Sunday Reviews

A very quiet week, this week – but it’s quality, not quantity.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #10

Dr Manhattan finally reveals when and how he’s been hanging around the DCU, first appearing way back in 1938 at the original first appearance of the Golden Age Superman. The rest of the issue, he talks both about the DCU timeline changes and, at the same time, discusses the fortunes of the actor Carver Colman who plays Nathaniel Dusk – clips from the Dusk films and Colman’s murder have been littered throughout the previous issues and this one makes it clear why. Manhattan, focusing on Superman and the changes to his origin story, realises that “outside forces” are changing things; these outside forces are (in-story) the Anti-Monitor and Extant, but there’s also plenty of meta-commentary about them being the Editors at DC. He labels the main DCU the “metaverse” and, out of curiosity, meddles with it by moving Alan Scott’s lantern out of his reach way back during the train crash that allowed him to become the first Green Lantern. This wipes out the JSA and, in turn, creates the New 52 DCU (while simultaneously ignoring FLASHPOINT and the Pandora character who was originally credited/blamed with creating it). And, as the issue ends, he realises he’s on a crash course with Superman.

Despite all the delays this series has had, despite the likelihood that it’s impact on the main DCU will be lessened by the time it finishes due to Geoff Johns no longer having the influence he had back when Rebirth was kicked off, this is a bloody good story and an excellent single issue. Both Johns and artist Gary Frank absolutely nail this one, and while I look forward to its ending, with Brian Michael Bendis and Tom King being Dan Didio’s golden boys these days, I really doubt there’ll be the massive impact at the end of DOOMSDAY CLOCK that was promised. I hope I’m wrong.

And talking of hope, it gets several mentions in this story and, with the recent ending of HEROES IN CRISIS and what that story does to Wally West who, in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH was the beacon of hope, I can’t help but think poor old Geoff Johns’ story isn’t going to make much difference in the DCU.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #10

McGregor and Shaw continue their journey through what might be hell, with McGregor revealing a secret from his teenage years which ends with an expression of hopelessness and nihilism . . . and a possible help to Shaw.

Another excellent issue with Ennis continually subverting what you expect to happen. Two more issues to go!

Sunday Reviews

BLACK HAMMER ’45 #1

The Black Hammer Squadron was one of the fiercest group of fighters in World War II, a group of daring-doers who took on the biggest missions and overcame the enemy time and again until the fateful day when they have to go up against the Ghost Hunter, the dreaded ace from Germany. Tasked with saving a scientist and his family from a Nazi camp in Vienna and returning them to the States, the Squadron must contend with both the Ghost Hunter and the Russian’s Red Tide – huge, mechanical war robots, who have the same mission, only they plan to have the scientist work for Russia.

Jeff Lemire expands his Black Hammer universe again, this time with a take on the Blackhawks, setting up this mini-series nicely. My only complaint would be Matt Kindt’s art – never really been a fan of his style.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #9

Following Firestorm’s detonation at the end of the last issue, the heroes trace the energy that caused the explosion to Mars and Dr Manhattan, believing him to be responsible. Manhattan’s vision of a final battle with Superman that is yet to come is enough to trigger the heroes into attacking him but he dispatches them all, seemingly killing them, but not before revealing to Firestorm that Professor Martin Stein is not only in league with the shadowy agency behind the creation of government sanctioned heroes, but that Stein deliberately created Firestorm in order to infiltrate the heroes at large.

There’s a lot going on in this issue aside from the summary above, with Batman, Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman all dealing with their own problems. There are nods back to the original WATCHMEN series as well, alongside a mostly silent four page spread of the heroes heading to Mars that works really well. The story is ramping up now, and the art by Gary Frank is simply gorgeous. Despite all of fandom’s misgivings about this story when it was first announced, I’m really enjoying it.

THE GREEN LANTERN #5

In order to prove his desire to join the Blackstars is sincere, Hal Jordan is taking to Belzebeth’s homeworld of Vorr, a planet of vampires, where he must run a gauntlet to find his Blackstar uniform and confirm he is worthy to join them.  Not surprisingly, he passes the test only to face a final one where he must kill the Blackstar’s prisoner – Adam Strange.

I’ve been enjoying Grant Morrison’s run on this title so far, but this was probably the weakest issue. There was never any real doubt that Jordan would a) complete the trial, and b) in a flashback be revealed to still be working undercover for the Guardians. Do we think he’s going to kill Adam Strange next issue? I very much doubt it. Morrison scatters some vaguely cool sounding phrases – “necro-sun“, “blood bells“, “deadnoon” – but they sound more like 90’s image anti-heroes than anything else. I’m hoping next issue picks up with some surprises. (Oh, and don’t think I missed the mention of the Over-Master, either.)

JUSTICE LEAGUE #19

The League recruit Mr Mxyzptlk to help them find their way to the Fifth Dimension where, they hope, they’ll find the key to fixing the Multiverse that is on the brink of collapse following the breach in the Source Wall. Mxy reveals, though, that they need to go to the Sixth Dimension, the home realm of the Monitor, Anti-Monitor, World Forger and their mother Perpetua – that’s where they’ll find what the need to stop Perpetua. A handy portal takes Superman to the Sixth Dimension, and he returns moments later a decade older saying he’s found what they need. Most of the League follow him and appear in a different realm where future versions of themselves live happily. Unknown to them, the real Superman has been trapped in a different place.

Once again, big ideas abound in this title but the execution is better than previous issues, as though Scott Snyder has finally wrestled the story into a direction he wants it to go.

OBERON #2

Bonnie wakes in the house of Oberon and is taken by him to Mother Mayie who, in turn, takes her to the Endless Labyrinth where her magical potential – if she has any – will be determined. While Bonnie is being tested, Oberon discovers that Titania knows he has the girl.

Another good issue, with Oberon’s narration adding a wonderful counterpoint to his actions on the page, and though the story seems a little thin this issue, there’s no doubt that it’s setting things in place for further down the line.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #8

Carnahan, the child killer thought dead in the real world, is happy to spill the beans about his early days and how he came to take the path he did before a revelation of who else is involved comes to light.

I’ve read and watched a lot of horror books and films over the years but this story keeps surprising me – just when you think you know where it’s going, something else happens instead. This really is worth picking up.

Dr Manhattan In The DCU

With Doomsday Clock in full swing, questions are being asked about where Dr Manhattan is hiding in the DCU. The possibility’s been raised that he might be masquerading as someone, perhaps a hero, but if so, then who?

Captain Atom is the obvious – perhaps too obvious – choice as he was the character Manhattan was based upon in the original Watchmen series.

Superman or Dr Fate are possibilities – one’s super strong, the other could be masquerading Manhattan’s reality altering abilities as magic.

Maybe he’s Zatanna – he could easily swap his gender if he wanted to hide in plain sight.

Or maybe . . . maybe he’s not a person at all . . . maybe he’s a thing . . . an object . . . carefully placed to listen in on superhero conversations . . .

Can we get a close up on that mug the Atom’s using?

Oh my God! He’s here, everybody – Dr Manhattan’s here!

Masquerading as a coffee mug!

I, for one, did not see that coming.

 

Scan from JLA #77, March 2003. And if Doomsday Clock references this mug, you read it here first, folks.