“I got better?” – The Jokester
In perhaps one of the best issues yet, our weekly visit to the DC Universe brought us first to the new (and as-yet-undisclosed) home of that most powerful of satellites, Brother Eye, as Buddy Blank brings Una and Karate Kid to see the super-machine. To everyone’s surprise, Brother Eye immediately notes that not only is Karate Kid from the future, but also that he’s been infected with the OMAC virus, though even the machine isn’t sure how it happened.
Elsewhere in the DCU, we get to see Jimmy Olsen getting tested on by Project Cadmus, with spectacularly ridiculous results, as Jimmy essentially melts down under the weight of his own superpowers, and then, also, splits off a being made entirely of energy from his melting body. Really, really weird.
Adding to the misfortune of our characters this week, Holly Robinson and Harley Quinn sail into the sights of Themyscria with Athena, but it’s only within that range that the boat decides to carry them. Rather, for the prospective Amazonian warriors, the shark infested waters off the island’s shore provide a perfect challenge to the fledgling female furies. With that in mind, Holly and Harley dive into the waters and prepare to battle their way to the island.
One more quick jump to elsewhere secures us a ringside seat for the marriage of Green Arrow and Black Canary, as seen through the eyes of The Trickster and the Pied Piper. The new dynamic duo help save the day when they steal the Joker’s wedding gift (an explosive TV) and send it back care of Poison Ivy, who was owed a rough time back when she gave the boys some hostility back in Gotham. With justice served ever so slightly, the two make a run for it, only to be hijacked in their car by a member of the Royal Flush Gang.
One more stop to make leaves us on Eath-15, home of, well, heroes that have taken up the mantles of those that have gone before. In this, the best of all possible worlds (so far), Donna, Jason and Kyle have taken up the mantles of Wonder Woman, Batman and Green lantern, growing into their roles by defending a world so well that everything, it seems is at peace. While the Challengers (and new addition Jokester) confront their alternate selves, a visit by the Superman of the world, a chap named Zod, confirms that Ray Palmer is not on this earth, and the voyage continues.
Back in the way back, Scott Beatty and Gary Frank step in and let us know why, exactly, we should kneel before General Zod.
BE: This week we had another “Countdown” one-shot. “Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer – Crime Society” #1 does not feature the Crime Society, per se, but rather focuses on the origins of the Jokester. This issue succeeds, masterfully, where the first one-shot. “Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer – Wildstorm” #1, failed. It makes the world of Earth-3 come to life from the perspective of the native protagonist, the Jokester. The story is tight and the art is beautiful and you’ll see some familiar faces along the way. Also in this issue, look for the origins of Duela Dent and Talon. Who’s Talon? Remember during “52” when the Titans had a long list of short-term members? If you look close at the list you will see a young fellow in gray and red. Now we just need to figure out how he got to New Earth. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book, and then cross your fingers and hope that this is not the last time we’ll see these characters.
JE: And, very briefly before we move on to the fun stuff, we’ve got to cover one more thing. In this week’s “Detective Comics” #837, The Riddler pays a visit to an old friend in Metropolis, Harley Quinn. While the Riddler is on the trail of some stolen chemicals from Wayne Industries, we get to see more of the inner workings of the Athenian Women’s Help Center. While there, we get to see how Harley found her way to the center after a brief tenure with the Secret Six, but, most importantly, we get to see the true inner circle of the shelter and, more specifically, who Athena has been answering to all this time, none other than the ultimate lackey himself, Desaad.
BE: This issue hit all the right points for me and I’m not sure which member of the writing team to thank.
JE: To quote you, my friend, “Nail. Head.”
BE: You know some really smart people.
JE: I have to surround myself with the best so I look smart, too. I felt that this was very fine, and I’ll attribute it to two things. First: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. They’ve both got some experience in the DCU, and, I think, as writers, at least a little more than some of the other names on the book. Secondly, I’m going to say that Paul Dini and the heads at DC realized that there was too much going on, and that they could pace things a little better per issue.
BE: Agreed, and really, having Paul solo the book is a lot of work. We start off with Buddy Blank (who is no longer a janitor), our Legionnaires and Brother Eye. Karate Kid has the OMAC virus, how’d that happen?
JE: I’d love to know. I’d also love to know where Brother Eye has been hiding all this time.
BE: Yeah, I noticed that the exact location was conveniently left out. Jimmy Olsen is…weird.
JE: Dude, its Jimmy. Did we expect any less? And do we have any idea what the hell that thing was that he released (that light creature)?
BE: I think that was another Jimmy. While I can account for Silver Age appearances for all of the powers we’ve seen, that’s a new one.
JE: Lord, do we need two superpowered Jimmy Olsens?
BE: The Challengers and the Jokester visit Earth-15 and we see the logical conclusion of the Bronze Age of comics. I really liked this because it’s the first world they’ve visited that feels cohesive.
JE: Yeah, I was surprised at how much I liked this visit. I thought it was weird, though, to see Jason as Batman.
BE: I expected to see a lot of things, but having first this group of legacy characters take on these particular mantles was surprising and very pleasing. While the whole thing was obviously written to get a certain reaction from both the characters and the audience, it had a weird sort of “going home” feeling.
JE: Yeah, it felt a lot more peaceful than the other worlds we’ve been to so far. Kind of like this is the way things probably should have been all along, which was unsettling, but not in a bad way.
BE: Dude. Zod is Superman.
JE: Or Superman is Zod? Either way, man, that rocked my brain. I kept waiting for him to heat-vision Wonder Woman to death and then punch through Batman’s skull. That was more backwards to me than Earth-3’s backwards attitudes.
BE: I’ve always liked Zod. Of all the Superman villains, he’s my favorite. Here he was used to great effect, although I was waiting on him to say “Kneel before Zod!” the entire time.
JE: Yeah, I felt a little gypped without the standard proclamation.
BE: We end with our new Amazons. This can’t end well.
JE: But, finally, something cool happening with the girls. Both interesting and brutal, and yet not entirely unexpected. After all, they’re Amazons, so they revere strength over all.
BE: I have to say that this has tones of potential if they pull it off. A group of amazons that are not immortal Greek warriors makes Wonder Woman unique.
JE: Right, but it also levels a bit more history on Diana, as well. After all, she’s been portrayed as an ambassador for peace for so long, but how do you get that way while being from a race of supreme warrior women? Good chance for some philosophy, here.
Panel of the Week
That is just too weird.