Welcome to this week’s edition of “Weekly Readings.” This week includes:
- Team 7 #0, in which the team is gathered as part of the Majestic project.
- Justice League #0, in which Billy Batson receives the power of Shazam.
- Wonder Woman #0, in which Wonder Woman is trained by War.
- Nightwing #0, in which Dick Grayson becomes Robin.
- Fables #121, in which we learn if Dare’s actions were successful.
- Batwoman #0, in which we learn of the training that Kate Kane went through.
As always, spoilers are below the break.
Team 7 #0 – “Mission Zero: The Majestic Seven”
Five years ago. An unknown man, possibly named Lynch, is talking remotely with people about the new pressence of of superhumans, and the knowledge that they are not alone in the universe. Currently, they do not have the ability to respond to these new threats, but The Majestic Project will get them there, and Team 7 is part of that project. For his audience, he goes through the membership. The first two, tasked with recruiting the others are Dinah Drake (infiltration) and Kurt Lance (tracking and operations). They are at an underwater base for an arms dealer. They confront this arms dealer and come under fire. He stops his men, and they have a message, saying that Lynch wants to know if they remember what happened in Uruguay. The arms dealer is confused, but this message is for two of his men, Slade Wilson (tactical genius) and Alex Fairchild (weapons expert). They get the message, and decide to turn on the arms dealer. Next, Dinah recruits James Bronson, an inexperienced but ambitious utility team member. He also has something in his DNA that “Lynch” wants to use. Dinah and Kurt recruit Summer Ramos (pilot, crazy person) during a test exercise in which she was self-destructing her own plane to take out enemy drones. Cole Cash, Grifter, is recruited after getting arrested for a bar fight in France. Amanda Waller and Dean Higgins are recruited after they foil a terrorist plot involving a bioweapon and a blimp.
I bought this because commentor wwayne suggested it in last week’s column. And to you, I say thank you. I did enjoy this issue, even though it is your pretty standard gathering your roster type issue. But, what helps this issue is that Justin Jordan made sure that there wasn’t any wasted space by adding characterization to every scene. That went a long way to making a usually boring issue into something that makes me want to buy the next issue. Which I will. Not ready to fully commit and add it to my pull list, but it’s close.
Justice League #0 – “Shazam”
Billy Batson is wandering around the Rock of Eternity, when a voice gets him to finally enter the chamber with the Wizard. The Wizard is let down seeing that his seeking spell has failed and brought him a child. Billy is indignant about being brought here. The Wizard performs a spell to confirm what he already believes, that Billy is a rotten person. The Wizard tells Billy that he’s looking for a pure good person, and Billy argues with him that there is no one in the world that is pure good. Desperate because Black Adam is free, the Wizard is convinced that just maybe all a person needs is embers of good within them. He sees that Billy does have the potential for good, and does give Billy his power, and has him say “Shazam,” with conviction. (Very important.) Billy toys with his new powers, and then gets the bad news. He must defeat Black Adam, who is going to try to kill him. The Wizard says that Billy is magic’s champion, and then disappears. Billy returns to Freddy, and fills him in on what just happened. He then uses his powers for awesome by getting revenge on someone that had threatened him and the other kids, and then gets a $20 reward for stopping a mugger. Pandora is trying to open a skull artifact…thingy, when the Wizard appears to her. He says the council was wrong in punishing her the way they did. He tells her that only the strongest of heart or the darkest can open the box (skull?) and claim it’s power.
The most important thing to take away from this issue is that Shazam can say his own name now, since it has to be said with good intentions at heart. But really, how often does someone say their own name? When they meet someone new, but how often at other times. I like the idea of a Shazam that acts like he’s 15. It’s what they’re doing in the Young Justice cartoon, and it seems to work pretty well. Plus, this issue took me back to a happier time, when Gary Frank drew monthly comics. Sigh…I miss those days. Don’t really have any guesses about the stuff with Pandora. I imagine it’ll be a little while still before things play out.
Wonder Woman #0 – “The Lair of the Minotaur”
A 12-year old Princess Diana robs a harpy’s nest of an egg, in order to bring it back to the Queen as tribute, as is custom to do on your birthday. Later that night, Aleka asks for permission for her and Diana to demonstrate how their training is going. Aleka is going full speed, so Diana does as well, and has her defeated. Aleka does not yield, calls Diana “clay” as she throws clay in her face. This sends Diana into a rage. Queen Hippolyta tells Diana to stop, and Diana runs off. In the woods, Diana is approached by War. He offers to teach her the ways of the warrior, and they train on the new moon each month. Diana progresses in her warrior and Amazonian training, and 10 months later, tells War that she wants to use a real sword. So the next month agrees that they will fight with real swords, to the death, for that is the only way that you can truly wield a sword. War defeats Diana, but spares her life. The next month, on her 13th birthday, War takes Diana to what turns out to be the lair of the Minotaur, to get her tribute for Queen Hippolyta. She travels alone through the labryth until the Minotaur finds her. She’s able to outsmart the Minotaur, and knock it out. War appears, and gives Diana a sword to cut off the Minotaur’s head. However, she can’t bring herself to kill the Minotaur. This angers War, and he considers her a failure. The Minotaur shows Diana respect, and runs off.
This was a really fun issue. The writing was entertaining, but more so, it was written in style that you just don’t see around. I mean seriously, when was the last time that anyone used thought bubbles. And while it’s not something I think that should be used all the time, it worked for the purpose of this issue. To show an old story about Wonder Woman’s past.
Nightwing #0 – “Perpetual Motion”
A young Dick Grayson and his friend from the circus Raymond are doing “train racing parkour,” when a guard has to be rescued by Dick. But, he does get arrested, and his parents have to pick him up. They ground him, but he still gives his mom her birthday gift, a bracelet of two robins. Later that night, he sees Tony Zucco arguing with Haly, and his parents’ death happens. When he sees Bruce Wayne, he notices some things about his face that he wouldn’t expect to see on a rich man. Bruce Wayne takes Dick in for a few days, and talks with the social worker about what’s best for him. She thinks Dick is progressing, but really he’s trying to track down Zucco. On a night he goes out, he finds Batman fighting some criminals, and joins in on the fight. Here, Dick sees the same tics on Batman’s face as he did on Bruce Wayne’s face. Bruce tells Alfred that Dick has some abilities, but they need to keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, Dick learns about Bruce’s past. On one night encounter, Batman brings Dick back to the cave, and Dick lets him know that he knows who he is. From then on, Bruce makes an arrangement with the orphanage that Dick is at permanatly in order to allow dick to work, really train, at the mansion. Dick provides support for Batman at the cave, until one night involving Lady Shiva. Shiva poisoned Batman, and Dick takes off in a costume that he made from extra Bat-suits. He confronts Lady Shiva, but she lets him live, seeing potential in him.
It’s a fine story of a tale that everyone already knows. There really isn’t much to say about it. The writing’s adequate, but there aren’t any great revelations. Dick having a great ability to read motion and body language is a bit of a stretch, but nothing that a little suspension of disbelief won’t fix. Unless you’re one of the people that was pissed off by something similar in The Dark Knight Rises. And yes, the costume is pretty bad. Not sure who designed it, but it is pretty bad. Granted it’s more practical than the original, it looks funny.
Fables #121 – “Toy Repair, Chapter 8 of Cubs in Toyland”
Therese hurries from the castle to see if Dare did what she thinks he did. She gets out to the cauldron, and finds that grass has started to grow around it, even though everything is dead in Toyland. She looks around for Dare, but only finds his clothes. Inside the cauldron, she finds food, and this food continuously changes. A stuffed dog, that had long been lifeless, says that it’s all gone now. The Fisher King had come, and the king had restored him. Therese doesn’t want to believe that this Fisher King was Dare, but the dog makes it clear that they were in fact the same people. Therese spends a long time mourning for her brother. The narrator talks about how it took a lot of blood to make old magic work, but Dare’s blood was especially potent, as was the case with all of Snow and Bigby’s children. Eventually, Therese, who’s now pretty much full grown, decides that she’s mourned enough, and sets out to rebuild the kingdom. As Queen, she’s become one with the land, and is able to control the power of the land. She sends the toys on a quest, where they have to save 100 lives for every life they took. Over the years, the toys saved lives, and slowly they and the kingdom were restored. The narrator tells us that Therese stayed in Toyland, eating from the cauldron. Each day, the food was different, but to her it tasted like ashes. At some point, Therese returned to the Mundy world, where not much time had passed, and apologizes to the mechanical, lifeless Mountbatten, unable to restore him to life. She then visits her family, and tells them what happened to Dare.
I want to say that this was a happy ending, but it wasn’t. After the death of Dare last month, there was no way that this could be a happy ending. And the reveal at the end that Therese had been essentially eating ashes so that she can restore everyone else, just makes it sadder. I’m just kind of at a lost here. I guess I didn’t think that something truly bad would happen to the cubs. And I know that Dare killed himself last issue, but I was expecting some kind of bait and switch.
Batwoman #0 – “Interlude”
The issue is a recorded message that Kate Kane, Batwoman, leaves on her computer for her dad to find in the event of her death. In the message, Kate goes through the basics of her life and how she became Batwoman. It started with her mom and sister’s death, and her dad holding things together for them. And Kate had her life together, until she had to go out on her own. After getting kicked out of West Point, things fell apart, and she admits that she liked getting drunk mainly because it was a reason for her father to take care of her again. After an encounter with Batman, Kate realizes that it could be anyone under that mask, even her. From then she starts to go out at night, fighting crime, until her father finds out. Her father sends her away from Gotham for a year to train in different situations and locations. The last one includes someone that has kidnapped a family. She finds them, only to see that they’ve already been murdered. She turns the knife on the murderer, but doesn’t kill him. It’s revealed that this person was her father, and this last thing was a set up to see if she’d cross that line. Now, she’s ready to return and become Batwoman.
This was an alright issue. A nice overview of her life, but nothing all that interesting or revelatory. Although, it is probably the most straight-forward issue of Batwoman we are likely ever going to see. So that’s something.