Across the DC Universe #21

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There was something faintly amusing this week about reading of Batman’s "death" in a host of U.K. tabloid newspapers and then seeing him very much alive the issue after. Remember Simon Hurt’s parting words to Bruce at the end of their climactic final battle though – the next time he wears the cape and cowl he will come to curse it. Looks like Batman R.I.P. has one more twist to come in the pages of Final Crisis...

It was a quieter week for mainstream DCU releases this time round but you still need to heed our Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you’ve not had your DC fix this week and don’t want to read about key story elements.


In Justice Society of America #21 the truth is out about Gog’s parasitic relationship with the planet. As the JSA finally take a direct stand against the Third World god there’s more Kingdom Come foreshadowing with, to give a couple of examples, Green Lantern Alan Stewart adopting the armor and sword of his KC-counterpart and Jay Garrick being transformed into the blurred Flash of Earth-22.

Gog isn’t the only villain to cause the Earth’s "consciousness" pain in the DCU in the current crop of releases. In Trinity #27 the Troika’s (now including new member Konvikt) manipulations are still stopping reality from healing itself after the loss of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Tarot, connected to the Worldsoul as she is, remains the key element in that rebuilding. What remains interesting here is how Hawkman’s history is such an integral part of the plot - yet that same origin was revealed as a sham not so long ago in Hawkman Special #1. Looks like there are more chapters to unfold in Carter Hall’s story yet…

Finally on a similar theme of planetary protection Terra #3 gives a very elegant solution to the puzzle of the multiple characters to use that name. The latest Terra hails from the underground kingdom of Strata whose inhabitants seek to safeguard the Earth’s ecosystem by watching over its surface-dwellers. The second Terra, who died at Black Adam’s hands in World War III, was also from this civilization and was a plant in the Teen Titans. Hence the genetic links between the three characters. This issue also follows up on Geo-Force’s confrontation with Deathstroke over his sister’s fate in DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1. Terra completists should note she is also one of the combatants in Terror Titans #3.

Apokolips Now... and then...

Grant Morrison’s condensing of all Bat-history into one "timeline" is underlined in Batman #682 which takes place after last week’s conclusion to Batman R.I.P. and during his capture by Simyan and Mokkari in Final Crisis. This first part of the Last Rites arc is also an FC crossover as the evil scientists seek to duplicate Bruce Wayne’s abilities to create an army of Batmen to serve in Darkseid’s dark empire. While strapped into their machines Batman’s life replays in his mind with the most intriguing aspect being the apparent re-insertion of the original Silver Age Batwoman into continuity.

In Terror Titans #3 the Clock King continues his manipulation of both his team and the Dark Side Club. In order to prove himself Deathbolt is sent to kill his father Bolt which he does in a most graphic way. Long-time DC fans will be aware that being categorically killed off has never stopped Bolt from reappearing in the past but this death is about as final as any comic book death can be. Any Infinity Inc. fans in the house? If so you’ll remember that Infinity Inc. #12, the book’s final issue, ended on the cliffhanger of Desaad capturing the remnants of the team on behalf of the Dark Side Club. That dangling plotline is now being addressed with Clock King showing an interest in Natasha Irons and Co. And, finally, this issue sees the return of Milestone’s Static!

Keeping on that Fourth World theme Vixen: Return of the Lion #3 touches on Intergang’s attempts to gain a foothold for their criminal enterprises in Africa and for those who prefer their New Gods mythology to be in the classic Kirby vein Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #3 features some of the evil New Gods pre-Final Crisis.

Historical Heroes

While their adventures are more self-contained, and less connected to the greater tapestry of the DCU, there’s plenty of life in DC’s war and historical characters at the moment. Some commentators have criticised Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Jonah Hex for its lack of continuing storylines but the links between individual issues are there. Jonah Hex #38 this week is a follow-up (rather than a sequel) to issue #26, highlighting the devastating effects even the most casual encounter with the bounty hunter can have. I’ve never been a huge fan of Justin and Jimmy’s interpretation of Jonah but I would still love to see them tackle an issue set in the post-Apocalyptic world of the mid-Eighties Hex series...

Moving forward 50 or so years in time Billy Tucci’s Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #2 ably captures the spirit of the classic Easy Company stories. It goes without saying that the original Sgt. Rock run never shied away from the horrors of war but it never had the latitude to be as explicit in its depiction as Tucci has here. Over at Vertigo Haunted Tank #1 transposes the action to Iraq in 2003 and has an interesting twist for General J.E.B. Stuart, the ghostly guardian of the tank and its crew - Jamal Stewart, the descendant the deceased Confederate soldier has been summoned back to protect is black...

Join us next week for the resumption of Final Crisis in what is a bumper week for DC releases. See you in seven days and thanks for reading.

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