Monday, April 30, 2012

Countdown to Infinite Crisis 80 pg Special: Death of the Blue Beetle

I found a real gem in the dollar comics bin over a week ago- this Countdown to Infinite Crisis 80 page special! Yes, back in 2005 this only went for a dollar, but you won't get new DC Comic for a price like that ever again- certainly not a thick issue like this! In spite of their tendency to polarize fans, I enjoyed the Crisis books from DC, this countdown issue perhaps even more that it's successor. I wasn't exactly sure what I had in my hands, or how it tied into the recent Justice League: Generation Lost and earlier Identity Crisis until I began to read it. I soon realized I had found the story of Ted Kord's death- the end of the second Blue Beetle! That's right... read on...!

It begins with Ted breaking into Checkmate, finding very sensitive information on all the Justive League members, before we a taken back a few days when Ted realizes something is wrong- Oracle/Barbara Gordon informs him 20 million has been imbezzled from Kord Omniversal, involving Waynetech ,putting Ted's finances into extreme distress and affecting those associated with him. It's here that Babs mentions O.M.A.C., associated with one of the receipts... we later discover their role in the DC Universe, how they are tied to Batman and his experiences in the League during Identity Crisis .

Ted 's smart, even if others in the League tends to take him less seriously, and gathers up Bosster Gold to go see the League's ex-financier, Maxwell Lord about the issue, who tells him it will be okay, and that their best days in tights may be behind them. Turning to Batman, Ted again fails to reap concern for his sense of alarm, and is asked to excuse himself in short order, the Batman quietly losing his patience with his crime fighting comrade.

After Ted leaves the Batcave embarrassed, we are briefly shown schematics to the Brother MK I satellite Batman is building, his faith in Earth's metahumans in question after learning of Zatanna's mindwipe of Dr. Light and himself in Identity Crisis. Scandalous! There's also a 6-issue limited series, The OMAC Project, that ties into Infinite Crisis I need to read, all about Batman's weapon/insurance policy to protect Earth against metahumans. It's great to see all these smaller moments in between the larger story arcs I've read in the last 18 months or so since getting back into comics!

After Kord Omniversal's warehouse is broken into, Superman arrives, having been notified by a priority alarm at the JLA Watchtower. Ted explains the warehouse contained 100 lbs. of Kryptonite, Kord and S.T.A.R. Labs having been subcontracted to dispose of  after Supergirl's arrival on Earth. Superman's awesome presence leaves Ted a little speechless,  feeling only more inferior after the Man of Steel's quick exit.

Calculator reports the theft of kryptonite to Luthor and his Secret Society of Super Villains, who thinks Kord is harmless, but that Blue Beetle is up to something. Their plans along with Dr. Light for retribution against the League in the six issue Villains United  and Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special, building up to Infinite Crisis.

After Booster Gold returns from California unexpectedly, pulling Ted out from under a dogpile of the Madmen gang outside his warehouse in the nick of time, the two friends head back to Ted's in search of the missing link to his recent bad luck. Booster insists that his 25th century origins qualify him as the expert in hacking, and it's his turn to drive the information highway. With one click of the mouse, the computer explodes under a bolt of lightning, catching the house on fire and thowing the two heroes to the floor. Ted leaps from the office window, friend in arms...

After the paramedics have taken Booster away in the ambulance, Ted spies a faint blue light in the wreckage of his burnt home. Recognizing it as the scarab that belonged to the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, Ted suspects a connection with Captain Marvel or the Wizard Shazam. The scarab was thought destroyed, but Carter Hall (Hawkman) found it a few weeks prior unscathed in an Egyptian temple and brought it to Ted. Unable to contact Captain Marvel, Ted flies his bug to Fawcett City, where the pulsating scarab leads him to the Wizard Shazam, who leaves him with more questions than he came with. "Great forces are at work and you are but a man...these are not the trials of a man", Shazam says, mystical vapors from the glowing scarab showing images of Lex Luthor. "Lex Luthor? How does he play into this? He's just a guy!" Ted insists, before the wizard  teleports him back out of the otherworldly realm without the scarab.

Upon his return, Ted is nearly killed again when his bugship explodes! Later at the JLA Watchtower, Wonder Woman looks after Ted (Woof!)  "Here's the secret about Diana: we all love her. Even Batman. It's the way she says your name, like she knows you and everything about you, the best and the worst. Like she knows and she loves you anyway."

Seemingly the only one listening to Ted, Diana finds merit in his suspicions, and tells Ted to keep her informed on the situation as she leaves for the embassy (Remember who kills Max Lord later!?) But J'onn is nonplussed, reminding Ted that in their line of work, attempts on their lives are part of the job, and that Diana was being sympathetic. Additionally, the Martian Manhunter is recieving an emergency transmission from  Adam Strange, that the Thanagarians are invading Rann: another Countdown tie-in event, told in the 6 issue Rann-Thanagar War and one-shot book Rann-Thanager War: Infinite Crisis Special.

Feeling completely rejected, the Blue Beetle returns to the charred remains of his home, discovering a... BUG in the broken goggles of his outfit! Speeding off to see Michael (Booster Gold), the two conclude the surveillance equipment planted in the goggles was fashioned using parts of Booster's 25th century robot friend, Skeets. (Personally, I found that connection to be somewhat... tenuous.  I'm uncertain what purpose this connection serves in the big picture... only to trace the perpetrators?? To bring Skeets back intot the DC Universe?   ...maybe I missed something.)

Tracing Skeets signal back to a remote base in the Swiss Alps, Blue Beetle becomes aware of the clandestine Checkmate, and their extensive knowledge of the JLA member's secrets. He stumbles onto the file detailing his own information, his status listed as deceased! Ted turns to see none other than Maxwell Lord, a metahuman himself whose nose bleeds when mentally controlling someone using his powers of telepathy.

Knowing he's probably not going to escape with his life, Ted makes an attempt anyway, but is met outside by Max and one of the OMAC cyborgs, which promptly breaks his arm and slams him face-first into a wall. Waking up on the floor handcuffed later, Maxwell Lord argues his case, "All I want is to put Earth's destiny in the hads of humans, not people pretending to be human, Ted. In the hands of people like me... and people like you."  "You want me to join you? That's why you're telling me all of this? Join me or die time, is that it?" Ted answers. "That's it exactly", Lord replies, taking aim at Ted. "Rot in hell, Max." ... BLAMM  "Activate Project: OMAC... it's time to save the world from itself." Max says into his commlink after killing Ted Kord!

While it was tough to see this fan favorite lose the battle, this was a well written book, seamlessly told by five separate illustrators and three different writers, including the likes of Rags Morales, Phil Jimenez, Greg Rucka, and Geoff Johns. It's great catching up on what happened before Infinite Crisis. This past weekend I not only scored every issue of The OMAC Project crossover, but also the entirety of the Rann-Thanagar War, Villains United, and Spectre: Day of Vengeance crossover events as well.  Really excited!

*Check out my post featuring DC Universe Classics Blue Beetle and Booster Gold!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Little Joker!

Uh oh... he's back HA! HA! HA! One of my more artsy photographs of Little Joker- such a fun and disturbing little toy :D   This was a General Mills cereal toy my mother slipped into my Christmas stocking one year that's been entertaining me ever since! Click on my label tag below for more pics of this guy...
Why So Serious? Go Play With Your Toys!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Meal Green Lantern Toys

I really don't eat fast food very often nowadays- it makes me feel sluggish and is almost completely void of any nutritional value. But a pal of mine dropped off a bag of the new Green Lantern toys, so at the risk of this becoming the Super-Duper-GreenLantern-ToyBox, we'll be looking at these today (what can I say? I love Green Lantern!). I emailed the McDonald's Corporation last week asking who manufactured these, but have yet to receive a response, so were going to just forge onward.

First up is Razer, a Red Lantern exclusive to the new Green Lantern animated show on which these toys are based. Razer was depicted as a naive follower of Atrocitus, turning against the vengeful Red Lantern after he was made to detonate a planet destroying bomb to prove his loyalty to the Corps.

Razer's body is constructed of translucent red plastic, the face and black portions painted black. When his power switch is engaged, his torso lights up when the button is pressed on his back. I am entertained!

Razer's articulation is limited to his shoulders, which enough. He leans into his left knee, ready for battle, and stands okay on the shelf. The Red Lantern symbol is cleanly tampographed on his chest, and tiny eyes perfectly painted on his serious face. He looks good  :)

Grapplin' Kilowog's action feature is a hand construct the opens & closes by moving a switch on his back- handy for bugging your little sister with  :D

Kilowog has two points of articulation- his head is on a swivel joint, as is the giant hand construct on the end of his right fist. I love the head they put on this guy, and the clean Green Lantern Corps symbol tampographed on his chest. I think love for this GL drill sergeant is universal among Green Lantern fans.

Kilowog needed some sticky tack in order to stay upright while Razer was in his grip for the photo below, but that's showbiz, kids  :D

Also included in my gift bag was the Interceptor spaceship and a Green Lantern power ring. In the show, Hal Jordan & Kilowog take the Interceptor to the farthest reaches of the galaxy to rescue Green Lanterns being attacked by Artocitus, Zilius Zox, and Razer against the wishes of the Guardians of Oa.  The Interceptor fires a disc by pushing the switch on it's tail- it came with decals, but I preferred it without. The power ring has a button that lights the ring from underneath, so if you are wearing it, it's on. It's big, clunky, and fun  :D

I really enjoyed the episode of the Green Lantern: The Animated Series I saw. It was produced by Bruce Timm, the combination of his stylized art and computer animation making for a slick show. DC Direct has released two limited edition maquettes inspired by the show, one of Atrocitus & one of Hal Jordan, and supposedly Mattel will be releasing some toys as well.

*Check out Dan Lantern's video of the entire set of Green Lantern Happy Meal toys at The Toy Museum!
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Friday, April 20, 2012

New 52: Green Lantern #8

Continued from my post on Green Lantern issue #7, the mysterious Indigo tribe has captured Sinestro, with Hal Jordan in hot pursuit, their intent to make right the Guardians mistake of reinstating him into the Green Lantern Corps. As Indigo-1 initiates the conversion of Sinestro, the willful Lantern lashes out in defiance, crushing an Indigo tribesman's head into the prison bars, "YOU DARE VIOLATE ME?! I am not like the rest of your prisoners. I AM SINESTRO!"

But  Indigo-1 strikes Sinestro down with a flash of her ring, promising "Not for much longer." This book gets better all the time, Doug Mahnke's masterful art adding the graphic, emotional punch as Geoff John's ever intriguing story dramatically unfurls...

Meanwhile, the incarcerated Hal Jordan listens to Black Hand's brainwashed tale of how the Indigo tribe allowed him to feel empathy for the first time in his life, their ability to cycle throught the emotional spectrum in complete acquiescence to compassion for all other beings. As Black Hand channels through the Green Lantern's power of will, Jordan seizes the moment, powering his ring through the rehabilitated villain's head and smashing free of his prison cell.

Limited in his power due to the ring's charge from a simulated energy, Hal is injured in the melee, but manages to conjure a motorcycle construct and speed away in search of Sinestro and answers to the fallen Lantern's machinations.

The plot thickens when Hal discovers a giant statue of his predesessor Abin Sur in the middle of the Indigo Tribe's hundred million square mile facility! "How is Abin Sur connected to the indigo Tribe", a puzzled Hal asks before Indigo-1 appears with the Tribe, "Abin Sur is our savior, our creator. He saved us all. Beginning with Abin Sur's greatest enemy."

The last page shows a converted Sinestro chained at the neck, wielding a tribal staff, surrounded by his new family...!  Man, is this book getting interesting!

Also of interest: I've spotted this advertisement for the forthcoming New 52 Graphic Novels release schedule. This is great news to me, the graphic novel format being my preferred method of reading a story arc- the whole story in one book as opposed to several issues of a comic spread out over several months. I'll be able to catch some of the inaugural New 52 stories I hated to miss...

In conclusion, I'd like to share this beautiful two page advertisement of the new DC Direct Justice League action figures- Cool! I'm annoyed that we are being made to wait until January of 2013 to get Superman, the one I want most, but he does look great! As you've probably heard by now, DC Direct is relaunching the company as DC Collectibles, and will expand its online store to offer its entire product line for sale on the web, in addition to the line’s primary availability in comic book retail locations. For those fans who prefer to purchase a product in-store, the website will also provide information on the closest retail location that carries a particular DC Collectibles product. (source: ComicBookResources.Com)

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

JLU Lanterns

I found some loose Justice League Unlimited Green Lanterns at V-Stock on Tuesday. V-Stock sells new & used CDs, movies, comics, video games, & toys, and has an ever-changing stock of the latter sold in little baggies for as low as $1.99. Pretty cool!

Arkkis Chummuck, Katma Tui, & Kyle Rayner were originally packed together in the orange DC Superheroes: Justice League Unlimited  in 2006. I posted about the Katma DCUC figure not long ago: the Korugarian chosen as Sinestro’s replacement as Green Lantern of Sector 1417 upon his banishment to Qward. Katma looks very different from her DCUC couterpart, most noticeably her change of skin tone, Korugarian's usually being red (like Sinestro). This was likely a result of artistic liscense taken by creators of the Justice League Unlimited show, for reasons I do not know- perhaps her coupling with John Stewart. It seems that her appearance in the earlier Justice League animated show was different than in the relaunched Justice League Unlimited, as well. She originally was packed with a figure stand, the females in this line even harder to stand upright than the males due to their tiny feet- I was challenged by this trait throughout the entire photo session.

Lantern Chummuck had had an unusual introduction to the Corps, accidentally killing a Green Lantern in defense of his homeworld, the ring choosing him as a replacement! From DC Wikia: As was the custom of his people, he ate Lantern Reever's remains to honor him as a worthy opponent. Then, in an effort to bring the senseless war in his region to an end, he established himself non-violently in a position of power on both planets. For these actions, Arkkis was brought to trial at a tribunal by fellow Corps member Malet Dasim. He was tried for devouring his "victim" and his unorthodox methods of bringing peace to his sector. Ultimately, it was decided that Arkkis wasn't a bad Green Lantern, just a strange one, and not used to the standard customs. He was put on probationary status, and Malet Dasim was appointed to advise him in how better to integrate himself with the regular practices of the Green Lantern.

And finally, my favorite of the three: Kyle Rayner. Lantern Rayner was chosen by the last surviving Guardian after Hal Jordan was possessed by Parallax and murdered most all the  Green Lantern Corps, destroying the planet Oa as well. Just a month ago I posted about DC's New 52 Green Lantern: New Guardians  #1, which retells the story of Ganthet's appointment of Kyle Rayner as the last Green Lantern.

Together with John Stewart, my new JLU Green Lantern Corps is a force to be reckoned with!

I've only seen John Stewart in any of the JLU episodes I've been lucky to catch on YouTube; the show was under my radar in it's heyday, having only returned to my childhood love of comics & action figures in the last 19 months. It's my understanding that that Lantern Rayner "adopted" Hal Jordan's origin story for the show, inheriting his ring from the dying Abin Sur, and that use of John Stewart as the shows main Green Lantern was somewhat hotly debated at the time, the least favorite of DC fandom. While liberties were taken with DC Universe continuity, John Stewart turned out to be a great character on the show, bringing ethic diversity and interesting edge to the group dynamic with his no-nonsense personality.

Aside from the reasonable price on these Lanterns, I wanted them to shoot some scenes with my Manhunter Robots, Power Ring, and Sinestro JLU figures! Toys are made to be played with!   :D

I love this group of villains! I'm a HUGE fan of Sinestro, and am pleased with his role in the New 52 Green Lantern title- it's been great! Power Ring is a member of the Crime Syndicate, alternate universe evil versions of the Justice League- he came with a fun clamping-hand construct (pictured above). And those Manhunter Robots I got in a 3-pack with my John Stewart figure almost exactly a year ago- they are rare among this line of toys having feet big enough that they don't fall down all the time.

The Manhunters appeared in the Justice League episode "In Blackest Night". Like their comic counterparts, they were the first before the Green Lantern Corps. However according to the Guardians, "they couldn't understand the subtle gradations between good and evil" and as such were reprogrammed for other tasks such as hunting and guarding. The Manhunters began secretly plotting their revenge against the Guardians for their perceived betrayal, bringing Green Lantern John Stewart to trial for accidentally destroying the planet Ajuris 4. Unknown to the masses, the planet's destruction was faked with the help of Kanjar Ro as part of the Manhunters' plan to overthrow the Oans and take the Corps' power source. Their gambit successfully draws five of the Guardians away from Oa to testify for John, as well as several unassigned Green Lanterns, leaving Oa severely weakened when the Manhunters attack in force. The Justice League clears John's name and then aids in defeating the Manhunters, assisted by the Corps. This was based on the comics story "No Man Escapes The Manhunters," which appeared in Justice League of America #140-141 (1977). (Wikipedia)

*Visit The Watchtower, "fan site dedicated to Cartoon Network’s animated, non-Superfriends adventures of DC Comics’ legendary superhero team!" ...not updated since 2007, but it has some insightful thoughts & information on the Justice League show and it's characters.

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