I'm going to forgo the usual Cocktail post this week to focus on something that appeared on the DC Nation pages at the back of several of this weeks' comics - the Dark Side Club Tournament that's upcoming in the Terror Titans mini-series.
I've not read anything about this so it kinda caught me by surprise, but I can't help run through it and try and guess who will win. So, here's my predictions, round by round:
Pristine vs Offspring - Offspring to win; I've no idea who Pristine is which makes me instantly discount them as cannon fodder which, I'll warn you now, is going to be my reasoning for much of this round.
Terra vs Zatara - Terra to win; Zatara's a fairly well fleshed out character in the Teen Titans, but Terra's got a new mini-series coming up.
Aquagirl vs The Face - Aquagirl to win; The Face is cannon fodder again.
Ravager vs TNTeena - oh so easily Ravager to win; this mini-series might be called Terror Titans, but it's Ravager who's the star here.
Hardrock vs Gypsy - Gypsy to win; this is all about experience vs brute force.
Young Frankenstein vs Son of the Fallen - Young Frankenstein to win; cannon fodder rule comes into play once more.
Poprocket vs Star-Spangled Kid - Star-Spangled Kid to win; cannon fodder once more - I mean, come on: Poprocket?!
Sapphire vs Argent - Argent to win; cannon fodder again, you see
Offspring vs Terra - Terra to win; Offspring's funny but, again, Terra's got that mini-series that'll carry her through this round at least.
Aquagirl vs Ravager - Ravager to win again; this is still her series.
Gypsy vs Young Frankenstein - Gypsy to win; she's got the experience but from a story point of view, her win will benefit her next fight if I'm right about the result of the last Round 2 match.
Star-Spangled Kid vs Argent - Star-Spangled Kid to win; his win will prevent an all-female semi-final.
Round 3 - The Semi-Finals
Terra vs Ravager - Ravager to win; Terra's new mini-series will be no good against the star of this mini-series so she's going down!
Gypsy vs Star-Spangled Kid - Star-Spangled Kid to win; two definite heroes fighting against each other, one of whom was in the JLA, the other is a new legacy character, will give this last fight a touch of drama.
Ravager vs Star-Spangled Kid - I'm going to go all out and bet that neither of them will win; by this point, Ravager will have realised just how evil the Terror Titans are and will work with Star-Spangled Kid to bring them down.
Finally finished the notes on Lord Havok And The Extremists over at the Annotated Final Crisis site. I'd had the first four issues typed up by the start of this week but with work and everything else getting in the way, I just couldn't get time to finish them.
Anyhow, they're done. Now I only have Final Crisis #4, Final Crisis: Revelations #3, Final Crisis: Submit, Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #3 and Final Crisis: Legion Of 3 Worlds #2 to write up.
Ah, crap . . .
Did I dream it or was Final Crisis supposed to be a stand-alone series, free of multiple cross-overs?
Another Garth Ennis title leads the Cocktail posts this week as Crossed #1 picks up the story a year after where the preview #0 left off. The world's gone to hell, an infection has ravaged the world and most of the population has become evil, depraved sons of bitches, willing to perform any and all types of atrocity. It's certainly not a happy go lucky book with little sign of the black humour that Ennis usually peppers his stories with. This is grim, horrible stuff but it's done so well you can't help but continue reading it. Comparisons to The Walking Dead will be made - a small band of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world - but the titular Crossed, the infected, aren't zombies. There's obviously some intelligence left as they go about destroying the remaining dregs of humanity despite the survivors' best attempts to continue. It's a tough read but well worth it, and the art by Jacen Burrows is gloriously hideous.
Dark Tower: Treachery #2 continues adding to the Dark Tower stories of Stephen King and introduces something that was missing from the original books: a female gunslinger. Or, at least, a young woman who wants to be a gunslinger. Rejected due to tradition, though, young Aileen is unlikely to gain that hallowed title despite her obvious proficiency with a pistol.
The big DC event of the year, Final Crisis, continues with Final Crisis: Revelations #3 with the re-born Cain - lately known as the immortal caveman Vandal Savage - seeks out the Spectre who had been the one to mark him all those years before. The heroes struggle against the people of Gotham who have succumbed to the Anti-Life equation that Darkseid unleashed at the end of Final Crisis #3; Batwoman attacks and almost kills the Question before the Spectre and Radiant arrive and seek sanctuary in a church. Joined by a few survivors, they are soon surrounded by the possessed civilians who wait for the arrival of someone. That, with no surprise, turns out out to be Cain/Savage, who arrives clutching the Spear of Destiny and demands that the Spectre face him so that Cain may have his revenge. Convinced of his powers, the Spectre appears but is more than a little surprised when Cain manages to pierce him with the Spear. Theological debates between the Spectre and the Radiant aside, this is easily one of the best Final Crisis tie-ins and I can't wait for the next issue.
Talking of "no surprise there," Speedy and Dodger finally get together in the pages of Green Arrow/Black Canary #13 even though Speedy fronts up about her HIV positive status. It's nice to see a genuine romance blossom without Judd Winick feeling the need to make a big deal out of it; both Speedy and Dodger act realistically and while I'm no fan of his drag-a-plot-out-till-it-snaps story telling, he's done well with this. Back at chez Arrow, though, things aren't going that well with the recently revived Connor Hawke who appears to have no memory of himself and at the same time has developed some sort of regenerative ability where wounds heal up in a matter of seconds. That can't bode well.
Love is in the air elsewhere this month, specifically the pages of Green Lantern Corps #29 which really begins to explore the idea of the Star Sapphire Corps. Newlyweds Miri and Kered are heading off on their honeymoon when their ship is attacked by Mongul who raids it looking for food and when challenged almost casually kills Kered before leaving. Guy Gardner and Ice, meanwhile, attempt to find out where their relationship is going but, despite maturing over recent years, Gardner still manages to be a bit of an arse when it comes to Ice. Back at the ship, a distraught Miri plans to kill herself to be with Kered but is found by a Star Sapphire ring and becomes one of, it not the first Sapphire Corps members. Saarek - the Lantern who can talk to the dead - continues his secret mission to find the corpse of the Anti-Monitor while the scarred Guardian who sent him on that mission later has Gardner, Arisia and Sodam Yat head to Zamaron on a diplomatic mission after expressing her dislike of the Zamarons obvious attempt to emulate the Corps. There's a lot going on in this title at the moment and much of it is heading towards the Blackest Night event next year which is shaping up to be really big.
As much as I like Geoff Johns's writing, his secret origin of Hal Jordan which comes to an end in Green Lantern #35 has seemed to drag a little. Still, there's a couple of good points raised in this issue about why the buildings on Oa are all yellow and why the Guardians don't like the Lanterns to fraternise but otherwise the resolution seems a little weak for the length of the story. Still, next is the Red Lantern storyline which ties into Final Crisis.
Ah, I still miss The All New Atom which finished a few months ago, but at least I've now got my Gail Simone fix with Secret Six #2. Charged by an anonymous contact, the team band together to break Tarantula out of Alcatraz prison and escort her across the country to Gotham, knowing full well that every meta-human mercenary will be on their tails. While the breakout starts off well enough, it all goes down the pan fairly quickly and they're left trying to find a way out with a bunch of guards heading towards them. Meanwhile, the mysterious Mr. Junior comes out of his box for once and hires as many mercenaries as he can to capture Tarantula and the Six, offering an enormous bounty. And framing all this is the long-awaited fight between Catman and Batman which has been brewing ever since Simone revitalised Catman in the pages of Villains United. It's peppered with wonderful dialogue with Catman trying to work out why he can smell Mexican food and at the same time Batman attempts to help him and the Six by warning them off the Tarantula gig. This is Simone doing what she does best and I really hope her run lasts longer than The All New Atom.
With The Stand: Captain Trips #2, the adaptation of one of Stephen King's best books continues apace and while I'm enjoying it, it still has the same problem as the first issue - condensing such a huge book means cutting a lot out and it still feels a little rushed. If it's going to be done, why not do it right? But hey, that's just a fan of the book bitching about it as opposed to any complaint about the book itself which still looks gorgeous.
Trinity #19 switches focus this week, with Tarot and Gangbuster stepping up to the main story rather than being the back-up. In the new and alternate world that's been created recently, they need to find a way to bring back the heroes that they now only vaguely remember. On the way they meet a very different Alfred Pennyworth who gives them a little something to pass on to "the head of the J.S.I." - a scroll from the reing of Khufu who (notwithstanding Jim Starlin's recent retcon) was a previous incarnation of Hawkman. The world, meanwhile, struggles to remember the heroes of the trinity with a young woman becoming obsessed with drawing Wonder Woman, convinced that she was real despite the condemnation of her abusive husband. It appears she's not alone as Firestorm briefly arrives - due to him investigating the Cosmic Egg at the time of the reality warping, he still knows things shouldn't be like this.
Hey, look at this, a Cocktail post on time for once . . . okay, it's about half a week after most people get their comics but I'm in the UK and I pick mine up on a Saturday so cut me some slack, huh?
Ah, The Boys #23 - if there's one title I look forward to each and every month, knowing I'm going to get one hell of a good read it's this one and, with no surprise, this month's delivers. Vought American, the company behind most of the successful American superheroes, is obviously gearing up for some huge confrontation; Wee Hughie and Annie continue their romance unaware of who each works for; Butcher still gets his kicks . . . manipulating . . . the Director; and a plan is put in place to find out information about the most profitable superteam out there, the G-Men. Said plan involves someone from The Boys going undercover and while I mentioned Ambush Bug last week as giving me a laugh out loud moment, that didn't compare to the last page of The Boys #23. If you haven't read it, you need to, trust me!
I honestly thought I had missed an issue when I read Justice League Of America #25, I really did. I even went so far as to double check the stash of comics I still haven't bagged up and put away and sure enough, there was #24 - I had simply forgotten what had happened. That's not a good sign for what is DC's flagship team title. Still, it was a better read - the Anansi storyline speeds up and there are some nice touches and references to Animal Man's previous problems with reality aka Grant Morrison. Red Tornado quits the team after asking his long suffering girlfriend to marry him and at the end, the reality warping powers of Anansi appear to have created an alternate time-line complete with its own version of the League.
One issue I had missed last week was Tangent: Superman's Reign #7 so I picked that up this week. The change of regular artist was a little unsettling as Wes Craig's style seems a little more cartoonish at first - which isn't saying it's bad, just a little different. On Earth-9, Batman and the native heroes manage to break into Superman's fortress to find their friends captive while the magicians attempt to find Superman himself; both groups coming to the knowledge at the same time that both the Earth-9 Superman and his wife Power Girl are now back on our Earth. They wander around, shocked at the idea of homeless people and attempt to help but merely gather a crowd of hangers on, people who want something for nothing. Of course it's not long before our own Superman and Power Girl turn up to find out what's going on. The back up story, History Lesson, continues to be a potted history of the Tangent characters, this time focusing on the Flash while at the same time having the Earth-9 Jennie Hayden showing a lot of gratuitous cleavage.
Picked up Terror Titans #1, the first of three new mini-series this week, and which follows on from recent events over in Teen Titans. Within the first couple of pages, a third string character bites the dust, cut in half by an axe, before his compatriots are made to fight in an arena for the Clock King. Ravager, late of the Teen Titans herself, has joined Clock King to train the Terror Titans and isn't impressed by the team that she almost singlehandedly dealt with recently. Dreadbolt, field leader of the Terrors, is given a mission by Clock King - to kill Dreadbolt's own father, the villain Bolt while Ravager takes to the arena and battles another third stringer, Fever. It's all good, dirty fun hanging round with the bad guys and girls who aren't afraid to kill people and there's a couple of surprises in there.
Being a big fan of Alan Moore, I had to pick up Top Ten: Season Two #1 even if the man himself isn't connected to it. Written by Zander Cannon, though, who has worked with Moore on these characters before, as well as being illustrated by Gene Ha who co-created the original series with Moore, it's no surprise that it's in good hands. Like the original, it begins slowly, offering up several different threads and stories for the characters to deal with, both criminal (like having twelve dead girls appear in the fountain outside the police station), personal (Lieutenant Peregrine's husband going through an identity crisis) and procedural (the new Commissioner being something of a stickler and insisting on the entire Top 10 members wearing standard police uniforms. That the series is only running for four issues surprises me - there's a lot here that would seem to imply a longer run, but hey, I'll take what I can get.
With Trinity #18, the maxi-series appears to have shifted up a gear, changing from one big fight to something more of a mystery. Krona's out from his prison and free to roam the stars while the release of whatever energy by the bad guys in last week's issue has shifted this world into something else. Heroes are all members of the Justice Society International and Lois Lane's a bitch on TV who is determined to bring the Atom in for questioning over the death of Sue Dibny. I'm something of a sucker for alternate worlds - hell, that's one of the reasons I read DC and not Marvel! - and while this issue is a little bit of a scene setter, it still works.
The last title I picked up was the last of the new mini-series that started this week: Vixen: Return Of The Lion #1 and I have to say I'm glad it's only running to five issues. I picked it up as Vixen's long been a character I've liked - hell, I was one of the three people who enjoyed the Justice League Detroit - but I have to say this held no surprises whatsoever. With the discovery that the death of Vixen's mother wasn't solved years ago, she packs up her bag and heads back to her home village . . . which is being threatened by me who work for the man behind her mother's death . . . whom she humiliates and defeats in battle . . . prompting an appearance by the bad guy . . . whom she attacks but is surprised to discover is stronger than her. Early in the issue, Superman tells her "You can never go home again. It's a cliche because it's true." and that seems to sum up this issue - it's strictly by the numbers. If this was an ongoing, I'd be looking to drop it; as it is, I'll stick it out for the run.
More Ladies Night goodness with a trip down memory lane to the Justice Leagues event, specifically Justice League of Amazons which was simply an excuse to get a bunch of superheroines to battle it out. Hey, who's complaining?!
Wonder Woman tries to rein in Power Girl, Big Barda and Huntress but c'mon, who's she kidding?!
See these are among the feistiest ladies in the DCU and they're not going to hold back, oh no!
Oh my . . . is it wrong for me to want to see Power Girl pound on some bad guys with her "spandex-clad butt"? Is it?