they’re interrupted by Henry, pretending to be a Shadow Lord. He demands to bring everyone together… and that’s the beginning of the end.

Next: Stormwatch Vol.3 issues 15 – 18, written by Peter Milligan.

“Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine’s Day Special” issue 1

This entry covers the story “Seoul Brothers” of Young Romance #1, written by Peter Milligan.

Wildstorm Concepts: stormwatch authority-apollo authority-midnighter

All-star WesternThis short story starring Apollo and Midnighter takes place in Valentine’s Day.

Apollo is flying over Itaewan, in Seoul; a known gay neighbourhood. As he muses poetic thoughts, he’s looking for Midnighter, following him to try to get to know him better. But Midnighter isn’t in town to visit bars; he’s taking on evildoers who want to sell unstable uranium.

Once the job is over, Lucas snaps at Apollo and tells him to never follow him again. He’s a killer, a psychopath who can’t be loved. And they can’t afford to let their emotions to get mixed up in what they do. Whatever was going on between them… it needs to stop. Reluctantly, Apollo agrees, saying he was coming to the same conclusion himself. He even adds that Midnighter wasn’t really his type. Of course, they are both lying, and they both know it. Midnighter can hear his breathing, see his eye movement, the patina of sweat; he can tell when Apollo is lying. They say goodbye to each other with a smile, knowing that’s not the end of it. This is a great story, although very short, and it is drawn by Simon Bisley, of Wildstorm fame.

Next: Stormwatch Vol.3 issues 13 – 14, written by Peter Milligan.

StormWatch Vol.3 issue 0

Written by Peter Milligan

Wildstorm Concepts: authority-century-babies stormwatch authority-midnighter authority-apollo authority-doors authority-engineer authority-jack-hawksmoor authority-jenny-quantum WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star Western.pngThis issue serves as a prelude to the Fall of StormWatch. Hawksmoor, Midnighter, Apollo and Engineer study an alien they grabbed while he was headed for Earth. Meanwhile, Jenny is in her room, playing an 11-dimensional multi-linear game. She receives a visit from none other than Adam One, StormWatch’s previous leader! He’s coming from the past, from before he got killed by the Shadow Lords. He’s visiting Jenny because he must warn her of the great tragedy that’s coming.

Adam creates a portal to show visions to Jenny, tapping into the past to show her previous Century Babies, hoping to teach her a lesson. First he goes to the first StormWatch in the 11th century, who counted with Princess Janeen. At first she refused to accept her role and her powers, but soon after her parents were murdered. It took becoming an orphan for Janeen to trust the power inside her. Adam One is trying to show Jenny that she’s not the only Century Baby who is an orphan. (Wait a second. Jenny in the New 52 is supposed to have a high-ranking military man as a father, she’s no orphan. Maybe they mean she’s an orphan because she abandoned her family.) Around that time in the past, Adam One received a vision of the end of StormWatch: He saw friend fighting friend, ally against ally; even she Shadow Lords would turn against them. These visions trouble him deeply.

Afterwards, Adam One shows Jenny the 12th century, where the Century Baby was called Jeannie. She was ruthless and blood thirsty, and when Adam tried to talk with her about his vision she didn’t care to listen. It didn’t take long for the Shadow Lords to dispose of her. She should have avoided getting too big for her boots: that’s the lesson Jenny should take this time.

In the 14th century, the century baby is Sister J, a nun who accesses her powers through prayers. She prayed she would stop aging at the age of 18, and since then she turned 40 without her body getting one bit old. Adam One and her became lovers, and he came to trust her enough to tell her about his visions. Sister J used her love to comfort Adam. What Adam is trying to show Jenny is that sometimes brute force isn’t the only way, sometimes there’s room for tenderness. That century saw the first public arrival of the daemonites, and StormWatch was there to repel them. They learn to watch for the red storms that might herald the aliens’ return; this is the first team to call itself StormWatch.

Later, Adam shows Jenny the 19th century, where the Century Baby was called Jenny Freedom. Although she fought with the power of light and steam, her real power was her courage; her courage to fight against all odds. Adam also shows Jenny the 20th century, which counted with Jenny Sparks. She was electric, but also knew how to kick someone in the balls when she had to. Adam hopes Jenny might learn from both these examples. Because dark times are coming.

Adam explains the coming of superheroes is the signal that the final battle is at hand, that StormWatch’s end will happen in Jenny’s time. Adam is giving Jenny this crash course education to prepare her to save the team. Afterwards, Adam One disappears back into his time. Jenny is left feeling uncertain and disconcerted. Will she be up to the task?

Next: “Seoul Brothers” from “Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine’s Day Special” issue 1, written by Peter Milligan.

First Contact

This entry covers the entire “First Contact” crossover, including the issues:

Worlds’ Finest Annual 1
Batman/Superman issue 8
Worlds’ Finest issue 20
Batman/Superman issue 9 and
Worlds’ Finest issues 21 – 22, in that order.

Worlds’ Finest written by Paul Levitz, Batman/Superman written by Greg Pak

Wildstorm Concepts:   gamorra-island kaizen-gamorra

All-star Western.pngFirst Contact is the story of the first meeting between Huntress and Power Girl, natives from Earth-2, with Superman and Batman from Earth-1. In their Earth, the girls were the daughters of their Superman and Batman, so this meeting is especially significant for them. Most importantly, perhaps, the whole story involves Gamorra!

It starts off with a prelude showing the past of Earth-2. It is dedicated with the youth of Huntress and Power Girl, who called themselves Robin and Supergirl when they lived in their Earth.

One night the World Government was holding a big summit of nations, so Supergirl thought it was a great opportunity to go out and party. She meets a really cute guy in a bar: Ken Gammora. Yes, Gammora with two M’s. It seems it is spelled like that on this Earth. They hit it up, get some chemistry going on between them and end up kissing. Ken admits he has to leave the following day, though. He’s the son of the leader of Gammora, and they’re going home after the Worldgov conference is over. Supergirl is so touched by the confession that she actually considers revealing her secret identity, but suddenly there’s an explosion in the Worldgov tower. A terrorist attack! While Ken runs to check if his dad is okay, Supergirl suits up and starts playing hero. Clearing off rubble, putting the damage back together, moving fast enough not to be seen clearly. But she isn’t fast enough for Ken.

When he went back to see if Supergirl was where he left her, the room crumbles over him, and Ken is killed. Supergirl is heartbroken. The rest of the issue is dedicated to the search of the person responsible for the explosion; a warrior from Apokolips. But that isn’t relevant for us.

The story continues years later, in Earth-1. The Apokolips warriors from before ended up destroying Earth-2, so Robin and Supergirl had to run to Earth-1. Now they call themselves Huntress and Power Girl. Lately Power Girl has been losing control of her powers, so they go to Superman and Batman to ask for help. Batman calculates Power Girl’s powers are fluctuating towards a city called… New Gammora! (Actually, sometimes it’s written like Gamorra, but I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be Gammora with two M’s.)

Originally the place was Rheelasia, a crime infested dump run by drug dealers and gun smugglers… until a couple of years ago when someone named Kaizen Gammora took over, turning the place into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. But wasn’t Kaizen turned into Regulus in the pages of “Team 7”?! I can think of two explanations for this. 1) After being beaten by the Birds of Prey, Kaizen and Higgins split apart and Kaizen regained his youth. 2) This isn’t Gamorra, but Gammora. Two different people; no relation. None of these explanations is very satisfactory. If Gammora is some new player, why did he name his city “New” Gammora?

Anyway, this is what happened: After Huntress and Power Girl escaped from Earth-2, Apokolips and its legions defeated the rest of the heroes quickly enough. Their brainwashed all of the heroes, turning them evil. But even if that Earth’s Superman had become a soldier for Apokolips, he still missed his daughter. He managed to create a portal to Earth-1, where he made contact with Kaizen and convinced him to help him capture Power Girl. He gifted Kaizen his advanced technology, nanite constructs, which allowed Gammora to grow incredibly fast as a country. Kaizen just had to release his nanites into the air; if they touched a kryptonian he would be able to steal information and energy from them. Soon enough, Power Girl was touched and this is what caused her to lose control of her powers. Using her DNA, Kaizen started creating an army of clones for his army. This is when Batman and Superman step in.

After being told they must go to New Gammora, the girls recognize Kaizen as “Ken”, the guy Power Girl dated back in Earth-2. The group decides to pay the city a visit to investigate. They go under disguises, but their covers get blown fast. At first Kaizen welcomed Power Girl, acting like her powers went out of control inadvertently because of a test his people were running, like it was all a misunderstanding. Kaizen says he just wants to help Power Girl return to her home Earth. At the same time, though, Batman discovers Kaizen has been grafting the kryptonian DNA codes his nanites have been stealing onto humans; building an inhuman army. And it seems the nanites affect any kryptonian, not just Power Girl, so Superman is affected too. And Superman losing control of his powers equals massive destruction. To contain him, they’re left with no choice but to put a kryptonite collar around him.

While Batman and Power Girl battle the army of Gammora, Superman and Huntress have to deal with just having destroyed an entire street. Superman is either powerless with the kryptonite or uncontrollable; he calls his ally Toyman, asking for an emergency delivery of a containment suit. Luckily, Toyman had a prototype ready from an off-planet theme park he was developing a few years back. Superman puts it on so he’s able to repel the nanites. Meanwhile, Kaizen begins using his nanites in the opposite way; draining Power Girl of power. He uses the energy to fuel a portal to Earth-2, opening a gateway for his masters from Apokolips.

At first, opening the gateway lets a huge amount of energy into the room, so powerful it burns out all the nanites. Problem is, not even Superman was powerful enough to do that. As it turns out, the energy comes from Apokolips, and the girls are shocked to see their home planet has been overrun by forces of evil. In fact, they refuse to accept the portal is working right; that can’t be their Earth.

Kaizen is covered by Apokolips’ energy, which gives him powers and strength. He uses all his might to try to throw Power Girl into the portal, but in the end she manages to throw him in instead. While the quartet of heroes takes a breath and discusses if the girls should go through the portal or not, Kaizen comes back. He’s been turned into a giant, made even more powerful by the Superman of Earth-2. Kaizen brings a couple of Parademons, Apokolips’ soldiers, with him. The heroes manage to defeat the bad guys, but Earth-2 Superman speaks to them from the portal, seducing Power Girl to go to him. When she recognizes he’s actually her dad, she agrees to go – but right when she’s about to, Huntress destroys the portal. She just wasn’t convinced that it was their Earth.

While the girls argue, Kaizen ends up in Earth-2. Due to having failed him, Superman condemns him to a lifetime of torture. Anyhow, with its government destroyed, New Gammora is sure to fall into chaos. Superman and Batman decide the most heroic course of action is to get the hell out of there.

The last issue is little more than an epilogue. While the girls lie in the ruins of New Gammora, arguing with each other, they get interrupted by forces of A.R.G.U.S. Apparently the organisation wants to take New Gammora’s technology. That’s not wrong on its own, but they confuse the girls with Gammorans and start attacking them – even bringing in a tank. Power Girl is super powerful, so the girls are just happy to receive these goons to release their tension on. After that, they fly back to the United States. How very bland.

Next: StormWatch Vol.3 issue 0, written by Peter Milligan.

“Birds of Prey” Vol.3 issues 16 – 17 and 22 – 27

Issues #16 and 17 written by Duane Swierczynksi; issues #22-27 written by Christy Marx

Wildstorm Concepts: Kaizen Gamorra as Regulus gamorra-island team-7

All-star Western.pngThese issues continue the plot of issue #0 and wrap up the arcs of Basilisk and Kaizen Gamorra. The Basilisk weapons dealer stopped by the Birds of Prey years ago is out of the Federal pen, and he’s back to making dirty deals. This time he’s selling a device capable of stealing power straight from a city’s grid, capable of holding a city hostage. The Birds hope to defuse the situation quickly and stealthy, but suddenly Black Canary loses control of her powers and generates a sonic cry powerful enough to destroy the power station they were at.

The dealer recognizes that ability from the time he was arrested so many years ago, so he releases some robot drones he had prepared especially in case of a metahuman like that. At the same time, the Birds start being attacked by a private team contracted by the government to respond to any attack on American infrastructure.

As it had been revealed in issue #0, Amanda Waller had tasked one of Black Canary’s teammates, Starling, with keeping tabs on Dinah and reporting any unusual activity. Starling calls to report on Canary’s sudden power spike, and she takes the chance to ask Waller for help. Waller calls the private strike team off, and the Birds get the bad guys in jail.

After his dealings with the Suicide Squad, Regulus is hiding in the Andes, where he says “the final pieces are falling into place. My control is absolute.” Bold talk for someone who screwed up all of his operations. Regardless, he’s ready to begin with the final phase of “Operation Kaizen”. When a servant asks him why it’s named that way, Regulus lies and says it is because it means “good change;” “improvement”. It is the good change they’re going to bring to the human race. He assembles a strike team: Tsiklon, Hammerdown, Whipcrack and Uplink. They’re old teammates of Condor, who redeemed himself and is now a member of the Birds of Prey. It seems Regulus is dispatching several teams across the world to collect the next wave of potential superhumans, and he wants this team to collect Condor and Black Canary. He wants her because he remembers her from his Team 7 days.

The strike team attack the Birds of Prey and subdue them, and Uplink paralyses them with mental images that make them see their deepest desires. Dinah’s vision makes her remembers her last mission with Team 7, when everyone was amplifying her powers to attack Majestic. Only she imagines his lost husband never disappeared; that Kurt remained right there next to her. The Kurt from her vision tells her it’s time to move on, in a very corny manner.

Anyway, Uplink is too weak, so Batgirl and Strix manage to snap out of their visions and escape, but Canary and Condor are taken to Regulus. When Canary awakes in Basilisk’s base, she’s surprised to see Regulus has taken her to her lost husband! Kurt lies in a sleep chamber in front of her.

Batgirl and Strix have no means of following the aircraft the strike team is escaping in, but they’re confronted by an ex-detective who claims to work for mysterious “benefactors” who want to take out Basilisk. He gives them an airplane and directions where to go.

Back in Andes, Dinah faces Regulus and realizes he’s her old Team 7 teammate, Dean Higgins. However, he seems to have split personalities and speaks of Higgins as if he was another person. Regulus explains what happened during Team 7’s final mission: While Team 7 faced Majestic, Higgins got lost and ended up in front of Kaizen Gamorra. He was with his psychic children, recharging himself physically for another attack. Right then, Team 7’s fight with Majestic destroyed the whole building. Black Canary’s sonic cry was mixed with the All-Seeing Children’s powers, and it caused Kaizen and Higgins to fuse into one new entity: Regulus was born. After experiencing what superhumans can do firsthand, he decided he was going to stop all superhumans, and that’s the new direction he set for Basilisk. To justify his actions to his followers, he claimed the appearance of Superman was his motivator.

Back in the present, he gives Dinah a choice: He can join him and serve him with her husband, or they can die apart.

Meanwhile, Condor awakes next to his old teammates; the strike team of Basilisk. He’s not happy about that, and he doesn’t plan in re-joining them. At the same time, Batgirl and Strix reach the base and start infiltrating it, making their way through the Basilisk soldiers. The place is full of prisoners, of civilians captured by Regulus in hopes he can awake some metahuman power in them. In a way, he acts very much like Harvest in The Colony. Batgirl and Strix find Condor and help him fight his old teammates.

Back with Regulus, Canary predictably starts fighting him. She can’t use her powers because of the proximity to Kurt; he neutralizes her powers. Regulus reveals his plans to experiment on him until he figures out how to weaponize his abilities, and amplify them until they turn off super powers permanently. That way no one will look down on him again for being merely human. Trying to convert Dinah to her side, Regulus reveals it was Waller who pulled Kurt’s body out of the rubble in Gamorra, and it was her who kept his survival a secret. It was Waller who let Dinah doubt her sanity as her powers erupted out of control every time Kurt’s powers spiked!

Regulus’ plan doesn’t work, though, because Dinah uses that anger to give him a good beating. She reaches Kurt and starts unplugging all the machines connected to him, but Regulus warns her that they are the only thing keeping Kurt’s brain functioning. Dinah has to decide whether to believe him – and she decides to unplug everything anyway. In a way, it works out: Kurt doesn’t die, but the backlash activates his other power: to amplify. The abilities around the facility start being set out of control. Dinah desperately needs to release all the charge in her, so she releases her sonic scream on Regulus. However, his powers have been amplified as well, so he survives. When he is sent flying out of the room, he lands next to Condor and Strix. The two of them fight Regulus and manage to make him fall down the mountain. Kaizen Gamorra is finally gone.

Batgirl finds Dinah, who can’t stop using her sonic scream. She has no choice but to hurt her throat to make her stop. After plugging everything back on Kurt, he goes comatose. In a way, that’s worse on Dinah than believing her husband was dead. For now, at least, Basilisk is over.

After returning to Gotham, the Birds of Prey find out their mysterious benefactor was an old lady called Mother Eve; she’s an old immortal who had a lot of kids over the centuries. She believes she’s the origin of the metagene spread throughout the population. Her group takes Kurt and analyse him: They determine there are very little chances of him waking up of his coma. Overcome by grief, Black Canary decides to quit the team, and that’s where these issues end.

Eventually, in following issues Kurt wakes up, though he has lost his memories. This isn’t related to Wildstorm, though, so I won’t cover it. For now, Team 7’s loose ends are tied up.

Next: The entire “First Contact” crossover, including “Worlds’ Finest” Annual 1 and issues 20 – 22, and “Batman/Superman” issues 8 – 9, written by Paul Levitz and Greg Pak.

“Suicide Squad” Vol.4 issues 4, 8, 10 – 13 and 16 – 19

Written by Adam Glass

Wildstorm Concepts: Kaizen Gamorra as Regulus

All-star Western.pngRegulus starts going after his ex-Team 7 teammates, and Waller is the first one to clash with him. She knows he’s actually her old teammate Higgins, so she orders her team, the Task Force X, to go against Basilisk at every turn.

The Squad faces Basilisk for the first time after having dealt with a nanite virus from Basilisk a couple of issues before. One of the Squad’s members, Deadshot, heard the organization was founded by someone named Coil. He’s wrong, though. Coil is a Japanese swordsman with no relation to Basilisk. His criminal activities can be seen in “Katana.” We know the actual founder was Kaizen Gamorra.

Anyhow, Basilisk’s members are portrayed as fanatic and relentless, even shouting “Hail Basilisk” before blowing themselves up in classic Hydra fashion. Eventually, the Suicide Squad is surrounded and taken to high-ranking operative Grey Lora. They only manage to escape by giving up one of their members, Captain Boomerang. To survive, Boomerang accepts joining Basilisk. In fact, this was the plan all along: the Squad wanted a member inside the organization.

Little do they know, two can play that game: Issue #8 reveals there is a Basilisk mole within the Squad: Black Spider.

Afterward, the Squad goes against a Basilisk agent who has taken a room full of employees from a bio-tech company hostage. It turns out this man was actually a top agent, guard to the leader Regulus himself. The Squad stops him, but he ends up dead somehow. The Black Spider took him out so that he wouldn’t share any vital information; Waller realizes she has a traitor in her team.

Soon after, the Squad finds out Regulus is hiding in Yucatan, Mexico, so they go after him. Distrustful of the traitor, Waller provides backup for the team. Unfortunately, even one of these new backup members happens to be a Basilisk agent. All of the team’s members carry a bomb in their neck, to keep them from running away, given that they’re convicts. The Basilisk backup punctures her own bomb, causing the plane to explode with the Suicide Squad inside. The team crashes in an island, where they’re captured by Basilisk. They meet Captain Boomerang, who had joined the organization, and they’re taken to Regulus. Of course, Boomerang is only pretending to be a bad guy, and eventually he helps his Squad teammates escape.

But Black Spider reveals his true alignment, knocking Boomerang out and activating a trigger hypnotic word on the other members so they all become mind controlled. Only Deadshot and Harley Quinn remain! But something is off. Black Spider isn’t acting like himself. Deadshot realizes he’s nothing but a decoy; they dispose of him easily. The real Black Spider is at Amanda Waller’s place, looking to kill her. However, she’s baddass enough that she manages to defeat the Spider unarmed. Back in Mexico, Deadshot and Harley manage to help his teammates recover their senses.

Working together, they manage to make their way through the many agents up to Regulus himself. He grabs Deadshot from behind, but Deadshot simply shoots Regulus through his own chest, wounding both of them. Deadshot drops dead, but Regulus’ body is lost in the confusion. Still, their mission was to kill him so the Squad figures they’re good to go. Harley Queen refuses to escape without Deadshot’s body, which complicates everything and forces the Squad to fight through all the agents. In the end, Harley faces Grey Lora. Harley held some feelings for Deadshot, so his death fills her with enough rage that she actually manages to kill Lora. The team escapes shortly after.

A few days later, Deadshot comes back to the land of the living. He was brought back using the Samsara serum: The same formula used in Kurt Lance after the ending of “Team 7.”

The Squad’s next mission takes them to Chinatown, where they have to rescue a hostage from Red Orchid. She’s the sister of one of their members, Yo-Yo. However, when they reach the main room they find she’s with Regulus! He survived after all. The hostage is no other than Kurt Lance; the ex-Team 7 kidnapped in the pages of “Teen Titans”.

Red Orchid and Regulus defeat the Squad easily enough, in part thanks to Kurt’s unfortunate ability of deactivating powers just with his presence. It is explained that Grey Lora was a gift from the Red Orchid to Regulus. So when Lora kidnapped Kurt, Orchid held him until that day. Regulus wants to retrieve him because Kurt is a power tracker, so with him no superhuman would be hidden from Basilisk. In the end, Yo-Yo sacrifices himself to defeat his sister, but Kurt is taken by Regulus.

Amanda Waller herself comes to help and brings out the survivors from the rubble. He tells her squad “Once, I was part of a secret government organization much like you. Regulus took one of my old teammates. This is not business. This is personal.” She asks for help finding him and deactivates the bombs in each of the Squad member’s necks – this is serious. Sadly, the mission doesn’t go very far. They go down the sewers in search of Regulus, but they’re suddenly faced by the Swamp Angels; creatures who live in the filth. They are people whose powers make them too ugly to live in the surface, so they’re interested in gaining Regulus favour, since he promises he can shut down their powers. With that in mind, they start attacking the Squad and they overpower them quite easily. In the end, they’re forced to run back to the surface. Kurt’s fate will be seen in “Birds of Prey.”

Next: Birds of Prey Vol.3 issues 16 – 17 and 22 – 27, written by Duane Swierczynksi and Christy Marx.