Thursday, July 21, 2016

Series Run: The Titans #14

2000, DC Comics

Omen, aka Lilith,has been held prisoner by Tartarus for months, with Vandal Savage using her powers of precognition to form his villainous team and pressuring her into dishing out all the hot gossip on her former teammates.
 She manages to reach out to Aqualad in his sleep (he sleeps in the pool in the Titans Tower basement, and in the nude) and call for help. Aqualad rousws the team (waking up Donna in Roy's bed so I guess Droynna is *still* a thing).  I would love to jote interesting things about the respecive rooms of Damage and Argent and Starfire but guest arist Cully Hamner as fantastic as he is, doesn't paint them with ay exceptionally curious or notable details (though there is plenty of detail)...although Arsenal's room is indicated by a drawing Lian did.  Nightwing left a note on his door.

With Dick out and Jesse gone, there's no defacto leader so the team banters a bit to decide who's in charge of the mission.  Aqualad states his case and really it's only Roy giving him a hard time about it.  But, strangely enough, Aqualad seems ready.  Aqualad is clear, it's an in and out mission, not there to take out Tartarus but just to rescue Lilith (who was apparently a member of Dan Jurgens' Teen Titans with Argent).  The rescue goes fairly smoothly until Lilith (who's really seeming like Raven-red) can't teleport everyone because she's too weak.  Aqualad as leader elects to stay behind and survives only because Tartarus implodes with in-fighting...which was Lilith's plan by suggesting incompatibile teammates with her precognitive abilities.  Kind of a cheap, yet fun way for that gang to go out.

Meanwhile Dick turns to Bruce for advice about his many responsibilities and many many many lady friends. Bruce's advice? "I trust you'll make the right choice." Hilarious. And Wally's back.  Hopefully next issue we get an explanation of who that other guy was (knowing Devin Grayson, she'll have it covered)

Co-written by Brian K Vaughan, after two issues with co-writers I'm actually starting to miss Grayson's off-beat, overly dense story structures.  Hopefully back at it next issue.

Bryan Hitch's cover makes it look like Aqualad is fighting alongside underwater Atoms in their red and blue scuba suits

...and that forced pun feels like swallowing
shards of glass.

Kory in her wetsuit...uh, where has her hair gone, exactly?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Series Run: The Titans #13

2000, DC Comics

This is exactly what I was expecting after the events of the last storyline, and exactly what I wanted.  

I love when the big battles start revealing character flaws and exacerbate intra-team conflicts which lead everyone to a situation like this, where unity hangs precariously from a thread.  Everything comes to a head here.  Nightwing and Kory are in a bad place, Vic is basically under watch from his friend because, you know, he tried to destroy the world, and Flash just can't seem to sit still.  

Nightwing calls out Flash on his inability to trust them with his identity and secrets and yet, not long after Jesse calls Nightwing out on the same thing (so much for the "Quick-Dick" 'ship) and Jesse Quits..  Donna's about had it with everyonr coming to her with their problems, like she doesn't have any of her own.  Everyone worries Dick is becoming too much like Batman and nobody can stand to really look at him for too long these days.  Roy tries to visit a hospitalized Cheshire with Damage's help (and fails spectacularly in that Roy Harper way).  Vic goes back to visit Sarah but it's Gar who sets him straight.  The DRoynna 'ship is still a thing, but just barely, and there's strong insinuation that Garth married Dolphin because of the baby and that there's some regrets all around there and that maybe a GArthgent (Garth/Argent) affair is percolating.

DeShaun is a regular joe nice guy who's even got superheroes envious of him.
Just an all-around solid TCB issue that propels things forward for most characters.  Grayson is joined by Jae Faerber this issue on the story, which is interesting to note since he takes over the series by the close of its second year).  Fill in on art from Patrick Zircher who had already been kicking around for a few years since the mid-90s.  He's a top notch artist in today's comics world (has been for almost a decade) but he's still growing here so there are still plenty of unclean edges. There are scenes that stand out but it's a talking heads issue which he manages it just fine, and managing a talking heads issue is a true test of an artists ability to keep an audience interested visually.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Series Run: The Titans #10-12

1999-2000, DC Comics

A three-parter with a double-sized finale that basically brings most of Devin Grayson's story threads together, almost like she's wrapping up her time here completely.

"The Immortal Coil" opens with Slade Wilson waking up in Titans Tower on the Titans' couch (yep they didn't take him to a medical bay, but to their couch) and in the time he was unconscious they called in Gar Logan, still called Changeling here (but Beast Boy on the cover of issue 11...I forget if the Teen Titans cartoon had started yet, as it was their reverting to calling him Beast Boy that made it happen in the comics....the Wolfman/Perez run on Titans had long otherwise cemented the Changeling moniker in the comics).

Grayson uses the first page to introduce the team roster ala classic Justice League of America comics and then gives a rather detailed two-page splash of Slade's troubled history... at least all the relevant points required for her story here anyway.  It's classic comics flashback stuff and actually quite concise and very useful (I had forgotten a lot of this stuff, like Slade and his ex wife becoming immortals). Slade was on a mission to stop Vandal Savage but he's not revealing who he was working for (as a matter of principle).

Grayson humorously dredges up the fact that Slade has had romantic entanglements with both Cheshire and Terra in a simple three-panel aside.

The whole "Roy loving Cheshire" thing really comes to a head these three issues, and it's not just a "she's the mother of my child" thing... he genuinely has feelings for her.  Roy is one messed up dude. He even abandons his teammates in the middle of a fight to try and get her medical attention much to Donna's dismay (oh no, is "DRoynna" finished?)... but returns to save Donna's life justin time, which I guess keeps the whole "DRoynna" 'shipping alive for another issue at least.

Kory takes Damage and Argent to the hall of dead Titans (Terra, Jericho, Kole and I suppose that's Jason Todd Robin but he was never a Titan, was he?) to teach them about Slade's connection to the Titans and in the process explain how death works to Argent. Cyborg laments not having a human body and that his "Omegadrome" body kindof has a mind of its own. Jesse has it out with nuFlash.  The team, with Slade head for the nation of Zandia where Vandal Savage and Co are hiding out while HIVE plant bombs everywhere (Zandia looks pretty its a city state like the Vatican).  As the Titans attack HIVE they all are attacked by Savage's Tartarbots (they're either good with fish sticks or meant for cleaning teeth).

Savage's whole ploy is to draw Cyborg to him as well as The leader of HIVE (aka "Mother" ) who, if you hadn't guessed from the obvious hinting in Slade's flashback is none other than his crazy and immortal ex-wife Adeline. Savage's ploy is to use Victor's Omegadrome body to synthesize Adeline's immortal blood into a serum that he can use to make other immortals or, at least, extend life spans.  He hopes to entice Cyborg to help by offering him a human body (presumably a clone... not sure hoe he's going to transfer the consciousness/soul between the two...probably should have the Ultra-humanite on his team instead of, well, pretty much everyone else in his "Tartarus" group (not sure where I got "Panopticon" as the name for his group earlier...?)  In fact, Savage and Damien Dahrk have a rather clever seriescof back-and-forth barbs about what being a super-villain means in the modern day... a fun exchange right up until Savage has Lady Vic run Dahrk throughbwith her sword . 
 Unlike in Arrow, Dahrk is not a magic wielder, but by the end of this all he does become immortal (through a very sketchy and unsanitary blood transfusion... I don't think you can just scoop up handfuls of blood and push them into an open wound...not sure that's actually a transfusion...unless they're saying Adeline's immortality is more like a virus...?)

HIVE's plan was to cause major disaster in Zandia to draw all the super heroes there and then drop a  bomb on them.  This situation finds Dick, Kory, Jesse, and Vic to jocky for position of who gets to save the day.  Vic somehow can't crack the bomb's computers so he Metal Mens/Plastic Mans/Metamorphos himself around it and absorbs the blast.  It's a pretty intense explosion but with ZERO drama about Vic's fate as he turns up three panels later on the opposing page all glowing green. Roy, of course, is worried about his nuts.

So yeah, Grodd had slit Adeline's throat to put pressure on Cyborg to make a decision about helping them, and Cheshire was shot by Savage to try and manipulate Roy into forcing Vic's decision (as the immortality serum would save her)... Kory however has other plans.  Having heard Addie's pleas to Slade to kill her, Kory does it herself and makes no apologies for it. Then when Dick tries to say something about it, she unloads on him about ignoring her and avoiding the team for months on end. Real appropriate timing.

I know, I'm running this all out of order... the second and third chapters of this story are truly chaotic, but in a crazy fun comic booky way.  A lot of what's going on is just complete absurdity, just a hair's breadth away from being a complete farce.  I think Grayson genuinely wanted to do classic superhero punch-'em-ups but her impulse seems to be rationalizing things in terms of continuity and character. Instead of just letting it go large on its own terms she has to get arch about it or overly playful with tropes or over-explain/overshow to the point that she seems at odds with herself in what she's trying do do with the story.

Damien Dahrk seems to be her creation for facilitating the unexpected, the anti-tropes.  He's the guy who speaks out against Savage's Bond-villain speechifying and talks about the "new school" of villain who cares about things other than money, revenge, or taking over the world.  He kills Red Panzer cold ("you always have a second weapon and you shoot anyone who asks stupid questions.... I don't make traps, I don't cut deals, and for god's sake, I don't form a team full of members who hate each other.") and for some reason Savage tries to recruit the dumb eco terrorist Justin from issue 1 as his new Red Panzer ("Aren't you supposed to be a Nazi fascist to wear this?")
The good guys win.  HIVE is in ruins, and Zandia is saved. Tartarus escapes though but on the plus side Dick and Jesse, eh eh?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Catching up on Comics -- Series Run: The Titans #9

1999, DC Comics
Dan Jurgens draws a shirtless Roy with a hairy chest
but inside Ale Garza draws him hairless.  They thought
no one would notice, but I did!

Forced into doing a tie-in to that year's event (as it was during the 1990s and 2000s), Devin Grayson brings Raven back to the Titans Tower, interrupting Donna and Roy just as they're about to get down to business.  Through Raven, Donna once again has to face up to her troubled history and her insecurities, but each time she does so, she seems the stronger for it.  Raven meanwhile is having difficulties of her own, but Donna extends to her an open invitation to join the Titans whenever she's ready.

Meanwhile, Goth is out on the loose again, having busted a kid out of juvenile detention.  He's got a sidekick that he doesn't really want in this annoying little nihilistic twerp (he's way too high energy to be a nihilist).  Goth doesn't see himself as a villain, per se, but sees that he could be so he explores the possibility.  Goth, being some form of demon creature, should be particularly interested in the whole "Day of Judgement" event and happenings, but when the annoying kid wants to go to Dis, Goth kills him to send him there, only to have the kid (his name is Rodman) immediately return and tell him Dis is closed and nobody's around.  Goth should be more concerned, but I guess, as is fitting for a demon of malaise, he could care less.  This is all weirdly played for laughs, particularly the scene where Goth slits the kid's throat and then his ghost form immediately returns to bitch about the afterlife.  It shouldn't be funny, but it actually is, but almost in an ironic way rather than an intentional one.

Meanwhile, Nightwing talks to Oracle about getting burned out defending Bludhaven, being on call for Batman's many predicaments, and having to deal with the Titans.  The latter is, for him, like falling back into a rut.  I'm unclear if Grayson means Dick and Kory or if he means Dick and the Titans as a whole.  He's not happy whatever it is.  A good, tight, one-page scene.  Grayson increasingly excels at those.

Meanwhile, Roy has it out with his babysitter (who, to his face says "you're great eye candy") as she tries to quit because she just can't reconcile Cheshire being Lian's mother (nor can she reconcile Roy's relationship with her).  Did Roy just admit to still loving Jade?

Meanwhile, Deathstroke is being hunted by Vandal Savage's band of goons.  Why, exactly?  Not sure.  Guess maybe he turned down their offer to join them.  He gets the holy hell beaten out of him and then somehow winds up on the doorstep of Titans Tower (which here, once more, looks like a proper tower, and not a hologram as was stated back in issue's another fill in artist so he may not have all the details of what's what with this series), making a pithy comment about hoping Lian is not one of the Titan's latest recruits before collapsing.  Deathstroke was in his anti-hero phase at this point still, I believe.

Meanwhile, Cyborg and his ex-girlfriend Sarah have a heart to heart, with hers trying to convince Vic that it's moved on, while Vic's still aches, feeling like the only thing human left in him.  It's a sweet and painful scene...again another nicely written one pager from Grayson.

Meanwhile, Damien Darhk is back, in that weird HIVE space with his mother, on the phone again.  I'm honestly not sure what's happening in this scene.  I think his mother, the head of HIVE just gave him whatever he wanted from the HIVE coffers, causing him to drop the cel
I can't explain it, but she's just...yeah.
phone that's almost permanently affixed to his ear.

The art here is from Ale Garza, with inks by "Cabin Boy" (seriously).  Garza gets all the details right, but his characters are all wildly exaggerated, disproportionate, unreal... it's less refined Humberto Ramos, in a way.  I'm not against this style of character illustration but I never like it for superhero comics.  It's too cartoony, better suited for funnybooks or fantasy.  And yet, even though I can't stand the style, I've still got the hots for Donna in her star-spangled Troia outfit.  Something about that costume, it's not that it's at all revealing or in any real way designed to insinuate sex, but I just love it.  It's so striking and powerful and eye catching.  My wife and I dressed up as Star Boy and Donna Troy one Halloween in matching spandex starfield costumes, and we looked great (sadly we somehow have no pictures).  Perhaps I just associate Donna with my wife (which I'm sure she won't be happy to hear, because she's not a Donna fan), but yeah, I used to love Donna in her old Teen Titans red catsuit too, so I guess I kinda think she's awesome. I supposed I'm a Donna fanboy.

Trade Weight: Thor: God of Thunder Vol 1: The God Butcher

Trade Weight is a quick look at the heavy stacks of trade paperbacks (graphic novels, etc) that were purchased with excitement but left on the shelf, unconsumed for too long. 

2013, Marvel

Of all the big-name writers in comics today, Jason Aaron is the one name I'm most woefully inexperienced with. I've only read a few excerpts of his work but, of what I have seen, I've been impressed... with one notable exception : Star Wars.  And unfortunately it's his run on Star Wars (because I'm an old school nerd) that I've read the most, and it 's displeased me greatly from the second issue in (I've dropped reading the book after 20 issues... his stories read like overblown fan service rather than actual chapters in the Star Wars Saga).

His run on Thor has become the series he's most identified with. I had read a random issue years ago and loved it (despite finding Thor to be one of the most boring characters in comics).  I put his Thor run on the list of things I needed to get back to. 

I don't quite remember the chain of events, but I bought vol1 of his run, "The God Butcher" well over a year ago.  I believe my wife read it and said "I think my Dad would like this", thus outing my father-in-law as a Thor fan.  

We passed the book off to him an he loved it, and I took some extra effort to seek out the second volume ("Godbomb") which, for some reason, was incredibly difficult to find.  I picked up the second oversized collection (containing volumes 3 & 4) months before I finally found "Godbomb" (I love that title so, so much).

During this time however, volume 1still resided with my father-in-law, and due to various concerns on the homestead, we hadn't mafe a visit to my in-laws for over half a year. 

Finally, a couple weeks back, we made it there. I brought "Godbomb" and the still-shrinkwrapped volume 3/4 collection for him to read, and in turn get "The God Butcher" back.  In morning of the day we were leaving I sat dow and just blasted through "The God Butcher", truly one of the best mainstream comic book stories in recent memory.  Jumping backwards and forwards in time it's an epic about an evil, evil entity murdering Gods from pantheons throughout the universe.  It explores deities and weird hierarchical structures of Godhood, as well as belief systems and how the affect a population.  It's high fantasy, action, horror, mystery and science fiction all in one  and it's gorgeously illustrated by Esad Ribic.  What Aaron does so well is juggle the multiple genre facets...and not just juggle, but blend them seamlessly together.  How he manages to skip across multiple tielines without any confusion  is a marvel in itself, but what's more is how it exemplifies the immortal life that the gods have.  It's both storytelling convention and world/character building.

When I finished devouring volume 1 I'm was ravenous for more, but we had to leave the in-laws and venture home and I had to leave behind "Godbomb" and its follow up.  I guess it just forces me to go back to the in-laws sooner, rather than later.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Catching up on Comics with CGraig: Miracleman Book Four The Golden Age #3-6

2015 - 2016, Marvel 

I get more than a little embarrassed by some of the things I loved with a fairly blind passion when I was young.  As a awkard, sensitive, introspective teen, I held up writers, artists, actors and directors as kings and queens and gods, their every output an infallable gem.  Yet, it was obviously all a lie, nobody's perfect all of the time.  No, not even Neil Gaiman.

Like a devout Catholic who shockingly discovers doubt in everything they've held as truth, so too did my gods and goddesses fall once I started to see their cracks, their faults, their humanity.  Neil was "the best" for so long that once I started to see that he wasn't always "the best", even those things I could justify as "the best" (like Good Omens, Coraline or Sandman) were suddenly shadowed by doubt. 

Gaiman has a thing, a thing he does when he writes, and its a thing I picked up on in my own writing, which is tackling a story from the fringes instead of head on.  Tell the story from side observations, build the world around the main story rather than just tell the story straight.  He doesn't always tell stories this way, and he's a clever, ingenious fellow at times too (his poetry can be particularly crafty but also too cheeky by half). 

I really used to love the guy, now I tend to avoid him.  The turning point was standing in line circa 2004 with his devoted followers ahead and behind me.  It was an eclectic crowd to say the least, and frankly, in the end, a crowd that put me off...too devoted, too attentive, too worshippy.  I didn't like seeing that and realizing I was that too.  There's a lack of critical thinking in being a fan. I find it hard to just be a fan a lot of the time these days, because I note in myself the tendency to become blind and addicted to the fandom without really taking the time too see what it is I'm really drawn to.  I want to avoid cults of personality.  The Kevin Smiths and Tori Amos' and Neil Gaimans.  All talented individuals who I once created shrines to but no I can barely look at without cringing.  It's like leaving the cult and looking at it from the outside.  You remember what it felt like to be in it but you're mote glad to be free of it's thrall.

Miracleman: the Golden Age is a good read, but it's not as good as I remember thinking it was 10 (well, 12) years ago when I first read it.  Again, it's Gaiman tackling the story and the world from the sides... of course it's well written and the ideas are fabulous at times, but it's almost a little too precious in avoiding the title character and giving him any story or thrust.  After 25 years it's still only a placeholder, a starting point for the as yet unfinished trilogy of the Golden, Silver and Dark ages.

And whither The Silver Age?  The promise of Marvel’s rights disputes settlement over the character was that we'd see the completion of the trilogy.  I mean issue 6 of The Golden Age announced The Silver Age for March of this year.  Still waiting.  For even if Gaiman isn't God amongst menly writers, even if l am tad disillusioned with him and the cult, l still admire his talent, and to have this long unfinished work brought to completion is something worth getting excited over.

Catching up on Comics -- Series Run: The Titans #7-8

1999, DC Comics

Another two-parter that highlights the growing strengths and diminishing weaknesses of Devin Grayson's Titans run.  With issues 5 & 6, Grayson's comfort with the team dynamics of the book increased almost exponentially.  With these two issues, she's showing even more capability in juggling the multiple character stories and making the stories relevant to more than one character at a time in certain circumstances.  She's also gotten far away from throwing the whole team at a problem, realizing that they do have lives of their own, while also negotiating continuity in a non-obtrusive, nor overly pointed manner.

Uh, nobody, it turns out.
For instance, this issue starts where last issue ended, with Lian gone missing.  Donna and Roy are still on their "date" and are unaware of the situation, while the rest of the Titans at the Tower are freaking out.  They contact Nightwing in Bludhaven who obviously can't make it there in time to help.  Aqualad's freaking out the most, primarily because, he reveals, he's knocked up his girlfriend, Dolphin (her name is Dolphin, she's not a dolphin, just to be clear) so he's going to be a dad.

Meanwhile, Lian is back at her babysitter Chandra's apartment, where Chandra's roommate is all hopped up on Velocity 10, a new drug on the street that gives people superspeed, but it's addictive and the side effects can be lethal.  One of Grayson's less attractive traits is her continued use of coincidence (and it's particularly flagrant this issue) to bring characters and storylines together.  Jesse's been busy working at her CEO job (and traveling through time over in The Flash with other speedsters) but when her co-worker's purse is stolen by Chandra's speeding roommate, Jesse's on the case, which brings her back to Titans Tower, which in turn leads them to Chandra's apartment where Lian is safe but now they have this whole speedster-drug to deal with.

Meanwhile Damage and Argent are back at Argent's parents home (and it's here I realize that my statement from the issue #1 write up that Argent was a former Team Titans member is totally wrong, she was actually from Dan Jurgen's short-lived Teen Titans series where the Atom led a team of young, newly created heroes, IIRC) where there's been more than a little strife.  Argent's dad is a criminal and a big asshole, giving his wife shit for getting impregnated against her will by an alien, and giving Argent shit for not being his blood child.  Also, turns out he's the supplier of Velocity 10.  What a coincidence!  Ugh.

In trying to save Chandra's roommate from the side effects of V10, they take her to S.T.A.R. Labs where Vic runs into the love of his life, who has moved on since Vic was possessed by an alien entity and tried to destroy the world.  Fancy that one, huh?  Her new man is fairly understanding, and wholly not threatened by the return of this superhero to his special lady's life.  He's quite the standup guy, this DeShaun.

Meanwhile (as I said, Grayson's gotten rather adept at juggling things), Vandal Savage recruits some goofy-looking sword-wielding chick named Lady Vic (which sounds like a type of razor for women...does she come with a lotion strip?).

Issue 7 ends with the Titans all being injected with V10, which makes for a pretty good spotlight of Jesse Quick's, erm, quick thinking at the start of issue 8 when she takes charge and her and Cyborg manage to stop things from getting too out of control.  Next to Lian, Grayson has a steady bead on Jesse Quick, and she's a total breakout character.  It's just too bad that instead of shorts or full pants, the character's costume design is a bikini cut with total floss butt.  It really detracts from an otherwise powerful character.  I can't imagine that running at half the speed of light with your costume up your crack the whole time is comfortable.

So anyway, Argent figures out her Dad is involved in the whole Velocity 10 business, but so does Jesse.  Jesse, in an act of mentoring, let's Argent make her own choices about how to handle the situation, and praises her for making the right one in the end, even though it meant sending her parents to jail.

Two further "meanwhiles"... Cheshire joins Vandal Savage's "Panopticon", while a new Flash shows up at Titans tower (I forgot all about this new Flash, who I think was introduced in Grant Morrison and Mark Millar's ill-fated run on the series).  Grayson handles this continuity demand decently.

I'm actually getting a sense at this point that contrary to my earlier statements, that Grayson's run on Titans was maybe not so forgettable and maybe had a bigger impact on DC Comics that I ever knew.
Again, Damien Darhk (I'm never going to spell that right) debuted here, we have Velocity 10 (which arguably is a piggyback off of the Velocity 9 story from the Flash some time before) which was featured in Season 2 of The Flash TV show, and the Vandal Savage assembly of supervillains which seems kinda like what showed up in the Young Justice series.  Just maybe Greg Berlanti is a big fan of this run?

And now: I hate "Metal Men" Cyborg.



Catching up on Comics-- Series Run: The Titans #6

1999, DC Comics
Maybe I was just sleepy when I read it, but this was almost...pretty good.

Donna and Roy take focus as their date is interrupted when they face their old enemy Red Panzer -- who is supposed to be dead -- and his gang of white supremacist assholes.  They're looking outgunned, but Donna's ex-boyfriend -- and Roy's ex-teammate -- Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) shows up to help out.  At some point Donna has to face up to a man she once loved that she doesn't really remember him, and to Roy that dating him was maybe to impress upon Wally that she's not a squeaky clean good girl.  It does wind up bringing some of Devin Grayson's more frustrating asides from the past few issues full circle in a very satisfying my bad.

Donna and Panzer get trapped under some rubble and have a semi heart-to-heart (but Panzer is mostly rage, no heart) and it turns out he's full of self hate over his father's murder of his mother cause she was part black and didn't tell him. It also turns out that the Red Panzer role is kind of a Dread Pirate Roberts thing where subsequent people just assume the role without anyone supposed to know who's underneath the mask.

I liked Grayson's use of "continuity logic" here for the first time as Kyle, trying to figure out how to save Donna and the other people in a collapsed building decides to call John Stewart for advice, since he's an architect.  It's actually logical for both story and continuity and not just serving the latter.
Grayson's script occasionally cuts to Lian and her babysitter, who are talking about their diverse ethnic backgrounds, in parallel with Panzer and Donna talk about race and his backstory.  There's also a sins-of-the-father/sins-of-the-mother parallel drawn as Panzer tells of his father's crime, Lian reveals that Cheshire is her mother, the same woman that destroyed much of the nation of Qurac where her babysitter's grandparents were killed.  Lian is totally the MVP of this series.  She could have grown into such an amazing legacy character. RIP.

Just as Donna's about to use her newfound "soul power" on Panzer to banish his evil, Vandal Savage teleports Panzer to his ever-growing cabal, which includes Sire, and Grodd so far.  I have a hard time accepting that a self-loathing multi-ethnic white supremist would collude with a millennia-old non-caucasian former caveman, a giant talking gorilla and a green woman from the ocean's depths.  Doesn't really fit the "I hate everyone who isn't white (including myself)" motif.

Catching up on Comics -- Series Run: The Titans #5

1999, DC Comics
Actually, I think Garth is one of Phil
Jimenez's favourites.
Hey, you know what doesn't sell comics?  A Titans cover featuring Argent, Damage and Aqualad ...aka nobody's favourites.  Actually, you put those characters on the cover in some form of dramatic fashion with the caption "Nobody's favourites" and you might actually catch someone's attention.  "Fall for the Siren", not so much.

In the letter column (hey DC, bring back letter columns with Rebirth...please!), they say "we have some special plans for our least-liked duo of Argent and Damage that we hope will change the way all of you feel about them".  Well, at least they're aware of how unpopular they are. Grayson has obviously been setting up Damage/Argent, Donna/Roy and Dick/Kory romances, the second of which comes to the front burner this issue.  I don't get it.  Any of it.

Aqualad fights a mermaid eco-terrorist and hands her over to the DEO, who, very quickly lose her to Vandal Savage.  We haven't seen Damien Dahrk for 3 issues now, but there's three different baddies here.  Devin Grayson's on bad guy overdrive in this series.

Catching up on Comics -- Series Run: The Titans #4

1999, DC Comics
The cover says "Get DISed".
The inside splash page titles this issue "The DISsing".
Consistency?  One "s" or two when adding a suffix to a proper name?

Dis here is referred to as a city just outside the sixth circle of Hell where the apathetic go (the sixth circle in Dante's Inferno is for heretics, and Dis is a city spanning circles 7-9).  They aren't evil, but they aren't worthy of paradise.  Goth has trapped a legion of teens and Starfire in Dis by getting them to sign his book and perform a ritual incantation (I guess not everyone has to participate in that latter part to be transported).

Devin Grayson here is using aspects of Dante's mythos for a parable about teenage disaffectedness to varying degrees of success.  Goth's plan is an interesting one for a teen Titans book, and the resolution cleverly deals with Goth's magic, but it doesn't feel like the pieces fit.  Starfire really could have handled this solo, it wasn't much of a team effort, and Donna was being set up as the ace in the hole but she didn't even make it to the scuffle in hell.

I notice that the horror convention the Titans go to is a Fangoria event... I don't see any accreditation in the copyright box, so I wonder if DC had permission anyway or if this is just fair use of the name?

Donna Troy exists thanks to Wally West's memories of her.  There's a parallel here with Rebirth... where Wally needed someone to remember him or he would fade away.  But instead of being grateful, Donna's kind of pissed at Wally because she is only his perception of her, and she feels he holds her up to too high a standard.  Yeah, something to be pissed about, sure.

Goth's plan is defeated by caring.  Yes, the Titans pull a Care Bears stare and win the day.  

I want to rag on Goth's design, but it's actually not *that* bad. It does hew close enough to absurd goth style, but then goes large with skull shoulder pads and demon wings to make for a supervillain-esque look.  The big "G" that hold his straps is all kinds of silly though.  Like when Green Arrow used to have a "G" on his belt buckle.  It would be like if I wore a letter "G" around everywhere, just because my name started with it.  It's not like Superman's "S" or Aquaman's "A" or Wonder Woman's double "W", which are more stylized iconography, a symbol, a's just a letter.  "What's my name? Roth?  Moth?" (Looks down) "Oh, Goth, right, I forgot."

"G" is for "goofy" and that's good enough for Goth

Catching up on Comics -- Series Run: The Titans #3

1999, DC Comics 

"Introducing Goth!", because 1990's.

He's a horror movie icon, like Marylin Manson meets Freddie Kreuger, and of course Damage being the youngest is way into him and puts a poster up in his new room 'cause "He's".

This issue finds the Titans hanging out, splitting up by gender.  The guys stay in, put on their costumes (because Dick is worried about secret identities around the new recruits) and watch Goth's movies.  I repeat, it's a half dozen grown men in spandex lounging around with popcorn watching --
Hey guys, let's put on our tights and masks watch movies,
you know...a real guy's night in
and getting spooked by-- gory horror films.  Cyborg however is parsing through e-mails (cause the Titans have a public email address for the public to get ahold of them, mostly teenagers it seems) and coincidentally as they're watching the film Cyborg finds that some real-life email-calls-for-help are mirroring the film.

The ladies meanwhile go out clubbing where some rather ominous sounding lyrics pulsate in the background (I never liked trying to illustrate in comics, forcing the reader to put music to lyrics and unless the reader is a particularly good musician or the writer a very strong lyricist, it just comes off as bad music). Starfire is mobbed by fans and Donna freaks out when asked about her past (again Devin Grayson's continuity niggling overtakes the story).  Goth shows up and... something happens, it seems... but it's unclear what.  Is Donna posessed?  Kory? Whatever, really.

Earlier we meet Lian's new nanny who has to precariously board an awkward floating platform to cross to Titans Tower on an island (which I swear wasn't an island in the last two issues...also the tower is a hologram with the actual base being underground, which again I swear it was an actual tower last issue).  Garth pops out of the water, scaring the shit out of her...which I guess is enough for her to confide in him that the dad of the girl she's watching is "massively doable".
Yes, this is how the Titan's welcome visitors to their island...
a lonely pier, at night, on a precarious floating platform
that you have to awkwardly step down on. Titans Go! and help
that poor woman. Jesus.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Catching up on Comics -- Series Run: The Titans #2

1999, DC Comics

Remember that website "Superman's a dick" (I think it's now the more generic "Superdickery")? Well, this issue of the Titans is a prime candidate for it, because, oh man, is he ever a dick here.

Look at that expression, that physicality...
what a dick.
Carrying over from last issue, the Titans finish mopping up the new Hive agents Damien Dahrk sent to interfere with the construction of the new Titans Tower (seriously, the way these two organizations talk about one another sounds more like Cheers vs Gary's Old Town Tavern and less like superheroes locked in a life or death struggle with a terrorist organization), when Superman arrives with the ever so helpful "Is everything all right here."  The illustration by Mark Buckingham places the camera from a bird's eye view above a hovering, hands-on-hips man of steel, which only serves to exacerbate the smug condescension going on here.

The younger Titans are in awe... well, actually they're all in awe, except Flash who is Superman's teammate elsewhere.  Supes and Flash fall into "speedspeak" which means only Jesse Quick can follow along.  Her and Argent start whispering about Superman's overprotectiveness when Garth points out the guy has super-hearing so whispering doesn't really matter.

Then Superman basically makes them fall into formation and Sarge-marches down the line making snippy comments like these Titans are preteens and not 20-something-year-old adults now with almost as many years of experience under their yellow belt as he does...
seriously this page is as big a dick as I've ever seen Superman act in the modern age.

"Jesse Quick.  Your father would be proud," says Superman, like he fucking knows the guy....Seriously, show me one modern age Superman story, from '86-'99, where Superman and Johnny Quick exchange words.  At all.  Flake off man!

Dick moves left, right and center.
As Hive's attack then escalates Superman takes the lead.  It's up to Dick to tell him to stop being a dick and back off grampa,  go unclench, and do it somewhere else.

This issue has a couple good moments, and Jesse Quick emerges as a stronw-willed, capable character (and possible leader), but overall it's bad writing.  It's that thing where someone has difficulty wrapping their head around the whole shared universe thing, and that if Superman is so powerful,  why shouldn't he be turning up wherever there's trouble.  Well the answer to that is here:  it's not good storytelling.  Just because Superman doesn't show up somewhere doesn't break continuity.  And if you're going to write him like this...don't even bother.  Blerg.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Catching up on Comics -- Series Run: The Titans #1

1999, DC Comics

When you think of the Titans, the1999 series my not exactly be at the bottom of the list but it's not quite the glory days of Titans, either.

With the growing pains of the New 52 reboot, it's far too easy to be cynical and forget that there have been rough starts and pained runs aplenty before Johns, Didio, Lee and company decided to scratch things and start again.  

This first issue of The Titans is all talk, no action.  The bulk of it takes place in a tacky looking seafood restaurant, where Wally, Donna, Dick, Garth, Roy and his daughter Lian sit down for a trashy meal and gab about recent events and re-forming the Titans.

It is an inexplicably continuity-centric first issue, and quite possibly the absolute worst way to kick off a new series.  I don't recall if this was a case of the '90's expectation that continuity is serviced above all else or if writer Devin Grayson deemed reconciling all the recent continuty annoyances to be the important place to start.

It's not that the issue is badly written as a whole, but it's the most confounding book to me.  The fact that Grayson has Wally proposing the re-formation of the team is bizarre since he's currently in the JLA, but it's not like this fact isn't lost on Grayson either.  But her witty repartee to explain it away doesn't exactly make it any more logical.  It's a case of DC wanting their Flash cake and Flash eating it too.
In the seafood shack booth, where five plainclothed superheroes and an adorable toddler (Lian is the MVP of this story, RIP) are crammed in, they decide on their roster in a weird game of "hey do you remember so-and-so".  They pick Damage, Argent, Starfire, Jesse Quick and Cyborg (in his short-lived Metal Men-esque appearance) .  I guess they recruit them mighty quick and then they all suit up to help build the new Titans tower, because that's something I'm sure they're all qualified to do.  I hope that thing gets a safety inspection before Lian moves in.

Waitaminute, Jesse can fly? (All the Quicks can fly, my wife tells me.  That's dumb.  Speedsters run, they don't fly).

If The Titans #1 is notable for any reason, it's that it's the first appearance of
Damian Darhk, the scenery-chewing villain of Arrow season 4 (as played by awesome Neil McDonough).  Here you can see some of the flavour that was brought to the character on the small screen.  He isn't your typical villain.  His mom is the queen of HIVE, but he's not exactly cowtowing to her.  He's too busy on his mobile, brokering deals and being glib.  You want to smack him right away, but it's obvious he thinks himself better amd above everyone and everything (even if it's not quite reality).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Catching up on comics -- A Sunday Sit-down Spectacular (part 2): Omega Men #7-12

(see yesterday's Saturday Sit-down Spectacular for Omega Men #1-6)


In Scrapps and Doc's attempt at freeing the captured Primus, Princess Kalista and Kyle Raynor last issue, they apparently killed over 37,000 people.  Are these hard choices for the Omega Men, to destroy that much of the enemy in one fell swoop, or is it just a necessity that they don't think twice about.  Primus is a pacifist and so far he's only personally taken one life, but in the process he's been responsible for thousands of deaths indirectly along the way.  As Kalista said last issue, the only sacrifice they need from him is his soul.

Remember me saying that Kyle wasn't falling for Kalista's attempts to manipulate him into loving her... yeah, well, scratch that. 

"I love you."
"No you don't.  You want to save what you love.  You want to love what you save.  And you want to save me."

Even further, pushing him away to bring him in closer, a little bit of rejection while being fully intimate.  Well played Kalista.

An appearance from Omega Men of old on the "Wanted" board in the center spread (which didn't quite make it to the center.  I see Harpis and Nimbus on the board, though they haven't appeared otherwise.  "Green Man" isn't the same as old, that's just how they reference Kyle...even though he came as the White Lantern...

Kyle and Kalista work to get off planet.  They "negotiate" with a transporter, who eventually agrees to help them.  Earth objects, Kyle notes, are rare deep in space, and fetishized, so they're valuable.  Kyle exchanges his cross, and a story behind it for transport.  B'lorf, their ever so helpful resource, also secures hypnos for "human and Brahmin".  Hypnos, like what the agents of Spyral use in Grayson.  So do they originate from space or from Earth?

Ok, maybe Kyle's not so easily manipulated afterall.  Tom King's keeping us guessing on this one.  Kyle's also quite observant.
Kyle gets a "What's in the box" moment


"Planet Voorl is forbidden".

Back in issue 4, Kalista told Kyle that when the Citadel came knocking, Voorl put up a force shield and no one has entered or left since.  Kalista makes it seem like it's a big thing, but if we on Earth were cut off from traveling into space, or having space travel into us, it may not seem like a big deal.  Then again if we were cut off from, say, traveling to Australia, and Australians were cut off from leaving, it might seem a bit more...I dunno...forbidden fruit maybe?  I don't think humans like barriers instinctively.  And yet putting a wall up along the Mexico border seems like a good idea to a lot of people, so maybe I'm wrong about that.  You know who doesn't like barriers?  Cats.  Close a door and a cat wants to see on the other side.  Let her go on the other side and close the door behind her, and she'll want to go through again. Oh, cats.

A young Scrapps asks, "...Mommy, what's the shield?"
"Oh, it's nothing you have to worry about.  That's why it's there, my darling.  So you never have to worry."

Ah, and now we learn what the key of Alpha is for.  Can't believe I didn't piece that together already.

After Krypton exploded, a galactic committee was assigned to looking into a solution to preventing planetary deterioration.  The answer was "Stellarium"  a substance "which may be injected into a planet's core to prevent deterioration and subsequent combustion."  It's a property apparently unique to the Vega system but research has learned its mining is "not...beneficial to the inhabitants of the mined world."  You see where this is going...

Is Kalista really asking Kyle to use the White Lantern ring, the ring of life, as a bomb?

And now statements Tigorr made a few issues back about killing a world make sense.

Bagenda and Fajardo Jr. nail this shot of what the Citadel did to Voorl.  Shocking and stunning, a gorgeous piece.

A bit of backstory for Doc here.  DOC = Defense Operation Cybertronics.  The insinuation was that Doc was a medical droid...whelp...not so much.  The relationship between Scrapps and Doc comes into focus here in heartbreaking bookends.

Much like the Omega Men, who have been taking an extensive amount of lives in their fight to usurp the Citadel, the Citadel preach that the sacrifice of Vrool is ultimately the savior of hundreds of billions of lives.  Kyle struggles with what he has been asked to do, he struggles with what he's been doing with his life as a Lantern when massacres like this can happen.  He rages against his God, though his belief in God never waivers.  He just doesn't particularly like God right now.



And now it's Doc's turn to sacrifice... or, perhaps, to atone.

The Omega Men venture to The Seat of the Audience (basically the assembly of the Vega system's various governments).  They're startled to find the Viceroy of the Citadel there, but no really.  The Prime Speaker of the Audience: "Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Terrorists or freedom fighters?!?  Leaders or oppressors?!? It's all so very exciting!"

I didn't realize the White Lantern was "the only person to ever master each and every emotion on the color spectrum of lanterns."

Kyle:  "They said...I had to choose between the savagery of empire and the savagery of revolution.  And I said, No.  I would not choose.  I told them there was another way.  A third way.  Truth. Justice.  The American Way."  (And yet, what is the American way?  What does that represent anymore.  At times it seems it is both the empire and the revolution.  America is both the alpha and the omega.  Life, liberty and justice, but also death, oppression, and injustice).  "I chose to come to the people, let them see the horror that is keeping their planets alive." (And when this happens in America, which it doesn't happen nearly enough, showing the horrors America's presence in the world has...but when it does, the people whether outraged or not, largely turn a blind eye, placated by entertainment and the desperate struggle for the fallacy of the American dream which they've been sold.  I'm no less guilty.  I'm writing extensively about comic books for Alpha's sake.)

Boom.  And it all goes down.



Karna (Tigorr's homeworld).  Battle of the Cats, Day 22.  Kyle's in the thick of it as the Karnan's face off against the Citadel's D.O.C.s.  The D.O.C.s are very effective and efficient murder machines, but all the while they coldly plead "Please surrender."

Kyle's a resolute fighter, but a lousy warrior and tactician.  He has a superweapon at his disposal which effectively is powered by his emotions and the only limit to what he can do is his imagination.  He's fighting with claws and guns and enhanced fists.  They're robots Kyle, you're an artist... construct a sky gun that can target them all at once...or a giant masher that can take them out in one fell swoop.  So frustrating.

Why does the chairman of the Galaxies Committee keep making Earth turns of phrase ("wait a country minute", "waddling off as fast as Central City lightning"), talking like a Southerner.  Who is this guy?

Kyle and Primus manage to have a conversation for the first time.  In fact, Primus has been relegated to the far background for the past three or four issues.  I don't even recall his last line of dialogue.  But here, he's talking about being a pacifist at war, and also his conflicted feelings about Kalista and Kyle.

War is fought. War escalates.



War escalates from Karna to all the 5 worlds of Vega.

Kyle becomes the Omega Lantern.  He brokers deals for soldiers to fight on the Omega Men's behalf.  He gets his cross back.

Scrapps likewise gets the corrupt Changalyn to turn against those who bribed them into complicity.  She is being Broot.

Tigorr, the captured son of the ruler of Karna, the murderer of his own father, the traitor, has returned a warrior and savior and now fights for his place as heir to lead the pride.

Primus returns in front of the camera, begs forgiveness for what he must ask, which is for others to give up their firmest belief in nonviolence and take up arms against their oppressors.

An Kalista, patricide or regicide...either way she inherits the throne, and must lead a civilization of Brahmin her family has broken for many, many years. 

There's no doubt a lot of intricacies to how these societies react to their new leadership, but war is at hand and the time to discuss past sins can wait.

The Omega War rages.  And on Day 182, the Omega Men reach the Citadel home world.



"Everyone is savage.  Everyone is civilized."
People like to consider themselves good and bad, consider themselves better than others and the actions they do.  People like to justify their immorality as part of the greater good.  People who are unwilling to accept their own evil.  People who blame others, who only see black and white, who see no third option.  But the difference, Kyle points out, between the Omega Men and the Viceroy, is that they enter into their actions with eyes wide open.  They're not proud of the deaths they cause (not most of them anyway) and they're not blind as to the impact of their actions.  Kyle counts himself among their ranks now, but, as seen in the last issue, he sometimes stands while others fight, perhaps watching to ensure lines are not crossed, turning the Omega Men's war ignoble.

The Viceroy's actions at this point, the whole war is to save himself.  The Galaxies Committee will have his head if they don't get their  Stellarium, and the Galaxies Committee are willing to turn a blind eye to the Viceroy's actions to get it.  It's no surprise the Viceroy has a panic room.

Scrapps: "I don't want to just blow everything up.  I want to, like, shoot him in the face.  It's not fair."

Kyle doesn't know if he has the strength to get to the Viceroy.  Kalista gives him a pep talk...well, more like putting the weight of millions of lives on his shoulders.  "You want to save everyone?  Here's your chance.  Open the box."

Kyle makes a plea, to show that the world doesn't have to be black and white, Alpha and Omega, that there's room in between. "There is always a third way." 

But some people are their their nature, and cannot, or will not change.
And that inability to change shakes Kyle to the core.  What is good? What is evil?  Where do good intentions go bad?  How can bad deeds be good?  This is what shakes not just Kyle's confidence him himself, but in his belief in everything.

The Omega Men win.  But it's a hollow victory. They separate, go back to their home planets to rule, who knows how justly (not very, it seems).  Kyle's left to walk through the Citadel homeworld and witness the massacre he supported.

He returns to give a report to the leader of the Galaxies Committee (why?  I'm not certain.  I'm a little outside of current Green Lantern policies and hierarchies).  But this leader, an American, he's once again on the warpath for "the greater good".  We need Stellarium and the Vegans, under Kalista's rule, won't just give up a planet for it, so we need to go in and take it.  And that is the American way.

Kyle give a final speech, when pressed to answer whether he's "with them or us"?  The answer is Kyle's going to fight for what he believes is right, and he's going to fight to convince others to do what's right.  But the final point is who's the savage, who's civilized, and he frames it in the context of grids in a comic book.  Purpose.

I get the sense through all this that Tom King is wrestling with his own feelings about serving his country, about how America acts "in the greater good" but all the more often seems simply self serving.  There's obvious parallels to the Iraq war (Stellarium = oil), and again the military viewpoint is "us or them" as if there's no other options, no other way for a soldier to think about what they're doing.  King seems to propose a third option, but he's not quite clear how that third option takes shape.  America is supposed to be a land of ideals, but in the international market (and moreso at home) they don't tend to exhibit those ideals.  They just tend to speak to them while secretly doing something other.

Each issue ends with a quote from William James, one of the most prominent American philosopher.  James wrote a lot about pragmatism, and truth. He tried to see if belief was quantifiable, if there was a commercial element...if people's beliefs could be bought and sold.  Does the internal reality have an external value?  For instance does a belief in God have an external value?  If it brings meaning to the holder of the belief then for certain value does exist.

I'm sure there's more to James than just that (the result of rudimentary web searches), and King's use of the quotes no doubt have influenced each chapter of the story. 

In the end Omega Men comes together as a deep, dark and rewarding investigation into war, and why we fight, the nature of belief in one's self and one's actions.  King story bustles with purpose, with meaning and intent, and Bagenda is on board for delivering both as space war spectacle and as ruminative philosophical essay.  It's a surprisingly intense piece of work, well beyond what anyone could expect from effectively minor characters from the 80's largely forgotten.  With a more pulpy flair, King could have had the next Guardians of the Galaxy on his hands, but he had a more important story in mind, more important things to say than strictly entertainment.

I'm glad DC gave King his 12 issues.  It leaves teasing a second, much larger war.  I'm not certain if this requires playing out.  The intent is clear...there's always going to be more fighting.  It's human nature.  Its wanting what someone else has.  It's self preservation.  It's any number of excuses.  Deep down we know it shouldn't be this way, but we also know it can't help but be this way.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Catching up on Comics -- A Saturday Sit-down Spectacular: Omega Men #1-6

Aw yeah, comics lovers, its time for a Saturday Sit-down Spectacular.  Reaction and commentary issue-by-issue of a complete series and/or story arc.

Let's go, The Omega Men #1-6 (come back tomorrow for 7-12)
(+ the 8-page "sneak peek" from Convergence: Batman & Robin #2)
DC Comics, 2015-16
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Romulo Bagenda with  Jose Marzan Jr. (Sneak Peek), Toby Cypress (issue 4) and Ig Guara (issue 7)
Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr. with Hi-Fi (issue 10)
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Covers: Trevor Hutchison

It was the Sneak Peek that sold me on the book... that plus Tom King was already becoming a fast favourite over on Grayson.   But a 9-panel grid book...? How positively Giffen-esque of them (some may say Watchmen, but Giffen is always my go-to reference), and I'm always a sucker for a 9p grid.

My pickup of the book was not a steady one.  I regularly forgot to add it to my pick up list for my weekly Wednesday sojourn to comics shops, and often had to back order the damn thing.  And then after issue six I had to find a new shop and the closing half of the series seemed to be getting scarcer and scarcer (either from dwindling sales or the increased word of mouth.  Through all the "DCYou" tumultuousness, when series were cancelled without mercy, outcry for The Omega Men to continue didn't fall on deaf ears and DC, showing faith in King as a promising superstar talent, let him finish his 12 issue arc, making Omega Men less a cancelled series an more an old school DC "maxi-series".

Issue 1-5 (plus the Sneak Peek) will be a reread for me, but I'm so distant from it I remember very little.  I've rather anxiously been awaiting this Super Saturday Sit-down Spectacular so I can just drive through it.



Now that is how you tease a story!
8 pages, 72 equally-sized panels, all showing one stationary shot from some type of recording device.  It crackles with digital static as a hooded prisoner is dragged into frame by a massive, brute creature (with, incongruously a gentle demeanor).  Another figure comes into frame, speaking of philosophy, religion, oppression and tyranny.  He is a freedom fighter, or a terrorist, depending on your perspective, and his prisoner is Kyle Raynor, the White Lantern, who was sent to broker a "truce"(tantamount to surrender) between the Citadel overlords and the Omega Men uprising.

The Sneak Peek ends with a giant orange cat-man entering the shot and slicing Kyle's throat while the camera crackles and blurs with static.  

I'm not going to play by play every issue but I feel the excitement rising once again for the story to come.  This is just an amazing intro, both in teasing the story and shocking the audience (they can't just do Kyle like that,  can they?).  But equally it's just brilliantly crafted execution (no pun intended) from Bagenda.  Keeping the shot static while having the charaters move around the frame (even the small movements the bound Kyle make) gives the sequence such a dynamic feel.

I read this on my phone through Comixology, and the 9p-grid is perfect for the average smartphone display to thumb through panel by panel.  It's very close to a flipbook in this regard.


Hutchison's covers for the entire
series are great, but the first is my

And the crew is introduced... facing off against off-world Citadel soldiers (a prerecorded message "We are friends.  We will not hurt you" repeats over and over as they blast, beat and shove their way through the populace of a remote outpost.  But cause and effect, beginning and the end.  These soldiers are the alpha and the Omega Men are their end.

Tigorr, the brutal cat-man.  Broot, a peaceful giant pushed to far.  Scrapps, left with no other options. Doc, the medical robot. Primus, their pacifist leader who must enter the fray of bloodshed and violence himself.

They have what the soldiers were after.  Kyle Raynor: the bomb.

Meanwhile, was that the white lantern ring on the viceroy's finger?

Bagenda again delivers excellent storytelling and pacin in thr 9p format, often merging panels but always sticking to the grid, occasionally offering up a splash page, which is kind of jarring against the 9p but also emphasizes the excitement of the splash.


I love these opening panels... the upshot perspective of the Governor preparing his greeting as the Viceroy's omega-shaped spaceship (very cool,very Star Wars in a way) makes it's landing.

A wholly evil (and utterly casual) exchange follows between the Governor and Viceroy, as the haggle over how many of the Governor's own people must die in "compensation" for the loss of the 39 Citadel soldiers in the previous issue (according to the contractual terms between the Citadel and the Governor's planet, 100 civilians must die for every soldier killed).  It's extremely black satire that comes to bleak fruition later in the book, with a gut punch of a reveal about our protagonists (it's really a question by the end of this issue if we're supposed to be rooting for the Omega Men, despite their extreme methods, or if we're supposed to be more on Kyle's side).

Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner gets a bomb (kind of like a parolee's ankle monitor) inserted into his throat, and he prays in Spanish as he recuperates.  I haven't read a story with Kyle in quite some time, and even when he became GL in the mid-90's (the period when I read the most Rayner-led stories) there was never an indication that he was Hispanic or Latino.  Which isn't to say that this is a new change, he may have been this whole time, but it's only now that I've seen his cultural background is presented as a part of his character.

Tigorr is a big cat-man butvhe can still hide under Broot's cloak while Broot is wearing it.  Broot is huge.  Meanwhile, it's strange that Doc has room inside his metal body for Scrapps to hide in (then pop out and shoot people in the face... this book is really violent).

Primus may be a pacifist but he sure knows how to motivate and manipulate.

That final page, where Kyle recites the Green Lanterns' oath, taking blood from his neck wound and turning the omega symbol on his jumpsuit into a lantern symbol: brilliant, all around.


My memories from my original reading of the first 5 issues are mostly of this one, where we're introduced to Princess Kalista.  On page one she is swordfighting with a natuve of the planet Euphorix.  Kalista's father, though a king, still is a servant of the Citadel.  Having been transposed from her homewold to Euphorix as a child, Kalista has been training in swordfighting for almost two decades by combating a handful of desperate civilians (brought to her for that very purpose) every day, to the death.  Naturally she's become a pretty good swordsman...swordswoman...swordsperson.

The Omega Men make a kidnapping attempt, with Tigorr, then Scrapps, entering the fray and nearly dying in the process.  Finally Primus and Broot succed and get everyone back on board their stolen ship (from the previous issue) and Doc bandages their wounds

Scrapps looks like Amy
Pohler here. like.
Kalista is put in a cel with Kyle and they're told their fates (and neck bombs) are linked.  Kyle's white knight syndrome kicks in.  What he doesnt know is that Kalista is a plant and she is, in fact, the leader of the Omega Men.

What has become clearer in reading these past two issues is that there's no amount of sacrifice, civilian or Omega Man alike, that's too small for their cause.  But what is their plan?

I loved the subtle Omega symbol her drop of blood made in the water on pg 3 (echoes of the first issue where the Omega symbol swirls around in the Viceroy's coffee).  I also like how Bagenda does a lot of background reveals, training the reader to be invested in the entire frame at all times (just in case).

I'm wondering if Kalista tells her manservant, Talim, that she loves him (noting that she doesn't say so often enough) because she knows he's going to be killed ...?
more beautiful grid style fight sequencing from Romulo Bagenda



The bad news is Bagenda is out this issue and fill in artist Toby Cypress either didn't get the memo about the 9p grid format or he was told he didn't have to stick to it.
This is a Kyle-focussed issue, as he and Kalista get further acquainted.  By the time the team "kidnaps" Kalista last issue, Kyle's been a captive of the Omega Men for a few months.

Kyle quickly retells how he came to be a Lantern and some of the trials he's faced as a result, but King writes Kyle's narrative in such a way that it has meaning to their current situation, and more importantly why Kyle is relevant to the Omega Men.  It's obvious they see his potential. Kyle relates how, unlike other Lanterns, he wasn't chosen, or selected, it wasn't fate, and  he didn't have the requirements, the fearlessness or strength, he was just there.  But here, the parallel is, he was selected, he was chosen by the Omega Men because of his strengths, and perhaps it was just a little fate that brought him.

Kyle talks of the two sides of the coin, the fork in the road where paths diverge and lives take shape.  In its own way, the Alpha and the Omega, cause and effect.

Cypress errs in the art here, showing Kyle giving up his ring to the Citadel when he came to broker the peace treaty, which explains how the Viceroy has it in issue one.  Only thing is, it's a Green Lantern ring and not the White Lantern ring that it should have been (and he's drawn and colored in a Green Lantern uniform).   At least they explain why he gave up his ring (has to do with a longstanding truce between the Guardians and the Citadel that keeps Lantern "weapons" out of the Vega system).

Kalista tells Kyle her story, of how she was raised to slay the Euphorix natives, of how the Citadel oppresses her people's religion, and then takes Kyle on a verbal tour of oppression throughout the Vega system.  But we don't really know with her what's genuine and what's manipulation.  As Primus and Tigorr (who Cypress draws like A FUCKING LION!) observe, they note that Kalista has a plan and they need "the bomb", which has become their pet name for Kyle.

Kalista preaches hate for the Omega Men, but sympathy for their plight, and she baits Kyle into having feelings for her.  At this stage, Kyle's there as emotional support but he has to forget Carol first, and that may prove harder than Kalista thinks (she was a Star Sapphire, a love lantern, afterall).



In which the Omega Men return to Changralyn, Broot's home planet.  It's a very religious society and, as we learned from Kalista's audio tour last issue, one in which its priests have been paid off by the Citadel to preach acceptance of their oppression.  We learn "Broot" is a moniker of shame, that he was once Dauphin of the Pontifex, a good priest of high standing. But Broot became an outcast because he spoke against this corruption, and he was ejected, so the masses fling poo as he returns to the temple. 
"It is being good that it is dung. It is better than throwing stones.  Stones are being sacred."

Their visit here is to meet with the King of Euphorix, Kalista's father, acting as neutral ground to make an exchange: Kalista for a magic key, the Key of Alpha.

I like that King writes Kyle as being more aware and more intelligent than someone usually is in their surroundings.  He's not fully aware he's being manipulated but he can tell the Omega Men are up to something.  I like his new mask, and how Bagenda alternates the panels between looking at Kalista and Kyle and Kyle's red-tinged POV.
Bagenda's first two-page splash is a beaut as the Omega Men realize they've fallen into a trap.

Broot and Scrapps have a real Groot and Rocket thing going here.  The gentle giant, and the quick witted foul-mouthed weapons nut.  (It should be noted that Broot predates Groot's current popular public persona, though I believe that Groot still appeared in the 1960's, well before the Omega Men debuted in the 80's).

Fajardo Jr.'s coloring this issue is absolutely gorgeous.

And a beaut of a cliffhanger ending.  I'm hoping poor Broot isn't being sacrificed, the trope of the gentle giant making the sacrifice for others to live is a bit played (Groot, Hodor, Chukha-Trok).


Oh my Alpha!  They've really been captured.  The Citadel is extracting the bomb from Kyle's neck.  The Omega Men's plan is undone.  Their interrogation is...oh my god wee Tigorr is sooo cuuuute!  He was the adopted by the Viceroy.  That explains why there was so much commotion about Tigorr in the first issue (they were speaking another language but Tigorr, Kyle Raynor, and Omega Men all went untranslated).
Just like everyone else (including the reader), the Viceroy's only question is "Why do the Omega Men need Kyle Raynor?"

And now the Viceroy is treating Kyle as if he is indeed one of the Omega Men, interrogating him (while still wearing Kyle's White Lantern ring on his finger), calling into question his kidnapping story.  So the question is, as asked "Are you Kyle Raynor?  Or are you an Omega Man?

Ahh, finally some insight into Scrapps background.  It's only 3 panels, but it's about high time we got something. In fact we get insight into how Kalista recruited the whole gang, leaving more tantalizing bits of backstory on the table.

Just like I didn't know that Kyle was Hispanic, I also didn't know he was so religious.  Was this something they started really hitting upon when he became the White Lantern?  New 52?

Aww and they confirm Broot did actually die last issue.  Suck. 
Another hell of an ending.  King's storytelling here is really building, very propulsive.