Random Retrospective #21 – Flashpoint: Frankenstein And The Creatures of The Unknown #2

The results of FLASHPOINT – the wiping clean of decades of continuity and history, the rebooting of basically every character in DC’s pantheon – was divisive to say the least, but the event itself wasn’t that bad. True, the main storyline seemed rushed (there was little to no build up, it just appeared on the horizon suddenly) but while it was running, the rest of DC seemed to grab hold of the concept of a new world and run with it. It was basically a shared Elseworld for a few months, leading to a slew of mini-series and one-shots where, as always, some were better than others. Jeff Lemire’s FLASHPOINT: FRANKENSTEIN AND THE CREATURES OF THE UNKNOWN was definitely one of the better ones.

Lemire reinvented the Creature Commandos and teamed them with a Frankenstein that was straight out of Grant Morrison’s SEVEN SOLDIERS event, a pairing that worked splendidly.

Arrayed against them are the US military in the person of General Sam Lane and the rag-tag group he’s using to track them down, including Miranda Shrieve, the grand daughter of the Commando’s original leader back in World War II.

She’s working under the belief that her grand father was killed by the Commandos and so is more than happy to hunt them down and, in the final battle in this issue, explain her motives to them. Just before she and her squad kill them, however, the foot soldiers are taken out by the appearance of Frankenstein’s Bride.

By the end of the three issue mini-series, Shrieve has been told that General Lane is the real villain and cause of her grand father’s death, and she joins SHADE to work alongside the Commandos.

It was a good short series and, once the New 52 launched, I was pleased to pick up the FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE ongoing that picked up many of the threads here, though always confused why Miranda Shrieve never made the jump from the mini-series to the ongoing.

Random Retrospective #20 – Batman: Dark Victory

Following the success of BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN it was sort of inevitable that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale would team up again for a sequel, and DARK VICTORY was the result. Picking up after the Holiday murders in the first series, the bad guys are either dead, in Arkham, or disabled – and the same goes for some of the good guys as well, with Harvey Dent’s transition to Two-Face completed by the end of HALLOWEEN and at the start of this series, he’s locked up in Arkham.

There’s a hell of a lot going on in this collection so I’m not going to do a big review of the entire series, but suffice to say not only was the story wonderfully paced, with twists and turns galore, but the art was excellent as well, with splash pages such as this:

Catwoman and her relationship with Batman also got some coverage, the complicated toing and froing between her and Batman, and Selina and Bruce running through the book.

But I think the biggest reveal was the inclusion and introduction of the first Robin. I’m pretty sure I read an interview with Loeb when this series was coming out where he said he’d never really liked Robin so hasn’t used him in any of the previous Batman stories he’d done, but with DARK VICTORY he found a way to bring the character in.

And at the end of the book, the main plot is tied up, though there are enough threads left hanging that there could have been a third (apart from CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME) but for whatever reasons, it never happened.

Still, as the final page shows, we’ve got a good idea of where things go from here:

Random Retrospective #19 – Green Lantern #33

There’s no denying Geoff Johns revitalised GREEN LANTERN in the early 00s. With GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH, he took Hal Jordan from out of the cowl of the Spectre and gave him a power ring back, at the same time introducing the concept of Parallax the Fear Entity, explaining away Jordan’s madness in ZERO HOUR and elsewhere as possession by that entity. All of which led to this latest series where Johns waits the best part of two years before retelling Jordan’s origins.

But it’s not just Jordan here – Hector Hammond is given a slightly new origin and attacks before Jordan’s Corps teacher, Sinestro appears and makes taking Hammond out look easy.

With Hammond dealt with, Jordan and Sinestro fly out to the grave of Abin Sur where a message, a warning, is triggered for Sinestro. Abin Sur reveals the history of the Manhunters, the robotic precursors to the Green Lanterns, and the massacre of sector 666, all of which had been hidden by the Guardians.

Abin Sur gets a retcon as well – it wasn’t a random yellow meteorite or his ship running out of fuel that caused him to crash on Earth; instead he was transporting Artrocitus as a prisoner, and his escape caused the crash. Unlike Sinestro, Atrocitus absolutely believes the prophecy mentioned by Abin Sur and has tracked down the one he thinks will give him what he needs.

Sinestro and Jordan arrive only to find Atrocitus’s weapon drains their rings, leading to a big fight next issue.

Though it wasn’t realised at the time, this was all laying the foundation for the epic BLACKEST NIGHT event that would happen the following year, so full marks to Johns for setting things up well in advance.

I’ve said it before, Johns was usually good value for money, at least up until FOREVER EVIL, and I have fond memories, by and large, of his run on GREEN LANTERN.

Random Retrospective #18 – Green Arrow #42

From memory, Judd Winick’s run on GREEN ARROW in the early 00s was solid enough; I was never a fan of his heavy handed approach to injecting issues into the stories that he wrote – nothing against those issues, at all, rather just the unsubtle way he had of delivering them – but when he stuck to straightforward superheroics, he didn’t do too badly at all. For much of his run on GREEN ARROW he was helped by the excellent Phil Hester and Ande Parks art team.

One of his better additions to the Green Arrow stories was the introduction of Danny “Brick” Brickwell, gang leader and looking like the Thing in a suit, who as the issue starts, has had Green Arrow lured to a building which turns out to be a trap.

Needless to say, the trap doesn’t go according to the bad guys’ plan and Green Arrow takes out most of the goons with a flashbang grenade before resorting to some hand to hand fighting. Or maybe that’s hand to arrow fighting?

Despite the arrows and his fighting skills, he’s just one man against many more so is happy when backup arrives – or at least he is until he realises the backup isn’t Connor Hawke, his son, but Mia Dearden, his ward whom he and Connor have both been training.

Escaping from the bad guys, Ollie gives her a dressing down, saying she’s not ready for the role she’s taken on, and that she should grow up and have a real life, not one like his. Which ends with this exchange:

But that heavy subject is just handwaved away when Ollie realises she was wounded in the fight. Cut to some hours later and he’s talking about it with Connor – sure, we can bring up the subject of child abuse and pre-teen prostitution, but let’s not dwell on it, eh? The issue then ends with Brick launching an attack on a charity fundraiser, killing the mayor and the DA.

As I said, certain aspects of Winick’s run worked, others not so much. The verbal slap in the face from Mia simply isn’t addressed for the rest of the issue – it’s just there to stop Ollie whining before he goes into over-protective parent mode when he notices she’s been wounded. It comes across as a shock story beat . . . which goes nowhere.

Still, lovely art.