Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Four Color Fiend: The DCU and off on a Tangent

I just want to talk about some of the comics I picked up this past weekend, but I don’t think I’m giving anything away. We’ll skip the Spoilers this time out, okay?

COUNTDOWN #1 wraps up a few plot points, but doesn’t put an end to everything. A group of heroes, including the ones we’ve been calling ‘Challengers’, plus Forager, confront the remaining Monitors. Basically, they warn them off from interfering with our universe (Earth-1). The Monitor designated Solomon is seen lurking in the background, so we can expect to be seeing him turn up at some future point. There are a couple of pages featuring Mary Damn Marvel (as she dubs herself in the last panel) and Black Adam. It would have been nice to simply see him twist her head off, but it appears that MDM will still be sulking about clad in her black mini for the time being. Sadly, I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in the series as a whole, although it did get me back into reading DC after a couple of years.

I don’t believe that I was the only fanboy to think that DC UNIVERSE #0 was going to be the bridge between COUNTDOWN & FINAL CRISIS. I was both right and wrong on this, which was a tad frustrating. What it actually turned out to be was a series of teasers for about a half dozen upcoming ‘events’ that will be taking place over the rest of the year.

Rather than one FINAL CRISIS, it looks like there will be three series which look to tie into each other. How much will remain to be seen, but I doubt I’ll be picking up all of them. WONDER WOMAN is going to be involved with yet another ‘War of the Gods’ type of thing, as Hercules decides that it takes males to properly undertake the mission for which WW was chosen/created. The final panel seems to indicate a 300-type group of Roman warriors about to conquer Themyscira. **Yawn** Meanwhile, GREEN LANTERN & Co. will be taking part in “Darkest Night” where the GL’s will confront the Black Lanterns. Rumor has it that a major ‘dead’ super-hero will return to lead this second group. I’ll have to look fast to see if the fanboys are right on this.

Finally, we have a few pages of Batman and The Joker talking, as the Clown Prince of Crime plays solitaire. Broad hints are dropped, but since I don’t read the current Batman titles I’m totally clueless. This it meant to tease BATMAN R.I.P., which some fans seem to have high hopes for but I’ll probably wait to read in trade. The most positive thing I can say about this book was that it only cost fifty cents.

I don’t appear to still have them in my collection, but I have fond memories of the DC published Tangent Comics in ‘98. The concept, similar to what Stan Lee did years later in his JUST IMAGINE titles, was to have various creative teams come up with different characters that had the names of some of DC’s well-known characters. Naturally, you had a SUPERMAN, BATMAN, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN among them, as well as various individuals and groups that shared only a name with the DC stars. The books were collected in three trade paperbacks a couple of years ago and you can still find them.

The twelve-issue series, TANGENT: SUPERMAN’S REIGN brings back those characters and merges their universe with the current DCU. We discover that the Tangent Universe characters inhabit Earth-9 in current continuity. The mystic lantern carried by that world’s Green Lantern was brought to Earth-1 (showing up in 52 and other places) and is now held by the Justice League in their headquarters. The Tangent Flash has come here to retrieve it and to hopefully find her way home. Aided by Wally West and John Stewart of the JL she does return and the Leaguers discover that the Superman of this Earth has made himself absolute authority on everything, and is utterly ruthless in maintaining the stability of the world he rules.

Dan Jurgens does as nice job with the Tangent characters, making them totally different from their namesakes. He also gives the new readers enough information about the Tangent world so that you are not lost. From the second issue on his co-writer is Ron Marz, who isn’t one of my faves so I hope that it is Dan who remains the driving force. The first issue features artwork by Matt Clark and several others, while Jamal Igle does pencils on the second, with inks by Robin Riggs. I much preferred the artwork on the later issue and I’m glad to see that Igle & Riggs will be returning down the line. I’m recommending this series from what I have seen so far.

More reviews tomorrow on some Marvel tie-ins to SECRET INVASION.
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