Sunday, December 31, 2017

Deadshot #1 (1988)

Deadshot #1 (November, 1988)
"Die But Once"
Writers - John Ostrander & Kim Yale
Artist - Luke McDonnellp
Letterer - Tim Harkins
Colorist - Julianna Ferriter
Editor - Robert Greenberger
Cover Price: $1.00

Looking through my last month or so blogging and I come to find that I've mostly been covering "current century" stuff.  Yes, part of that is due to the quickness in which a recent issue can be synopsized... but also, there's that "luck of the draw".

Today we're going to remedy that somewhat by travelling back to the late 1980's... and check out a Suicide Squad spin-off miniseries.


We open with a woman arriving at a rather seedy apartment in search of Floyd Lawton.  She checks in with the super/landlord and learns that Floyd only used this address to have his mail forwarded to a post office box... so, it looks like our lady has got bupkis.  Well, not entirely... she does get the location of the P.O. Box, so there's that.  This woman, by the way, is Floyd's ex-wife.

We next shift over to the man himself, who is in a bar in some tropical locale meeting with a man named Silas (though, he refers to him as Silage for some reason), who he was once in the clink with.  We learn that they're the two last men standing from their little prison clique... the rest had all perished in convenient "accidents".

Outside, we can see that this meeting is being surveilled by Sarge Steel and Rick Flag of Task Force X.  Turns out Floyd's "on the job" trying to be connected with a man going by the moniker "El Jefe".

Speaking of the Suicide Squad, we jump over to Belle Reve Prison to check in with Prison Psychiatrist/Therapist Marnie Herrs.  This facilitates our getting a quick and dirty look at Deadshot's origin story... and his rather unsuccessful career as a criminal.  Herrs posits that perhaps Deadshot is truly on a "suicide mission"... as in, part of him hopes he dies.

Back with Deadshot, he is brought before a a stereotypical mobby dude named Ariosto.  Floyd introduces himself as "Orlando Furioso"... which, c'mon... that's just silly.  Anyhoo, to test Deadshot's loyalty, Ariosto drags a "traitor" into the room.  For them to trust Sr. Furioso, he's going to have to put a bullet in this poor dude's brain.  C'mon... that's never a problem for ol' Floyd.

Ariosto is impressed... and tells Deadshot he can meet with El Jefe... in six months... maybe a year.  Well, that's not going to work for Floyd, so he delivers an ultimatum.  They meet tonight, or he walks.  I'm not sure why, but Ariosto agrees.  I think, personally, I'd let this masked-madman walk and chalk it up as a win.

Back at Belle Reve, Marnie continues reflecting on her time analyzing Mr. Lawton... finding him a tragic figure, with women issues out that wazoo... but, still... something drew her to him.  Something which got her taken off his case.  She decides it's time for her to take a leave of absence from her position with Task Force X.

We rejoin Deadshot and company at a small airstrip.  A plane lands, and the group boards.  Inside we get a look at El Jefe.  He's... just a dude.  He greets Deadshot and suggests that this masked man might want him dead.  Floyd doesn't correct him.  El Jefe warns him that if he fires a gun, any holes in the pressurized cabin would kill everybody on board.  Kinda begs the question as to why El Jefe is packing heat... but whattayagonnado?  Perhaps it's just a fashion accessory to the guy.

So, you remember that thing about Deadshot being on a bonafide "suicide mission" from earlier?  Well, our man decides to throw caution (and bullets) to the wind... and blasts everybody on board!  This includes Silage... the final member of his "old gang", by the way... and perhaps the real reason why he took this gig.  As promised by El Jefe, the fuselage comes apart... and our man is thrown from the plane.

He plummets for a bit, before Black Orchid swoops in to deliver him to safety.

We wrap up with Floyd surrounded by his fellow Task Force X members, including his "Jefe", Amanda Waller.  She has another mission for him, but he decides he's going to take a little break.


Now this is a fun little series!

It's weird in that so much actually happens... and yet, when I reflect on it, this feels like an issue I'd almost refer to as "quiet".  I feel like this uses the "right" cinematic sensibilities to make the story flow organically... and almost makes reading feel passive, just receiving the events.  I mean, I suppose that can be seen as a bad thing... in that active reader-engagement is low.  Luckily, we have Ostrander and Yale here... who made the whole magilla a great little experience.

I feel like my main takeaway here is the idea that Floyd Lawton might literally be suicidal.  It's been... forever, since I've read the main Suicide Squad title from the late 80's, so I don't remember if this was an ongoing plot thread concern... so I can't really speak to that.  As a "hook" for this miniseries, however, it's a great one!

Of course, we've got the benefit of... yeesh, thirty years of hindsight to tell us that Floyd's going to survive this miniseries, but I gotta wonder if readers of the day thought this might be a story to send him off?  It sure feels like it...

Having Floyd not care whether he lives or dies changes the whole dynamic of the Suicide Squad.  This isn't like Captain Boomerbutt who has to stay in line... Deadshot simply doesn't care.  Waller can strap a 'splody choker on him... and it doesn't matter.  Deadshot's only going to do what he chooses to do.  If The Wall doesn't dig that, and decides to blow his head off his shoulders... that's just fine by him!

The art comes from regular Suicide Squad artist Luke McDonnell... though, it didn't quite look like his style in the opening pages.  I had to check the credits to see if any of this was attributed to Keith Giffen.  That scene with Floyd's ex-wife... she looked quite "Giffeny"... probably the haircut.  I swear, I thought that was either Keith Giffen or Trevor Von Eeden.  Suppose that doesn't much matter.

Overall... I really dug this, and would definitely recommend checking it out.  The miniseries was recently released as the Deadshot: Beginnings trade paperback (likely timed to coincide with the Suicide Squad motion picture) and is also available digitally for two-bucks a pop.  I should mention, it's also pretty easy to procure from the cheap-o bins... at least in my neck of the woods.  Whichever way you go, you oughta check this one out.


(Sorta the) Letters Page:


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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Flashpoint #1 (2011)

Flashpoint #1 (July, 2011)
"Flashpoint, Chapter One of Five"
Writer - Geoff Johns
Penciller - Adam Kubert
Inker - Sandra Hope
Colorist - Alex Sinclair
Letterer - Nick J. Napolitano
Editors - Adam Schlagman & Rex Ogle
Executive Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99

Welcome friends to our SEVEN HUNDREDTH Daily Discussion!  Dassa lotta days... in fact in one month (plus one day) we'll be at this thing for two solid years!

Now, for these milestone posts I like to take a look at "important" books... important to DC/Comics history, or important to my fandom.  They're usually books that helped embolden my fan-hood... but today, we're going to go the other direction.

Flashpoint was the event that nearly drove me away.  Not so much for the story, but for everything surrounding it.  Summer shelves absolutely flooded with tie-ins that wouldn't mean anything come the Fall (checklist below)... and of course, that whole flushing 70+ years of history down the toilet for short-term gain thing.  Honestly, if you were to tell me back in the Fall of 2011 that I'd still be this invested in DC Comics in 2018... I doubt I'd believe it.

Now, I haven't re-read this since the very day it came out.  I still remember where I was... I was working on-the-road for a windshield repair company, and I was sitting in a dirt driveway up in New River, Arizona waiting for a customer to come home.

I was really excited to see what this was all about... gotta remember, we didn't have all the information on The New-52! yet.  All we knew for sure was "new #1's"... and that things were going to be different coming out the other end.

Well... they say time heals all wounds, so let's peel off the cast and see if we got any scars after a half-decade.


We open, and if it wasn't already clear from the title and cover... this is a Flash story.  We get a quick and dirty on Barry's childhood, his relationship with his mother... her murder, and his chemical-n-lightning bath.  From there, we get an even quicker and dirtier look at his adulthood... his marriage to Iris, and the formation of the Flash family (including one of the few times we see Wally's daughter in her Impulse duds).

We pop into the present, as Barry is shaken awake at the precinct.  Turns out Miss Alchemy is on the loose... and Central City's greatest hero, Citizen Cold is on the case.  Wait, what?  If you think we're confused... just look at Barry.  He offers that Captain Cold is a member of the Rogues... a group that, well... nobody's heard of.

Our man rushes off to check what's going on... and finds that he's not moving as quick nor as gracefully than he's accustomed.  He trips, falling down a flight of stairs... landing at the feet of, his mother?!

After a reunion scene, which I'm sure is supposed to be far more touching and emotional than it appears, Barry reveals to his mother that he is the Flash.  She... never hoid've him.  Other things Nora has no clue about... the Justice League and Super-Man.  She does know Batman though... because, c'mon... you think Batman's not going to be front and center during a DC Comics event?!  Don't be re-deek-u-los.

Sticking with Batman for a moment, we catch him "rooftop chasing" a colorful character named Yo-Yo... an associate of the Joker, who has just kidnapped Judge Dent's twins.  Hmm, I remember a long time ago Harvey Dent kidnapped a pair of twins.  Anyhoo, she tells Batman that the kids are likely already dead... and so, he tosses her off the edge of the building!

Lucky for her, she lands in Cyborg's waiting arms.  Batman didn't appear to know he was there though... so, it's quite likely he was planning for her to die.

Now Vic is there because "they" need Batman's help.  It's here that we meet hologram versions of all the heavy-hitters of the Flashpoint Universe.

Back with Barry, he decides to pop in on Iris before heading to dinner with his mother.  Nora isn't familiar with any "Iris", and asks if it's some new friend of his.  Inside the offices of the Central City Citizen, we see that Iris has already got a man.  Barry ain't tryin' to hear that, see... so he runs back outside... just as ol' Nora is briefly greeted by a familiar-looking yellow-and-red blur.  Barry asks if he can borrow his mother's car... because he's gotta git.

Back in Gotham, the "heroes" of the Flashpoint Universe continue their hologram-conference... discussing how they might work together to fight off the warring Amazons and Atlanteans.  It's here that we learn that Aquaman and Wonder Woman aren't all that friendly in the here-and-now.  Oh yeah, also... Western Europe isn't a "thing" anymore.  Well, that's not entirely true... it's just not a thing above sea-level anymore.

Now the Flashpointers are a rag-tag bunch of characters... and don't seem to get along all that well.  They understand the threat before them... but still don't entirely trust one another to do the right thing.  Rac Shade's Secret Seven put it to a vote... and agree to throw in.

Then the Batson Clan decide to defer to Captain Thunder.  He appears, wearing a scarred (at the hands of Wonder Woman) face... and so, he's down to throw down on Diana.

Batman, however, still isn't convinced.  He informs Cyborg of his chances before splitting.  The holograms are rightfully annoyed... and Vic is left all by his lonesome.

We rejoin Barry as he's entering Gotham City.  He heads directly to Wayne Manor... finding it in complete disrepair.  He makes his way passed the grandfather clock and into the Batcave... which is also comparably desolate.

It's not long before Barry finds himself jumped by Batman.  He tries to talk him down by referring to him as "Bruce"... which, doesn't really work all that well.  Batman informs our man that Bruce is dead.

It's now that Barry realizes he's talking to a different Wayne altogether... Bruce's father Thomas.


Well, well, well... ya know what?  I really dug this!  Without all of The New-52! baggage (and my own sour grapes), this was an awesome way to introduce us to this crazy Flashpoint Universe and short-term status quo.

For an event... this is a really interesting study.  This feels not entirely unlike Marvel's House of M from the mid-2000's.  While nothing will ever convince me that The New-52! was the "plan all along", I don't doubt for a second that Flashpoint was always going to "shake up the status quo".  House of M ended with "No More Mutants", which changed the Marvel landscape for years... I'm sure Flashpoint would have had a similar result before The New-52! edict came down from on high.

The mystery here is very well crafted... and manages to touch on some very uncomfortable situations for Barry.  Let's start with his loss of speed.  His ability to run is second nature... now, gone.  Then... he reunites with his mother.  It's... uneasy.  I mean, sure he's happy to see her... but he knows that something's not right.  It's not supposed to be this way.  Then... Iris.  She's no longer his wife... and, in fact, never was!  It's kinda Twilight Zone-light... however, if you're a reader with any history with Barry... this is quite riveting!

The Flashpoint "heroes"... I can take or leave.  Some of the redesigns and reimaginings are cool, but it feels kind of like an afterthought.  Just filling space... and facilitating the skatey-eight hundred disposable miniseries that spun out this Summer (again, checklist below).

I dug Cyborg taking the lead here, though.  From all of the New-52! promotional images, we knew that Vic was going to be thrust into the spotlight as a member of the Justice League... replacing Martian Manhunter as a founder, even!  I didn't see any problem giving him a bit of a "shine" here... and though he'll always be a Titan to me, I've grown to accept Vic in his new role.

The Thomas Wayne reveal at the end... I don't remember if this was much of a shock back in the day.  I'm struggling to remember how much of this was spoiled for us in solicits... or by the comics "press" clawing and climbing over one another to "break" things first.  I always thought it would have been neat to end this with Thomas actually meeting the "real" Batman... and having a touching reunion with him... only to have it later revealed that he'd actually met Dick Grayson (who was also Batman at the time).  I think that could've been an interesting vein to tap.

Now, as a simple status-quo shake-up (as I'm 99% sure it was originally intended to be), I would have had no problems with this event.  I think we comics fans get a bad rap... creators and editorial like to razz us about "demanding change" all the while "resisting" the changes they make.  I'd like ya to look back on the last thirty-plus years of comics history... and think about just how often things change.  There really is no status quo anymore... and there hasn't been one in ages.  

I swear Marvel has been using cut-and-paste press releases for well over a decade.  "Shake the Universe to it's foundations" "everything you knew was wrong" "threatening to break the internet in half" "hero versus hero" "shocking new direction".  It's all the same stuff... disguised as change... sort of as a shield, so they can blame the fans for "refusing to accept" when it all goes to hell.  Which it does, year after year.

That's not entirely fair to Marvel though... at least they didn't toss their entire history into the dumpster for short-term gain and brief "mainstream" exposure.  I grew up a Marvel kid... so, I knew there'd always be a "home" for me in comics.  There would always be X-Men books worth checking out.  Boy, if I knew then what I know now... yikes.  Seriously though, it was Marvel that kept me coming back to the shop week after week post-Flashpoint.  If not for them, I'd almost certainly have given up.

Now... if the Marvel of today was around when DC did The New-52!... I can safely say that I probably would have walked away from comics altogether.  Right now, for the first time in thirty years I have zero Marvel books on my pull-list... and back in the Fall of 2011, I went from picking up just about every DC release to... maybe four books.  Yeah, I think I'd have probably fallen off altogether.

Reggie and I discussed the Summer of 2011 at length during a "Real Comics History" bit earlier this year (above)... and, I kvetched about all the DC betrayal... which wasn't entirely focused on loss of the lore.  I was also annoyed by the amount of money I had spent during 2010-2011... on books with Brightest Day emblazoned across the top.  We were promised that this was all headed somewhere... and, it just kinda fizzled out.  Of course, I bought every single issue of every single tie-in off the rack... at full price... but, whattayagonnado?

Also, I was suspicious about the timing of the deluge of tie-ins.  Unlike when DC ran Convergence in 2015, back in 2011 the tie-ins were released alongside the already running (limping) ongoing titles.  I have a sneaking suspicion this was done to tank sales of the ongoings... to make the sales of The New-52! launches look even more impressive.  That's just me though... and doesn't really affect all that much.

So... is Flashpoint worth reading?  Sure.  It's a good story, with fantastic art.  Would I still recommend it if Rebirth never happened?  Who's to say?  For what it is... I'd say it's worth at least a flip-through.  It's been collected and is available digitally.  Also available digitally FOR FREE is the Flashpoint Companion.  I understand there's also been an animated feature based on this... which I cannot really speak to, but if that's you're thing... you might just dig it!

Now... for my usual sappy milestone thank you's.  A lot of stuff can happen in 700 days.  Since starting this humble blog, I've finished college... had a house built... I wouldn't have bet that I'd make it seven days straight, much less seven-hundred.

It's because of the friendships I've made in the comics fan community that I keep doing this... and have been afforded the opportunity to expand my reach via podcasting, and contributing on other sites that will have me.  I won't lie, there are times where it feels like a self-imposed chore... but, I'm very happy that I've kept at it.

As always, I'm hesitant to "name names" because I'm afraid I'll leave somebody out.  If you're reading this far... you're on the list!  If you've given me a follow, a read, a share... or reached out to say "hey", I humbly and sincerely thank you.  I don't do this for money, or "cred"... I do this because I genuinely love sharing comics... and stories of my comics fandom.  It's in sharing our fandom that we get the most out of these longboxes.  Now, I can't lie... there are times it feels like I'm just talking to myself... but, I suppose there are worse fates.

I think I've gone on long enough... and have greedily taken several minutes of your day that you'll never get back.  So, I'll wrap it up here... with one final THANK YOU.


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Friday, December 29, 2017

Green Lantern (vol.3) #146 (2002)

Green Lantern (vol.3) #146 (March, 2002)
"Hand of God, Day One"
Writer - Judd Winick
Penciller - Jamal Igle
Inker - Al Williamson
Colorist - Moose Baumann
Letterer - Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editor - Nachie Castro
Editor - Bob Schreck
Cover Price: $2.25

Had such a good time checking in with our old friend Kyle yesterday, that I thought it might be fun to pop in on him again.

Today we're going to look at that strange bit of time where there was no Green Lantern... only Ion!


We open with a shot of Kyle laying in bed with Jade.  He looks content with the day he'd just had... so much so, that we're going to relive the entire thing with him now!  A little background first though.  In his latest adventure, Kyle somehow absorbed all of the leftover Green Lantern energy from when Hal Jordan sacrificed himself to reignite the Sun.  This has given him God-like powers... a new haircut... and a different costume.

He returned to Earth earlier that day... and acted all nonchalant and aloof about his absence to his friends.  He's really quite annoying... actually calling them (including Alan Scott) "kids", and offering to take them out for ice cream.  C'mon Judd, Rayner isn't supposed to be this face-punchable.  Anyhoo... later on Jade visits Kyle at his apartment, where he is cranking out cartoons left and right.  She finds this a bit off-putting, as Kyle never resorted to using his powers to create his art.

Kyle's assistant Terry flips on the television and comments how cool Green Lantern's new costume... and name are.  The news report shows Ion taking care of business in Uganda... and what's more, the footage is live!  As in, ya know... not taped.

Kyle sends Terry to grab some coffees so he can start 'splaining.  He confides in Jade that he can be in multiple places at once... and Uganda's barely the tip of that iceberg.  At this moment he's currently several places, all over the world...

... as well as on other worlds.

There is an Ion on Tendax right now... which is a place where Kyle and Jade had witnessed some atrocities earlier on.  We shift to see Ion speaking with some Tendaxian muckity mucks about a peaceful resolution to their pending war.

After listening for awhile, Ion decides "screw it" and simply says that the war is over.  He will not let the Tendaxians fight anymore.  Becasue of him weapons will jam, bombs will not go off, fires won't burn.  If they decide to try and go to war anyway... he will shut them down immediately.

Of course just as he says this, they get invaded.  Ion appears before them... and they skadoo.

Jade asks "what happens now?" to which Kyle informs her that Ion will always be watching over Tendax... and will step in if things get out of hand.

Jennie appears to be quite uncomfortable with all of this, and compares Kyle's powers with that of God.  Kyle assures her that he has no interest in being a God.

Jade notices Kyle's new hairstyle and figures if the first thing he did after getting infinite power was change his look a bit, than he's still human enough for her.

They head to the movies... but not before Kyle promises that she has all of his attention that night.  He's lying of course, but whattayagonnado?

We close as we opened, with Kyle and Jade in bed.  Kyle is considering his newfound infinite power, which grants him the ability to do anything... except sleep.


I had this friend growing up who always referred to things by their brand name.  Instead of saying "my backpack", he'd say "my Jansport"... instead of "my jacket", he'd say "my Umbro".  Something tells me (and I can't explain what) that that's the way Mr. Winick speaks too.

Anyhoo... Wasn't really a fan of the Ion story back in the day... and I'm still not totally digging it now.

Before we go into the story... gotta address the art.  It's fill-in art... and from the looks of it, rushed fill-in art.  This doesn't look at all like Jamal Igle's art.  He's usually excellent... so, I gotta assume that this was perhaps inked from layouts... or just a "gotta get this out ASAP" situation.  It's really not very pleasant... all of the characters look to be in a constant state of smelling something foul.

Now, the story.  Kyle comes across aloof... which, is kinda the predictable route for someone with God-like power... but he does so in a way that he seems more annoying than superior.  His referring to his friends (again, including Alan Scott) as "kids"... and suggesting they all go out for ice cream?  This is like eye-rollingly "Chandler Bing" behavior.  Really dorky... and I didn't like it.  It's probably a silly "sticking point", but whattayagonnado?

Kyle bullying the Tendaxians, however, was really cool.  I like the idea that he is still new to the "what I say goes" school of superheroics.  He doesn't quite have the tact of a Superman... however, at this point their power levels are comparable.  I'd figure Superman could deliver a speech that would convince the warring factions to stand down... not having the same level of credibility, Kyle has to not only tell them what to do, but remain there as a permanent presence to ensure they follow through.

Overall though... I guess I liked this well enough.  I'm always happy to see loose threads picked up... even if they weren't exactly left loose.  Hal Jordan's sacrifice during The Final Night left enough "wiggle room" for subsequent writers to mine.  I always appreciate stuff like that... so I really can't get all that mad at "The Ion Saga".  Worth a read... available digitally.


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