52 WEEK TEN:
“Stop the Press”
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Breakdowns by Keith Giffen
Pencils by Chris Batista
Inks by Jimmy Palmiotti & Jack Jadson
Colours by Alex Sinclair
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Published by DC
DAY 64 – In Khandaq, Black Adam hosts an exclusive little soiree with his multinational chums designed to create unity among their FTUSA coalition (or whatever it’s called). Proceedings are interrupted by one Adrianna Tomaz, who has a major strop, calls Adam a terrorist, spits in his face and pulls off the marvelous feat of not dying… yet…
DAY 65 – In Metropolis, Perry White fires Clark Kent from the Daily Planet. It seems that our intrepid reporter was a little too mild and meek for his own good after losing his powers. The last straw for Perry was the Planet losing the exclusive on the new Supernova hero to the Daily Star – though, really, what exclusive? He says Supernova is just a headline and a photo, which means there has been no interview yet, which means no one publication can truly be credited with the ‘exclusive’. Besides, if he’s so upset about the photo issue then he should go bitch out the inherent bitch known as Jimmy Olsen. Still, it’s good to have Perry call Clark on having waited for stories to fall into his lap rather than chasing them. He can’t really be a super man if he’s just relying on his powers all the time; he has to actually earn his plaudits. This is what John Henry Irons has been trying without success elsewhere in 52 to explain to his niece Natasha. Anyway, Clark spots Supernova nearby and takes a page out the Lois Lane Foolhardy Journalism Guidebook, jumping out of the window to be rescued by him and get some comments.
Meanwhile, in Khandaq, Adam speaks with young Adrianna after she spent a night in the holding cells. It transpires that she is the ‘gift’ the Intergang reps gave him a couple of weeks ago. After he killed them she was to be returned to her home, yet her parents turned out to be dead and her brother had been sold into slavery so, with no other family in her native Cairo, she stayed as a refugee. She calls him out on his coalition and the Freedom of Power Act that may yet cause World War III (but not till we’re One Year Later at least), plus some rather personal remarks about his hidden insecurities and loneliness. And yet she still lives!
DAY 66 – In Metropolis, Clark and Lois discuss Supernova whilst making dinner. It turns out that Clark wasn’t fired and even received a raise after he got close-up photos and comments from Supernova while he stopped Bahdnesian terrorists from stealing a prototype military vehicle. Lois runs the gauntlet of hysterical anger to soothing tolerance at Clark’s actions with typical female skill, again reiterating that she married the man and not the cape. Again, it’s difficult to believe her. It’s also difficult not to take their conversation as some form of erectile dysfunction allegory. Still, it’s nice to see little touches of normality in Clark Kent’s life – such as needing oven gloves to pick up a hot pan, or wearing a plaster on his face after cutting himself shaving.
DAY 67 – In Metropolis, reeling from the recent controversy that eroded his endorsement deals, Booster Gold is moving out of his penthouse to a regular apartment and is none too pleased at Supernova stealing his limelight, or at Skeets having no information about the newbie. As Skeets reminds him however, 21st century events are increasingly diverging from his 25th century database. Booster rants and raves while heading off to investigate this at long last…
DAY 69 – Dude!
Elsewhere, Professor Morrow is again visited by Will Magnus, who has found a small cocoon-like object of some sort in the belongings of one Dr Sivana. He kept it in a glass jar and was treating it with radiation before he was abducted. This means something.
This is important.
Finally, the History of the DCU back-up briefs us on the build-up to the Infinite Splat. Still doesn’t make THE RETURN OF DONNA TROY make a lick of sense though.
TRANSFORMERS: INFILTRATION #6
Written by Simon Furman
Art by E.J. Su
Colours by John Rauch
Letters by Robbie Robins
Published by IDW
And it all came good at the end…
And the beginning was none too shabby…
Pity about all that nonsense in the middle, really.
Yes, IDW have finally managed to capture some of the spirit of those classic Marvel UK strips in the wrap-up of the first story in their take on the franchise. The plot, which they made sound overly-complex in earlier issues and at other times just plain ignored, was perfectly acceptable: the Decepticons sent an Infiltration Unit to Earth to search for energy resources, they found something called ore-13 that worked like pure Energon and, led by Starscream, the unit tried to go independent. Then Megatron turned up and, well, you can imagine the rest.
What they still need to clarify is how the Autobots got here. Did they crash on Earth millions of years ago only to be reactivated recently? Were they sent here direct from Cybertron to stop the Decepticons? How far away is Cybertron? Is it floating out of orbit, wrecked by civil war, depleted of energy? They do say that a good story should leave you wanting more and, coincidentally, the Cybertron aspects should be clarified in the STORMBRINGER mini that starts next week, while a direct, Earth-based follow-up to this, called ESCALATION, is coming in a few months time.
However, if I wasn’t so impatient to satisfy my TF addiction then I would definitely switch to trades on these IDW stories, which suffer from far too much padding. So much time was spent on establishing three human characters and yet Ratchet more or less tells them to piss off here, apologizing for involving them in the first place. It’s hard not to take it as Furman apologizing to the readers.
And, yes, as predicted a long time ago, this issue ends with a splash page of Optimus Prime turning up. Bring it on. Just make it snappier.
EX MACHINA SPECIAL #2
“Life and Death, part 2 of 2”
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils by Chris Sprouse
Inks by Karl Story
Colours by J.D. Mettler
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Published by Wildstorm
The fate of Pherson, at one time the possible arch-nemesis of the Great Machine, is here revealed to be especially gruesome. His was the ability to communicate with animals just as Mitchell Hundred can communicate with machines. No comparisons with Dr Doolittle need be made. Not unless the first draft of that movie’s script involving him shooting a policeman in the head after telling his horse to buckle, with the copper’s neck snapping on the landing.
Hundred, unlike his steady compatriot Kremlin, is reluctant to use the ‘arch-nemesis’ tag, preferring to see Pherson as just another sick person in need of help. Sadly, that help was rather fatal, which means the highly involving villain will probably never be seen again. Scratch that: hopefully never be seen again. Yes, there are many interesting parallels to be drawn between the two men, their abilities and their deployment of them. Yes, they would make for great stories in Vaughan’s hands. However, their existence would grossly undermine the coda to this special, in which Mayor Hundred’s reluctance to support the death penalty is revealed in a radio interview.
This is something that people frankly wouldn’t have the balls to do in most superhero titles. Could Superman kill his arch-nemesis rather than offering him help? Could Batman swear that taking the life of a mass-murderer would be a justified irreversible step? Such is the constant tribulation of Hundred’s career…
A delight to read.
SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE vol. 1 – Super Crush
Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa
Colours by Christina Strain
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Published by Marvel
Still can’t quite believe that they went with that title… why, why, why…
For the uninitiated, this is not really the first volume but the third. It follows on from McKeever/Miyazawa’s more suitably titled MARY JANE volumes, “Circle of Friends” and “Homecoming”, both of which are also available in digests. It isn’t essential that you read them before this one but, hey, logic and all…
This series is built around the simple hook of telling high school stories about Mary Jane Watson in a contemporary setting. She’s got a teenage crush on Spider-Man, she’s just broken up with Harry Osborn, she’s just had a big fight with her best friend Liz Allen, she’s lost her friendship with Liz’s ex Flash Thompson after he tried to pick her up, she’s getting to know the charming side of Peter Parker rather than the nerdy side, she’s got a jealous competitor for the lead in the drama society’s play…
It’s hard to imagine any other writer being able to pull this off in such a straightforward manner, without once winking to the audience or talking down to them, and doing it as successfully as McKeever. I’m not exactly the target demographic for a teen romance book but, as a Spider-Man fan, this is so fresh, charming and effervescent that it is simply too delightful not to appreciate. Hell, I’ve even read it in public. Much like MJ herself, this book is so zestful that it ought to attract attention from one and all – particularly with Miyazawa’s animated art at the helm.
Buy it for yourself, buy it for a younger reader; neither will be disappointed.