“Superman” Vol.3 issues 7 – 8

Plot by Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen; dialogue by Keith Giffen

Wildstorm concepts:   WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternThe story begins after Helspont arrived on Earth on the last issue. He built a series of Seekers, automatons servants; they aren’t held together by any power source but by a series of etched runes. They build a giant fortress for him in the Himalayas.

Helspont felt Superman’s presence as soon as he crashed there, so he dispatches a seeker into metropolis; a robot that starts shooting things up to evaluate Earth’s superhuman population and check if there’s anyone stronger than the Kryptonian. Superman defeats it, so Helspont feels this confirms what he thought and decides he’ll have Superman join his cause to defeat those who imprisoned him. Helspont sends the seeker against Superman once again, and then teleports them to his base in the Himalayas. Superman listens to Helspont as he monologues and reveals some differences between him and his Wildstorm version.

Helspont was in prison for a long time, so he’s outraged to find the world is not yet of daemonite dominion. He’s the one who put agents on Earth, so he feels he must reclaim control over his investment.

Helspont demands Superman to help him get revenge, and in return he’ll cede Earth to him to do with as he pleases. Of course, this leads to a fight scene, and Superman eventually causes Helspont to retreat and hide away. What he doesn’t know is that Helspont was merely containing himself, testing Superman.

Next: Voodoo Vol.2 issues 5 – 12, by Joshua Williamson.

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“StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 7 – 9 and “Red Lanterns” issue 10

StormWatch issues #7-8 written by Paul Jenkins, issue #9 by Peter Milligan. Red Lanterns written by Peter Milligan

Wildstorm concepts: stormwatch authority-jenny-quantum authority-jack-hawksmoor authority-engineer authority-apollo authority-midnighter WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star Western After coming back from fighting Grifter in his book, Midnighter and Apollo notice there’s some weird energy fluctuation in Chernobyl. Apollo goes to check, thinking it can’t be more than some glitch on their computer, but it’s actually the menace Projectionist had detected on the last issue. Apollo gets attacked and Eye of the Storm sounds its alarms. Engineer is interrupted from communicating with Charlie, as she’s named their daemonite avatar, and everyone runs to the computers.

Martian Manhunter is horrified to see the outwordly tentacles that are appearing around Apollo, kidnapping him. J’onn explains the invaders are Gravity Miners, monsters from a parallel dimension who threat gravity as a commodity, and who have destroyed countless galaxies. They are an ancient enemy to the Martians and the daemonites alike; J’onn believes they were attracted by the Chernobyl reactor.

J’onn explains the Gravity Miners are intrinsically connected to the Daemonite’s history. As the Miners set up an invasion point in Chernobyl, gravity all around Earth starts going crazy.

Jenny theorizes she might be able to close their entry point using her dark matter, but if she does something wrong she could destroy the entire galaxy in a fifty light years radio. Midnighter feels distraught at a child having all this power. The two of them share a moment as Jenny guesses that Middy has a crush on Apollo, with more awful and out-dated comments like “boys can like other boys.”

Meanwhile, Angie forces Charlie, their ship, to reveal whatever information the daemonites have on the Miners. It seems they must have a physical connection to our dimension in order to connect to theirs; that is why they took Apollo, which means he can be rescued. Midnighter and Jenny make a suicide plan involving lots of scientific buzzwords and they manage to rescue Apollo, leaving the Miners on the other side. At the last moment Midnighter tries to leave Jenny there, feeling she has too much power for a girl of her age; she’s a risk. Honestly, I preferred the old Midnighter who loved children.

However, she makes it back on her own, and she’s pissed off at Middy. While J’onn feels grim at the thought that the Miners could strike back in any point of time, given that they aren’t obliged to follow our dimension, Jenny meets Middy. She’s not mad that he left her to die; she lets him live because she wants Apollo to be loved, but she does make a decision about him. What decision? Did she change something about reality? She decides to leave Midnighter guessing.

While training in a Danger Room rip-off, Midnighter has doubts that maybe he enjoys killing too much, that perhaps something will push him over the edge. He’s interrupted because Angie detected a Red Lantern crashing on Earth, so she sends Midnighter and Apollo to intercept him. They act like a couple by now, even though they aren’t together officially as to not to be “out”. The rest of the members are in Italy, dealing with a superhuman who lost his mind and who took the shape of the Vitruvian Man, the Da Vinci painting. The things he blabbers about seem to indicate he was actually a StormWatch member, so they teleport him up to Eye of the Storm.

Apollo and Midnighter meet the Red Lantern and fight against him, barely being able to contain him between the two of them. Midnighter employs weapons like knives, unlike his WSU counterpart. StormWatch brings them up to the ship, where they start studying their red lantern ring. The Vitruvian Man wakes up, so he explains was an old StormWatch officer. He’s been mourning the death of his partner across the years, but now the grief has made him lose his mind.

Getting more upset as his tale continues, Vitruvian Man warns StormWatch that the Shadow Council will kill them too as soon as they outlive their usefulness. His rage reaches such a high point that it awakens the Red Lantern ring, which attempts to bring him into the Red Lantern Corps. Right before he can put on the ring, though, Midnighter manages to break Vitruvian’s neck.

The Red Lanterns issue does some pretty weird things as far as science goes, so let’s break it down. As writer Gary Westfahl explains, Hyperspace is typically described in science-fiction as a separate dimension in which the laws of relativity don’t apply and thus travel faster than the speed of light is enabled. The New 52 hasn’t bothered giving any definition of its own, so we only have the default one to work with. The issue does mention Eye of the Storm is travelling at 1.5 lightyears per second. Many years ago professor Minkowski built on Einstein’s relativity theory to establish time and space aren’t separate properties; they are linked to one another. Lightspeed is the same for all the observers who are moving at a constant velocity. OK, science lesson over.

In this issue the Red Lantern Atrocitus approaches Eye of the Storm while searching for his Red Lantern companion. To find the ship he breaches inside hyperspace while being still. By doing this, Atrocitus breaks Minkowski’s law through pure raw anger. The law is actually mentioned by the characters, and this didn’t make a lot of sense to me until I read some science articles, so I thought I’d share my findings above. Atrocitus breaches through the ship’s plasma shields and enters Eye of The Storm.

While he searches for his partner his ring calls the Doors “doorways”, funnily enough. He manages to recover his partner, but he had been mutilated in StormWatch #9, so Atrocitus promises StormWatch that the Red Lanterns will have their vengeance.

Minor note: Apollo’s blond hair is coloured white.

Next: Superman Vol.3 issues 7 – 8, by Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen.

“Grifter” Vol.3 issues 0 – 8 and “Superman” Vol.3 issue 6

Grifter issue 0 written by Rob Liefeld with dialogue by Frank Tieri, issues 1 – 8 written by Nathan Edmonson and Superman written by George Perez.

Wildstorm Concepts:      WildCATS - Grifter WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Max Cash WildCATS - Daemonites stormwatch authority-engineer authority-midnighter         

All-star Western.png“Grifter” is a confusing book; the story is constantly told backwards. It focuses on the main group of daemonites which wants to exterminate the humans. They’re led by a council of their wisest , all of which serve their lord Black Curate, a religious figure which lies in another dimension. These daemonites are spread out into different regions; the story focuses on the Gotham branch and the Seattle branch.

The Gotham branch is the biggest one of the invasion and they’re tasked with summoning the Black Curate. The Seattle branch is supposed to infiltrate a corporation in hope of integrating daemonite technology in Earth. This branch has plans of their own, however, to overtake the rest of the daemonites. Many years ago, the daemonites rebelled against their most powerful, Helspont, and defeated him using humans. The leader of the Seattle branch, Tsavo, uses the threat of the return of Helspont to convince his men to keep experimenting on humans to create a human weapon like they did during the first rebellion against Helspont. Tsavo is attempting to find a Chosen One from a prophecy and use him to defeat the other daemonites.

There’s a third party at play: The human resistance built by Warick, who wants to defeat the daemonite invasion. He was one of the people kidnapped during the daemonites’ rebellion against Helspont. He manages to find out humans are still being experimented on like it happened to him. Instead of being angered, this gives him hope; if the Chosen One is found it might prove the salvation of Earth. All he has to do is take him from the daemonites’ grip.

The book is lettered by Wes Abbot, of Wildstorm fame; it’s good to have some of the old team back. Another Wildstorm veteran is Scott Clark, who joins the party in issue 4. The rest of the creative team isn’t so great. The first writer, Nathan Edmondson, was never a comics fan, his influences are classic literature. He didn’t even know what Marvel and DC were putting out. He accepted doing Grifter because it was the only WS character that he knew by name; he ditched the trench coat from Cole’s design because it wasn’t realistic enough for his tastes. In short, he was an awful choice for the book. At least he was cool enough to take a picture with Grifter’s mask on (thanks to Joe Soliz from Wildstorm Addiction). On a more positive side, the first artist, CAFU, was a big Grifter fan and this was his dream job.

cats.jpgOK, backstory over, let’s get to the main character. The story takes centres around Grifter; he’s one of the kidnapped humans by Tsavo, and he turns out to be the Chosen One. Cole Cash keeps his military background from the WSU, having worked with the army in Special Ops before joining this timeline’s Team 7. He gained the codename Grifter for his ability to smooth talk his way to anything he’s after. From all the humans kidnapped, Cole seems to respond best to the transmission of daemonite abilities. The daemonites hope to turn Cole into their cause by programming him through virtual scenarios. However, Warick manages to sneak in and help Cole escape; the programming wipes his mind out so Warick gives him a new identity, and Cole is none too wise of what he’s just gone through. The daemonites can’t let Cole escape; he’s too good of a weapon. When they manage to grab him they have to wipe out the interrupted programming first, a process that takes seventeen days. However, every time he’s caught Warick manages to free him again. The third time they go through this dance, after Cole is saved by Warick, he is given the identity of a grifter who scams people for money.

Cole gets used to this lifestyle quickly, taking the fake name of Christopher Argent to con people. After his last scam he’s planning to meet his girlfriend Gretchen Reese in San Juan, but the daemonites take him yet again. They start erasing his programming, taking 17 days. Warick shows up after this process is finished, waking Cole up before he can be programmed again and then disappearing before Cole can see him. Waking up in a strange laboratory freaks Cole out, who runs away by beating the daemonites who try to stop him. He seems to have improved skills! Running through the street, he obtains his trademark red mask by stealing it from a costume shop. He finds it in the section of “Voodoo / Magic.” This may be a little wink, maybe not. Cole’s new abilities include being able to hear the daemonite’s hivemind and telekinesis. Tsavo’s plan of creating a powerful human to destroy the other daemonites is well on its way. Continue reading “Grifter” Vol.3 issues 0 – 8 and “Superman” Vol.3 issue 6

“Blackhawks” issue 6, “Legion Lost” Vol.2 issues 4 – 5 and “Voodoo” Vol.2 issues 1 – 4

Legion Lost written by Fabian Niscieza, Voodoo written by Ron Marz.

Wildstorm concepts:     Black Razors WildCATS - Daemonites WildCATS - Voodoo

 

All-star WesternBlackhawks and Legion Lost should be read as a little prologue introducing the Black Razors in the new DCU. They are wearing all-black here, as they should according to their names, but they wear white armours in “Voodoo”.

“Voodoo” focuses on a daemonite faction that thinks the future of their species lies in creating daemonite-human hybrids. The daemonite council is inclined to the idea of wiping out humans, but they give the hybrids a chance of proving themselves by infiltrating Earth to learn about its superhumans.

Creating the hybrids took a lot of trial and error; none of the humans they kidnapped developed a metagen. This went on until they captured Earth child Priscilla Kitaen when she was four years old. After experimenting on her for years, she embraced the daemonite genes and obtained the ability to shapeshift. In a way, her origin story is similar to Jack Hawksmoor’s in the old WSU. When her powers developed she managed to escape back to Earth, but the daemonites had seen enough. Regular daemonites had never been able to produce wings; the hybrids must definitely be the way to evolution. They have enough information to produce a clone for themselves.

Although only the first clone proved successful, they know it’ll need to be tested to activate her meta-gene, so they send her and other lesser hybrids to Earth. They are equipped with particle generators to adopt any clothing necessary; they can absorb someone’s characteristics after only a few seconds of contact.

The Black Razors are a government organization that hunts aliens. They’ve held the true Priscilla Kitaen prisoner since she returned to Earth a few months ago. They are trying to help her, reverse what the daemonites did to her, but they’re also getting information from her. Two Black Razor agents, Tyler Evans and FBI liaison Jess Fallon are sent after one particular pole dancer: She goes by Voodoo, and they have reasons to believe she’s an alien. In fact, she’s the clone of Priscilla.

The writer, Ron Marz, is the legendary writer of Twilight Emerald, the story that introduced Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. He also worked for Wildstorm on the Cross-Gen imprint. However, he was a last-minute choice for writing Voodoo, one of the later writers brought into the relaunch, which might explain the low quality of the story.

The Black Razors agents try to question Voodoo, but she doesn’t waste much time before killing Tyler and shape shifting to look like him, which will prove her useful in getting closer to Jess. She has feelings for her fellow agent, even though that goes against the rules of the Black Razors.

The book hints at having some kind of message about the sexualization of women and rape culture by showing strong female characters and having Voodoo use her sexuality against men (“They look at me. But they never SEE me”). However, it never manages to say anything concrete and the book wasn’t able to avoid controversy because of all its naked ladies.

Voodoo, using Tyler’s body, sleeps which Jess, and doesn’t seem to mind. I guess this universe’s Voodoo is less rigid about her orientation. She’s trying to find out just how much Earth knows about the daemonites; she’s outraged at the thought that the humans would dissect her as soon as they caught her. She doesn’t know she’s a clone, she thinks she was born a hybrid. Humans seem hateful and weak to her; they deserve to be conquered. Shape shifting might hurt her but she deserves it for being part-human. In her mind she’s just a soldier, following orders because she must. However, as she telepathically catches Jess’s feelings for her partner, she needs to remind herself “she doesn’t care about humans.” Voodoo is conflicted, torn about her morality.

Voodoo’s cover is blown quickly enough as Tyler’s body is found and the Black Razors drop on her. The book tries to have distinct characters among the Black Razors team but again, it fails, because it’s impossible to remember who’s who. One of them is named Choi after Wildstorm writer Brandon Choi. The good guys count with a superhero on their side, Bolton, AKA Black Jack. But it’s never explained who he is, his powers or his origin other than that his powers were given to him by the Black Razors. In the end, Voodoo faces Jess. Voodoo feels Tyler’s love too strongly and can’t bring herself to kill Jess, so she takes Jess’s shape and escapes. This allows her to get into Jess’s head, which gives her precious information about the Black Razors, as we’ll find out later on.

Voodoo visits her hybrid allies and asks them for help now that her cover has been blown. The daemonite’s base was sending coded transmissions into deep space, which catches Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)’s attention, so he storms the place. Even though the other daemonites drop their human covers to fight him, Voodoo retains her human form. Her bodacious body is enough to turn Green Lantern into a slobbering fool, so she manages to escape. The final scene of the issue shows us a mysterious daemonite is tracking after Voodoo.

Using the information she got from taking Jess’s shape, Voodoo makes it to a Black Razor’s base, where she’s able to steal information about Earth’s superheroes. Is her mission finally over? Unbeknownst to her, her attack motivates the Black Razors to schedule an execution for the real Priscilla Kitaen!

Next: Grifter Vol.3 issues 0 – 8 and Superman Vol.3 issue 6, written by Rob Liefeld, Frank Tieri, Nathan Edmonson and George Perez.

“Superman” Vol.3 issue 1 and “StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 1 – 6

Superman written by George Perez, StormWatch written by Paul Cornell

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

all-star-westernThis story begins when a mysterious alien blows a horn in the Himalayas. This sends a signal towards outer space telling Earth to activate its defenses. A powerful threat has just arrived. In fact, this threat was going to be daemonites when it was originally planned, but plans changed along the way and the threat turned into H’el, a Superman enemy. All the Wildstorm-related titles from the “first chapter” of this universe were leading towards a crossover event in which the daemonites would reveal themselves on Earth, but this plans fell through so many plot threads were forgotten.

“Superman” issue 1 should be read because of a single page, unrelated to the rest of the issue, in which an alien blows a giant horn in the Himalayas. We don’t find out until “Superboy” issue 17 that this alien is called Herald, a cosmic being who seeks worlds without hope. It serves the Oracle, an even more mysterious cosmic being. Herald blew the Horn-That-Summons because the villain H’el had arrived on Earth and this signified it would be destroyed soon. As we learn in “StormWatch”, the horn activates some defense mechanisms to help the planet. These explanations are given during the long “H’el on Earth” crossover, which doesn’t involve any Wildstorm characters, so it’s best to get it out of the way here. “Superman” issue 7 also explains Herald had prepared a Horn-That-Summons on earth because it is the planet with the highest concentration of meta-gen, except for New Genesis and Apokolips.

StormWatch is a book which constantly changes artists and writers, but at least we get to see Al Barrionuevo, returning from the last volume of Authority. Paul Cornell, the writer, also handled Demon Knights, its companion book. Cornell was excited to be proposed for StormWatch because Planetary was one of his top three favourite comics.

Issue #1 begins with two situations going on: The horn caused the moon to start having strange quakes which seem to be changing its shape. Harry Tanner, the “Eminence of Blades,” is sent to deal with it. His origin is a mystery, but he’s the best swordsman in history, who uses some mysterious “blue blades” that he can summon from tin air. Up on Eye of the Storm, their ship headquarters, three members are trying to study the horn: Good old Angela Spica, Engineer; Jenny Emily Quantum and StormWatch’s current leader: Adam One. He was born at the Big Bang, appearing as an old man and aging backwards along with the universe. He’s the son of Lucifer, and it is prophesized Adam will be his killer. He was there when the team first formed during the Dark Ages, but in that time he used the name Merlin.

Engineer has some differences from her WSU counterpart; instead of replacing her blood with nanobots by her own will, she lost most of her body in an accident and then was helped by mysterious “pale men with no expressions”, who replaced her body with machinery. She thought of herself as mainly machine until she met Harry and they started dating. He gave her the strength to turn her body into flesh sometimes. Jenny seems to retain her old origin of a baby born with the century.

Continue reading “Superman” Vol.3 issue 1 and “StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 1 – 6

“Teen Titans” Vol.4 issue 23.2 and “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 6

“Teen Titans” written by Corey Mays and Dooma Wendschuh; “Deathstroke” written by Kyle Higgins

Wildstorm concepts:   authority-midnighter deathblow

all-star-westernThese two issues fill the gaps between what happened after Team 7 and the present of the new DCU, involving Deathstroke. “Deathstroke” issue 6 actually takes place in the present, but we’re only interested in the flashback page which takes place in the past.

“Teen Titans” is a bit of a mess of an issue. The pacing and dialogue are all over the place – but it does introduce Deathblow to this continuity. He’s featured as a run of the mill mercenary who may or may not have powers. (“You can’t kill me”, he says – is this a hint of his gen-active abilities?)

The issue is a study of Deathstroke and his personality through different time periods. We see him fighting in Bosnia before his Team 7 days, where he meets Michael Cray, Deathblow. We see him when his son Grant is born, and when he teaches him to be a mercenary like his daddy – After Team 7 Deathstroke only trusts his family. Sadly, a mission goes wrong and gets Grant killed, which prompts Slade to take revenge. This causes him to come to blows with Deathblow, an old ally, but nothing will stop him in his mission. The comic ends with Deathstroke killing his victim and then coming home to his new daughter, Rose. She will appear again in the pages of “Superboy”, where she’ll be involved with the Gen13.

“Deathstroke”, issue #6 introduces Midnighter, who is seen killing Deathstroke’s son. Wait, didn’t Grant die in the Teen Titans issue? I guess he died twice. While normally this issue would be considered more important, it’s a single-page flashback in which it’s merely hinted at that Midnighter is the killer.

Next: “Superman” Vol.3 issue 1 and “StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 1 – 6, by George Perez and Paul Cornell

“Birds of Prey” Vol.3 issue 0 and “Suicide Squad” Vol.4 issue 0

“Birds of Prey” written by Duane Swierczynksi; “Suicide Squad” written by Adam Glass

Wildstorm Concepts: kaizen-gamorra-as-regulus

all-star-westernThese issues show us the first mentions of Basilisk after the fall of Gamorra from “Team 7” and the ways in which Regulus (Kaizen Gamorra fused with Team 7 member Dean Higgins) tries to connect with his Team 7 teammates.

Amanda Waller wanted to take a permanent vacation after Team 7, but she’s found by an old soldier whom she had recruited years ago. He convinces her to stop her vacation and help him stop Basilisk, who is right there in Malaysia. Apparently they’re about to set off a bomb somewhere in the town. While the rest of the team search for the bomb, Waller faces the leader himself, Regulus.

They talk of their shared Team 7 past; Waller knows Regulus’ true identity. Regulus offers her to join his cause, but Waller refuses. She’s confident her team will stop the bomb from going off – but she doesn’t know they’re actually the trigger. It turns out it’s a gene bomb, meant to create metahumans for Basilisk’s cause. The bomb goes off, turning everyone in the town into monsters, including Waller’s team. Regulus is free to escape amidst the chaos, and Waller has no choice but to kill everyone in the place; it is mercy at that point. Afterwards, Waller feels so guilty for having recruited a man to his death that she decides from now on she’ll only work with people who deserve what happens to them; this leads her to create the Suicide Squad, a team made with convicted criminals with death sentences.

Meanwhile… Still hurt about losing her husband, Black Canary learns about a man from Basilisk wanting to sell something called a “mutation bomb” to Penguin, one of Batman’s enemies. She pretends to be a criminal and gets herself hired as one of Penguin’s bodyguards, hoping to be close to the action the night of the trade. However, things get messy when Batgirl falls from the ceiling and starts punching all the bad guys. After some fighting, Canary manages to convince Batgirl that they’re on the same team, and the trade is stopped. This marks the beginning of the all-female team known as Birds of Prey.

This issue is the first to reveal Dinah’s husband, Kurt, is alive and under the care of Amanda Waller. Kurt will spring into action in “Teen Titans.”

Next: “Teen Titans” Vol.4 issue 23.2 and “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 6, by Corey Mays, Dooma Wendschuh and Kyle Higgins.