Millennium #4 (January, 1988)
Story – Steve Englehart
Pencils – Joe Staton
Inks – Ian Gibson
Letters – Bob Lappan
Colorist – Carl Gafford
Editor – Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $0.75
Today we’re going to wrap up the first half of the Millennium event… which, at this point just makes me realize there’s a whole ‘nother half left.
And hey! The fourth issue is called “Forth“, howboutdat?
We open with the heroes who have the Floronic Man in custody… methinks we missed something, as last we saw him he was rescued from Arkham by the Manhunters. Batman is off on the periphery, brooding, like he does. He smells a rat. The gathered “chosen” are all chatting, and the most “subtle” member… who is, shockingly, not the offensively stereotypical gay man… but the South African racist, is being… well, openly racist. Batman still smells a rat, and fills us “event only” readers in on some of the happenings from the tie-ins, including Booster Gold and Firestorm apparently switching teams, and that mean ol’ nasty Ronald Reagan pressuring the heroes to stand down. He asks Hal if he can use the Citadel’s computer.
Elsewhere, the Manhunters are busy manhuntering and shouting out their catchphrase. Inside their base we see Firestorm with Manhunter Ferguson, and Booster Gold with his former agent, Manhunter Davis. Booster is informed that Hadley is about to make his move on Captain Atom, as a way to test his loyalty… cuz, ya know… if Captain Atom were to find out, they’d know Booster was playing them.
Speaking of Captain Atom, he catch up with him while he is meeting with General Eiling. The General informs Cap that the turned Firestorm has been spotted in Louisiana, and sends him off to deal with the “baddie”. We get an Oliver North mention, seems Steve is blowing off a lot of steam with this series… Anyhoo, Hadley happens to arrive just as Atom leaves.
Back at the Citadel, the ZamarOans are holding court… they offer their “chosen” one last opportunity to change their minds. What? Really? How many more times are we gonna spin our wheels with this? Seems like we’re spending far too many pages (issues even!) with this. First, we spend an issue informing the chosen… then another fetching them… and here we’re still dilly-dallying. Too much. None of the eight members of the “chosen” change their minds… so glad we spent a few pages on this.
We shift scenes to Belle Reve where the members of the Suicide Squad (along with Mark Shaw Manhunter) are being briefed by Warden Economos. It seems that Manhunters have been spotted in the nearby bayous, and the Squad’s gonna have to take care of business.
After the contentious meeting, the Warden gets a visit from Batman. He’s asked about the whereabouts of Mark Shaw… and lies about him having been released a few weeks earlier. Wow, lying to Batman? That ain’t smart… especially since the Bat sees right through it. He notices that there was a requisition for a boat on Economos’ desk.
We shift scenes to Madame Xanadu’s tarot parlor in New York City. She is looking through her collection of oddities, which includes an actual Manhunter mask. Her admiration of her new trinket is interrupted by the arrival of a customer. He asks her what the spirits tell her about the Manhunters… and, like a fool… she goes and fetches the mask. He socks her in the face with a slapjack and steals it.
Outside Xanadu pals, Jim Corrigan and a woman I do not recognize are returning from getting the three of them lunch. They enter and see that the Madame has been kayoed, and so Jim gives chase. The mask-thief is upstairs going through some of Madame Xanadu’s files… and after a brief struggle, he leaps out the window. The Spectre arrives just in the nick of time… to miss everything.
Moments later, the foursome gather round Xanadu’s mystic table. The Spectre puts one hand on the tarot deck and the other on the globe… and knows their next stop must be the bayous of Louisiana.
We shift to Manhunter HQ where Harbinger is being held in an energy-depletion chamber. She is approached by the Grandmaster, who just happens to drop a key. She is able to grab it with her foot… and break out.
… she doesn’t make it far… but we do learn that a weird-looking Green Lantern is in the house!
Back at the Green Lantern Citadel, the Floronic Man has broken away from the group. He meets with a Manhunter who looks like a reject from Zartan’s Dreadnoks.
We wrap up with Batman renting a boat in Louisiana… the Suicide Squad in a boat of their own… Captain Atom arrives at the bayou… and so do Corrigan and the Spectre.
I think this is the first issue of the Millennium series that makes me feel like we’re missing out by not following the tie-ins. We’ve missed apparent betrayals in Booster Gold and Firestorm and the Floronic Man coming under the heroes’ custody. It’s crazy that rather than use this main series for such events… they’d rather spend it with ZamarOan repetition. I mean, how many times can we do the “You have been chosen…” bit. I joked around with that… two issues ago, but at this point it’s no longer funny.
The cast expands a great deal here with the inclusions of the Suicide Squad and some of DC’s mystical heavy-hitters… including the Spectre. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Spectre getting involved in events, but he’s kept to a minimum here.
Somebody not kept to a minimum is the same fella who takes over many of DC’s events… Batman. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m on record as a big fan of Batman… but I do tire of him always being the straw that stirs the drink in so many events. We get it, he’s smarter than everybody else.
The Madame Xanadu scene felt kinda “off”. I mean, why would she be so quick to show the Manhunter mask to some random customer? Especially considering how she had been trying to procure one for such a long time. You’d figure she’d be a bit more protective of it. I dunno. Whole scene makes her look quite foolish.
Overall… not much else to say about this issue. It’s a middle chapter, and without the context of the tie-ins… it doesn’t feel as vital as perhaps it should. I started this reread rather high on the Millennium concept, but I’m going to have to concede that it’s really starting to drag on. Things are happening, but sadly none of it is all that interesting. Definitely not the worst thing ever… but as far as DC events go, it’s rapidly sinking toward the bottom of the pile. I might have to revisit Genesis to nudge this back up the charts a bit.
(Not the) Letters Page: