The doctors of Arkham Asylum are in need of Ray Palmer’s help to save The Joker. You heard me, they want to save the Clown Prince of Crime. Why? No idea, I’m blaming it on Didio. The Atom is shocked at this as well but being the hero that he is, he agrees to help by going sub-atomic into Joker’s mind to give him the medicine he needs. While in there he is hit by several synapses that cause him to live out the memories of Joker as a child. Once the job is done and Joker is safe, Atom asks the doctor if his experience will eventually go away, or if it will stay with him. The doctor informs him he doesn’t know (REALLY?! Don’t you think you should have told him that BEFORE you sent him in?) The final scene has Ray repeating words that a young Joker used; causing Joker to laugh hysterically. Though this isn’t as powerful as the last couple of issues, this book is still solid in its storytelling. Bringing up the history of DC’s most popular villain is touchy at best; especially since Joker has been retconned more than any character except Hawkman. This really is probably the weakest story to come through here in a while, but it was still worth the money. My Score; B-
Steve Rogers is back (but don’t tell anyone since we haven’t got the official word yet). The 1950’s Cap is also back and Nick Fury let’s our Cap know exactly where he is. Seems he’s up to his old tricks again; wandering the Midwest and gathering disgruntled Americans that even the Militia wouldn’t accept. Bucky and Sam go undercover to find out just what his plan is (like it ever really changes) and in the end Bucky’s cover is blown. End scene. You know what, Bru, my man? This might be a good time to step off the Captain America train. You haven’t derailed quite yet, but I’m sensing reruns of story plots here. There’s so much more for the new Cap to be going through that sending him into a story that was already told about twenty-five years ago is not a good sign. My Score: C
Blackest Night has come to Opal City and we discover that its protector, The Shade, has fallen in love with one of the O’Dare’s – the female one, actually. Their discussion is interrupted by the appearance of the newest Black Lantern, David Knight. With the help of the O’Dare’s, The Shade is able to capture and contain the creature while Hope O’Dare realizes just how much she has come to care for Opal’s protector. This is another great one shot that brings back an old (and one of the greatest) DC titles for one more peak. Like the others before it, this one is written by its original writer, in this instance, James Robinson. If you were a fan of the original series this is a must buy. A wonderful coda to the series. The only issue I have with it is that it leaves fans of The Shade and all the other secondary characters that made this book so rich, wanting much much more. I’m ready for a Shade mini, a two year maxi even. My Score: A-
Okay, bear with me on this because I’m going to run through this rather quickly. The newest members of the Outsiders are in Markovia where Geo-Force broods... a lot. Then he sends a very cranky, slightly older version of Katana and Black Lightning to take care of some pirates, including Captain Fear. Katana can’t wait to ax the guy and Lightning is quite upset when she actually does it. In the meantime Metamorpho and Jack Ryder (The Creeper) hang out to get to know each other. Since both of them have been around for over twenty some years, I’m actually surprised they’ve never had this conversation, but hey, it’s comics. Rex soon realizes that he doesn’t like this guy at all (guess he couldn’t figure it out in all those other adventures they had with each other). Finally they all gather together to bicker and insult each other until Prince Brion appears to introduce their newest member – The Eradicator. Yep, that’s what I said. Now I praised Didio for his work on Metal Men in Wednesday Comics. Also thought he did a very good job in the Blackest Night Jonah Hex tale as well. Unfortunately this felt like I had stepped into the Twilight Zone of The Outsiders. Every character seems to have done a complete one eighty in personality. The story felt disjointed and completely out of left field. If this is the road this team is heading down, I think I may have to leave this trip before it even starts. My Score: D+
The strength of Peter Tomasi is apparent in this Blackest Night feature that brings back The Phantom Stranger for one more issue. It’s up to the Stranger and Blue Devil to stop The Spectre from becoming a Black Lantern. This is really a very straight forward story with an ending that I’m not going to spoil for you, but if you are as into this event as I am, this is worth a read. As I’ve stated before, Tomasi is one of the top five writers DC has right now, and even a story that I wasn’t even that interested in to start, turned into another fantastic outing. My Score: B
What happens when the Absorbing Man absorbs the power of the Cosmic Cube? You get some very worried Avengers and Dark Avengers, that’s what. As both teams battle to bring down Kreel, Norman and Pym trade barbs and eventually out race each other to see who can get a hold of Absorbing Man’s weapon of choice, which has also got the powers of the Cosmic Cube in it. There’s a beauty of a scene where Hank actually convinces Osborne that he already has the Cube and has changed reality to his liking. In the meantime, Crusher uses his power to alter the reality of Dark Ms. Marvel, Venom, and separates the Void from Sentry. Now if that wasn’t enough to call it a day, unbeknownst to anyone else, Jocasta looks like she’s just been taken over by Ultron! After they defeat Kreel Norman strips USAgent of his rank (which Walker accepts without batting an eyelash), and Pym searches the video of the crowd to discover Loki hanging in the background. GOTCHA! This was an okay issue, some nice battle scenes and a little character development for a couple of Mighty Avengers. The problem with it is that the main characters of this book are shoved to the back of the story, with the main focus once again on the Dark Avengers. A guest star should never take away from the central characters. My Score: B-
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