Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Week 25: The Sudden Return of the Unreliable Narrator

How about that Seven Soldiers #1, huh? I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't read it, but the final image suggests a rather strong tie-in to some plot and thematic points that are starting to get hit over and over in 52. (If you haven't been reading Seven Soldiers, you will find that #1 is very pretty and makes no sense whatsoever. If you have been reading Seven Soldiers, and I heartily endorse it, you will find that #1 is very pretty and that you'll have to spend weeks decoding it. But it's worth noting that "Dark Side" does indeed wear an omega tie-pin that looks, as a few people have noted, more than a bit like the 52 logo.) And we get at least three allusions to the project this week in 52...

So at last the "Four Horsemen" (who "will end her rain," according to Rip Hunter's chalkboard) have been mentioned elsewhere. The most obvious reference is a Biblical one: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. While you're looking at that page, make sure to check out the Albrecht Dürer image of the horsemen: George Pérez, eat your heart out!

DC doesn't have much in the way of "four horsemen," aside from one twenty-year-old licensed role-playing game, whose title is so apropos a pun that I can't believe 52 isn't going to use it: "Four Horsemen of Apokolips."

A good title this week, too: "liminal times" are the times when magic is strongest and worlds can come into contact with each other. (And I am far from the first person to think this, but I'm now fairly convinced that 52 is the number of parallel earths--I'm guessing that the "return of..." that Dan DiDio teased a few weeks ago isn't a person, but the coolest concept DC ever had.) Halloween is one of those times--the big one, in some traditions. The concept also suggests moments when one state of being is giving way to another, as with the Ninth Age of Magic making way for the Tenth Age (the Ralph/Fate plot), or the government being replaced by Intergang, or Checkmate moving from the U.S. to the U.N., or the first half of 52 turning into the second half, which I'm gathering will be significantly different from the setup.

All this behind probably my favorite cover of the series thus far: it took a minute to notice that the Booster kid is carrying Dr. Fate's helmet, and the Steel kid is making another Marvel reference. (Well, it could be an even more oblique reference to the guy on the lower left here, but the costume doesn't match up.) This is almost a New Yorker-type cover: a cute seasonal gag that references the series' (nominal) protagonists. At least one of them isn't dressed as Ralph and carrying a bag in the shape of All-Straw Sue's remains.

More notes:

Pg. 1: Bruno "Ugly" Mannheim is yet another Jack Kirby creation, introduced in an issue that also featured the official introduction to the DCU of another character with a long and distinguished history. In front of a cityscape so freaky and smoky I almost expected it to spell out "THE SPIRIT,"* we begin and end this issue with Biblical references, and with conflation of crime and sin--"crime is the moral standard"? Virtually every philosopher ever would have something to say about that... Again, we're seeing the phrase "new world order" invoked--does that ever signal anything good? And apparently there isn't only one copy of the Crime Bible, since the Question's now got another one.

*If anybody happens to have a link to a more appropriate Eisner page, like the splash page of "Showdown with the Octopus" or something, please let me know.

Pg. 2: The Mirage getting the kibosh here isn't the one who first appeared here, he's the one who first appeared here--and since he's a master of illusion, there's the possibility that what we're seeing is what he wants us to see. But probably not. Have we seen Laszlo before, or is he just a random assistant cannibal? Cannibalism is a taboo rather than a crime as such, right?

Pg. 3: I don't recognize any of the dead guys besides Kite-Man; somebody want to run the IDs? The "dark angel made of living granite," I don't think I even need to tell most of the people reading this site, is Darkseid (or "Dark Side" as he's referred to in Morrison's Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle): has his proper name been uttered in the series yet?

Pg. 4: Our second Seven Soldiers reference of the issue: Frankenstein! Neron is a Waid creation, and... maybe not the most exciting of Satan stand-ins (I believe by this point Lucifer had abdicated the throne of hell over in Sandman). But his early appearance had yet another tie-in with Ol' Stony Face.

Pg. 5: Yes, I do realize how nit-picky it is to complain about week/day numbers not matching up with our own, but while Day 3 of this week is when a lot of Halloween parties are being held, Halloween it is not. And Mary's not quite right about the "nature's toothbrush" thing.

Pg. 6: Of course, Halloween is just bad for teeth in general.

Pg. 8: The "Judeo-Christians" (great line) include a Chris Ware robot!

Pg. 9: Hey, it's some Jimenez and Lanning overspill! I'm not gonna complain about that! Nice gimmick to explain wandering away from this storyline from months on end: oh, oh, oh, it's magic. Count Marisius and Bous3dra don't seem to have any previous comics references--or any at all I know of. But this confirms that what we're seeing in this part of Ralph's arc is analogous to Dante's Inferno. Still, I don't think Dante specified a circle of hell for the vain; the fourth ditch of the eighth circle was where people (including Simon Magus) went for sorcery, not for "abusing magic." (Read a translation of the relevant canto here.)

Pg. 10: Felix Faust first fought the JLA in this fingertastic issue, and appeared in 2001 in the rather forgettable JLA: Black Baptism miniseries (in which he was finally separated from the influence of Hermes Trismegistus) and again briefly in Day of Vengeance. His "addict's cycle" has never really been mentioned before. My first exposure to him was in this 1980 story, in which he'd gone straight and become a librarian. And Ralph had the backup that issue! This is a good sign that Fate's helmet may be what's known in the biz as an unreliable narrator... note also that the helmet is considerably higher off the ground than head-level here.

Pg. 11: Etrigan's not in the soul-buying business, is he? Klarion (Seven Soldiers ref. #3) is really not in the soul-buying business, is he? And who are the other two buyers in the panels below Klarion? PLUS: Would that be a teddy bear the defenseless little girl is holding? Remember: teddy bears are an excellent sign of innocence!

I think we need to add "teddy bears" to "sports bras" in the 52 drinking game.

Pg. 13: Yup: unreliable narrator.

Pg. 14: Thought I could be the first to catch this, but Wizard's 52 Roundup beat me to it: the bank's named after Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson! And look to the right of that top panel: our first glimpse of Hawkman post-IC. Well, not really. Also, the Icicle/Tigress, um, "'ship" was revealed here.

Pg. 15: Iron Heights is near Keystone City; for crimes committed in Metropolis, wouldn't they be more likely to go to Stryker's Island?

Pg. 16: Not the John Byrne Matrix, I'm guessing. But somebody's wearing a Supernova outfit...

Pg. 19: The first version of Plutonium (before the one I mentioned a few weeks ago) appeared in the story that Chris at the ISB describes memorably here. And here we have, I think, the first suggestion that Intergang actually has designs on "the government."

Pg. 20: It appears that the Egg Fu here is less likely to be Egg Fu as such than to be Dr. Yes (here again is that Dial B for Blog link)... but "Chang Tzu" is an interesting name for him, since it's an alternate transliteration of the name of the pacifist Taoist philospher whose most famous quote is "Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man." He was also an anarchist, but that's very different from wanting to replace the government with a philosophical devotion to crime.

The Origin of Nightwing: Wait! I was just kidding! Please don't eat your heart out! Not much to say here, except that it's great to see a preview of the Brave and the Bold team, and that I appreciate the two out of three classic trophies that show up in the Batcave panel (Scipio over at The Absorbascon recently posted the definitive rundown on them). And I only resent the incursion of the Monitor/"you're supposed to be dead dammit" business a little.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Week 24: Still a Few Bugs in the System

To paraphrase Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman in David Foster Wallace's novel The Broom of the System: Is it my imagination or did this comic book just get really weird? For a detail-crammed, sprawling, context-starved, fight-scene-packed comic with ten million characters you've never seen before striking impressive poses, Phil Jimenez is your only man--and since this is the issue that's referenced Infinite Crisis most since the early weeks of the series, it's nice to see him in the mix. (And yes, I'd rather see too much going on in 52 than too little. Glad to see this issue erring on the right side.)

Since there's a lot to say about the on-panel content this issue, and I don't have a lot of time for more thoughtful analysis right now, let's go straight to the notes:

Cover: I actively love the idea of treating Firestorm's flame-head as a light source. And "This Shirt's a Clue"--I want a T-shirt like that. Although this time it's Firehawk whose costume is different on the cover than it is on the inside. Hey, maybe that's a clue!

Pg. 1: We've actually covered Maggin before--the real-world one, who first "convinced" Ollie to run for mayor. Jack Ryder, of course, is the Creeper, and I mostly linked to that page because I love the image; "You Are Wrong!" is Ryder's lefty-bigmouth talk show. Plus you'd think the JLA phone would be a little less obvious, especially if Ollie is trying to play down his relationship with the other prominent Star City resident with his facial hair. Star City appears to have a functional streetcar system--I'd have thought that'd have been a casualty of the "Amsterdam Avenue Disaster"--and it appears to be in awfully good shape in the establishing shot at the top of the page, given that back in Week 8 there was so much rubble everywhere I thought I was reading a mid-'80s George Pérez comic (thus even more reason for Jimenez to draw this one). And is that the Space Needle in the background?

Pg. 3: Weird title, considering that the only direct association of the phrase "just imagine" with DC stuff is this. Maybe because it starts the same way as "justice"? This issue does keep riffing on versions of justice: Oliver's "Justice... For All" banner, J'onn's Justice League connection (and desire to do what's just), Al's Justice Society connection, and Jon's final words, on which more later. Ambush Bug is eating a bag of Ch'ps--Ch'p, whose Wikipedia entry breaks Blogger's HTML or I'd link it here, was the unforgettable 22-pound Green Lantern of space sector 1014, killed in this heartwrenching issue. I'm very happy to see Bulleteer again; I'm a little confused about her embrace of the superhero life, though, and I really wish she got more than ONE WORD of dialogue the whole issue. Do we even know where this scene is happening? It looks like a library of some sort (by the security device at the left of the page, and the books behind it); it might make more sense if we got a suggestion of whose idea the new League was...

Pg. 4: Ambush Bug's always been a metafictional sort, capable of jumping straight through the fourth wall whenever he feels like it; great to see him back, especially with Giffen's involvement. And somebody's got a Starfire poster on the wall! Do libraries have those?

Pg. 5: It's not just Rhode Island, it's the town of Happy Harbor, Snapper Carr's home town! The Doom Patrol and Young Justice both set up their HQs for a while there, too. And J'onn does seem to be around a lot when JLA HQs go boom.

Pg. 6: Have we seen Max's murder of Ted from this angle before? I don't think so--and it's probably worthy of note that Checkmate's gear has logos for ProGene Tech (the company responsible for sinking San Diego and lifting Aquaman's DNA in Aquaman), the D.E.O. (for which the Kate Spencer Manhunter and Cameron Chase both work), Task Force X (the official name of the Ostrander-era Suicide Squad), and Cadmus, which has been advertising all over the 52 site ("Nobody's Perfect... Yet")... and which was more or less created by Jack Kirby. Him again. Speaking of which, some of the weapons in the Checkmate armory look more than a bit like Montoya's Kirbytech gun. I don't think we've met Secretary of State Kakalios yet elsewhere, but perhaps his name is a nod to the James Kakalios who's the author of The Physics of Superheroes.

Pg. 7: "Justice is served"? No, that's what Scourge said. Oh no! Maybe the "crossover between universes" means that Booster is actually Scourge! That's why the title this week references Stan Lee!

Or not.

The Wizard 52 blog names all these characters; the short version is that they're all Leaguers who've died. Fascinatingly, the sculpture of Red Tornado incorporates his lower-half-of-body motion effect, although the Flash doesn't have what looks at first like speed lines--it's just the flag General Glory is holding.

Pg. 8: Oh no! It's Pride! I knew this was going to be a DC/Marvel crossover thing!

Or not.

Pg. 9: The "keeping the bad guy's head as a paperweight" thing sounds like Black Adam's old way of doing things. But Mr. Atom turns out to be an old Captain Marvel enemy who's a robot; I assume the new one is too. I confess I'm a little foggy on post-Crisis Shazam continuity, but this page suggests that he was involved in a nuclear explosion that destroyed the Marvels' home town (can anyone give me an issue citation?); keeping his head around might be a very bad idea for Kahndaq... Sabbac appeared in a couple of issues of Captain Marvel Jr., and was on the cover of this one.

Pg. 10: Might somebody have explained here how Firestorm got de-merged with Cyborg? "Schwartz" would have to be Julius Schwartz, a regular supporting cast member of the old Ambush Bug specials and miniseries (who did other stuff too). Oh, actually, here's that story I just linked to--and guess what, it's written by Elliot S! Maggin! Will coinkydinks never cease?

Pg. 11: Okay, this is where y'all come in; who can name all or even some of these pirates and robots (described on the Wizard blog as "villains from different time periods," which seems a little off)? And why are there no monkeys or zombies?

Pg. 13: Now that's funny. "Immortal Bald-Man-In-Armor" indeed. A different Crimson Ghost was a Republic serial villain (whose bare-skull image has been used a lot by the Misfits), and the Tornado Ninja has the same lower-half-of-body effect as the Red Tornado!

Pg. 14: Skeets has a new design, it looks like...

Pg. 17: Is this meant to be, like, the Happy Hunting Ground? The old guy isn't Jon's grandfather, it's Flying Stag, the first Super-Chief. So it looks like Ralph has been camping out in the land of the dead for a few weeks with the Helmet of Fate as his Virgil. Most intriguing element: the dead Jon saying "why can't I... do right?" He doesn't think his death (or loss of power) is unjust; he's concerned with his own failure of virtue.

Pg. 18: The return of bad lorem ipsum! And the Daily Planet's typesetters don't know how to spell "Metropolis"! Firestorm readers (I'm not really one of them), is it public knowledge that Lorraine is Firehawk? And--OH NO! 52 is going to be a Civil War crossover!

Pg. 20: And Atom Smasher's putting together the new Thunderbolts!

Or not.

That next-issue box had sort of better be a joke. Although actually I wouldn't object if it weren't.

Two curious things about the Booster Gold origin: one, it's in the present tense, with no mention of his unfortunate evisceration; two, Skeets "possesses no combat capabilities," despite what we saw a few pages ago. But it's "an excerpt from the Justice League archives," which perhaps is why it's not so up to date. Also, how did a 30th-century Legion flight ring end up in the 25th-century Space Museum? Anybody more up on Booster than I am want to explain?

Meanwhile, over on the official 52 site, there's this magazine subscription offer. Sign me up for Congo Bill World Travel!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Week 23: Black Adam and Grey Theology

For a comic that, as a few of the writers' interviews have suggested, may not have room for the exploration of religion in the DC universe that they intended, 52 does seem to have a lot of religion in it. The Cain cult seems to take off from the cults in our world based on the idea of sin (e.g. Satanism), and on the long-running seductiveness of the idea that good and evil are artificial constructs, that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, etc. (Grant Morrison dealt with that a little bit in The Invisibles too, with the Marquis de Sade sequences and others--and actually I'm curious how many people who read this blog a. have read The Invisibles, b. haven't read it at all, or c. made it partway through and gave up. It's one of my favorite comics ever, although I'm always a little hesitant to recommend it to people.)

But here we have something else altogether: a cult based not just on "do what thou wilt" or even "evil" but crime, on the supposition that fidelity to the divine involves breaking secular laws whatever they may be. (Or maybe not, since it's named after Cain and one of its catchphrases is "the red rage and the rock"--Cain's murder of Abel, at a time when it's safe to assume there weren't any secular laws to speak of. The existence of the DCU Cain and Abel just makes that more complicated.) The cult's ritual is a straight-up parody of an Anglican church service, right down to the "here endeth the lesson." A crime cult is a very weird concept, but I kind of love it--especially since the DCU's heroic ideals have always brushed up against the distinction between "crimefighting" or criminal justice and actually doing right, and sometimes conflated them. (The "Justice League" or "Justice Society": what flavor of justice would those be? The Spectre does divine justice specifically in contrast to secular justice. Etc.)

The cult's HQ isn't just a temple, though--it's an "Intergang reeducation camp." Which makes it look like Intergang is trying to brainwash the orphans it's kidnapped into doing wrong for wrong's sake, rather than the goals that gangs generally have: mutual benefit, money, power, that sort of thing. Admittedly, Intergang's got ties to Apokolips, which is less concerned with normal gang-related activities than with doing whatever it takes to assemble and use the Anti-Life Equation. But it raises the question of what exactly Intergang's motive and intended goals are. I also have to wonder how effective Intergang's brainwashing techniques would be on the starving orphans chained to the speaker's platform in Yemen, given that the reading from "The Epic of Moriarty, Book of Crime" is in English, which I'd guess that very few of them speak--Amon doesn't, until he gains "the wisdom of Zehuti."

The title of this week's issue is a riff on this book by the amazing writer Rebecca West's boyfriend. (Although it does make me wonder if T.O. Morrow's actually got a doctorate, as the cover suggests; that'd make for a funnier title. "Professor"? He was obviously a teacher somewhere, since Doc Magnus was one of his students--was he just an adjunct or something?)

Interesting that "what you get when the world's maddest scientists are given an unlimited
budget and encouraged to let their imaginations run wild on the finest mind-expanding narcotics available to man" is so much like what we saw in the full flowering of the DC Universe's go-go checks era. Which leads to the broader point that the Silver Age is the source of so much of what we're seeing in 52--was there some kind of failure of imagination that happened as Silver gave way to Bronze? Or is there some other reason that the creations of the late '70s and '80s and '90s were fewer or more sedate or less interesting to revive as points of continuity?

More notes:

Nice cover "Pieta" homage, and once again, there's a discrepancy between what Amon is wearing on the cover and on the inside... I'm also not sure how I feel about Montoya being "the Answer" with a capital A--I like her too much as a non-superhero character--but I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a clue about where that storyline is going.

Pg. 1: Believe it or not, this is not a new robot. Its name is B.O.L.T.S., and it first appeared here, and again here. Which we'll be seeing more of in a moment. (Sorry about the weird links; doesn't seem to be working right now.) It also looks like Prof. Morrow has access to the Dr. Moreau-like creatures that signal Intergang involvement.

Pg. 2: Oolong Island isn't new either. In fact, it first appeared in Wonder Woman #157--as the secret island headquarters of the diabolical Egg Fu, the Very Most Racist Super-Villain of All Time. (We briefly saw him back in the second "Tuesdays with Morrow" sequence.) Do follow that link for Dial B for Blog's essay on his history with both Wonder Woman and the Metal Men.

Where do the beach bunnies come from? Are they mad scientists too? Please tell me so.

Pg. 3: So wait, the "Cricketron" incinerates a bunch of people and everyone's still just hanging out under their "Penguin Umbrellas" on the beach?

Pg. 4: Anyone know who "Bugsy" might be? Dr. Rigoro Mortis seems to be somewhat the worse for wear since he first appeared in House of Mystery #165. What's up with Doc's appearance? We didn't see him get splashed with anything last issue--and chloroplatinic acid is not nearly as easy to make as just dumping aqua regia on platinum, although that's a step in the process.

Pg. 5: "Ira" is Ira Quimby, a.k.a. I.Q., who first appeared in Mystery in Space #87 (written up here). His origin, interestingly, has to do with a bit of stone from the planet Rann; maybe he has something to do with the Adam Strange plot? Also, he fought the Metal Men back in DC Comics Presents #4, which looks like it's getting reprinted in Superman: Back In Action next January. Anyone know the story behind the giant robot in the last panel? Or what the headless little-boy robot Sivana's chasing is?

Pg. 6: "Moriarty" would have to be another mad scientist--a math professor, actually: Prof. James Moriarty. He's appeared in at least one DC comic (outside of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen): this one. Any others? I can't find a source for the passage she's reading (about Moriarty torturing Holmes?!)--the "weak ye are revealed, and thus choice ain't for ye" bit is a mixture of high and low speech that reminded me a bit of what Mark Twain makes fun of in "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses." Love that forked-tongued bookmark, though.

Pg. 7: I still want to know where she holsters that thing, or if she's just been wandering around the streets of Yemen clutching her big Kirbytech gun.

Pg. 11: Sports bra! Drink! And why would Montoya and Charlie have gone ahead to Dangerous Place Central without Adam and Isis already present to back them up?

Pg. 13: Oh, look, it's another talking tiger with a member of the Marvel family...

Pg. 15: And apparently you have to be crippled if you want to be a Captain Marvel Jr. analogue.

Pg. 17: "I am Osiris... even though I am not sure what that yet means." For one thing, it means his theology's confused: Amon-Ra and Osiris were two different gods, at the toppermost of the poppermost of the Egyptian pantheon. For another, it means you're going to marry your sister, dude, and after that things are going to go downhill.

Pg. 18: "Seeing if it's contagious": awesome!

Pg. 20: I'm sorry, but a happy-looking Black Adam just freaks me out.

The Origin of Wildcat: Jerry Ordway was a perfect choice for this one. Ted's looking at the cover of All-American Comics #16, although I like the color scheme of the Earth-Prime version better. It was specifically Green Lantern that inspired Ted in the original story, though. But "the finest boxer who ever lived"? What about Superman's other sparring partner?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Week 22: Fried

That headline describes my current state--hence this week's late, abbreviated 52 Pickup--and it's also the punch line to a joke I liked as a kid, involving an elderly and memorious Native American.

The story of the original Standing Bear is worth looking into--it's the one really sharp reference to Native American culture this issue. The title "Burial Ground" is, er, a little on the corny side. As for the Manitou Stone--it's probably not this one--"Manitou stones" are in fact a generic name for certain kinds of headstones in New England; as this page puts it, "manitou" is "a word used by the Algonquin speaking peoples of New England to mean 'spirit,' as in having spiritual power."

That's Algonquin, not Iroquois. "A great noble of the Iroquois nation" wouldn't have called on "manitou, the great spirit in things"; he'd have called it "orenda." (If he'd been Sioux, he'd have called it "wakanda.") The effect is roughly the same as having, I don't know, a Greek character thinking back to growing up in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Super-Chief (no, not that Super Chief) first appeared here, in All-Star Western #117 (a story reprinted here, and I think I know what I'm looking for next time I go to the back-issue bins); he appeared in what I'm guessing was not quite his original context here. There were only three original Super-Chief stories, in the final three issues of All-Star Western, and I now desperately need to track down all of them to see if he actually fought dinosaurs. Or, you know, I could just wait for this. For a really, really long time.

Saganowahna, by the way, is not an actual name in any tradition other than the DCU's. You thought otherwise?

(Also: sorry to see Stephen Wacker go, and good luck to him in his new endeavors! As much as I've given him a hard time here, I do really appreciate everything he did to make 52 possible.)

More notes:

Cover: I like this one a lot, even though it manages to conflate two other people's trademarks on the same cover that sticks the little "registered" sign next to "Green Lantern." I can't help thinking those alchemical symbols look a lot like "PLOT 04" too.

Pg. 1: So Supernova does have remote disintegration power. Who do we know who has that power? Besides Coagula, that is.

Pg. 2: Good use of the teaser line.

Pg. 4: Luthor really likes that expansive "behold!" left-hand gesture, doesn't he?

Pg. 5: "Fastback" is a good name for a DCU bus line--the turtle of that name was part of Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew. Silverblade was mentioned on Rip Hunter's chalkboard, and it's a perfectly appropriate subject for a big-budget action flick. And the Earth-Prime Highway 52 runs northwest-southeast between Portal, North Dakota and Charleston, South Carolina; apparently the DCU version cuts east a little further north to pass through or near Metropolis. Jon is reading the same issue of "Metahuman Journal" that was in Clark and Lois's apartment three months ago (cover-dated July); why is that one so interesting? The back page of the newspaper in panel 2 is apparently advertising a TV version of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?", which the DCU version of Alan Moore will, I'm sure, make very clear that he's not going to watch.

Pg. 6: Of course it's Gate 52. Will we ever see Ms. Red-Hair-Glasses-and-Freckles again? And how do the cops know Jon's "service record"--and from what?

Pg. 8: Bad storytelling in the first panel--I guess that's a funeral (for Jon's father), but that's really not a convincing coffin, and I'm not sure what the thing it's on top of is. Beyond the service record, it looks like Jon's been in jail at some point...

Pg. 9: The "Six Nations" was an Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) confederacy (the Cayugas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Senecas and arguably the Tuscarora). But the book is also a kind of Secret Six (how great a cover is that, by the way?).

Pg. 11: Whoa: was killing him what Jon's grandfather wanted him to do? I'm thinking maybe not, since they're both wearing different outfits in this scene than in the previous one (and the grandfather is still making some noise in the last panel). Odd to see Booster on the cover of "TV Nation," since he couldn't seem to scare up much interest for his funeral...

Pg. 12: That's awfully old-fashioned architecture for a new business school (apparently the one Luthor was talking about last week). Is it a rededicated older building within an established university?

Pg. 13: Have we seen Mr. Ferry before? "Themyscira" just isn't as funny as "medieval," although I'm wondering if it's a cue about the DCU Mercy's background.

Pg. 15: "David" is Doc Magnus's brother, Col. David Magnus, first seen here--another fine cover design. Shade is apparently not this one or this one, but S.H.A.D.E.--the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive introduced here. And the Plutonium Man business Doc Magnus mentions happened in a three-part storyline ending here.

Pg. 18: When did Doc mix the aqua regia? It needs to be prepared immediately before it's used (and Doc mentions that it's "fresh")--otherwise it degrades very quickly. And Doc sure has a problematic relationship with Tina, doesn't he?

Pg. 20: Nice cliffhanger--Lead continuing to rampage in the background after the punch line is a very Morrison touch. Anybody recognize the Sentinel-ish thingie? Also, I like the preview of next week's Drew Johnson/Ray Snyder art, not least because it looks like we're finally getting back to the Montoya/Question plot.

The Origin of Green Lantern: So is Hal's chest insignia green, black or a hologram?... And the non-yellow problem is overridden by Hal's will? Interesting.

Question of the week: does anybody actually click through to the covers I link to? I'm curious.