Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Millennium #2 (1988)


Millennium #2 (January, 1988)
"Under"
Story - Steve Englehart
Layouts - Joe Staton
Finishes - Ian Gibson
Letters - Bob Lappan
Colors - Carl Gafford
Editor - Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $0.75

Ya know... I got drawn in to that first chapter of Millennium so much, I figure we can stick with it at least for one more day.  I'm tellin' ya... having the Illustrated Indexes from ICG (as well as the DC Focus) really adds to the overall experience.  They do a great job of filling in context, and really getting me into the gestalt of the event.  I wish DC (and Marvel) would release something similar these days... though, I guess the internet kind of renders such an endeavor redundant.

I just think about how much such a thing would have helped me through Final Crisis... though, I'll concede that the Index for that would have weighed in at 400 or so pages!

Anyhoo... let's get to recruiting some New Guardians...

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We open at the Daily Planet where Clark Kent is being confronted by his childhood friend, Lana Lang... and lemme tell ya, the visit doesn't look to be too cordial.  She warns him to "look the other way" while she and the rest of the Manhunters fulfill their prime directive.  Not only is she one of the Manhunters... she also knows Clark's dual identity!  She forces him to decide, right there on the spot... and Clark, being Superman doesn't bend.  For a brief moment, Lana looks at Clark with saddened eyes... however, that moment is fleeting.  She grabs him by the collar and proceeds to start pounding on him!



We shift to the first of maaaaaany times we're going to join Herupa Hando Hu (The Old-Timer) and Nadia Safir of the Zamorans.  They arrive in Australia near Alice Springs where they greet an Aborigine woman named Betty Clawman.  They advise her that she is one of the ten Earthers they have chosen to advance the human race.  She claims to have seen their arrival in the Dreamtime... and seems down with joining up!



The next stop for our intrepid ZamarOans is the offices of Yakada Inc. in Japan.  They greet another of "the chosen", Takeo Yakada.  He is a bit hesitant to join up... but comes around to the idea pretty quickly.



We hop half a planet away to join Batman in Gotham City as he checks in with Commissioner Gordon.  They are discussing the Millennium event, and Batman offers that the Manhunters are likely to know the heroes' darkest secrets.  Gordon says the word on the street is that someone called Harbinger is responsible for betraying the heroes' trust.  Batman is a bit incredulous... and walks over to the office window.  With his back turned... Gordon makes his move!  He konks Batman on the back of the head with his pistol, and shoves him out the window!  Uh-oh.



We return to the ZamarOans just as they are joined by... Harbinger!  She has come to offer her services to them, just as she had served the Monitor during the Crisis.  Being the living embodiment of Who's Who in the DC Universe? she can probably be useful in tracking down the rest of The New Guardians "The Ten".  The Old-Timer is all "nuh-uh", because she's the reason why they're in this current crisis.  Her "Tome of History" otherwise known as (and I love this) History of the DC Universe (vols. 1& 2) has tipped off the Manhunters.  Harbinger freaks out and flees, hopeful that she might be able to fix the situation.



We stick with our duo as they arrive in Shanghai to give the ol' offer to Xiang Po.  She is cool with joining, however, would need to speak with her parents and the leadership before agreeing to anything.  Fair enough...



Tired of the Old-Timer and Safir yet?  Yeah, me too.  Anyhoo, we next follow them into Krasnojarsk, Russia to make the offer to Nikolai Latikov.  He claims not to believe in superior beings, and accuses them of provocation.  He sends them away... but then wonders if this was a test of his loyalty.



We shift to Chicago where Blue Beetle is accusing Maxwell Fisher of the Chicago P.D. of being his Manhunter.  They have a brief struggle, all the while Fisher claims he's legit.  Beetle's not sure if he can believe him, but decides to leave him be.  As he ascends into the Bug, he just happens to meet his Manhunter... Overthrow!



Well, it's been about a page and a half... it's time to check back in with our ZamarOans.  Now they're in... fascist Britain?  Hmm... maybe some Englehartian political commentary creeping in... anyhoo, they are here for a woman named Celia Windward.  They make the offer... and she tells them to beat it.



Next stop... Qom, Iran for Salima Baranizar.  She seems confused by their offer, and does not give an answer.  Safir suggests she and the Old-Timer leave... she is sure that Salima will come around.



We shift to Akron, Ohio where we join Dan Richards, the original Manhunter.  He is questioning how Manhunters can be behind all of these attacks... since, ya know... he was one.  As he stomps down the street, he is passed by a very determined (and Manhuntery) Laurel Kent.



Ooh boy, more Old-Timer stuff.  Their next stop is South Africa and their next point of contact is Janwillem Kroef.  He... doesn't quite look like a superhero... and doesn't really sound like one either.  He agrees to join up because... get this, "any group of people needs the white man to run them!"  Ay yai yai.



Next stop, Trujillo Peru... where they seek the loudly-dressed Gregorio De La Vega.  He refers to the Old-Timer as a "bite-sized man".  I think I found my favorite New Guardian!  He doesn't agree to join up, by the way.



We return to the Green Lantern Citadel where we find Tom Kalamaku convalescing after the attack... and nearly being run over by a 747.  He wakes up to find himself surrounded by the Green Lantern Corps.  They chat for a bit, but are interrupted by the arrival of our ZamarOans.  They've got an offer... for Tom!



Soooo... of the ten, we've got nine.  Gotta remember the original choice for number ten was our old friend Terra... who is very much dead.  So, who could fill her spot?  To answer that question, we're going to have to visit Arkham Asylum... and the cell of Jason Woodrue... the Floronic Man!


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Mostly a "moving pieces into place" issue here... but given that Millennium is a weekly miniseries that is being supported by nearly every mainline DC title, I think we can allow it.  I figure it's better they initiate the recruitment drive here rather than one of the tie-ins.  At least this way, a reader who decides against picking up all of the crossovers... or, is unable to find them at the newsstand, can still follow the main beats of the story.

I'll say reading it now... the "We have chosen ten people on Earth..." shtick got pretty repetitive, but at the same time, I'm glad that it's contained here and out of the way so the story can move forward.  Otherwise, not counting reveals, that Clark/Lana scene... and the almost "meta" aspects of the Manhunters' knowledge, not much to say.  It's neat to see Tom Kalamaku being chosen... the dude deserves it after putting up with being called "Pieface" for much of his existence.  We're not going to talk about The New Guardians just yet... we'll get there though. 

Now, for our triple main event... let's first discuss the Lana and Clark scene.  Now, not having read the tie-ins in ages... I'm pretty sure I'm missing out on some important context.  We'll probably get there though.  As much as I think this reveal is a bit foolhardy, I can't help but enjoy the dynamic shift... and just what this might mean to Superman's secret.  I think we've all been in situations where we're arguing with someone in public... and the other person's (or your own) voice begins to raise, and you're suddenly aware of just how many people are standing in the proximity.  We get that from Clark here... and it's not everyday we find him in such an uncomfortable position.  I thought that was pretty neat.  All the power in the world, while at the same time being pretty powerless over the situation.

Next up... the reveals.  As far as I can tell, we only get three new ones this chapter... Laurel Kent, who I think has something to do with the Legion of Super-Heroes... so, I know very little about her.  Overthrow, another who I know next to nothing about.  A bit of research reveals that he worked for Kord Industries.  Fair enough... he does show up to fight Blue Beetle, so I guess that makes sense.  The bigger reveal, however... is Commissioner Gordon!  Pretty much take everything I said about Lana Lang's reveal... and that's pretty much what I think about this one.  I think perhaps the creators flew a bit too close to the Sun for some of these.  Ya gotta figure when dealing with characters who actually have a measure of "presence" in the mainstream of popular culture... that these massive overhauls to their history just ain't gonna stick.  Like, there's no way the character of James Gordon is going to be thrown out with the bathwater at the end of this event.  I feel like this telegraphs the kind of long-lasting impact this story is going to have... and how things might not be as they seem.  It's like when we discussed Zero Hour... Batman died... at which point we realized that much of the event wouldn't "stick".  I do suppose it could be seen as a positive to not know which of these reveals are "real"... I dunno, I think I'm thinking too much!

Finally, I really appreciate that the Manhunters learned everything about the DC heroes by reading... The History of the DC Universe.  I mean, we've read that very same book!  Such an interesting thing to add... I'd forgotten that Harbinger's research was that two-parter.  Such a creative way to not only empower the Manhunters, but tie this event back to Crisis.

Overall... this was a bit of a step-down from the opening chapter, but considering the purpose of this issue, that's totally understandable.  This was a dense and heavy issue that served to introduce new characters and fill-out the concept of The New Guardians.  I appreciate the way the issue ends with the reveal of the tenth member... the Floronic Man!  Seems like he could be a fitting replacement for Terra.

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(Not the) Letters Page:



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