"Oh, that's just swell." – Detective Chimp
Following a road trip to the irradiated remains of Bludhaven by Buddy Blank, his grandson, Karate Kid and Una, and a brief appearance by Darkseid himself, our week begins on Earth-8, where the fight between Monarch and Forerunner, Lord Havok and the Extremists, the Crime Society and our very own Challengers From Beyond, continues. However, the battle takes an unexpected turn when Jason Todd murders one of Lord Havok's minions and then seeks to earn a place at Monarch's side. The best way to do that? By gunning down Donna Troy with Monitor Bob's gun.
Back on New Earth, Forager convinces Jimmy Olsen to join her in seeking out the souls of the slain New Gods, and the two make an explosive exit from the Daily's Planet's most famous storage room. Meanwhile, the Shadowpact makes a play to take down Eclipso and Mary Marvel, and while their plans come close to hitting the mark, the team is overpowered just long enough for the vile vixens of villainous magic to make an exit.
On Themyscira, Holly Robinson and her fellow recruits discuss their respective past lives, but then their training begins in earnest once again, as the Amazons set the loose in the woods of the island, pursued by vicious hunting dogs. During the escape, Holly discovers that the island paradise is far more like a prison.
Finally this week, Trickster and Pied Piper arrive at the mysterious destination where all the villains have been taken, only to find that it's merely a waystation to somewhere else, somewhere far, far away. As they discover this, they also free Two-Face (who was picked up in "Gotham Underground" #1, also out this week). Harvey shares what he knows, then relies on a coin flip to decide whether or not he'll go with the two Rogues. He does not, and Piper and Trickster make their escape from the Checkmate holding facility.
Two-Face strikes twice this issue as, in the back, we learn his secret origin, as told by Mark Waid and Mark Chiarello.
JE: Quick question: I'm a bad person and didn't buy "Death of the New Gods?" I know Black Racer bought it (how do you kill death?) but I was wondering who else was on the list.
BE: Here's your body count:
JE: Sean McKeever and Carlos Magno join Paul Dini and Keith Giffen to fill out the issue.
BE: Solid art this week. I like the use of light on the panels and the detailed facial expressions.
JE: It's growing on me. Maybe the next book under Magno will put me on solid ground. Is that the Mars rover visiting Bludhaven? Just who is this version of Buddy Blank that has all this gear?
BE: It's certainly not the janitor from Kirby's OMAC. This Buddy Blank has brains and some skills. Bludhaven is definitely a cautionary tale that shows that the impact of "Infinite Crisis" is still here.
JE: Yeah, I'm still surprised at the destruction leveled on the city, as well as the remains. Maybe now that Chuck Dixon is coming back to some books, we'll see him rebuild his creation.
BE: The funny thing is that I had actually sat down and read every issue of "Nightwing" before the destruction of Bludhaven. So, when the event took place, it had a serious impact on me. I felt that Dixon had given the city a real personality (just like Gotham) and it was sad to see it die. On top of that, moving Nightwing to New York (during the Bruce Jones run) was a huge let-down after the feeling that Dick Grayson had his own "Gotham." I suppose all of this could be attributed to the planned death of Dick Grayson that was abandoned at the last moment. Kill the city and then kill the hero.
JE: I felt the same way. The day that issue of "Infinite Crisis" came out, I was stunned, and my friends couldn't figure out why. How do you explain that you were around for the Dick's very first trip to the city, so it's like a part of your own history just got torched? Anyway, enough crying. The war on Earth-8 gets up and running, but the only real casualty seems to be Havok's fishy friend.
BE: That would be the late (and unlamented) Barracuda.
JE: At least you felt him worthy enough to name.
BE: I am always in search of the minutiae.
JE: Jason guts him with a hysterically bad rendition of his signature knife, then turns on the team.
BE: And Lord Havok doesn't fall for it and neither do I.
JE: No, it'd be a little off to see Jason go all crazy all of a sudden, since he seemed to be getting along so well as a sort-of hero.
BE: Jason is the newest side-kick-turned-anti-hero. It's working out well for the Winter Soldier over in "Captain America," why shouldn't it work for Jason? I really wish he'd start wearing the full helmet again.
JE: Yeah, he looked a little cooler. Still, domino masks are old-school awesome. Jimmy and Forager make an interesting (and noticeable) exit. Despite the exit, we get a little more knowledge about Forager's quest, not to save the New Gods, but to save their souls.
BE: By the way, did I miss something here? Forager doesn't seem as concerned about the death of the New Gods as she does about what is becoming of their souls. Was this mentioned somewhere else?
JE: I thought you might have some more information on that one. Might be another victim of pacing and stand-alone writers.
BE: I don't envy the juggling of plotlines that this team has to carry. "Death of the New Gods" #2 is scheduled for next week. Hopefully we'll get our answer in that issue.
JE: Looks like we got the war with the Shadowpact right here in our own pages. Not unexpected, but do you think we got a little shorted? I mean, we did get all the high points without any decompression.
BE: I was a bit disappointed that this started in the middle of the action and that the fight was so short.
JE: Same here, but, like I said, at least it was resolved. As much as I wanted to see the beginning, we could have seen that and not the ending, which would have been painful.
BE: Or the 'pact could have been handedly defeated, which would have been very irritating.
JE: To be honest, that's what I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised. Holly seems to have discovered that Themyscira isn't all it used to me. While it's still a harsh realm, isn't getting chased by dogs a little less worrisome than wrestling with sharks?
BE: Perhaps they are particularly evil dogs.
BE: "Austin Powers" is lost on you, isn't it?
JE: For the better, I'd guess (I'm kidding, I love Austin, much to my lady's chagrin). Two-Face, after his appearance in "Gotham Underground" this week, arrives at this waystation to Salvation, but decides to stick around, in spite of some help from Piper and Trickster.
BE: Not Harvey's finest hour here.
JE: I agree. I felt that Harvey was given so much more in character post-OYL, and no one has picked up on it. Man, the guy was trained by Batman, and then went all wack-job again. He's potentially the deadliest villain in most of the DCU right now. Or should be.
BE: Sadly, a lot of what we saw at the outset of OYL seems to have been glossed over. Harvey, as a Batman-trained villain, should be the most fearsome force in Gotham. He should have been the new crimelord.
JE: Exactly. Personally, I would have left him unscarred, given him a new mask that made him "two-faced," then given him control over the False Face Society in the wake of Black Mask's murder.
Panel of the Week
Alas, poor Bludhaven. Not even, well, anything could live in this.