The Gold Standard #32


So the hero of Blackest Night needs to be someone from outside the box. Yes, sure, War of Light, Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan, etc. We know how it’s going to go. But you know who should really be around? Who could single handedly turn the tide of the entire event in favor of the living?

A man who can’t die, no matter how hard some might try.

A man who has the power to come back.

A man named….Mitch Shelley.

Never heard of him? I’m not surprised, he was a C lister at best. But beyond that, he was a C list creation of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning a little over ten years ago.

Mitch Shelley from DC 1,000,000, where he was a major character for the only time in his history thus far.
Mitch Shelley from DC 1,000,000, where he was a major character for the only time in his history thus far.

You know Abnett and Lanning, they currently write every single cosmic book over at Marvel. So it’s kinda cool to see where they came from, especially when you look back and can be like “Hey, I read and loved that stuff!” I mean, I read Res Man, I read Legion, I go wayyyyy back with these guys. And now they more or less run an entire line of books at Marvel Comics. That’s just fucking awesome!

Now to be serious, I don’t expect DC to bring back this often forgotten hero (who once led the Forgotten Heroes, ironically enough), as his most recent appearance in Supergirl was completely under the radar, but one can hope, right?

Seriously, just imagine the kind of power that would come from the guy who keeps on dying and coming back with new powers? Imagine that in the Blackest Night! How would Black Hand react to such power that won’t stay dead, when you have to assume that his control is limited only to the dead. He’d become the secret weapon, the meta human who cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, die.

Does this make a lot of sense? Probably not, but come on, if it brought Mitch back to the DC Universe in such a way that he was on the cusp of the A list, that he could get a new monthly title, it would so be worth it.

Now on a semi related note, let’s take a gander of who we know, or are at least semi certain is going to be wearing a black ring (as in we have solicits or interviews or action figures confirming or coming close to)

  • Earth 2 Superman
  • Aquaman
  • Firestorm
  • Martian Manhunter
  • Pa Kent
  • Alexander Luther
  • A whole host of Green Lanterns (from the crypt)

And now for some picks of my own (though quite a few of these are predicitons based on Blackest Night #0)

Can you guess the hands?
Can you guess the hands?
  • Abin Sur
  • Blue Beetle (Ted, duh)
  • Ralph Dibny
  • Sue Dibny
  • Bart Allen
  • Jade
  • Max Lord
  • Mirror Master (Sam Scudder)
  • Omen
  • Terra (either or both)
  • Aquagirl (Tula)
  • Pantha
  • Osiris
  • The Question
  • Zor El
  • The Freedom Fighters
  • The Flying Graysons

I should mention that I’m expecting to see a LOT of dead Titans during this, I mean, there’s going to be Blackest Night mini series for Superman, Batman, Teen Titans, and Wonder Woman. And with the Titans….well, I think if you combine dead characters from Supes, Bats, and Wondy, then the Titans still have the edge. Seriously, a lot of them have died over the years. Some memorable (Terra) some…..not so much (Bushido!).

He dumped Raven for that?
He dumped Raven for that?

One can hope that at the conclusion of The Blackest Night, that the doors to the spirit realm can close up for a bit, that the dead can stop returning. A sense of finality that will be much needed after a Super Zombie mega event. I mean, I do seriously doubt that they’re going to end with a Zombie Lantern Corpse being a regular thing……and I hope that I’m right. Last thing I want is the Blackest Night to turn into DC Zombies as anything akin to what Marvel has been doing the past few years.

Talk about a League reunion.
Talk about a League reunion.

Oooooh, I just thought of this, what if the Black Lantern attack on Kyle Rayner is made up of Alex, Jade, and his mother? I mean, Donna Troy is the only woman he’s schtupped without her getting slaughtered (Natu is still new, give her time), so why not rez the others to make his life hell for an issue? They’ve already pretty much confirmed that Katma Tui is going to be given the Black Lantern treatment to go after John Stewert, so Kyle has to get his dead girlfriends in as well. Hal and Guy really lucked out with Arisia and Ice both coming back from the dead. Seriously.

Know what else would be cool? Black Lantern Freedom Fighters. Remember how Sinestro, Deathstroke, Cheetah, Zoom, and Bizarro tore through them during Infinite Crisis? I bet those rotting corpses haven’t forgotten either! Or maybe, even better, they’re going to attack the current Freedom Fighters and slaughter then in a one panel blink and you miss it! Whatever happened to those guys anyway?

I have to question the logic of a Black Lantern Jonathan Kent, to be honest. I mean, it’s not confirmed, but we have a pretty decent teaser that can be used to support any and all guesses towards it. Sure, it would be a psychological attack on the Man of Steel, since he’s hardly going to beat the crap out of his dead dad, but what capabilities will he have? I mean, I figure it’s safe to assume that most of us have just been expecting the various Black Lanterns to display the abilities that they had in life, but what else could they have that would make a completely normal human being into a threat for Superman?

Blackest Night meets Man of Steel
Blackest Night meets Man of Steel

Abin Sur is my big pick, which is why I listed him separate from the rest of the Lanterns. Here is Hal’s predecessor, Sinestro’s mentor and best friend, the one fed the Blackest Night prophecy by Atrocitus, and he’d been dead since his first appearance. Dead but NEVER forgotten. Other Lanterns have come and gone; our Tomar Re’s, our Ch’p’s, our Chthos-Chtas Chthatis, hell, even our Jack T. Chance’s. But you know what deceased Lantern’s name is never far from our minds? Abin Sur. And it seems now, with the raising of the dead, that we have a match made in heaven….or possibly hell….Hal Jordan vs Abin Sur! Or how about Sinestro vs Abin Sur! Or here’s the last little prediction, and I would not be surprised to see it come to be; Hal Jordan AND Sinestro vs Abin Sur.

If I say yes, do I have to fight your super zombie lantern corpse later?
If I say yes, do I have to fight your super zombie lantern corpse later?

You have to go balls to the wall with this, otherwise there’s just no fun at all.

Like when I say you Black Lantern the only Flash with a corpse, the very alive Bart Allen. Because in case anyone forgot, Bart died as an adult, and was brought back through the lightning as a teenager. His adult body is still very much rotting and being eaten by worms, so it would be fair game. And if not for the method in which Superboy was brought back, I’d guess him to be a Black Lantern as well.

Also ominous is Alex Luthor being on the BL list, as one can only imagine who he would target.

The whole ordeal has me thinking way too much, I mean, no real rules are written in stone. We know of no methods of operation, just as we have no idea what added capabilities these walking dead will receive.

Actually, now that my mind is being tickled, I still wonder what exactly the difference in rings is. I mean, green is the classic, and yellow is green but fear instead of willpower. Then we’ve got orange which is Larfleeze killing people and stealing their identities, turning them into mindless orange lantern constructs. Red spoils the blood and lets them vomit it out like napalm, while their rings replace their hearts all together and the ring bearers became completely driven by their rage. Johns keeps saying blue is the most powerful, but for the life of me I can’t see it, I mean, all they’ve done is super charge green rings and cure the rage of the red, but without a Green Lantern around they are useless. And then there’s Violet….oh Violet, with the power to follow love tethers and encase people in crystal for conversion, I don’t think I dig it either. And with Indigo all we know is they carry staves, and their emotion is compassion.

So confusing, so much to remember. At least the looks are different enough that we aren’t going to be mixing them up.

These boys and girls of summer have a hell of a ride in front of them.
These boys and girls of summer have a hell of a ride in front of them.

All faith to be had, you know? Geoff Johns has proved in the past that he’s more than capable of running a big time event and pacing it in a way that it not only makes sense, but it constantly leaves you on the edge of your seat. After the awesome Infinite Crisis, and the spectacular Sinestro Corps War, there is no reason at all for Blackest Night to leave any doubt in the minds of the readers. Johns on the main parts, and Classy Tomasi handling the Corps, this is going to be wicked.

We can tell you’re watching us, baby, we’re on a roll. We can tell you’re watching us, honey, we’re in control.

So as of this week I am officially pulling Guardians of the Galaxy on a monthly basis, why it took so long to get around to doing is completely beyond me, but it’s a problem no longer. I started up with number thirteen, as I figure I’ll trade the first twelve issues, and I was quite a bit confused. I’ve no idea why Phyla isn’t Quasar, or what Mantis has to do with getting recruits or, hell, why Adam Warlock is pissed at Starlord. Oh, or why the hell MOONDRAGON IS ALIVE! The last I had seen this characters was in Annihilation Conquest where Heather had her burial while Phyla got a well written character moment out of it. So it’s not that I’m complaining, I am just very confused and unsure of how to respond. Well, I can say this, I really want the next issue already.

Brave and the Bold was back and not crappy! Yay! The things you come to expect when Dan Jurgens is writing Booster Gold! I always dig a Jurgens penned Booster story, but I have to say that his Magog was….well, a bit more of a prick them I’m used to. Not saying that Booster doesn’t deserve any poor-hero rant given to him, but Magog just reamed him over a “Hey, chill out” sort of comment. Especially when he was telling him to, you know, not RIP SOMEONE’S ARM OFF! Magog was careless and sloppy. Yes, he got the job done, but terrorists managed to blow up a tank with an RPG, and there were two children in the room full of kidnapped ones that he didn’t even bother to look for. And then the arm ripping off. He made Mike look like Superman, and that’ saying a lot since Michael John Carter is NO Clark Kent.

Invincible, while fundamentally a great issue, was severely lacking in one important thing. Length. The pacing of the issue pushes you from the beginning to the end in less than three minutes, to the point where it’s over before you realize it even got going. And while yeah, there was a cool fight, and stuff did happen, I also felt like the book deserved extra pages just so you felt like you were getting a full read.

Vigilante was read by me for what shall be the last time, as Death Trap is over and I can return to my inability to care about him. But hey, he had one of the best moments of the week. He gouged out Jericho’s eyes in a successful attempt to leave the obnoxious former hero powerless. Go violent guy in a mask! High five!

I like this masked man. He gets the job done.
I like this masked man. He gets the job done.

On the note of Titans, I’m a bit worried about the future of the franchise. Judd Winick is off of Titans, and Sean McKeever is off of Teen Titans (but will still be writing the Ravager back up stories), but that’s not that huge. Winick was terrible on Titans to the point where it wasn’t readable, and McKeever’s Teen Titans was quite honestly just getting interesting, but replacing him wouldn’t have been the worst thing. Except for I don’t know who the hell the replacement guys are. Well, I take that back, Bryan Q. Miller on Teen Titans I have no clue about. Apparently he writes Smallville, which is just a big ol’ discouragement in my book. Whereas Titans will be doing looks at individual characters by different writers, which I apparently just noticed because in August Chris Yost is writing it, and I like Chris Yost.

On the note of Mr. Miller there, I just did a little research and found an interview with him over at CBR that also informed me that he’s going to be writing the new Batgirl book, so DC has a lot of faith in him. Teen Titans and Batgirl. On further reading, his Titans is only looking to be around four issues, while Batgirl is indefinite. So TT is going to be the flavor test, and Batgirl is going to be the meal. I can live with that. But he seems more about his future TV work, so for some reason I get the feeling that even if he’s good, and his issues are great, there’s still going to be an issue with him putting comics second to TV writing. Not necessarily a bad thing, but the last thing we want is another Damon Lindelof.

Superwoman revealed! Some things explained! Reactron gets page time! I want to keep liking Supergirl, and if the entire point of this arc was to set up Kara’s new moral issue, then I guess I can dig it. I just wish they’d gotten to the point quicker, or even a bit more effectively. Lucy Lane as Superwoman did nothing for me, and her death left me thinking even less of her. Yes, I get the issue with Kara now that she accidentally has killed Lois’s sister, but Lucy was such an incredibly huge bitch since she showed up again that I’d be hard pressed to care. Whatever happened to her kid? Or her husband Ron?

Lucy, Ron, and baby Sam. Whatever happened?
Lucy, Ron, and baby Sam. Whatever happened?

Dark Reign Fantastic Four continues to confuse me as frequently as it wows me. Reed is looking at alternate realities to see how things could have been better, continuously coming across the fact that the Illuminati was a horrible idea. Sue, Ben, and Johnny are stuck in another reality as pirates. And then Franklin and Val are getting ready to defend the building against Norman Osborn. Normally I’d have my what the fuck flag raised high, I mean, this is completely over the top, it’s just….I fucking love it. Hickman is a natural on this book, and for that matter, so is Sean Chen. Seriously, Chen should do this book regularly, everything looks so…..good. Though it does continue a trend I’ve been noticing since Millar came on to the main book, and making Val look four or five, and Franklin look six or seven. Franklin should be eight or nine, and Val is two or three. I don’t care if Val is as smart as her dad, she’s still under three.

Speaking of, we also had the new issue of Mark Millar’s Fantastic Four, or as I like to call it, “Why the hell can Bryan Hitch keep a schedule now but not when he was on Ultimates?!?!”. Seriously, has anyone else noticed how this run is longer than either volume of Ultimates, and it’s actually been out, for the most part, on time (or at least close to)? Props to the Masters of Doom arc not feeling forced and out of character for the big Doom, seriously. I’d like to be more critical of it, but I’m having fun. And hey, Doom calling for his masters to be like “Look what I’ve done!” only to have them try and kill him for being a failure is just….it’s just awesome.

Another month, another issue of Amazing Spider-Man Family. The things I do to get my Spider-Girl fix, right? This issue featured a detailed origin of Jackpot that I actually read, and actually enjoyed. I might hate the concept behind the character, and the lengths taken to create her. Or better yet, how quickly she just up and died and wound up being someone so unimportant that the in depth explanation came in a book that’s going to sell exponentially better with Spider-Girl in it. Seriously, without May, this book would be Spider-Man Unlimited. And if your origin needs to be told in an Unlimited book, then that’s just editorial saying you’re not important. With May it’s more like Spider-Girl and backup stories, and Spider-Girl is GREAT! Spider-Girl’s Red and Blue! April and May Parker! Who is better at living May’s life?! Why can’t this book be a weekly?!?!

Thunderbolts returned to the pre-Magnum Opus form and Diggle demonstrated his strengths. The various members of team finally started to get a little depth; Widow being Norman’s personal spy on the team, Ghost being a corporate terrorist that Norman wants working for him instead of against him, one who still doesn’t trust Norman. Headsman found out that whether it was on purpose or not, his equipment, were it not for Ghost, would have killed him in only the second issue of the run, that maybe his boss wanted him to be a corpse dressed like the Green Goblin. And then Ant Man. Oh Eric, how good it is to see you too.

Classic Ant Man
Classic Ant-Man

How about Captain America? Bucky has a birthday and spends it thinking about the ones he had during the war. About how one year his present was that he got sent out to get the training that made him Bucky, about how another year Toro blew the Invaders cover just to get Buck a birthday cake. Even the comparison with Steve where he admits that he spent his twenty-first birthday getting made into Captain America, so it’s time to go get Buck a drink. Mixing it up with a fight against some people who don’t believe he’s the real Cap, and then the candle joke at the end. It was an all around great issue where nothing might have really happened, but you never find a moment of disappointment.

Battle for the Cowl has been an unfortunately paint by numbers kind of mini series. Sure, a lot of cool shit happens, and the future of the Bat franchise is picking up on the flow, but it really does feel like it’s just filling up time before the reboot happens in….well, a week or so. Not to say the issue wasn’t good, I mean, it was essentially one giant fight scene between Dick and Jason. And face it, we all knew going in that Dick was going to be Batman, Damien was going to be Robin, and Tim was going to be alive and eventually become Red Robin. There were no true surprises, I mean, even the Black Mask bit wasn’t too surprising.  But at least it was a solid issue, you know? I enjoyed it, and it is truly always a pleasure to see Tony Daniel go a little crazy on art chores.

Oh, and hey, now we know the whole deal behind that Jean returning cover! Awesome! We also know that Fraction is apparently not reading X-Force! Not awesome! Seriously, over in X-Force we have Elixer who flat out does not want to be there, he wants to go to San Fran, be with his girlfriend, be normal. Over in Uncanny he’s about to get into a tantric sex four way with the Cuckoos. What?

What I read this week:

  • Batman: Battle for the Cowl
  • Brave and the Bold
  • Outsiders
  • Supergirl
  • Vigilante
  • Invincible
  • Amazing Spider-Man Family
  • Captain America
  • Dark Reign Fantastic Four
  • Fantastic Four
  • Thunderbolts
  • Uncanny X-Men

Best of the week:

  1. Captain America
  2. Thunderbolts
  3. Battle for the Cowl

The Gold Standard

A lifelong reader and self proclaimed continuity guru, Grey is the Editor in Chief of Comics Nexus. Known for his love of Booster Gold, Spider-Girl (the real one), Stephanie Brown, and The Boys. Don't miss The Gold Standard.