What’s New in the DCU? 11/27/19
It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and DC has delivered some great issues to be thankful for this week. However, some people are not enjoying quality family time, like Mr. Freeze for example, who has been given the cold shoulder by his recently revived and very ticked off wife, Nora. Neal Adams’ return to Batman continues, things keep getting worse for Justice League Dark, Superman and Batgirl and Infinite Crisis is re-imagined in the Dark Multiverse. Let’s get to it.
Book of the Week
Detective Comics #1016 – Cold Dark World Finale: In Cold Blood – Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Artists: Doug Mahnke and Tyler Kirkham
The tragic tale of Mr. Freeze and his wife Nora reaches it’s end. Mr. Freeze, having accepted Lex Luthor’s gift, and having used it to attain his heart’s desire, namely the ability to revive his wife Nora, is now learning the true meaning of the old maxim about being careful about what you wish for. Because, Freeze does revive Nora, and when he does, she wants nothing to do with him. In fact, she’s pretty upset about being controlled for so long, and she leaves Freeze. Oh yeah, she’s also got her own ice powers and a huge chip on her shoulder.
So, naturally, Freeze has to join forces with Batman, because, big surprise, the serum Mr. Freeze used to revive Nora has made her mentally unstable. Nora, meanwhile, has decided to send Victor a clear message about how she views him, by creating a giant ice mausoleum in the Cemetery near where her parents are buried. Anyway, her next stop is to see the Little Dancer statue at the Gotham Museum of Art, so that’s where Batman and Freeze head as well.
At the museum, Nora gets mad at a guard who almost hits the statue with a bullet, and she freezes and shatters him, making an ice sculpture out of his pieces. She begins to steak the sculpture, when Batman and Mr. Freeze interrupt. A battle ensues, with Freeze eventually turning on Batman to try to reason with Nora. But, Nora, not wanting to be Freeze’s “prisoner” anymore, turns on him, injecting him with a serum that raises his body temperature. Nora escapes, and Batman takes Freeze to a cryonic stasis chamber at Arkham, where, in a cruel reversal of fortune, he must remain frozen in order to stay alive. Meanwhile, Nora has escaped to Canada and is planning her next move.
From the very beginning, this story was about the dangers of getting what you wish for. It is meant to expose the danger of taking an offer that seems too good to be true. Mr. Freeze is so blinded by the prospect of reviving Nora, that he gives no regard to the question of whether or not she should be revived, and what her mindset might be after said revival. He seems genuinely shocked that she is so cold and bitter towards him, and that she still feels imprisoned. The strangest thing about this whole story is that Batman is kind of a bystander, letting this lover’s quarrel play out and really only intervening when it is necessary and he is able. The coolest part about this story, as far as Batman is concerned though, is his fire suit. The design is just straight up bad-ass. This is a beautifully written cautionary tale, that, in the end, closes the book on the old Nora and Mr. Freeze dynamic and leaves us with a new and deadly villain to explore in future stories.
Tales from the Dark Multiversse: Infinite Crisis #1 – Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Another familiar DC Universe event is given the Dark Multiverse treatment. This time, it is Infinite Crisis, the mega crossover event that featured the rebirth of the Multiverse and introduced Brother Eye, OMAC and Superboy Prime.
In “our” universe, Infinite Crisis was preceded by a number of mini-series that featured critical events, one of the most pivotal of which is the murder of Blue Beetle by Maxwell Lord, who was subsequently killed by Wonder Woman.
The “Dark Multiverse” version of the story follows the same beginning, with Blue Beetle having traced the machinations of Lord and discovering his co-opting of Brother Eye and the existence of the OMAC program. Only this time, Blue Beetle turns the tables and kills Max Lord. He convinces Brother Eye to allow him to take Max Lord’s place as head of Checkmate and Brother Eye’s master.
With his newfound power, Blue Beetle begins to systematically eliminate all of the major threats to universal safety that were allowed to occur in our universe. This includes the rise of the Society of Supervillains and the Rann/Thanagar War.
All this activity draws the attention of the Justice League, and Blue Beetle basically tells them to back off and let him work, threatening Batman with blackmail.
As the adventure continues, the old maxim “absolute power Corrupts absolutely” plays out, as Blue Beetle continues to assess and eliminate threats. He finally runs afoul of Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime, because he has disrupted their plan to restore the Multiverse and create teh perfect Earth.
The final straw comes when Brother Eye tells Blue Beetle that the biggest threat to his plans are the Justice League. Beetle is able to lure the League into a confrontation and then subdue them using a modified version of the OMAC virus. He sends Superboy Prime to subdue the Titans.
In the end, it comes down, as it always does to Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Brother Eye, fearing Booster will get in the way, eliminates him. Blue Beetle’s grief is too much for him to bear, and he finally surrenders control to OMAC, after being fully assimilated, he authorizes lethal force to end all remaining resistance.
The beauty of this issue is James Tynion IV’s ability to take one tipping point and use to completely transform the most unlikely of heroes. Beetle’s slow descent into madness is unnerving to watch, and his callous treatment of the Justice League shows who twisted his personality has become. IT is beautiful study into what can happen if a hero loses himself, even for just a single moment.
Action Comics #1017 – Metropolis Doom – Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Artist: John Romita Jr.
It’s Apex Lex’s Homecoming as he leads the Legion of Doom in the siege of Metropolis, facing off against the Justice League. Meanwhile, Clark Kent conducts an interview with the Daily Planet’s mysterious new owner.
Batgirl #41 – Oracle Rising Part 5 – Writer: Cecil Castellucci, Artist: Carmin De Giandomenico
Oracle continues her takeover of Burnside. To beat her, Batgirl must save Jason Bard.
Batman vs. Ra’s Al Ghul #3 -Writer and Artist: Neal Adams
There is no disguising how weird this series in, but once you have started it, you have to read it all the way through just so it all makes sense. This issue, Deadman finally catches up with the real Batman, while back in “our” universe, the Bat-Family regain their memories, but “Bruce” does not.
Justice League Dark #17 – The Witching War Part 4 – Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Javi Fernandez
It’s a double dose of James Tynion IV this week, as we are shown the origin of Circe in the current continuity. After the origin is over, Circe, still in Wonder Woman’s body begins to take apart the team. Meanwhile, in the realm of Magic, Wonder Woman is still searching for a way back.
The Flash #83 – Rogues’ Reign Part Two – Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artist: Rafa Sandoval
After the triumph of Captain Cold, Flash is broken out of prison and sets about rejoining the other speedsters. This issue ends with a huge bombshell that Flash can no longer use the Speed Force.
That does it for this week. Next week, it is really the beginning of the end as the penultimate issue of Tom King’s Batman releases. Also, the Justice/Doom War barrels towards it’s finale in Justice League. Plus the latest chapters as Year of the Villain winds down. I’ll be back next week with those reviews and more.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.