Tag Archives: Rob Liefeld

Hawkman: Wanted

This entry covers the entire “Hawkman: Wanted” crossover, in this order:

  • Savage Hawkman issues 13 and 14
  • Deathstroke Vol.2 issue 14
  • Savage Hawkman issues 15 – 16

Plot by Rob Liefeld; Script by Frank Tieri in Hawkman and by Josh Williamson in Deathstroke

Wildstorm concepts:   Pike WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternThis little crossover picks up where we left off in Hawkman, with Hawkman’s ex, Shayera having captured Carter and being about to bring him into her ship. She also holds Carter’s current girlfriend, Emma captive, simply because Carter cares for her. When they’re about to enter the ship, they’re surprised by the sudden appearance of supervillain Xerxes, who wants the NTH metal. Both Shayera’s and his army start fighting for the captive, but Xerxes is a bit more powerful and knocks Shayera out. In the middle of all the chaos, Pike feels things have gotten too messy for him and starts escaping, but Emma sneaks into his ship and holds him at gunpoint. Seems there was more to her than being a damsel in distress! Meanwhile, Carter starts fighting Xerxes and proves the superiority of the NTH metal by beating him once again. In the end, Emma and Carter tie up all of their enemies (Shayera, Pike and Xerxes) and line them up to decide what to do with them. Carter displays his usual intelligence and decides to leave them there, throwing their ships into a lake to keep them stranded. As they fly away, their enemies predictably decide to team up and resume hunting Hawkman. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, et cetera. The adventure continues in “Green Arrow”, but no Wildstorm characters appear in that one, so we can skip it.

The following chapter begins in Seattle, where Hawkman has teamed up with Green Arrow to fight off the Thanagar warriors going after him. He wants to find Shayera to see if she’ll restore the missing gaps in his memory, and perhaps he will be able to use that to prove he didn’t kill Corsair and end this hunt. Man, didn’t Pike say this was about Helspont attacking Thanagar? Did we forget about that? Oh, well. After defeating some winged warriors in a warehouse, our heroes notice they have portals connected to Thanagar with which they bring weaponry into Earth. Clearly there are more Thanagarians on Earth than they thought, and it can’t be all about Hawkman. Interrogating a Thanagarian, he admits they’re using Earth as a neutral ground for their war against the daemonites. Our heroes steal a phone device from the Thanagarians and track its signal to New York; that’s their new objective.

Little do they know, Shayera is staying in Aeria, the royal mobile castle-city of Thanagar, which remains cloaked in Earth’s upper stratosphere. Some soldiers need to report to their emperor… Corsar! It seems he wasn’t killed by Carter after all.

As it turns out, Thanagar’s scientists managed to keep Corsar alive by replacing much of his body with machinery. He opted to remain hidden though, knowing the charges against Hawkman were his best bet at getting Carter caught so that he could extract the NTH metal from him. Even after all this time, he’s still obsessed with the metal.

Corsar is reported that Hawkman hasn’t been captured yet, so he orders to open up a bounty to Earth bounty hunters. Pike is back, baby! But he’s not the only one who wants to take that prize. Hawkman must face Deathstroke first. Slade picks the job because he feels he needs to fix his reputation after he left Deadborn escape, but he won’t kill Hawkman. He only accepted because of the NTH metal involved; Slade’s armour is built of NTH too, and he’s always wondered where it comes from.

Hawkman doesn’t want help, though. The two of them fight for a while until Deathstroke forces Hawkman to tell him everything he knows about the metal. Slade doesn’t learn much beyond learning it’s of alien origin, but that’s enough for him. When he’s about to leave, the two of them are ambushed by Pike and Xerxes’ agents. Deathstroke is mad that Pike doesn’t know who he is, feeling his reputation should have preceded him, so the two mercenaries start fighting it out. Meanwhile, Hawkman handles Xerxes and his men. At some point, Carter decides to stop holding back – if they’re going to keep treating him as a murderer, maybe that’s what he’ll be. He starts slaughtering Xerxes’ forces, together with Slade, and he actually enjoys it. Hawkman embraces that he was built for battle and that it’s only in battle that he’s truly himself.

Once the killing is over, Slade notices a trail of blood left by Pike and Xerxes when they ran off. The heroes go separate ways, as Slade decides to go after the trail and Carter flies away to meet Emma in their safehouse. However, the place has been compromised. Carter enters to find Emma taken hostage by Thanagarian warriors, and Shayera waiting to ambush him. He gets captured, but when Shayera is about to make him board her ship, they receive a surprise visit: Corsar. Shayera is outraged that his brother wouldn’t tell her that he was alive, and now that it’s been proven Carter is innocent of his murder charges he wants to let him go. Corsar won’t have that though. They fly to Aerie, the royal city, which changes locations from Earth’s stratosphere to the sun’s orbit.

None of the experiments to pluck the NTH metal from Carter’s body work; Corsar is driven so mad that he turns against his sister, and starts choking her. When Hawkman tries to help her, he’s stopped by Thraxas, one of the great wise old men of Thanagar which acts as advisor to the emperor. He’s been the mastermind behind Corsar’s descent into madness. He suggests teleporting the NTH metal from Carter’s body directly into Corsar’s, a dangerous experiment which could risk both of their lives. No one in the room dares disagree, though.

When they begin the experiment, they neglected to notice Shayera had sabotaged the machinery, so the whole thing gets interrupted. Having switched to Carter’s side, she helps him and Emma escape. Regrettably, the sabotage also caused the mobile city to lose stability, so it starts falling into the sun. As their doom gets closer, Shayera decides to sacrifice herself and throw Carter and Emma into an escape pod. Our heroes can’t do anything but to watch as Aerie gets consumed by the sun’s flames, while their pod heads to Earth.

So that’s it for this story. Sadly, we never see if Deathstroke finds Pike, but I suppose it’s safe to guess he never did.

Next: “Ravagers” issues 5 – 7, written by Howard Mackie.

Savage Hawkman issues 10 – 12 and 0

Plot by Rob Liefeld; dialogue by Rob Liefeld and Mark Poulton

Wildstorm Concepts:     Pike WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternWhen Rob Liefeld takes over a book, you can bet Daemonites or Kherubims will soon show up. This story shows us as Hawkman gets chased by a powerful mercenary… none other than Pike!

We start off in the middle of an arc not related to anything Wildstorm but important for later, with villain Xerxes having trapped our hero Hawkman, Carter Hall, throwing him in the middle of some gladiator games to show off the Metal NTH of Hawkman’s armor to potential buyers. This metal is especially rare, coming from Hawkman’s homeworld and being apparently unbreakable. It has recently fused with his very body, allowing him to turn his costume on and off with a thought and to be extra powerful. Hawkman disposes of everyone in the arena with little trouble, and afterward beats up Xerxes too, saving his damsel in distress, Emma. While they fly away, someone among the public isn’t happy… he was hoping he could buy the NTH metal from the gladiator arena, you know, “the civilized way.” Now he’ll resort to hiring the “kherubim mongrel.” Pike is on!

This version of Pike keeps his old backstory of being a crossbreed, presumably born from the Kherubim slaves who fell to Earth from Lobo’s ship. He features something new, though; he’s a joker. He keeps cracking good quips, and he’s overall more entertaining and superior than his old shallow WSU persona, in my opinion. He travels in his Spartan cycle; a Kherubim flying vehicle very much like Lobo’s motorbike. The Spartan has a mind of its own and can speak, using a female voice to constantly flirt with Pike (is the name Spartan coincidental? Hmm). This Pike is also experienced with the Bleed, having traveled it to obtain all kinds of bleeding edge technology.

In any case, Carter decides to visit Rome to see if an old historian reverend can help him shed some light on the origin of his NTH armour, because he’s lost his memories. Reverend Thomas has a bit of a radical reputation, though. Carter shows him some old scrolls depicting ancient arrivals of Thanagarians on Earth – aliens from Thanagar, where Carter comes from. The blasphemous suggestion that the ancient mentions of angels might have been referring to aliens makes something snap in the reverend, who summons a protector for his church: a crazy masked man called Saint Bastion who swears to kill all the blasphemers. Carter wastes no time to suit up into Hawkman.

This situation is silly to the point of being ridiculous, and the following pointless fight ends with the church in flames and both villains knocked out. Our heroes leave flying, leaving the bad guys “to a fate of their own choosing”. Woah, did they just let them get burned to death? Hardcore. Carter and Emma land in a roof and start discussing that they might have been recommended to that crazy reverend on purpose, to lead them into a trap. Pike chooses that moment to make himself know, shooting Carter straight through the chest.

Pike knows the NTH metal provides a healing factor; he’s counting on it. After all, his boss wants Hawkman alive. They start fighting and Pike hops onto his Spartan ship. Still, the vehicle is of no help for Pike, who gets overpowered by Hawkman. Him and Emma tie him up and track one of his devices to his base, a huge spaceship. Defeated, Pike reveals why he was hired: Planet Thanagar is victim of a daemonite attack, so the royal family needs their prince more than ever. That’s right, Hawkman is a prince! Pike had been hired by Hawkman’s Thanagarian lover, from his past life. Pike explains Helspont has moved to attack Thanagar after his stay in Earth, so the Thanagarians need Hawkman’s NTH metal.

Activating a trap within his ship, Pike releases a toxic gas and knocks out our heroes. The moment they stepped inside the ship, a calling beacon was sent out to his boss, who arrives in majestic ships. Hawkman witnesses as his old love steps out from the ships – and all his lost memories come back to him. He remembers how his real name was Katar Hol; how the Daemonites poisoned Thanagar and killed its king, throwing their planet into a state of war. They led their newly elected king, Corsar, crazy from all the pressures. He was Katar’s brother, and he became paranoid and obsessed with finding the legendary NTH metal that could help Thanagar become the most powerful empire in space. When the metal bonded with Katar instead, Corsar lost it and started attacking him; he ended up getting himself killed. When they found Corsar’s body, Katar became a fugitive. As he escaped from the planet, his ship received heavy fire; the damages caused him to crash on Earth and to lose his memories.

So that’s why his old lover, Shayera, has come hunting him. Corsar was her brother. Now begins “Hawkman: Wanted.”

Next: The entire “Hawkman: Wanted” crossover, including “Savage Hawkman” issues #13 – 16 and “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue #14, written by Rob Liefeld, Frank Tieri and Josh Williamson.

Deathstroke Vol.2 issue 13

Plot by Rob Liefeld; dialogue by Joshua Williamson

Wildstorm Concepts: WildCATS - Zealot

All-star Western.pngThe writer from “Voodoo” joins the book to make things even more Wildstorm-centric! This little story shows Deathstroke haunted by the mercenary Deadborn, who had been hinted at in the first page of issue #9.

Deathstroke is sometimes called a workaholic, and you can’t argue with that when he thinks a night without a job is a boring night. His night gets a lot better when he’s surprised by Zealot, who got the hint from the last issue and is down for some sleeping around. Sadly, after the fun is over Deathstroke is bored again, because he’s not the type to cuddle. He’s never been happier to see a missile coming his way; and his room gets blown to pieces by Deadborn. Of course, Deathstroke is so cool that a little missile is nothing to him. They start fighting, and Slade is pissed that his reputation keeps bringing people to try to kill him.

Deadborn is actually Deathstroke’s biggest fan, even having modelled his costume after him. When he gets into a tight spot, Deathstroke gets saved by Zealot, so he ditches her because it’s important for his reputation that he wins this fight alone. Seriously? Anyway, Deadborn reveals he’s the government’s latest attempt at creating a super soldier after they were done with Deathstroke; in a way, they’re the same. In fact, he’s not looking to kill Deathstroke at all. He had been hired to do a trial run, to test if Deathstroke was at the top of his game. He gets defeated and loses an arm, but Deadborn leaves feeling like he’s won. It had all been a plot by Deathstroke’s wife and son, who are working together against their relative! We saw details of this during issue #0, from the “Team 7” era. That’s the cliffhanger we leave off in for now.

 

Deathstroke Vol.2 issues 9 – 12

Written by Rob Liefeld

Wildstorm Concepts: WildCATS - Zealot

All-star Western.pngWhen Rob Liefeld took over several DC titles, like “Grifter”, he waited no time to introduce several Wildstorm concepts in them, and this book was no exception. This arc sees Deathstroke pitted again Lobo, an alien mercenary. He gained the reputation of being the galaxy’s greatest predator, and it is well deserved, considering he committed genocide against his own species, making him the last Czarnian.

Lobo fell to Earth many years ago, when his ship was attacked by pirates. The Starpoint was a slave ship carrying many prisoners, piloted by Lobo, his lover Sheba and the Khund slave master Karlak. Sheba is also a Czarnian, but Lobo is still the last Czarnian, somehow. Lobo plundered worlds for pure sport, making sure they were all vegan for extra cruelty, and then selling the prisoners somewhere called “The Citadel”. However, when Starpoint was attacked the cargo was compromised and all the prisoners fell around Earth. The ship was next to crash, ending up in New Mexico. The crew fell unconscious during the landing, but they had time to cloak the ship, making it invisible. As thirty years passed, the prisoners who escaped bred with humans and spread for several generations. An organization was founded to provide refugee to all these fugitives, giving them protection over the years: It was cleverly called The Company. They found Lobo, Sheba and Karlak and put them under restraints.

Sadly, the Company’s containment wasn’t tight enough. Mysteriously, Lobo’s restraints opened, and his massive strength helped him escape. As he made his way to the surface he swore to the security cameras that he would find Sheba and use the World-breaker; a weapon within his ship that could lay waste to Earth.

The story begins after these events with Deathstroke, Slade Wilson, visiting his wife’s grave. We know she’s still alive, though, from “Deathstroke” issue #0. Suddenly, he’s ambushed by a group of assassins which includes a few superhumans. But Deathstroke is so badass that he came prepared and suited up, so he handles them with no problem. He even had the graveyard rigged with bombs among the tombs! This book will go really far to convince us that Deathstroke is the coolest guy there is.

After the battle cools off, a guy with glasses among the visitors explains the soldiers were simply a way to get Deathstroke’s attention. Actually, he’s Director Maxim from The Company and they want to hire him for triple his best rate. It’s an outrageous way to make an offer, but it’s an outrageous offer, after all: to hunt down Lobo. Deathstroke accepts, happy to meet his match. He’ll be accompanied by several agents from The Company: the Omegas, a group of young superhumans (they are revamped versions from old DCU characters called Omega Men): Tigorr, Primus and Kalista. Finally, he’ll be accompanied by Zealot! Reintroduced into continuity, she’s still a Kherubim, but she was one of the slaves who escaped from Lobo 30 years ago. She now works as the organization’s security guard. It’s not that she does a bad job, Lobo escaped because he was in a different facility in Colorado. The book keenly describes Zealot as a “space amazon,” showing Liefeld’s wit once again.

The group head to that crashed facility, hoping to get insights into Lobo’s mind. It’s been 36 hours since he escaped. Deathstroke and Zealot step inside, leaving the Omega Youth because they’re too inexperienced. They don’t listen to orders though, and follow after anyway. Deathstroke and Zealot are attacked by Karlak, the Khundian who escaped his cell when Lobo destroyed the place. Deathstroke’s streak of facing aliens begins now, and will become a common motif during Liefeld’s stay in the book. When they see Karlak, the Omegas are filled with rage as they remember their slaved ancestors. Karlak attacks the kids, so Zealot fulfills her duty as bodyguard and stabs him through the chest. Right before dying, Karlak explains Lobo wants to commit genocide on the human species like he did with his own.

That night, Deathstroke’s group reaches the Starpoint right after Lobo does. He activates the ship’s reactor, which starts drawing energy from the Earth’s core to power the World-breaker. Not wanting to stick around to feel the explosion, Lobo hops on his flying motorbike, the “Spazfrag666.” It is worth nothing Lobo was originally created as a parody of the edginess of the 90’s, but under Liefeld’s pen the adoration seems played straight.

As soon as Deathstroke and Zealot trespass inside the ship, Lobo meets them and starts beating the crap out of them. Deathstroke isn’t happy to discover Lobo can regenerate from anything. They’re suddenly rescued by the Omegas, who paralyze Lobo psychically and shut down the ship’s bomb. Primus reveals he was the one who freed Lobo from his prison in Colorado; he wanted him to lead them to his ship so that they would have a way to get off planet. Getting revenge for what Lobo did to their parents was just the icing of the cake.

Zealot feels aiding a criminal to escape is reprehensible, even if it was to get vengeance. This distraction is enough for Lobo to break free of Primus’ psychic grip, but Deathstroke has had enough time to execute a plan. He boards Lobo’s Spazfrag666, stabs Lobo with it and sends it flying towards space. To finish off he throws his last detonator into the fuselage, making the whole thing explode and scattering Lobo’s remains across the four winds. Deathstroke has completed his mission… Wait, wasn’t his mission to return Lobo to captivity? Oh, well. As Deathstroke falls from the atmosphere, he saves his life by activating a convenient jetpack he was carrying on his back. Never underestimate the value of a well-placed jetpack.

After all’s said and done, there’s still justice to deliver. Primus needs to be held accountable for setting Lobo free; but he explains he only wanted to find a ship to escape the Company! It seems Director Maxim was actually a monster who experimented on The Omegas and looked for ways to turn them into living weapons. While Primus is still going to face justice, Deathstroke punches Director Maxim in the face to feel better. He decides Zealot is going to act as his eyes and ears within The Company, and if Director Maxim acts shady ever again he’s going to get himself executed. Afterwards Deathstroke kisses Zealot for being such an impressive warrior and asks her to meet again sooner rather than later. Finally, he leaves, not letting Zealot get a word in through all of this. He’s macho enough to make the decisions here; women are to be kissed, not heard, am I right? The story ends with The Company erasing all their records of Sheba, Lobo’s girlfriend, so that Deathstroke never finds out that they’re actually holding her too.

I gotta say, this story is one of those so-bad-it’s-good ones. Deathstroke says this mission defined him, let him see his weakness and arrogance by showing him there are threats out there he hadn’t conceived of. Despite all this, in the following issue he’s back to his old arrogant self who can’t wait for someone skilled enough to be his equal match. Good ol’ Liefeld.

Next: Deathstroke Vol.2 issue 13, by Rob Liefeld and Joshua Williamson.

Voodoo vol.2 issue 0 and Grifter vol.3 issues 13 – 16

Voodoo written by Joshua Williamson, Grifter issues #13-14 written by Rob Liefeld with dialogue by Frank Tieri; issues #15-16 written by Frank Tieri

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

All-star WesternThese issues serve as more of an epilogue than anything, as the writers needed to close their plot threads. The bigger story all the Wildstorm books had been building to was cancelled by the editorial, putting a hold to it with Superman Annual #1. So there wasn’t much the writers could do in these pages.

Voodoo #0 was the last issue of the book to be published. So while issues #0 were meant to explain the past of each character, the writer is forced to put some scenes in the present to be able to finish his book. Most of the pages are dedicated to showing us Priscilla’s experience when she was kidnapped by the daemonites, when she was turned into a daemonite hybrid before she escaped and got caught by the Black Razors. It’s nothing that we hadn’t been told through dialogue in previous issues. The final pages are what adds new material: Picking up from Priscilla’s psychic vision in which she was told to help Grifter, Priscilla leaves the Black Razors and finds Cole.

Grifter’s book picks up after Cole escaped from Helspont and made it back to Earth. He and Deathblow go separate ways and Cole is contacted by Warick; the person who rescued him from the daemonites when he was kidnapped and given his powers at the beginning of this mess. He explains everything to Cole about his experiments and all the times the daemonites erased his memory. Now that Cole managed to walk away from meeting Helspont, Warick feels he’s ready to join his rebellion. Helspont might have killed all the daemonites that were planning to invade Earth, but there’s still a secret group: Tsavo’s faction, the ones who’ve been screwing with Cole from the start. Warick proposes bringing their actions to the light of day so that they daemonites are exposed, rendering them unable to start all over again. But to find the necessary proof they’re going to need to steal it from the organizations that have them.

Grifter remembers the information that Eos downloaded into his brain; Eos was Helspont’s ship that he found during his visit to the Himalayas, but it is only named now. Cole now knows StormWatch is the most likely to have useful data. But their base is hidden in hyperspace; he needs to figure out a way to get in. This is when Voodoo finds him, offering to join the team.

Guided by Warick, she and Cole infiltrate S.T.A.R. Labs, where they find a prototype teleportation platform that will help Cole reach Eye of the Storm. He says goodbye to Voodoo by stealing a kiss from her; wow! To think they had only known each other for two pages. By the way, this finishes Voodoo’s role in the story. Wow.

Sneaking into StormWatch’s base is no easy task; he’s detected by the ship’s avatar, Charlie. It alerts Apollo and Midnighter, but Cole is able to defeat both of them because his telekinetic abilities have improved just that much. It’s a pretty unbelievable situation. Cole reaches the ship’s main computer, where he learns how to find the info he’s after – through Amanda Waller, her partner during their Team 7 days! She has files on everyone on the planet. He hacks into her computer and downloads all of her data. Cole says goodbye to the computer by installing a virus on it, which angers Charlie enough to hijack Cole’s teleporting coordinates. Instead of going back to Warick, Cole ends up in the middle of the Belle Reve High Security Prison; headquarters of the Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller’s team. And they aren’t happy about having been hacked.

This is here main writer Rob Liefeld leaves the book. By this point the cancellation had already been announced, so writer Frank Tieri didn’t have a lot of time to fix things. In fact, he was only meant to have one issue, but some merciful editor extended it to two.

Cole attempts to escape from the Suicide Squad; it helps that his abilities have improved to the point where he can stop a bullet mid-air. They are too many for him, though, so he’s captured and taken to Waller. He tries to explain to her that he’s in a rebellion movement against the daemonites, but she’s not convinced. She’s met the rebellion’s leader, Warick, before. In one of her missions with the government she had to snuck into the rebellion and studied Warick’s past, learning that he’s been in and out of several mental asylums. This is why Waller dismisses the daemonites as a lie. Cole is astounded to hear about Warick’s past. Now he doesn’t know what to believe.

This is where the last issue begins. There is a scene in which Cole remembers everything he’s gone through; one of the memories shows his girlfriend Gretchen dying in his hands. However, this never happened, she was abducted by the Black Curate. Or maybe it happened in scenes we didn’t get to see. Oh well.

Waller lets Cole go, knowing he will lead her straight to Warick. Cole arranges a meeting with his boss in a zoo, where he demands answers. Warick explains he’s only been in asylums because no one believed his stories about the daemonites, but Cole isn’t convinced… There are too many lies, too many secrets around him. He tries to walk away from the resistance, but Warick can’t let his only weapon go. The two of them start brawling and hitting the crap of each other, but they are interrupted by Waller and several government soldiers. Cole has to decide if he’ll side with Warick of if he’ll hand him in; but before he can make a choice Warick decides to jump into a cage with polar bears and kill himself. Somehow, Cole is moved by this act. If Warick is willing to go that far to protect the rebellion, then it might just be real.

Cole visits his brother’s grave and thinks about his next step. He decides he needs some time as a regular person; time to find himself with no resistances or aliens. Grifter’s tale comes to an end… for now. Helspont is glad Warick and his resistance are out of the way; and now now Grifter is out of his affairs. For now… let it so remain.

Next: Red Hood and the Outlaws issues 12 – 14, written by Scott Lobdell.

Grifter Vol.3 issues 9 – 12

Plot by Rob Liefeld, dialogue by Frank Tieri

Wildstorm Concepts:       Deathblow WildCATS - Grifter WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star Western.png         Liefeld takes over the writing duties, and the book becomes much more insane. We start off in the middle of an intense chase as Cole escapes from huge red daemonites. He’s showing superhuman shooting abilities, as his Chosen One powers keep on developing. He gets in a rough spot against an alien when he’s saved by Niko (Chesire), who is included into the cast for no clear reason. She explains to him that the daemonites aren’t just against him; they are doing a full-fledged alien invasion, and there exists a resistance who works against them. This is actually a branch of Warick’s resistance, but this won’t be revealed until later.

After Cole agrees to join their efforts he’s told that the daemonites are unleashing their “warrior class daemonites,” the red guys, because they’re preparing a big final invasion… and because they want to eliminate the Chosen One. This is the first Grifter hears about the Chosen One, and he thinks it’s the stupidest thing he’s ever heard. He’s even more amused to hear that the Chosen One is supposed to be him, a guy who’s spent his whole life cheating, lying and stealing from people. How does Niko know that Cole is the Chosen One, or that he’s a grifter? Something is up. Still, Grifter and Niko go to a rendezvous point, where they meet some allies, including Deathblow! In this timeline he doesn’t have any of his old background, yet he keeps his old look for some reason, like his Team 7 red marks.

As Cole and his new team of ragtag soldiers attempts to move to a new safe house, they’re intercepted by daemonites and their transport is destroyed. They get surrounded, so Cole is forced to awaken his Chosen One abilities: He can now read anyone’s mind and control objects through telekinesis. He’s even able to lift a dozen warrior daemonites and his truck into the air at the same time, throwing them off a cliff and saving the day.

The group reaches their safehouse, even though only Grifter, Niko, Deathblow and a guy named Buck survived. Cole is starting to suspect there’s a traitor among them: how could the daemonites know how to find them? Before they can discuss it, though, the safehouse is destroyed by a huge daemonite with human shape who calls himself Synge.

Although Synge never explains his origins; we learn later that daemonites originally looked human, so we can guess he’s ancient and a tough sucker. The good guys can barely scratch him, and Buck gets killed. In the end Cole manages to lead him to a nearby forest, where he puts the limit of his telekinesis to test and throws the entire forest on top of Synge. There’s no time to celebrate, though, as Niko reveals she was the traitor and shoots Cole and Deathblow down. She’s not being controlled by a daemonite; she simply sold herself out because she wants to be in the winning side. She takes them to her master, Helspont, and even Synge turns out to have survived.

Helspont is cheerful that the one threat he was constantly warned about, the Chosen One, is now captured by him. We find out that he started a secret faction, secretly helping the other daemonites with their invasion so that he’ll take the planet from them once they invade it. He’s also gotten a new stylish armour, apparently. Wishing to test Cole, he sets up a fake ship through psychic illusions and deals with him in this fake environment. He asks Cole to join him in taking the other daemonites down, but Cole just laughs. He had figured out Niko early on, so he let himself be captured to get close enough to the big bad to kick his ass. He claims he had even held back against Synge (even though his thoughts clearly showed he hadn’t). Anyhow, Deathblow fights against Niko while Cole goes against Helspont. He’s able to get Synge out of the way with a mere movement of his hand, and he overpowers Helspont psychically without much of an effort.

In the end, Cole kicks Helspont’s butt. At one point Helspont is so hurt that he starts looking like a regular daemonite, without his flame; but we’ll learn later that Helspont’s true face looks human, so this must have been a show put on by Helspont, considering this is all an illusion, to give Grifter hopes. Deathblow sets the ship to self-destruct and the good guys get on an escape pod. Of course, the entire time they had been inside a fake ship constructed by Helspont, so I guess only the escape pod was real? Helspont is satisfied; now he knows what he’s dealing with. The way he tested Cole is very similar to the way he tested Superman in “Superman”. He lets Grifter go; he’s not scared of his “Chosen One” abilities anymore, so he’s better off on Earth exterminating the daemonites who don’t work for Helspont. His true plan begins now.

Next: “I, Vampire” issues 12 – 13, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov.

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