B.P.R.D. 1946 #1 (Mike Mignola & Joshua Dysart-writers, Paul Azaceta-artist)
A little something from Mignola (this time assisted by Joshua Dysart) to tide us over until the next B.P.R.D. series comes along to, hopefully, answer our questions about what the hell Daimio is doing with the Wendigo and how exactly the ghost of Lobster Johnson exploded out of Johann’s borrowed body to shoot the crazy Fu Manchu dude in Liz’s head (come on, kids…try to keep up).
Set in Berlin, just after the Second World War, B.P.R.D. 1946sees the Bureau’s founder, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (that’s pronounced “Broom”), in war-torn Europe. President Truman sent Bruttenholm–and his associate Dr. Eaton–to investigate any occult shenanigans that the Nazis may have left behind, as well as keep an eye on the occult experts sent in by the Soviet Union (led by a creepy little girl who seems to know an awful lot about Bruttenholm and the little demon baby he’s recently adopted). As you might expect, the U.S. Army is not a big fan of “occult investigations” and, when Bruttenholm asks for assistants, he’s saddled with the Dirty Half-dozen, a group of war-weary soldiers who want nothing but to be sent back home.
In addition to the questions raised by the aforementioned creepy little Russian girl, the big question that this first issue of B.P.R.D. 1946 raises is this: What the hell were the Nazis doing with a vampire? We first get a hint of what’s to come in the very opening pages of the issue. Set during the War, we see a Nazi scientist experimenting on a young woman. When she breaks free of her restraints, she’s subdued by Nazi stormtroopers wielding golden crucifixes. See…I told ya: vampires. To make things worse, back in 1946, Bruttenholm and Eaton travel to an abandoned asylum (bad idea) looking for evidence of Hitler’s occult experiments.
This series showcases what might be Mignola’s greatest strength as a storyteller and world-builder. Whether I’m reading an issue of B.P.R.D., Hellboy, or any of the series set in the Mignola-verse, I never encounter something that contradicts what’s come before. Are all of my questions answered? No. But, I’m confident that everything in this series will fit perfectly into the present-day world of Hellboy and the Bureau. Azaceta’s art certainly fits into the style that Mignola has established for his world, however something about it feels “off.” I’m not sure if it’s too detailed, or maybe it isn’t shadowy enough…but, although it is good, I don’t think it’s up to the work that Duncan Fegredo did in the Darkness Calls mini-series.
Countdown to Final Crisis 16 (Paul Dini & Tony Bedard-writers; Pete Woods, Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher-artists)
We’re in the homestretch with Countdown to Final Crisis (I still wonder if DC planned to expand this book’s title all along) and, if this issue is any indication, things don’t look that good for the new Multiverse.
The bulk of this issue deals with Monarch’s no-holds-barred assault on Earth-51. Given the fact that this Earth’s heroes have been retired for some time, Monarch doesn’t meet much of a resistance. Panel after panel shows Monarch’s army tearing through the likes of Dr. Fate and Red Tornado; only our Earth’s Kyle Rayner, Jason Todd, and Donna Troy manage to put up anything even remotely resembling a fight. Things aren’t going so well for the Monitors, either. With Solomon’s betrayal revealed, neither side wants anything to do with him–Monarch mocks him and the remaining Monitors lock him away in the Nexus and force him to watch the destruction his backstabbing has caused. Things go from bad to worse when an evil, black-clad Superman shows up to take him out. Anyone have any idea which Supes this is supposed to be? I’ve started to lose track.
In Gotham-51, Batman pulls Jason Todd’s bacon out of the fire and brings him back to the “Bat Bunker.” The Batman on this Earth is far crankier than the Bruce we all know and love. I guess hanging out on an Earth with no crime to fight made the old boy go a little funny in the head (this Batman packs heat). So, this Bruce ties Jason up and accuses him (at gunpoint!) of being an impostor since this Earth’s Jason also died in Batman’s arms. I’m not sure how Jason’s going to get out of this one, but I’m sure he will, and I’m sure this is where Jason picks up the Red Robin costume that he’s wearing in DC’s promotional material.
Back on New Earth, Forager is emerging from Jimmy Olsen’s shower, draped in a towel. She claims to be washing off the grime and stench of Apokolips, but I wonder if Jimmy’s done a little foraging of his own since we last saw these two. Anyways…getting past the eerily hot, naked, pink bug-chick, it seems I was right. Mr. Olsen’s wacky new powers do, in fact, stem from the missing souls of the dead New Gods. As Naked-Forager says, Jimmy’s a “soul-catcher.”
Gen 13 #16 (Simon Oliver-writer, Sunny Lee-artist)
The Gen 13 kids are still in New York City, and Caitlyn still feels like (to paraphrase The Police) “somebody’s watching her.” After telling her suspicions to Sarah last issue, Caitlyn attempts to tell the others, but everyone’s too wrapped up in their new lives in the Big Apple to stop bickering for more than a nano-second. Big Red decides to not tell Roxy, Grunge and Bobby–good thing, too, since I.O.’s rat-catchers were waiting in the wings to ice her if she did.
I was a little upset to see Gail Simone leave this book so soon, but Oliver’s done a pretty good job taking what Simone established in the first few issues and running with it. While the original Gen program seemed to have been developed for a solely military purpose, the reboot of Gen 13 latches onto this country’s love of fame and spectacle, not to mention the kind of creepy shit people post on the internet. The Gen-Active snuff porn that Simone introduced in the book’s first arc has been replaced by a far more complex scheme: a reality show starring the kids of Gen 13 (not to mention other Gen-Actives in supporting roles). Using a reality show lets Oliver rehash tired teen hero cliches while admitting to the reader that they’re tired cliches–watching the “director” strut around the control room proclaiming the brilliance of his project, only to be called a “wanker” by the techs on duty, shows that Oliver isn’t taking all of this angst too seriously. And that’s a good thing.
Green Lantern Corps. #20 (Peter J. Tomasi-writer, Patrick Gleason & Carlos Mango-artists)
Like it’s sister title, Green Lantern, I started reading the reboot of Corps. when it first started. But, just like with Lantern, economic constraints at the time forced me to whittle down the comics I read each week. Unfortunately, GLC was one of the books that had to be let go. Now, in the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps. War, I thought it was a good time to revisit GLC. And I’m glad I did.
There’s no reason why I shouldn’t like this book. I love cop shows. I love a good police procedural novel. I dug DC’s Gotham Central. What else is Green Lantern Corps. if not a comic about cops? Cops in space. In the midst of cleaning up after the War–which includes creating the Alpha Lanterns and monitoring where the rings of deceased Sinestros* are going–the Guardians have another impending problem to deal with: Guy Gardner’s moving to Oa. It seems that Guy’s decided he needs a change of scenery and wants to open (of all things) a cop bar on Oa. So, with Kyle–who also needs a change of scenery after his mother’s death–in tow, Guy bids farewell to Earth and departs for (ahem) greener pastures. I love how Guy and Kyle have grown into buddies (I wonder if it has anything to do with both being somehow overshadowed by Hal Jordan, pre- and post-mortem?).
It’s a good thing Guy’s opening a bar on Oa, since it looks like the Lanterns are going to need quite a lot to drink now that Mongul (not the original Mongul, that Mongul’s son…easy mistake) has gotten his big, yellow mitts on a Sinestro ring. Mongul’s clearly up to no good, my guess is he’s got a mad-on to collect as many of the owner-less Sinestro rings that he can find–hell, he might even kill a few Sinestros to get their rings. If Mongul Jr. takes control of the yellow Corps., it’ll be interesting to see what happens when Hal finds out, since Mongul’s daddy had a hand in destroying Coast City (an act, I’m sure we all remember, that led Hal down the path to becoming Parallax).
*: by the way, am I right in referring to the members of the Sinestro Corps. as “Sinestros”? They don’t refer to themselves as “Yellow Lanterns”, right? It just looks odd when you write it out.