Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bullet Reviews: Final Crisis:Superman Beyond #2, Faces of Evil:Prometheus, Tiny Titans #12

I know that none of the comics being reviewed here have anything definitive to do with Supergirl. Still, at least tangentially, they will impact her and the DCU. And they all were good enough to warrant at least a bullet review.

The second part of Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke's mini-series came out last week and definitely impacts Final Crisis. At last, the main threat of Mandrakk, the Dark Monitor is revealed. You might recall that last issue the Supermen from multiple universes travelled to Limbo in a Monitor driven ship to help save the universe from destruction. During that trip, Superman read of the origin of the Monitor culture which had been corrupted by the very concept of 'story'.

The female Monitor Zillo Valla is able to repair her ship by feeding it Overman's blood. It turns out that the Monitors live off of the bleed, the energy between universes. A massive destroyer ship of Mandrakk's shows up in Limbo to destroy it and the Supermen attempt to hold it off. It is then that Superman realizes he needs to inhabit the Superman statue doomsday device created by Dax Novu and hold off Mandrakk himself.

Captain Adam, the Doctor Manhatten-esque Superman, combines the energies of Ultraman and Superman to create a powerful enough quantum symmetry to broadcast the essence of Superman into the thought robot.

Superman, inhabiting the robot, is able to walk amongst the Monitors on this world of forms, taking in the massive scale of his surroundings. He learns the thought robot can adapt to fight any threat. He sees how narratives on the 52 Earths have changed the previously immutable Monitor culture.

And, he learns that the Monitors are in many ways vampire gods sucking the 'Orrery of Worlds' dry. It is at that point that Ogama, a monitor who had Nix Uotan exiled, reveals himself as an agent of Mandrakk.

Mandrakk arises and engages the Superman device. Mandrakk seems unstoppable, wielding unlimited powers and holding a container of bleed energy. But his every attack is thwarted by the ever-evolving Superman being. Mandrakk is then attacked by the Superman's origin story - an unstoppable, indestructible, better story than his own. A story as a weapon ... pure Morrison.

The battle carries across the landscape with massive damage dealt by both sides.

It is then that Superman understands. Mandrakk is the 'opposite of life'. Hmmm .... anti-life? It is also clear that Mandrakk was the first Monitor contaminated by the stories of the multiverse. He is Dax Novu. Mandrakk is cast into the overvoid surrounding reality, engulfed by the over-riding Monitor mind. Superman is able to wrest the vial of bleed from him. He returns to the Monitors where he hears that Ogama will be exiled.

Superman and Overman then 'fall' back into Limbo.

Superman then leads the Supermen against Mandrakk's destroyer, smashing it to pieces. Victorious, they are all sent back to their home worlds.
Well maybe not all of them. Mandrakk and Ogama appear in Limbo and recruit Overman to be their first knight of terror. They vow to fight Superman again, with an army of millions.

Back on Earth, Superman reveals that he carried the precious drop of ultra-menstruum, the fluid needed to save Lois, in his mouth. He kisses her and revives her.

Superman had taunted by Mandrakk about what he would want carved on his tombstone. The issue ends showing what Superman had carved on the stone while in the Monitor-world ... the words "To Be Continued." Spectacular!

Well, like most of Morrison's works this one is unbelievably dense with abstract ideas and somewhat inscrutable plot twists. Unlike Final Crisis, I was completely on board. This was Morrison at his best, throwing concepts and wrinkles at us rapid fire, hoping we can keep up.

In the end, I felt like this was sort of like a David Lynch film. I might not have understood every tiny piece, but I understood enough for the themes to come through. I loved it.

Overall grade: A

I absolutely loved Prometheus when he was written by Grant Morrison in JLA so I was thrilled to hear that Supergirl's Sterling Gates was going to write a one-shot to bring some respectability back to the character. This was a fun read.

It turns out that after the Mageddon invasion during Morrison's last JLA run, the Martian Manhunter felt Prometheus was such a threat that J'Onn imprisoned Prometheus in his mind. Prometheus was forced to relive his defeat at Batman's hands over and over.

This was the one slight slip I thought in the issue. We know how Batman was against mind-wipes in Identity Crisis. Isn't this a bit similar for him to just go along with?

The JLA dumps his catatonic body into Blackgate prison. Well, with the death of the Manhunter in Final Crisis, Prometheus' mind became free. He quickly murders his guards and escapes to a safe house of his where he discovers that someone else has been wearing his gear and pretending to be Prometheus in his absence.
This phony Prometheus is shown being taken down by 3 D-list heroes ... Anima, Gunfire, and Argus.

The real Prometheus batters them all with ease, cutting off Gunfire's hands thus robbing him of his powers. He uses his key (being carried by the fake) to transport back to his limbo-like dimension. In teleporting, he kills Anima as he only takes the top half of her with him.

The phony Prometheus was a man named Chad who the real Prometheus was grooming to be his 'Robin'. The real Prometheus feels that Chad, who both let Prometheus rot in jail and then proceeded to ruin his reputation, has betrayed him. Prometheus then burns Chad alive.

As he laughs with glee, Prometheus realizes that the JLA will underestimate him because of how Chad acted. Prometheus will have his revenge. I think he is supposed to take on the new Justice League (the Hal/Ollie/Kara one) early in that title.

So, the whole 'someone else was wearing my suit' story has been done before. But I am just glad that the intelligent, conniving, powerful Prometheus is back. And I think Gates does a good job of re-showing us how psychopathic Prometheus is as he casually kills and mutilates people throughout the issue.

Overall grade: B+

I wish I could easily explain why I enjoy Tiny Titans so much. But I flip through every issue and have purchased about half of them. The creators put so much DC Universe history in each story that I think I get a bigger kick out of them than the Supergirls at home do.
Take for example the Faces of Mischief cover, instead of Faces of Evil.

In this issue, Prinicipal Deathstroke and substitute teacher Trigon leave the school with their kids to attend a day baseball game. They decide to leave 'lunch lady Darkseid' in charge as temporary principal. Lunch Lady Darkseid? Awesome.

Darkseid decides to make the students take their final exams that day despite it being in the middle of the semester. That's right ... it's a Finals Crisis! That's comedy gold.

In another story, Robin is stopped by the hall monitor ... The Monitor. Robin is then told he does not need a hall pass by the Anti-Monitor. The two then argue about whether or not a hall pass is required. At one point the Monitor tells the Anti-Monitor 'everyone likes you more!'. I chuckled out loud.

It is hard to grade this comic because of the format.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

In the Prometheus issue, there's some "Who is Superwoman?" graffiti in the alleyway, next to an upside down Superman "S."

Think that's a clue at all?

-Roy B.

Heath Edwards said...

i hadn't noticed that, roy. very interesting... i'm even more excited, now.

Anj said...

In the Prometheus issue, there's some "Who is Superwoman?" graffiti in the alleyway, next to an upside down Superman "S."

Think that's a clue at all?

-Roy B.

Thanks for the post.

Hmmm, maybe be need to see if any character's Kryptonian emblem is an upside down Superman pentagon.


Heath Edwards said...

the upside-down 's' symbolizes resurrection. i think this was introduced in the post IC series, 52, with the superboy cult...
if superwoman is involved, this should be fun. if the upside-down 's' had involved the new nightwing, that would've been a lot of fun, too...

Anj said...

the upside-down 's' symbolizes resurrection. i think this was introduced in the post IC series, 52, with the superboy cult...

Thanks so much for the post. I completely forgot about that from '52'.

Anyone who was dead who would fit the bill?

TalOs said...

How about the Pre-COIE E-1 original Kara Zor-El/Linda "Lee" Danvers/Supergirl herself, hmmm? ;)

On another note, here are my own thoughts come these main 3 issues out:

* FC: Superman Beyond #2 -
one heck of a really mind blowing bang for your buck! Especially come the stories behind the existence of all the Monitors.

* Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 - Sterling just showed his certainly got the cops to take on not only Supergirl main title but other really nasty side of the DCU to boot!

* Tiny Titans #12 - what a fun and too cute to boot issue this was especially with "Lunch lady Darkseid" as well as the "Hall" Monitor Vs. Anti-Monitor gag. HAH!