I had an hour to kill between classes last Friday, and decided to read the five comic books here in this post. I don't know what it was, but I actually enjoyed all 5 of them! Maybe I should read more comics at school...
Freedom Fighters #7:
Summary: After having his home surrounded by SHADE troops, and having his arm twisted by Miss America, Dollman agrees to head back to the Freedom Fighters and to lead them. While the team is getting reacquainted with their old teammate, alarms go off in their secret government headquarters and they rush to the sound of the alarms, discovering a bunch of dead scientists, and a message from the Jester. The Jester brags that he had just stolen the two artifacts the Freedom Fighters had managed to acquire these past few issues, and he tells them he'd be willing to exchange the vice-president as soon as the Freedom Fighters had found the third and final artifact and turned it over to him. With no real choice, the Fighters head to the Grand Canyon and find a secret cave. They search around inside and discover that the Jester had already been there, had gotten his hands on the last artifact, and that the whole thing was a trap. The Jester is surprised, and VERY disappointed to learn that Uncle Sam wasn't there since he had “died”(or gone into hibernation, or whatever he does), since Uncle Sam was the final piece to whatever evil plan the Jester was hatching. The Fighters attack Jester, but with his three artifacts of power, he manhandles the team, and manages to slay Firebrand. While the Jester is gloating about his victory, Uncle Sam brings himself back to life in the body of Firebrand and prepares to end the threat of the Jester, once and for all.
Thoughts: You know, this is one of the most inconsistent comic books I read on a monthly basis. Sometimes I'll barely understand WHAT was going on, while other times(like this issue) I'll enjoy the entire thing. I don't know if the whole Jester storyline was moved up due to the impending cancellation of this series, or if this was always the way Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti had intended the story to go, but unlike some of the earlier issues of this series, this one made perfect sense. It was nice to see the Fighters know exactly where they were going, why they were going there and who they were battling against. That's something that this series had been lacking. Ah well. I'll try to enjoy these final issues of this book while I can I guess.
Score: 7 out of 10.I'm sorry, but that is NOT a very intimidating looking villain right there...
Avengers Academy #10:
Summary: The Academy kids wake up and head into a danger simulation where they have to figure out which person to save first during a flood. Somehow this scenario leads to Veil accidentally mentioning the Stanford incident to Speedball. Speedball takes the surprise pretty well and uses it as an opportunity to tell the students that the reason they were being trained was so that they wouldn't make the same mistakes he made growing up, before leaving. Needless to say Veil is horrified by what she said, and asks her various classmates if she should apologize to Speedball or if she should just leave it be. Finesse convinces Veil to spy on Speedball to see what kind of a mood he was in before making up her mind as to what to do. Veil manages to sneak into Speedball's room where she spots him gashing one of his arms with his old Penance helmet. Veil is shocked by that scene and is unsure of whether she should alert one of the other instructors or not. Ultimately she decides to keep what she saw to herself since she was already on probation due to the Hood incident. A bit later on, Justice and Speedball take the kids out to Stanford where a memorial was set up for the victims of Nitro. While Speedball is explaining the results of untrained/unsupervised/careless super-heroing, a group of feebs dressed in knock-off Cobalt Man armor arrive to attack Speedball. Justice tries to get the kids into defensive positions, but before that can happen Speedball takes all of the armored goons out with his Penance powers. With the villains down and out, the cops arrive on the scene and one of the cops tells Speedball that although the cop had lost friends during Nitro's explosion, he can respect that Speedball was trying to make amends, which seems to mean quite a lot to Speedball. Later on, Veil tells the rest of the faculty what she saw Speedball doing, which he explains away by stating that he needed to feel pain to activate his Penance abilities, and that whenever he went out he'd charge himself up. Pym tells Speedball that he would work on a better way to activate his Penance abilities, and the issue ends with Veil deciding that the best way for her to make up for her various screw-ups was to try to resurrect the Wasp(NO! Please don't!!).
Thoughts: As usual, I really, really liked this comic. It's SO well done. I know I say it like every month, but Christos Gage has done a phenomenal job building these characters, this team and this book up. I mean he took a bunch of second-string Avengers and New Warriors, some new characters and has shaped it into a fantastic read. THIS is what I wish Generation Hope would turn into. Sure if the Wasp gets brought back to life, Gage will lose some of my good will(sorry, but I hate her!), but even if she was to become a part of this team, I'd still enjoy reading this comic. That's when you know you're really enjoying something, when somebody you can't stand is added and you can overlook that.
Score: 8 1/2 out of 10.You tell 'em, Robbie!
Uncanny X-Men #533:
Summary: First up is the Emma Frost/Sebastian Shaw portion of this story. Shaw is really angry with Emma, as I'm sure anybody would be after being secretly locked up. He manages to shrug off Shadowcat and Fantomex(who accompanied Emma), and is preparing to finish Emma off when she runs away... Yep, she ran away. Anyway, the main story concerned the X-Men sending the few non-quarantined mutants after Lobe and the Sublime corporation to force Lobe into handing over the cure to the plague that was ravaging Crazy Mutie Island(Utopia). Unfortunately, Lobe hands out a bunch of mutant powers in a bottle to some potential investors and Lobe and his now mutant-powered investors wind up over-powering the few X-Men present. This issue concludes with Lord Summers deciding to assist the besieged X-Men at the Sublime corporation, even though he was sick and powerless.
Thoughts: As usual, I hated every part of this story involving Lord Summers and Emma Frost(who I REALLY need to find a nickname for...), but everything else was actually pretty enjoyable. I mean I liked seeing Sebastian Shaw on his little rampage, and the stuff with Lobe and his Sublime Corporation was pretty interesting. While I did enjoy this issue, I think everybody can see the end coming from a mile away, with Lord Summers and his band of sickly mutants arriving at the scene of the battle to infect all of the now-powered mutants and Lobe, forcing Lobe to hand over the cure or risk the deaths of all of his potential investors. The Shaw story is more fluid, and I'm not really sure where Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen are going with that storyline. I wish Shaw would simply tear off Emma's head, but alas, I somehow doubt that's going to happen...
Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.How utterly heroic of you, Emma.
Gotham City Sirens #20:
Summary: So Harley Quinn has realized that Joker has been using her all these years and as such has decided to head into Arkham Asylum to kill Mistah J. Now although it seems really easy to break out of Arkham(come on, you know it is!), it's more difficult to sneak in. Using her former training as a psychologist at Arkham, Quinn manages to distract a guard with some marbles(he had an obsession with them dating back to his childhood), gaining access to the underbelly of the Asylum. From there she heads to Director Skinner's office through the ventilation system and drops a flower on her desk, the exact type of flower she received before her boyfriend and family(who were members of a cult) committed mass suicide. Skinner is dazed by that and when she picks up the flower it gives her a blast of Joker gas, knocking her out. Quinn manages to get the controls to the inmate debilitation system from Skinner and shuts them down, repowering the inmates as a result. From there she heads to Clayface's cell and breaks into his cell with a crowbar, which represents the failure of Clayface's acting career and throws him into a rage, distracting most of the guards. Harley makes her way towards Joker's cell, but runs into Aaron Cash, the head guard at the Asylum. Cash tells Harley he knew she was there for the Joker, and this issue ends with Harley being confident that she'll be able to get into Cash's head as she did so many other people in Arkham.
Thoughts: Wow, this was a great issue of this series! It was SO nice to see Harley shown as something other than an annoying, idiotic, rambling pest. She used all of her knowledge of Arkham, as well as it's doctors and guards, to take them down in a wonderfully cerebral way. This was such a nice change from the Harley who hangs out with jackals, annoying her fellow Siren teammates and just being... well kind of useless. This one issue went a LONG way in giving me a newfound respect for Harley. Now I figure her Siren teammates will pop up next issue to talk her down from killing Joker, but I'll always remember this as the issue Harley Quinn showed us all she wasn't a joke anymore.
Score: 9 out of 10.There's nothing more annoying than several Joker's bugging you!
Summary: We kick things off in the Florida Everglades, where some aliens(riding a huge alien horse-creature) are running amok. While that is going on, Luke Cage is being grilled by the Thunderbolts Council(think the governmental regulatory body overlooking the T-Bolts) about the inclusion of Man-Thing on the team. Luke tries to explain that Man-Thing hasn't been any trouble at all, and has served the team exceedingly well. The T-Bolts Council want to go and see Man-Thing, and do, meeting the zoologist in charge of keeping an eye on Man-Thing. After the Council leaves Man-Thing's room, we learn that the zoologist was actually Jennifer Kale(!) in disguise and that she had infiltrated the T-Bolts facility to free Man-Thing and take him back where he belonged, the Everglades. Jennifer teleports over to the aliens from earlier, who were still running about, killing as many people and animals as they could, and sets Man-Thing loose on them. Man-Thing kills the alien's horse-creature, as well as one of the aliens when it tried to attack him, and Jennifer opens a portal back to the alien's homeworld, telling it to leave now or face the wraith of Man-Thing. Needless to say, the alien hops into the portal, leaving Earth behind. Having taken care of the aliens, Man-Thing teleports back to the Thunderbolts facility, much to the surprise of Jennifer, who figured Man-Thing would have wanted to be free. By this point, Luke and Songbird have arrived at Man-Thing's cell and ask what Jennifer was up to. She explains that Man-Thing was the Protector of the Nexus of Realities, and as such was supposed to be AT the Nexus of Realities, the Everglades. Songbird figures that the scientist Man-Thing was before his transformation enjoyed the T-Bolt's missions, which was why he returned to the T-Bolt's facility after doing away with the aliens. Jennifer is a bit disappointed that Man-Thing seems as if he wanted to remain with the T-Bolts, so Luke assures her she can pop in and visit Man-Thing whenever she felt the need. With that guarantee, Jennifer takes her leave, while Luke calls a meting of all the non-criminal T-Bolts. He tells the group that in light of Man-Thing's good behavior, the T-Bolts Council was okay with Man-Thing remaining on the team. However, the Council was disturbed by the T-Bolts vulnerability to magic, and as such had tasked Luke with finding a magical being to take a spot on the T-Bolts.
Thoughts: Every month this series seems to be getting better and better. Jeff Parker has really done a great job of spotlighting specific characters on this team every now and then. You'll have a few issues of a storyline, and then you'll wind up with a one-shot type story about a specific T-Bolt, in this case, Man-Thing. The story was quite good, and I was happy to see Jennifer Kale included here, as she's always had a relationship with the Everglades and Man-Thing, so it was nice to see Parker delve into what she thought about Man-Thing working for the T-Bolts. As for next issue's hunt for a magical T-Bolt, why exactly didn't Luke ask Jennifer while she was there? I mean she already has the relationship with Man-Thing, and she is a magical dynamo. It seemed kind of odd that Jennifer would leave the comic and THEN Luke would mention that the team was in need of magical assistance. Other then that very little point, there was really nothing else wrong with this comic.
Score: 8 1/2 out of 10.Oh snap!