On the Dark Side

These two new comics surprised me. I was expecting some fairly predictable superhero hijinx — and there was some of that, sure. But there was something extra plugged in there that I wasn’t expecting to see.


The Flash #240

Okay, lately, this comic has not been very good, but this issue showed up and dropped the awesomebomb on me. First, we have previously lame supervillain Spin who’s summoned none other than Gorilla Grodd all the way from Gorilla City in Africa. And Grodd ain’t happy to be here. He ends up freeing a psychic freak that Spin used to control his powers, and that means Spin’s mind-control starts affecting almost everyone. So everyone starts acting out the tabloid threats pushed during sweeps-weeks news broadcasts and talking like cheesy news anchors. Drunk drivers drone about the failure of the system to control drunk drivers. Disgruntled gunmen warn viewers about the looming crisis of disgruntled gunmen. I never thought Spin really worked as a villain before, but just like that, they’ve turned him into a first-class threat.

Oh, but that’s not the really awesome thing. The awesome thing is the guys who are hunting Iris and Jai — they’re minions of Dark Side — no, not Darkseid, the powerful and evil Lord of Apokolips — we’re talking the extra-nasty crime boss from Grant Morrison’s “Mister Miracle” miniseries in the “Seven Soldiers” mega-series. Yeah, he was basically Darkseid, with a stylish urban gangsta exterior. But he was fairly rockin’, and no one really knew if we’d ever see any elements of that character or that miniseries again. The minions spout a pitch-perfect pastiche of Jack Kirby/Grant Morrison phraseology — the “Boom-Drive,” the “Sister Box” and about a billion extra exclamation points!!! And when Dark Side’s goons catch the kids, it triggers a very unexpected reaction from Iris…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Pages 4-5 are just about the best single scene I’ve ever seen of Grodd — the visuals and dialogue are just perfect. And the complete flabbergasted glee I felt when I realized that this was gonna be a Dark Side story was just about the happiest I’ve been all week.


Birds of Prey #118

And this one’s part of the same crossover, so it’s all about Dark Side, too. Misfit and Black Alice have been abducted by Dark Side’s crew, and Granny Goodness and the Female Furies — yes, the same stylish urban gangsta versions of Granny Goodness and the Female Furies that were in Morrison’s “Mister Miracle” miniseries — are keeping ’em doped up on angry-juice so they’ll participate in gladiatorial matches. So far, Misfit’s been the reigning champ, but Alice was only recently picked up. Alice steals Misfit’s powers to make her escape, but she gets caught by Dark Side himself just as she learns a really surprising secret about her past. So they stick both of them in the arena to see who’ll kill the other, but Alice actually manages to steal the powers of Etrigan the Demon, of all people, and then takes the fight to Granny herself.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as skull-crushingly manic as the “Flash” comic, but still lots of fun with a couple of my favorite characters.

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