Tuesday, June 21, 2005

SPOILER Review: Day of Vengeance #3

The third installment of the all-mystic-all-the-time INFIITE CRISIS tie in mini-series kicks things up a notch. While most of our rag tag band of second string heroes takes on Eclipso while Captain Marvel fights a losing battle against the Specter, the third stringers -- that’s Detective Chimp and Nightshade for those keeping score at home -- scour Dayton , Ohio for “the one mortal (potentially) more powerful than the Specter.” Oh yeah, that mortal appears to be an underage girl.

The battle against Eclipso and the Specter is narrated by Blue Devil. While buildings crumble and burn, he waxes not-quite-philosophical about his origins and the origins of his companions. But he never quite gets there, never really giving us an insight into who he, or any of his fellows, is. Ironically, he goes on for more than a few panels about Captain marvel, the once character in this whole story that even the casual reader is likely to recognize. I realize I keep kicking this deceased equine, but I can’t help it: tell us who your protagonists are, for the sake of all that is holy. All the while, it looks bad for the good guys -- Ragman manages to eradicate a number of the damned souls trapped in his cloak when he tries to pull Eclipso in, and Blue Devil himself gets flung across the city by one of her backhands. Captain marvel doesn’t look any better and everyone knows that as the Specter continues to draw out his magic, he is going to weaken until he’s gone. But Marvel doesn’t give up, swearing that it won’t end until either he or the Specter lies dead if the Specter doesn’t give up. It is a pretty intense version of Marvel’s character, but given the dire circumstances, it doesn’t feel out of place, but instead underscores how desperate the situation has become.

Meanwhile, Nightshade and Detective Chimp banter on the streets of Dayton while he talks to household pets and she keeps them from being noticed by the muggles and whines about being a third stringer. Yay.

Back where the action is, Blue Devil finds the Enchantress just standing around -- or, seemingly so. Devil has expected Marvel to fall already, but finds that Enchantress is funneling her power to the The World’s Mightiest Mortal. They craft a plan and the Enchantress requests the energies of all the living magicians, sorcerers and monsters in the world, good and evil alike, to help. Everyone from Green lanter Alan Scott to the incidental magicians living all around us give Marvel their power and he comes back powerful enough to put the fear of Shazam into the Specter. For his part, Blue Devil skewers -- apparently killing -- Eclipso. Even as Marvel begins to gain the upper hand on the Specter, Enchantress doesn’t look so hot channeling all that power. For those not in the know, Enchantress is a mean drunk when she’s had too much mana to drink.

In the end, we learn the name of the little girl who might just take down the Specter (if Marvel doesn’t do it before Enchantress goes all evil): Lori Zechlin. I’d appreciate it if anyone out there could tell me who the hell that is.

Overall, the issue was on par for the series, which isn’t necessarily saying a whole lot. I like the art, and the dialogue is good, but it just doesn’t have the weight to it that OMAC and the other mini-series have. It is my least favorite of the lead ins, but that is partially motivated by my unfamiliarity with the characters. It’s certainly worth picking up, but I give it a 6 out of 10.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

SPOILER Review: RANN/THANAGAR WAR #2

I am beginning to believe that DC needs to reintroduce the use of the editorial footnote caption because, quite frankly, I don’t know half of what is going on in this issue.

With Issue #2, RANN/THANAGAR WAR maintains its epic super-heroic space-opera scope, feeling as much like a big budget blockbuster as anything else we are likely to see this summer. The art by Reis and Campos is busy, detailed and just plain fun to look at -- not unlike a the visuals of a certain space opera now in theaters. And like that other work, R/T WAR #2 is ambitious in trying to tell so much of the story in a single episode and, ultimately, only does so at the expense of the audience. Not that Gibbons doesn’t write well -- while fast, the pace is even and he manages to include good dialogue in the midst of all the action. But in a strange reversal of the usual decompressed storytelling we see in comics these days, he crams just too much and too many characters in R/T WAR #2.

My concerns about R/T WAR #2 can be summed up with the single question I had upon opening the book: “Isn’t Starman a skinny geek who wears goggles?” Now, a quick google showed me that the STARMAN comic had introduced this Prince Gavyn, but the point remains the same -- Gibbons assumes I know a lot more than I do about this segment of the DCU. This is an unfortunate trend running through the INFINITE CRISIS mini-series, most particularly this book and DAY OF VENGEANCE, that requires remedy. But I have strummed that harp before and will leave it at that.

R/T WAR #2 opens on Throneworld, which is being defended from a Thanagarian invasion by a very different than usual Starman and a lynx-man named Tigorr who, apparently, is a member of the Omega Men. The whole galaxy is taking sides in the war between Rann and Thanagar and war threatens to consume every system, it seems.

Back on Thanagar, we get a great sci-fi pulp moment as the evil cult sacrifices a scantily clad damsel to a horrible monster in order to appease it. In this case, the monster seems made out of Nth Metal -- which, by the way, is quite yellow and clamoring for ‘pain and fear’ making one wonder how bad this is going to get for the Green Lanterns by series’ end -- and is named Onimar Synn.

Skip to the world of Ancar, where Green Lantern Kyle Rayner -- see, Kyle fans, he is still around d even after Hal Jordan returns -- steps in to defend the planet from both the invading Khunds and the L.E.G.I.O.N. forces hired to protect it. Green lantern uncovers the truth behind the Khund invasion: the Khunds were hired to recover Nth Metal lost across the galaxy since Thanagar’s days as an empire, specifically by the same Seven Devils cult. Green Lantern gives both the Khunds and the L.E.G.I.O.N. one day to get off world or “face the consequences.” It’s a nice turn for Kyle, who so often has been portrayed as a rookie and a lesser Lantern. One wonders what sector he is going to end up with, given he is one of Earth’s 4 Green Lanterns, and it looks like Hal and John Stewart are the ones that are going to stay. But that is neither here nor there.

Back on Polara, the Tamaranean queen bitch Komand’r -- sister of Starfire, also known as Blackfire -- meets with Thanagarian ambassadors -- who, by the way, are definitely looking like Seven Devil cultists -- with the intention of lulling them into a false sense of security so Tamaran can scoop up Rann once Thanagar was expended its strength in taking the planet. Her gift to the Thanagarians: Hawkwoman Shayera Thal. That is when Adam Strange, Hawman and Hawkgirl explode on the scene and manage to allow Shayera to escape so she can turn on the Rannian forces assaulting her captors. Obviously, she is dedicated. I expect we’ll be seeing Hawkwoman’s funeral by the end of this series.

Back on Ancar, Kyle Rayner investigates what the Khunds were after and discovers that the Thanagarian god Onimar Synn has tangled with Green Lantern Alan Scott in the past and was “apparently“ destroyed. Captain Comet -- working for the L.E.G.I.O.N. -- shows up to lend a hand and the two decide to go to Thanagar and determine for themselves than Onimar was destroyed.

On Thanagar, Onimar Synn walks free across the wasteland, attended by members of the Seven Devils cult. He devours the soul of some poor creature, raises dead Thanagarians as his zombie enforcers, and ultimately promises to feast upon the souls of the whole universe.

That is all a lot happening in 22 pages, which although in a way is refreshing, doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for bring the neophyte up to speed. Perhaps it is the advent of the Web and the easy access to information, but it seems that DC doesn’t think it is necessary to tell us who these characters are -- many of whom haven’t been seen in years. Given that it is beginning to look like INFINTE CRISIS is going to make casualties out of any number of B-listers, this is unfortunate: not knowing a character means not caring when that character is in peril or dies. The other complaint I have is one of continuity: when does this all take place for Hawkman, who in his own title just assaulted Hawkgirl and in JLA is fighting with the rest of the team over having mind-wiped Dr. Light and Batman? Being everywhere isn’t necessarily a good thing for a character, especially during these big crossover events.

Overall, I give R/T WAR #2 a 7. It is consistent with the first issue, and a lot happens that propels the story forward, but it suffers from being a little too dense and not providing the reader with all the necessary information to enjoy the issue.

Monday, June 06, 2005

SPOILER Review: VILLAINS UNITED #2

The thing about villain based comics is that you are never quite sure who to root for. Usually, you end up getting behind whoever the writer tells you to, who also happens to be the lesser of two (or more) evils. If this tendency remains in effect for the duration of VILLAINS UNITED, chances are that ‘lesser evil’ is going to be Richard Blake, aka Catman. And even if its not the case, the fact is that writer Gail Simon has managed to turn at least one third rate Batman wannabe and, in a mere two issues, made him an interesting character. The strength of VILLAINS UNITED #2 very much lies in Simone’s writing. That isn’t to say that Eaglesham and von Grawbadger don’t do an excellent job on the art chores -- they do -- but when you are talking about a group of protagonists as low every meter in the DCU as these guys, it takes one hell of a writer to make the book fun. And VILLAINS UNITED #2 is nothing if not fun, in a twisted, guilt-inducing way at least.

VILAINS UNITED #2 opens in the House of Secrets -- a mystical DCU location that suggests at least loose ties to another INFINITE CRISIS tie-in mini-series, DAY OF VENGEANCE -- with Deadshot -- the DCU’s cold stone killer -- and Catman -- the aforementioned Batman wanna-be -- discussing the identity of their employer, “Mockingbird” over blades, bullets and breakfast. It is a nice touch that even as we, the reader, wonder about Mockingbird’s identity , the characters do too. Meanwhile, Cheshsire is skulking about (which in any other title would suggest something nefarious, but this is a villain title after all --everything is nefarious) and Scandal -- about which little is known -- is writing love letters to an unknown -- Mockingbird? -- and accepting the reason she was “formed” and her possible death in the “coming war”. While this is all very interesting, it distracts us from the true mystery of VILLAINS UNITED: how the hell did Catman go from loser to, well, not since he last appeared in GREEN ARROW? The good news is that we get the questioned asked -- by Deadshot, who himself went through something a transformation recently in his own mini-series. The bad news is that it doesn’t get answered.

And before you know it, the team is off on a mission for Mockingbird. They are going to Gotham to intercept a shipment of Thanagarian weapons ultimately intended for the Society -- and thus ultimately intended to be pointed and fired at the Six. It isn’t much but it is a nice nod to the RANN/THANAGAR WAR mini -- after all, the weapons could have been from anywhere. Little things like this remind us that this is all part of a larger plan. Of course, if we were Luthor and his Society, we’d know this already, since Calculator has managed to bug the plane and is monitoring the Six as they close in on Gotham. Luthor has a plan, indeed, and once the Six find that the shipment is nowhere to be found, they discover what it is: the capture and torture of the Six.

Now this is a surprise. I expected somewhere down the line that the Six would have to face the music, at least the first few notes, but not so early. But when they are duped and jumped by no less than 16 Society villains -- including Flash-rogue powerhouse Weather Wizard and “who the hell is that? Nazi Man?” -- the Six don’t stand much of a chance. Luthor doesn’t lave much to chance, after all. He may not have super powers -- Kryptonite mixed with Venom notwithstanding -- but that doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous. This is something to keep in mind as things progress.

Anyway, Catman leaps in head first while the rest of the Six attempt to bail, but it doesn’t matter. They all go down, though not without a fight. Unfortunately for Blake, that isn’t the end. He wakes up in the care of the Crime Doctor, who promises that life is going to be both long and excruciating before asking for one piece of information it doesn’t seem that Catman knows: the identity of Mockingbird. It makes for a tense little cliffhanger, especially if you assume that the question is a real one: if Luthor doesn’t know who Mockingbird is, then it isn’t part of some contingency plan of his, which suggests that there is a player that we’ve discounted, or there is a traitor in the Society. I still vote for Talia -- she has the smarts, the means, and the motivation.

VILLAINS UNITED #2 is a great read and deepens an already fine mystery. It is fun without being light, and it portrays the villains of the DCU, both the protagonists and the antagonists, as competent and even a little likable, without necessarily compromising their villain status. I give this a 9 out of 10 and am eagerly awaiting issue #3.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

News from WIZARD WORLD Philly: One Year Later

Newsarama is reporting here that when INFINITE CRISIS is all said and done, all DCU title will jump ahead one eyar in the timeline -- that is, the March 2006 issues will take place 1 year after the end of INFINITE CRISIS.

In comparing the 'One Year Later' to the jump-starts following CRISIS and ZERO HOUR, Dan Didio said: “In those two events, every series started from a common point and moved forward and outward. With ‘One Year Later...’ each and every character has a starting point and moves of at a pace of its own. You will see a wide mix of new series, rebooted series, continuing series and unfortunately, cancelled series. All the changes will make sense for the character and for their own story.”

Other news from Didio at WW Philly indicates that THE FLASH may not make it through this CRISIS, that NIGHTWING "plays a very important role" in all this, and that it is quite possible we will be seeing characters and plot line from the various minies well after INFINITE CRISIS is over.

Friday, June 03, 2005

SPOILER Review: DAY OF VENGEANCE #2

In the second issue of DC’s mystical INFINITE CRISIS lead-in mini-series, we are treated to much of the same: Willingham’s skilled pacing and slightly disjointed dialogue, Justiano’s detailed pencil only improved by Walden Wong’s inks, and a story as big as it gets propelled forward by protagonists almost as insignificant as they get. DAY OF VENGEANCE #2 is a good book -- a fine read and certainly well put together, but it isn’t particularly exceptional and, moreover, it has some flaws that I just can’t ignore.

First, the rundown:

The Specter, host-less, is in full mad vengeance mode, having murders feasted on by crows (while still alive), killing adulterers with their own sweaty sheets, and impaling a tax cheat with a giant pen. It wouldn’t be so bad that the Specter lost its mind, except that it seems to have maintained its libido, as the Jean Loring Eclipso has seduced the Specter into hunting down and destroying all magic and magicians as the source of evil in the world. The premise isn’t particularly sound, I know, but it works in the same way that every other big comics event works: if you suspend you disbelief and turn your brain down to 4 or so, you can accept it just for the fun of the ride. This isn’t really a condemnation, so much as a sigh of acceptance: more can be done to make these things believable and entertaining. But, alas, that is neither here nor there.

The small group of never-has-beens, led by Detective Chimp and including such mystical luminaries as the Enchantress, Ragman, Blue Devil, and some guy who I am *still* not sure who he is, spends a lot of tiem time talking in the back room of an one-dimensional bar, trying to figure out how to beat the Specter. In the meantime, the Specter unleashes divine (infernal?) vengeance on mystical powerhouses the Phantom Stranger and Dr. Fate. I really don’t know which category Madam Xanadu falls in, but I really don’t think it matters. One interesting development in all this is the revelation that Enchantress knows and awful lot about what has happened and is happening, and is able to get into Eclipso’s mind. One wonders if that is a spell, or if the Enchantress *is* Eclipso/Loring and we are going to see a big traitor reveal by issue #6. It wouldn’t be the first, and it would go a long way to explain things (outside the inherent deus ex machina that is magic in general in the DCU).

Eventually our heroes leave the bar for the woods, talk a whole lot more, and Enchantress gives ragman a gun to kill her with, “just in case”. Ragman, in return, gives her a kiss, which was most definitely misplaced. It is the one true spot of characterization in the whole book and it wasn’t just funny, but kind of sad: who hasn’t made a move based on a few misinterpreted signals? Ragman declines the gun, by the way, and offers a much more horrible fate: Enchantress can spend her period of penance as one of the patches in his rags, should she go bad. More fuel for my little conspiracy theory, I’d say.

They eventually track down their prey in the mystic forest going toe to toe with Captain Marvel, aka Billy Batson, aka the World’s Mightiest Mortal, aka the Guy Who Laid Out Superman With a Magic Punch. Cap doesn’t seem to be fairing too well, so being smart C-listers, the heroes decide to attack Eclipso instead, hoping to defeat her before the Specter is no longer distracted by Captain Marvel. This is, of course, where we finish up.

Overall, it is a good story. However, it still vexes me that Willingham can’t be bothered to explain who all of the admittedly little-known characters are. People -- like me -- are going to be picking this up just because it says INFINITE CRISIS on the cover, people who don’t know DC’s mystical characters, even people who don’t know DC at all. “Every issue is someone’s first,” they say. Most of the INFINITE CRISIS stuff is like this -- with the exception of THE OMAC PROJECT -- unfortunately, targeted at DC fans rather than comic readers of all stripes. The other real problem I have with the book is for the amount of dialogue, we don’t get a lot of information, just a lot of talking. Which is fine, and can be fun, but there is information that needs told, especially regarding the characters but also assuming *someone* is reading only this lead-in mini-series.

DAY OF VENGEANCE #2 gets a 7, on the low side.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

SPOILER Review: THE OMAC PROJECT #2

Greg Rucka and Jesus Saiz bring us the second installment of THE OMAC PROJECT, the INFINITE CRISIS lead-in mini-series following most closely the primary story in COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS. In this issue, Batman’s investigation into the death of Blue Beetle heats up, Maxwell Lord makes a vicious and daring move to take control of Checkmate, and the JLA begins to disintegrate under the weight of events in IDENTITY CRISIS< COUNTDOWN and other stories leading into INFINITE CRISIS. Dense (in a good way) and story driven, OMAC #2 delivers in every way and drives us ever closer to the coming CRISIS.

One thing to note here is that for the first time in one of the lead in mini-series, we are given all the information we need to enjoy this title. While not a big deal for obsessive DC fans, the lack of sufficient background information on characters and plots in the inaugural issues of DAY OF VENGEANCE, VILLAINS UNITED, and RANN-THANAGAR WAR made those books less than accessible to someone just returning to or discovering DC during this summer’s lead in to the fall’s main event. If THE OMAC PROJECT suffered from the same problem in its first issue, then the problem was solved thoroughly in #2. I commend Rucka and editor Joan Hilty for making sure new readers can come on board and hope that the #2 issues of the other three lead-in minis do the same . Having read DAY OF VENGEANCE #2, though, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen.

If the art in OMAC #1 seemed a little muddied by the colors and paper, the problem seems to have cleared itself up in this issue. Saiz’s work is clearer and just looks better, and we get a lot more expressive close ups for our characters. Given the emotional nature of the story and dangling plotlines it follows, this is a very good thing. Not much can be said for Rucka’s writing that I didn’t say in my review of #1; his characterization and dialogue are spot on and the story moves briskly forward.

Now, on to the spoilers.

After a brief review of the events in IDENTITY CRISIS that started all the trouble -- these are same pages that appeared in the preview -- we are witness to a meeting between Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and Booster Gold on the JLA moon-base headquarters, the Watchtower. Batman admits to creating, and then losing control of, the Brother I satellite. When he informs the others that the search for Blue Beetle has gone from a missing person’s investigation to a murder investigation, there is a tense stand-off between Booster and Batman. Who knew Booster had the intestinal fortitude not only to get in the Bat’s face, but take a (high powered) poke at him, too? Superman intervenes to save Batman -- who, by the way, stands stoic throughout the entire exchange -- and presses Batman for information. Batman knows Checkmate stole Brother I, and that Checkmate isn’t the organization it purports to be.

All the while, Maxwell Lord, the Black King of Checkmate, is watching. Exactly how the Brother I works and how it can view any conversation anywhere is still unexplained, but it is a power that Lord uses to full advantage throughout the story. He knows someone inside Checkmate leaked information to the heroes and sets about discovering who. There is a little red herring moment where it looks like Sasha Bordeaux’s cover is blown -- she is, after all, Lord’s right hand Knight , but is working against him and was the one to send a message to her old flame Batman that Blue Beetle had been killed and Brother I was in Checkmate’s hands. Even as Lord sets up a “meeting” with the other Kings and Queens of Checkmate, he sends one of the OMAC units -- there seems to be quite a lot of them -- to take out yet another B-lister: Overthrow. A quick check on The Unofficial Guide to the DCU Universe says Overthrow is an old Blue Beetle villain. The reason for his elimination is a little unclear, but my guess: DC is killing off all the Charlton related heroes and villains in order to re-boot that little universe on its own after INFINITE CRISIS. Maybe I am full of bunk, but that’s the call I am making right now -- which means Booster isn’t likely to be standing by the end.

When we return to Lord, he has gathered the Kings and Queens of Checkmate together and promptly outs Jessica Midnight -- the Checkmate Knight who revealed herself as a traitor to Sasha last issue -- and then mind-controls her to kill the Kings and Queens. In a nice little twist, Lord keeps Jessica alive to use her as a scapegoat for the killings. “We’re going to need someone to blame for this bloodbath, after all” indeed. It is a little thing, but it is a nod by Rucka toward a realization that there is a larger world out there and no matter how much Lord may control the inner workings of Checkmate, there is some sort of accountability.

Afterwards, Lord orders -- threatens, really -- Sasha to clean up any evidence Blue Beetle’s may have left behind that would lead to Checkmate. Batman finds her there and instead of sharing a few punches, they share a kiss. Of course, Lord is watching and that’s when not one but three OMAC units break in. Given that one OMAC unit went toe-to-toe with Superman, exactly how Batman and Sasha are going to survive and escape should prove interesting -- or make issue #3 fall flat, if it is too contrived 9which is the danger of creating threats equal to every scale of power in the DCU).

I give THE OMAC PROJECT #2 a 9 out of 10, not only because it moves the story forward -- which is always a good thing in this day and age of decompression-to-fit-the-trade-market -- but because it makes sure the reader, new or returning, is able to jump right in. Remember, writers, ever issue is someone’s first issue.

Friday, May 27, 2005

CRISIS Sightings Week of 05-25-05

It was a busy week for DC readers trying to keep up with the countdown to INFINITE CRISIS. Not only did issues of both THE OMAC PROJECT and DAY OF VENGEANCE come out (which we will get to in due time), but pretty much everything else on the shelf tied in in one form or another. Thankfully, we were spared any official tie-ins. Rather, the feeling that ‘a crisis is coming’ is permeating the whole universe and can be found throughout the DCU titles.

FLASH #222: The Rogue War is still on and Wally West is caught in the middle as the ‘reformed’ rogues battle the not-so-reformed rogues. Then, the Top shows up and throws everything into a tizzy, as it were. In case you missed the Flash IDENTITY CRISIS tie in, it was revealed then that the Top, who possesses mental powers on top of his whirling super-speed, followed in the footsteps of Barry Allen and the rest of the JLA -- and Barry has the Top rewired like other villains -- and started forcibly reforming rogues. So, all those rogues that have gone legit and teamed up with the Flash? Yup. No more. Soon, though, it became less about reformed rogues versus not, but generation versus generation as the old school rogues go head to head against the new school like Tar Pit and Girder. While nothing was revealed ina big way about INFINITE CRISIS, a couple things of note did happen. 1) The top gets himself killed by Captain Cold, and 2) Zoom -- the Reverse Flash -- has entered the fray. Remember, if the past is any indication, as goes the Flash, so goes the CRISIS.

OUTSIDERS #24: Following fast on the events of both the previous issue of the outsiders and Teen Titans #24, this issue is best described as a Villains United tie-in. Really, what that means is it shows us more of the very angry, very powerful villains at the top tier of the Society, and the titular heroes can only suffer for it. Why exactly the Titans and Outsiders are such targets in the coming CRISIS remains an open question, but you can’t argue with the results: Outsiders team member Indigo, a cyborg from the future, reveals herself as Brainiac8 and attacks the team and proves herself to be pretty much unstoppable. Indigo appeared way back in GRADUATION DAY, the Titans/Young justice mini-series that paved the way for both the Outsiders and new Teen Titans books, as well as ended the life and heroeing career of Donna Troy (more on that in a minute). Indigo ‘accidentally’ activated one of Superman’s android replacements -- from back when he decided to be everywhere at once -- which went on a rampage. It turns out, that wasn’t an accident at all. As Brainiac8, Indigo is a cyborg from the future on a mission to destroy Sarah Connor -- er, all the heroes. In any case, it is revealed that she is working with Luthor and her ‘grandfather’, another Brainiac. I am not sure whether this is the current DCU version of Brainiac, or another one from the future (‘grandfather’ would indicated Brainiac6). What is really important here is that the biggest of the big guns are interested in taking down even the second tier teams like Outsiders and Titans.

DC SPECIAL: THE RETURN OF DONNA TROY #1: Wow. This book, just so you know, reads like a missing issue of RANN/THANAGAR WAR written by Homer, and not the Simpson One. Donna Tray -- aka Wonder Girl, aka Troia -- was a member of Teen Titans (and later just plain old Titans) that died at the hands of a rogue Superman Android (see above). Her continuity has always been confusing, as she is the Wonder Woman equivalent of Power Girl. As we have seen in JSA and from press about the upcoming JSA CLASSIFIED, Power Girl is about to get retconned *into* continuity and it looks like the same may be hppening to Donna Troy here. The short of it is that Donna Troy was taken from the field of battle where she fell and transported to New Cronos, the world-ship where the titans of Greek mythology -- who, at least in Donna Troy’s most recent origin, raised her along with other ‘adopted children’ throughout the cosmos -- command a war over a planet called Minosyss. It seems that the Titans have garnered armies of Tamaraneans, Khunds, and others in order to prevent the Rann-Thanagar war from consuming all of the cosmos. However, Minosyss has a secret that the other Titans don’t want Donna Troy to discover, but eventually -- unable to accept the slaughter of those who serve her and the Titans any longer -- she defies the Titans and goes to the surface, where she watches one of her ‘sisters’ die and must battle a ‘brother’. The story isn’t bad, but it is a little dense and while Jiminez must be commended for trying to bring a casual/new reader up to speed in the first issue -- something lacking in other tie-in mini-series -- it slows down the pacing of the story. By the end, though, we have a solid handle on who Donna Troy is -- or, at least, who she thinks she is -- and an idea of how all this ties into the larger universal conflict. This will be an interesting mini-series to follow, as I imagine it will serve as something of a lynchpin for the countdown to the upcoming CRISIS.

JLA #114: The last issue for the ‘official’ INFINITE CRISIS tie-in story arc finishes up the battle with the Qwardians and the Crime Syndicate of Amerika from Earth-2. It has been a good story, though somewhat out of place feeling in the ‘new’ DCU, much like Busiek’s other epic, cosmic story recently: JLA/AVENGERS 9which this arc has been a sort of sequel to). While not expressly tied to INFINITE CRISIS, the end of this arc does offer a tantalizing clue as to how it might all pan out: at the very end of the story, we see Metron in care of an “cosmic egg”, going so far as to send false information to the JLA monitoring the egg to make them think it is stable. Instead, it looks like it is about to hatch. And what will it hatch? Who knows, but a new multiverse seems like a reasonable guess. This is especially true since the name of Krona -- the architect of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS as well as JLA/AVENGERS -- is invoked. If INFINITE CRISIS truly is an event of the scale of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS -- a fact of which we cannot yet be certain -- then this is a likely candidate for the seed of that event.

GREEN LANTERN #1: Actually, the new GL #1 doesn’t seem to tie into INFINITE CRISIS at all. I just wanted to point out that it looks a like a solid start to a new series, with Johns’ signature style of writing and great art by Pacheco and van Sciver. Pick it up, if it isn’t already sold out. For the various Gls and how they fit into the upcoming CRISIS, follow RANN/THANAGAR WAR and the “Crisis of Conscience” arc in JLA, since Johns has said his new GL will remain CRISIS-lite for its first arc or two.

That’s the rundown. Upcoming will be spoiler reviews of both THE OMAC PROJECT #2 and DAY OF VENGEANCE #2, as well as a look at what goodies have appeared in news, press releases, and Wizard Magazine.