Number of the Beast #1
Well, that’s an ominous title and cover, isn’t it? This is part of a new crossover series in the Wildstorm Universe, with a “new” superteam taking the lead role. The team is called the Paladins, including Aeronaut, Engine Joe, the Thrush, Falconette, Wallflower, Johnny Ray-Gun, the Midnight Rider, Neandra, the Black Anvil, Mago, and Tumbleweed, and though this is the first time we’ve seen them, their backstory says they’re the top supergroup in the newest version of the Wildstorm Universe.
Anyway, the Paladins beat up some supervillains and fight off an invasion from the excellently-named Saucerlings from Saturn’s Moons. But sandwiching all of this is the really weird, disturbing stuff. There are a couple of low-level flunkies for the government, and they wear patches on their uniforms that look like an American flag with a stylized “666″ in place of the stars. They dump a barrel-full of liquified human — actually a barrel-full of liquified human who’s still alive — into a storage tube. And much later, they start making people around the city vanish into thin air… by pushing a button marked “Rapture.”
Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m a big fan of Chris Sprouse’s artwork — really, who isn’t? And the story mixes Silver Age superheroics with extraordinarily creepy religious horror. I hope it stays fun.
Wonder Woman #19
On the Khund homeworld, Wonder Woman meets up with a Green Lantern named Procanon Kaa who wants the mysterious Ichor Ship to destroy the warlike Khunds. Diana has to fight him down and simultaneously persuade him to embrace a peaceful solution. But the Khunds plan to destroy their own planet to save face for being defeated by the Ichor. Can Wondy get Kaa to rediscover his compassion? Can she stop the Khund plan for self-genocide? Can she get the Ichor to leave the Khund homeworld?
Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t much like Bernard Chang’s skinny version of Wondy, but it’s a minor quibble. I do like Gail Simone’s characterization of Wonder Woman as someone who knows so much about battle that she can beat a guy weilding the most powerful weapon in the universe but who’s willing to take a beat-down for the cause of peace. Dude, that’s hardcore. Not sure why we really needed Etta Candy along for this ride, but I enjoyed the last couple of pages with Kaa and the Khund general’s daughter, Kho.
Green Lantern Corps #23
A batch of Green Lanterns, including Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner, are selected to track and recover a bunch of Sinestro Corps rings. A new yellow ring is delivered to Duel Eknham, a deformed alien who looks like a conjoined twin and has two warring personalities, both of whom love to kill people. And Mongul sets up some evil plans that include collecting a whole bunch of yellow power rings and big sackful of parasitic Black Mercy plants.
Thumbs up. The crazy siamese twin with the dueling personalities would probably make a cool villain. Some of the scenes at the beginning of the comic where various GLs are summoned to duty are pretty funny — Iolande, a member of her planet’s royal family, is vainly attempting to address her homeworld’s ruling council when she’s dragged away; the robotic Stel doesn’t get a chance to make extensive repairs to his body; and Guy Gardner stays sound asleep even as his ring pulls him to the Guardians.