Weekly Readings

It’s a very “annual week this week, along with a couple Geoff Johns books that were delayed.

  • Aquaman #12, in which Aquaman confronts Black Manta.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series #7, in which we get a story about April O’Neil.
  • Justice League #12, in which the League tries to defeat David Graves.
  • Before Watchmen:  Minutemen #3, in which divisions appear within the group.
  • Superman Annual #1, in which Helspont returns to put Superman in his place.
  • Green Lantern Annual #1, in which the Guardians begin assembling The Third Army.
  • Detective Comics Annual #1, in which Black Mask tries to reassert his control.

Of course, there are spoilers after the break. 

Aquaman #12 – “The Others:  Chapter 6”
Aquaman confronts Black Manta, who has now found the scepter that sank Atlantis.  The Others call Mera in, and they arrive in time to help Aquaman fight Black Manta.  The group loses track of Black Manta when Vostok stops Ya’wara from killing Dr. Shin for his betrayal.  During this, Black Manta is able to sneak up behind Aquaman, but when he goes to attack, Vostok takes the blow.  His last words were that he was happy he didn’t die alone, and hope Aquaman doesn’t either.  Aquaman vows to kill Black Manta, since Manta bolted out of there the moment he killed Vostok, and no one chased after him.

This is one of the cliches that kind of irks me.  The bad guy just kills one of the good guys, and the rest of the good guys stand around their fallen friend as the villain escapes.  Seriously, why didn’t someone attack Manta right after the killing blow?  They were all in the general vicinity.  Otherwise, not a lot happened here.  I assume that eventually, we’ll get a moment where Aquaman tells Mera everything about his past that he hasn’t told her.  Actually, that’s probably a good way to frame what information is in the #0 issue next month.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series #7 – “April”
April is adjusting to living with the Turtles, and feels a bit protective of them, being that she named them.  At Stockgen, she overhears of a new turtle tracker, and creates an accident, and stashes it away.  Later on, she returns to get the device out there, when she is confronted by a stone being.  She runs away, and into another lab, in which something big has escaped.  The stone guy finds her, but she distracts him so she can escape.  Before he can pursue, he’s attacked by a giant turtle.

These micro-series issues are good chances to highlight each individual, and they have been doing that really well.  But, this is probably the weakest of the bunch.  It’s not bad, I just think it could have been better served with less action.  I think they should have highlighted her trying to maintain appearances at work, knowing full well what was going on behind the scenes.

Justice League #12 – “Rescue From Within”
The League is face to face with the spirits of their dead loved ones, including Steve Trevor appearing to Wonder Woman.  The spirits are torturing the League.  David Graves appears, and promises that he’s going to help them all by destroying the temple they are in, and freeing all of the spirits to rejoin their loved ones.  This continues until Steve Trevor shows up, and is not dead.  This realization snaps the League out of their emotional distress, and they are able to defeat Graves, who had taken on this power because he wanted to believe that the spirits that he saw were his dead wife and kids.  Wonder Woman feels guilty about Steve getting hurt, and doesn’t listen to his objections.  She tells him that the League will be getting a new liaison.  At the headquarters, everyone but Superman and Wonder Woman are discussing what went wrong, and how they can’t afford to make any mistakes.  Hal volunteers to take the blame and be the scapegoat.  He leaves before the others can stop him.  Elsewhere, Superman and Wonder Woman talk to each other about how difficult relationships are for people like them, rather it be putting them in danger or feeling like you can’t be completely honest with those supposedly close to you.  In this moment of shared loneliness, they kiss.  Amanda Waller visits David Graves in Belle Reeve, and asks him to write a book on how to destroy the Justice League.

This was an alright story, but of course what everyone is taking away from this is the kiss.  In short, I’m okay with it.  If anything, it humanizes these two godly characters.  It shows the emotional weight of being who they are.  It’s not uncommon for two people that are feeling lonely, when around each other, to hook up.  But still, there’s nothing in this issue to suggest whether or not this is something that will continue past this issue.

Before Watchmen:  Minutemen #3 – “Chapter 3:  Child’s Play”
Hollis Mason is threatened with a lawsuit if he publishes his book.  In the past, 1940-1942, there is turmoil within the Minutemen.  First, the Comedian is expelled from the group for assaulting Sally Jupiter.  Then, Silhouette and Sally get into a big argument at a photo shoot after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.  Hollis and Ursula (Silhouette) were working together on her missing children cases.  On one lunch meeting, Hollis came clean about who he really was, and gave her a police box number to call if she ever needed him, because he worries about her.  Nite Owl (Hollis) makes an appearance with Dollar Bill at a bank opening.  Afterwards, Bill talks with him about how he thinks it’s awful what Metropolis and Justice do is a sin and bad for the group’s image.  But Nite Owl tries to downplay it.  Silhouette is intending to scare a gentlemen’s club’s patrons until she sees a young girl.  She shoots them, and tries to rescue the girl, but they both get shot in the process, killing the young girl.  She calls Hollis, and he comes and takes her back to her personal “doctor.”

I don’t really have much to say about this book.  I enjoy the writing.  I’d recommend it, but there’s nothing really of note to comment on.  It’s filling in the details of the backstory, and doing a good job of it.  With the evolving friendship between Hollis and Ursula, her death is probably going to be a pretty big moment in the book.

Superman Annual #1 – “Protector of the People”
Helspont, who Superman fought a few issues ago returns, and doesn’t really do much.  He threatened Superman, and proved his dominance.  His minions confronted others, including:  Martian Manhunter, Starfire, and Hawkman.  Helspont tells Superman that his people have been infiltrating the Earth’s population for centuries, in order to develop a metagene to save his people.  He’s returned now to get the development back on track.  Helspont leaves after telling Superman to continue doing what he’s been doing, because ultimately it helps him.

Yeah, this was a pretty pointless annual.  The story was by Scott Lobdell, with Fabian Nicieza doing what he could with the script.  And it was a gallant effort.  It takes a lot of work to make going nowhere interesting, and the book was kind of interesting until it became apparent that nothing was going to change after this.

Green Lantern Annual #1 – “Rise of the Third Army:  Prologue”
There are two threads going on in this issue.  In one, Hal Jordan and Sinestro have been buried alive by Black Hand.  Hal escapes, and starts to dig out Sinestro when Black Hand offers to raise Hal’s father if he lets Sinestro die.  Hal refuses, and Black hand tries to raise Martin Jordan anyways, in order to control him.  Hal attacks him, his ring is powerless, and Sinestro emerges in time to save Hal.  The Guardians seek to take control of the First Lantern, in order to siphon his power so that they may create The Third Army.  (This army will be directly controlled by them, so that they do not have free will.)  They encounter The Hidden Ones, a splinter group of Guardians left there as a last line of defense to keep the First Lantern from escaping.  They fight because each believe the other has lost perspective.  After killing one of the others, the Guardians leave with the First Lantern, who’s still imprisoned, and siphon his power.  They see that Black Hand is being attacked by Hal and Sinestro, and go to his aid since they can use Black Hand and have an opportunity to get rid of two troublesome Lanterns.  They increase Black Hand’s power, and he pulls Hal and Sinestro into a vortex.  The green rings think that they are dead, and tries to leave them.  Before this happens, they merge them back together, and try to override it’s search in order get a message to Carol.  They get sucked in, and the ring begins it’s search.  The Guardians imprison Black Hand until they need him again.  Against the objections of the First Lantern, the Guardians take more of his energy, and create their first soldier from their flesh.  This soldier then attacks a human, and changes him so that he becomes a soldier in the Third Army as well.

While I prefer for Annuals to be their own stories, I don’t mind if they do contain the set up for a major storyline.  But as far as the actual story goes, it’s okay.  Kind of disappointed to think that we may not have the Hal/Sinestro buddy comic dynamic for a little bit, but now we know why a new Lantern appears.  A secret set of of Guardians that has never been mentioned before does seem a bit odd and convienent, because just speculating, I wouldn’t be surprised if these Guardians took over when the Third Army is defeated.  As a side note, it was nice having Ethan Van Sciver on art instead of Doug Mahnke.  I just don’t like his style.

Detective Comics Annual #1 – “The Abyss”
Roman Sionis regains his Black Mask, escapes from Arkham Asylum and looks to restart the False Face Society.  In his search, he comes to find that the animal masks that he had someone hide were taken by the Mad Hatter.  Mad Hatter didn’t want anyone else in Gotham to have the ability to control minds.  (Yes, apparently Black Mask has mind control abilities.)  In the end, Batman breaks up their fight, but in a burst of light, the Black Mask, having separated from Roman, is missing.

Yeah, I didn’t write up every detail, because really, it’s not important.  What you need to know is the Black Mask has some mind control abilities.  Overall, the issue was fine though, if you like Tony Daniel’s writing.

Next Week – Action Comics #0, Before Watchmen:  Silk Spectre #3, Detective Comics #0, Dial H #0, Earth 2 #0, Fairest #7, Green Lantern #0, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series #8, Hawkeye #2.

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