"Think maybe that's a little bit important?"- Oracle
Starting off the week, Karate Kid and his new partner, Una, take a trip to see the Oracle, hoping to get some information about, well, any reason why they might still need to be in this time. However, Oracle doesn't like to be bothered, and it's a long battle through security systems to get to the woman in the chair, though she's a little busy right now, safeguarding all the secrets of the DCU heroes.
In brief, Atom, Bob, Jason Todd and Donna Troy make their next stop, a scary world of all sorts of possibilities, but, upon their arrival, the group discovers they are being watched.
Elsewhere, Holly Robinson meets up with Athena, who asks the former Catwoman to give her a chance to explain herself and her refusal to allow children into the help shelter, an offer to which Holly reluctantly agrees.
Also, Mr. Action stops some more crime, earning himself a kiss from a Metropolis hottie. Leaving the crook he stopped to escape, a ponderous Jimmy thinks about what team he might be able to join.
However, the real fun of the issue comes from Gotham, where The Penguin offers more shelter to Trickster and Piper. However, Penguins don't change their feathers, and this one is doing his usual double dealing, trading out the two felons to a new Suicide Squad, made up of Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Plastique and Bronze Tiger. The Squad promises to keep it quick and quiet, though (surprise surprise) the team screws it up, giving the Rogues a chance to escape. Eventually, they hide in an alley and use Piper's music to turn invisible to their pursuers, only to meet a much more dangerous combo: The Question and Batwoman.
If you are not reading "The All-New Atom" by Gail Simone then you should probably have your fanboy card revoked. However, this week's issue is especially relevant to "Countdown." Simone takes the Challengers of the Beyond in search of Ray Palmer on the back of a dog as well as a visit to a twisted afterlife that will make many readers smile as much as I did. The quote of the issue? "Stupid jetpack Hitler!"
In this week's "Action Comics," the appropriately named Mr. Action makes and appearance (as well as the return of a long missing member of the Superman Family).
"Amazons Attack" continues in the pages of "Supergirl" this week and "Outsiders: Five of a Kind" starts with Nightwing/Boomerang.
Brian Eason: I think we both got our wish this week with a stirring start by Karate Kid and Una breaking into the Oracle's place. I see some mixed reactions on Jim Califore's artwork, but I love this guy. I love the panel layout and the expressions. I really became a fan of his work on "Exiles."
Justin Eger: I'm mixed. I thought it suited, except one panel, where Piper and Trickster are running out of the Iceberg's back room. I couldn't see the chain, then, all of a sudden, it was a plot point, so there it was. Just a flub, but it threw me. Still, everything else was good.
BE: Piper and Trickster are rapidly becoming the "Odd Couple" of the DCU. But since Deadshot and Boomerang are in the Suicide Squad, what does that say about their respective teams and what does Amanda Waller get out of this?
JE: I was wondering this myself. Obviously, Deadshot is no longer a player in the Secret Six, and Boomer is no longer a valued member of the Outsiders, both great losses on all fronts. However, I'm happy to see the new squad being used, especially since it's quite similar to the "Justice League Unlimited" Task Force X team (replacing Rick Flag with Bronze Tiger).
BE: I can only imagine that John Ostrander wants Boomer and Deadshot back for the Suicide Squad series coming in September. But I will be highly surprised if Deadshot doesn't remain with/return to the Secret Six. Gail Simone has a great handle on this character.
JE: I agree on all counts. I loved Deadshot in the Six, especially since there was no chance of getting the Squad back, but now that the Squad has returned, I'm torn. Still, it's only probably for this year, since no plans have been announced for the Six and they're now down two members (with Harley gone over to the Athena-side).
And it is called the "Suicide Squad." Not much room for long-term planning on a team like that. Though I just realized that other squad members, like Mirror Master (seen in "Checkmate"), weren't on the assault team. Then it hit me that Master is another of the Rogues, as well as being a Squad recruit. So is Waller actually trying to capture and hide the Flash's killers?
BE: Could be. Could be that Waller is forming the new squad with the Rogues. It could also be the case that they are being gathered up (along with the other missing villains) to be shipped off to the prison planet in DC's upcoming "Salvation Run" series by Bill Willingham. The Challengers of the Beyond appear to have landed in the Ditkoverse! I expect the Dread Dormammu to poke his head out at any moment. I love this sort of dimensional hopping and Califore knows how to bring it to the page.
JE: Yeah, that was a shining moment in the artwork, and the characters handled it well.
BE: Any page with little red-eyed critters peeking out of the background is a good one. Moving on the Mr. Action, can I say how much I'm enjoying Jimmy in this role?
JE: *Sigh* You can. I kinda like it, too.
BE: You see folks? Even the Grinch's heart can melt.
JE: Here's something, though: When Jimmy stretched, his pants stretched with him, but not his shirt sleeves.
BE: Stirrup pants?
JE: Nuh-uh. Not going there. Not after the incident with Mary's little black dress.
BE: But last week you were so bold! The Rogues making their exit from the Iceberg is pure gold. There is action and humor and Dini has a great grasp of Penguin's dialog and motivations. Of course, Trickster gives a warning that we all should keep in mind: "You better not have touched me in my special area --"
JE: A little homophobic, now that I think about it, but still really, really funny in context.
BE: Indeed. The contrast of opposites is perfect.
JE: I enjoyed this whole sequence: Penguin, the Squad, Piper and Trickster. All seemed to blend very well. I'd love to see more of this in the coming weeks, too.
BE: Holly's tale continues to bring up more questions than answers. I find this especially true since Wonder Woman just encountered Athena on Themyscria in her own book last week as it relates to the whole "Amazons Attack" storyline. Very curious. I also can't help but think that the Aegis behind Athena is there for a reason.
JE: Amazonians equal war, and I keep telling you Athena is recruiting warriors, not protecting women.
BE: You are beginning to convince me. And with our close we get a look at how the Question should be drawn. Montoya looks good here and so does Batwoman, nice to see here back.
JE: And it's nice to see the two teaming up. I always liked the idea of Batman and Vic Sage teaming up, so why not their female counterparts?
BE: I hesitate to mention it, but there is the added dynamic that the pair used to be lovers. That's something that was never mentioned in the Batman/Question team-ups. All kidding aside, I think more Batwoman / Question exposure is a good thing.
JE: And I, as well. I was skeptical of Renee as the Question, but it seems to be working out. I'm really looking forward to "Crime Bible." However, weren't Renee and Kate back to being lovers at the end of "52?" Not often we get to see a crimefighting couple.
BE: Frankly, I don't remember, but as we've seen in recent articles here at CBR, the issue of Batwoman has been tossed around a lot since she was outed to the media. I like the character and I hope she doesn't languish too long before they do something with her. The same, of course, goes for Montoya.
JE: Hopefully her role in "Gotham Underground" will be significant.
BE: In the "History of the Multiverse" feature we get an explanation of the cosmology of the multiverse, explaining that each reality is surrounded by a Source Wall and the space between the Source Walls is filled with Anti-Life and within that Anti-Life is the Bleed. Thoughts?
JE: I like that the Bleed is given such a smooth explanation, since it's tormented so many of us for so long, especially when Ion and Captain Atom began exploring it. It makes sense, though the thought of multiple Source Walls is frightening, since they've long been the ultimate mark of power in the DCU.
BE: It occurs to me now that Monarchs army that is being formed in the bleed is surrounded by anti-life. That can't be a good thing.
JE: Oh. Oh, man. Oh man-o-man. You just blew my frickin' mind. That is so not good and yet an awesome plot point.
BE: That's why the pay me vast sums of money to do this kind of analysis.
JE: But, in that same respect, since the Bleed works like an abscess, could you theoretically lance it and destroy everything in that pocket?
BE: What would you drain it into? You may have identified the foundation of the Final Crisis.
JE: And thanks to Dan Jurgens for simplifying all the madness for those of us without degrees in theoretical physics.
Panel of the Week
Flight rings make "Mission: Impossible" stunts so much cooler.