The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #2 (October, 1999)
Penciller – Dick Giordano
Letterer – John Workman
Colorist – Tom Ziuko
Separator – Digital Chameleon
Assistant Editor – Frank Berrios
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $2.50
Glutton for punishment? Nah, just optimistic that this issue will be better than the last. Still in that Charlton state of mind…
We open with an old man doing psychedelic cave paintings depicting many of the goings-on in the L.A.W.-iverse of late. We shift to a scene showing Captain Atom encased in an enchanted palladium crystal that is draining him of his powers. The Avatar looks on and taunts him. A close-up of his face made me think, for a moment, that he had Starro clamped on his forehead.
We now join the Question getting pummeled by a group of Avatar devotees. This almost makes me think I missed an issue… I don’t even recall them landing! Anyhoo, Beetle wanders back into the scene, wearing rags… claiming to have leprosy, to freak the crowd out. Okay, gotta admit… I chuckled at this. Amid the confusion, he blasts the crowd with his flashgun, and the two super-buddies go all fleet-feet.
Meanwhile, at the Peacemaker/L.A.W. complex in the Swiss Alps we meet a woman named Justine Ramagas. She immediately hits it off with Sarge Steel… and by “hits it off” I mean, Sarge asks her to call him “Daddy”. For a moment, I thought that due to my unfamiliarity with these characters I was missing that this was in fact Steel’s daughter… well, let’s hope not otherwise a scene at the end of this issue is going to be far more disturbing than it already is! They are alerted that there is a call from a Senator Eden in regard to Eve “Nightshade” Eden.
Back in India, the boys are met at the docks by a group of thugs. One chucks a small dagger, which is caught by our old friend Rip Jagger. He throws the knife back at a hanging net that looks to be full of pillows… this allows for the threesome to flee. On the way back to the submerged Bug, Jagger displays his amazing strength by removing seven inch nails from a corrugated steel wall. I’ll give them credit for not making those nails nine inches long… Gotta wonder though, last we saw Jagger he was in his Judomaster get-up… when did he change clothes?
Somehow, it only took the L.A.W. fellas about 15 minutes to get from Switzerland to Maryland… anyhoo, they meet with Senator Eden who takes them into his wine cellar where the starrified Nightshade has struck a dramatic pose. Steel’s sidekick Salt grunts and reaches into the female void… and SIMply yanks Eve out of herself! So far Salt if the MVP of this series. Maybe he’s the stand-in for Peter Cannon… Thunderbolt.
Back in India… really… we’re still here? Okay, Beetle, Rip, and the Question are somehow still at the docks… and guess what? There are thugs approaching. Finally Beetle decides to call forth the Bug… and the three hop aboard. Yeah, didn’t need all these pages to tell this bit.
Okay… now the Steel and the Gang took their 15 minute superflight back to Switzerland. I mean, really… Beetle’s bunch barely makes it from the docks… back to the docks in the time it takes Sarge to cross the Atlantic twice! Anyhoo… here we meet Doctor Bhattacarja, who promises that Steel’s new prosthetic will be the best thing ever. Remember it melted last issue? Maybe I didn’t mention that… now ya know, it melted last issue. They are informed that Nightshade is now awake. We get another page with Beetle, where we learn that they’d been drafted into Sarge Steel’s war.
Back in the Alps, Eve Eden gets chatty. She appears to be something less than alive… not dead, but she’s cold… physically and emotionally. She no longer has feelings. I guess she was inhabited by a succubus which that goofball Fate remedied (?)… over the P.A. comes word that Steel’s special guests have arrived… Salt immediately recognizes Rip Jagger and takes a knee in his presence. Beetle and the boys don’t quite know what to make of their “new friend”.
What follows is a few brief bits… Sarge Steel gets his new hand… a hand which somehow can feel pain. Beetle and Question check in on Nightshade. She advises them that she’s been assigned the task of tracking down the Justice League… oh that’s all? Either way, she walks alone… nobody can follow. Peacemaker and Steel get some brand new information… Avatar’s base doubles for an orphanage, which I suppose is why he abducted that boy who wandered onto the launch site last issue. The United States Assistant Secretary of Defense gives them the news, and adds to it that his own son is among the “orphans”. Peacemaker vows to save the tots.
That night, we check in on Doctor Bhattacarja’s bedside. She’s telling a man in the shadows to gather all the information on the L.A.W. as he can. She then reaches into her nightstand and pulls out a crystal. With it she summons the Mighty Parashrama (Avatar to you and me) and promises that she will deliver the information he desires. We also learn that there may be an exchange of favors for her misdeeds…
Speaking of exchanging favors… we get an uncomfortable scene in which Sarge Steel gets it on with Justine… ya know, the girl he suggested should call him “daddy” earlier that day. I guess there’s a lesson in there somewhere… I just don’t wanna dig far enough to find it. Anyhoo… she seems really impressed by his new palm and digits, and before ya know it they’re lockin’ lips.
The issue ends with the Charltonites heading out on their mission(s). To be continued…
It was better than the first issue. Sadly, that’s really not saying all that much. I mentioned a certain flatness to the art last issue… and while it’s most definitely still there… I think I realized what it reminds me of… the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip! It’s passable, sure… but just so lifeless. It’s hard for me to become engaged with art like this.
The story? Well, it’s a “gather the team” issue. Many of our disparate former Charltonites are coming together to face the threat of the (barely present) Avatar. I gotta say, I dug the Beetle and Question segments… mostly for Beetle’s comedy. The leper colony bit was cute, and got a chuckle out of me.
Sarge Steel is still just unlikable enough for me not to care. At this point, I’m hoping he annoys me enough for me to want him to play chicken with a tank. Right now, he’s just a jerk. The love scene with Justine was suitably stomach turning as well.
We get ourselves a reveal with Doctor Whatsherface being a devotee to whoever the Avatar is the reincarnation of… so there’s that. She’s a big part of the nebulous Living Assault Weapons program, so I’m guessing this was supposed to be a far bigger deal than I’m making it out to be.
The Judomaster and Nightshade get new wrinkles in their mysteries… which, I’m guessing if I had grown up with the Charlton characters I’d care more, but with my lack of interest mixed with my terrible affliction of hindsight telling me that what happens in this miniseries… stays in this miniseries, I just can’t get into it. I think it’s cool they’re trying something with them… but that’s about as far as I can go.
If we’re talking about “interesting”, I’d direct you to the letters column for this issue (below). I say this without a hint of irony… this page was the most interesting thing included in this issue. I’ll concede that I’m kind of a boring dude, and I understand what tickles me often causes those around me to yawn… but I really liked Giordano sharing stories… and unwittingly adding to a podcast that would come some 16 years later.
So, overall… a definite improvement over the first chapter, however, still quite lackluster. I’ll still give issue three the ol’ read through, so maybe we’ll discuss that one tomorrow… then again, maybe not.
|The most interesting thing in this issue…|