The Anti-Nexus

Written by“¦.Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Breakdowns by“¦.Keith Giffen
Pencils by“¦.Eddy Barrows
Inks by“¦.Rob Stull
Colours by“¦.Alex Sinclair
Letters by“¦.Ken Lopez
Edits by“¦.Stephen Wacker
Published by DC

“Burial Ground”

DAY #155 – In Metropolis, Lex Luthor gets things off to a flying start by pointing out 52’s ever-present temporal plot-hole, chastising a lackey for taking three bloody weeks to get around to showing him footage of Supernova talking to Crazy Wonder Girl, which happened, well, three weeks ago. 22 minus 3. Go on, you can work it out. The lackey claims it took them that long because they had to decode Supernova’s ability to disintegrate camera recordings by Lexcorps comm. satellite. Neat! The lackey then tries to offer up proof that Supernova is Kon-El, a.k.a. Conner Kent, a.k.a. Superboy, a.k.a. Lex Lutho’s son, a.k.a. dead stiff, and gets fired for his efforts by an enraged Lex. Neater! Lex is clearly convinced that Supernova cannot be anybody other than Superman, so he sets up an appointment to give himself superpowers. Neatest!

Well, it’s better than Kevin Spacey playing a disgruntled real estate agent. Didn’t he learn anything from American Beauty?

DAY #156 – On the bus into Metropolis, some disgruntled (whoops, already used that word”¦ let’s just hope nobody notices it”¦ wait, I just told them all about it”¦ crap”¦ if I could figure out how to type the visceral humour of exiting stage left, I’d be doing it right now”¦ or is it stage right? It never ends”¦) Native Indian American Demographically Correct Non-Racial Race Denomination chucks a convicted rapist off a bus for hassling some little girl lost. Good job, Jon Standing Bear, if that is your real name.

“The Supernova/Luthor plot definitely intrigues.”

DAY #157 – Lex is not compatible with his own metagene therapy. Lex is not a happy camper. (But, really, the version in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN that worked hard to grow his own muscles, highlighting the fact that Superman was just born with his, was a far better direction and further evidence to support the theory that Grant Morrison is far from being not un-insane.)

DAY #158 – J.S. Bear goes home and gets disgruntled (dammit”¦) at a couple of disgruntled (aaahhh!!!) old men, until one of them rabbits on long enough to impart the origin of Super-Chief and give it to the young whippersnapper. Then he goes home and kills his grandma.

DAY #159 – Lex Luthor opens his International Business School in Metropolis, but some crazy (ha! Didn’t use disgruntled! Ah. Bollocks.) black guy turns up and starts hassling him. He gets chucked out, but his claims of the metagene program being a sham intrigue Steel, who had been hiding out in the time-honoured disguise of an oversized black raincoat and hat, and the two go off to pontificate someplace private.

Elsewhere, Dr Magnus and Mercury get a visit from some Metal Men. They attack his house and, despite a valiant effort to escape, Mercury gets squished and Morrow gets taken by what looks like a misplaced Sentinel. Then the house blows up. DCU insurance firms must make a bloody fortune.

And there’s a very boring origin story for Hal Jordan. The words “evil”, “tool”, “smug”, “numpty”, “overrated”, “outdated”, “unnecessary” and “wanker” do not appear. Hence it is useless. Ergo he is also useless. Furthermore, he remains useless forever more. Well useless. Truly. Useless as in even lower on the cultural pecking order than Ashton Kutcher – though that in itself may be considered quite an achievement, I assure you it is the only one Jordan will ever manage.

Well, the Supernova/Luthor plot definitely intrigues. Unfortunately, there is the sinking suspicion that it will be dragged out for far too many weeks, just like the Dr Magnus/Professor Morrow storyline. Hell, the mystery of the missing scientists began back in the first month of this series! All they’ve done since is chuck in the irritating Mercury and had an (admittedly well done) explosion scene this issue. They better watch themselves; otherwise 52’s main plots are going to have to be wrapped up so quickly in the final months that satisfaction will be next to impossible.

Grade: B

Written by“¦.Robert Kirkman
Drawn by“¦.Andy Kuhn
Coloured by“¦.Marte Gracia
Lettered by“¦.Rus Wooton
Edited by“¦.Aubrey Sitterson
Published by Marvel, obviously”¦ but not anymore

“Titannus Lives!”

Well, here we are at the end of yet another attempt to launch a fairly random team-up book for the Marvel Universe. The very fact that they tried to do this even in the wake of ULTIMATE MARVEL TEAM-UP going tits-up speaks volumes. After all, the driving force behind making the original volume of this title (plus its Thing-sponsored companion, MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE) such a success was that the market had not yet reached saturation point. These days, if somebody wants to read a Spider-Man or Wolverine story, they have umpteen ongoing titles, group titles, trade paperbacks, and mini-series or alternate-universe books to choose from. Back in the ‘70s, when Marvel’s output was far more streamlined, the chance to read a comic story involving more than one superhero at a time must have seemed far more tempting than it does at the moment. Not to mention the proliferation of other media in which the major characters put in appearances – cartoons, movies, video games, etc. Another option was to put a bunch of less exposed characters into the team-up book – a tactic that Kirkman did try in the “League of Losers” arc – but then, the reason those characters are incapable of maintaining their own series is that they didn’t have an audience, and in this day and age one is not simply going to appear just because of the tired ‘team-up’ trick. The third option, more of a last resort than anything else, was to try and use the book as a platform to launch new characters. Well, that didn’t work in AMAZING FANTASY and it failed in an equally dismal manner here. Marvel maintain that Freedom Ring was not killed off because he was homosexual but, even if that is true, the lengthy arc wound up doing nothing more than introducing a Skrull wannabe-superhero named Crusader and failing to establish him whatsoever.

The experiment has faded its way into an inevitable cancellation, albeit one that came later than many people predicted, and the Marvel Universe, not to mention the comic book audience at large, remains spectacularly indifferent. This issue attempts to wrap up various loose-ends from the previous arcs and does a competent job of it, yet it’s hard to care.

“Reads as though even Robert Kirkman had lost interest…”

The aforementioned League of Losers are given an extended cameo to book-end the issue, showing what they are getting up to in the future and leaving them to their own devices until such time as they are shoe-horned into the background of a random panel of a greater title with nary a care of their participation here. Fingers crossed that Sean McKeever might yet be able to write a second GRAVITY story. The plot about Titannus returning is wafer-thin and reads as though a junior high student scribbled it in his notebook during a lonely lunchtime. Crusader retains the Freedom Ring powers and his place in the Marvel Universe, though it is unlikely that anybody outside of the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK compilers will give a crap. Also, yes, Spider-Man and Wolverine put in appearances. The former makes cheap chatter as the latter has a fight scene so clichéd that, if it were a movie script, even Jean-Claude Van Damme would turn it down.

The issue, as with the last few, reads as though even Robert Kirkman had lost interest in it. Perhaps the political fracas over Freedom Ring curbed his enthusiasm. Perhaps he simply realized he was onto a loser and focused his energies on ULTIMATE X-MEN instead. Ah, well. At least we’ll always have issue #14 and the Spider-Man/Invincible team-up – the one time that this series genuinely impressed.

Grade: C

Next Week”¦ there’s the wholly unsurprising presence of 52 WEEK TWENTY-THREE and the end of the line for Jessica Jones’ solo career in THE PULSE VOL. 3 – FEAR TPB. That’s all that’s scheduled, but there will be a fair few words to say about the Bendis run on DAREDEVIL to boot.