“There was only one sane response…” – Batman of Earth-51
Welcome to New Earth and a fortunate twist of fate for Mary Batson. After washing ashore on Paradise Island and being discovered by the new Amazonians, Mary gets taken before the lady in charge. Just not the one you think. As it turns out, Mary’s captors happened to be Holly and Harley, and they take their new friend to see Hippolyta, who enlists the aid of the former champion of the gods to help bring down the false Amazonians.
Jumping to Earth-51, we pick up right where we left off last week, as the evil Booster Gold, Green Lantern (Power Ring) and Supergirl (Ultragirl) take a few merry potshots at Kyle Rayner and Ray Palmer. Defeating the trio of villains, the pair make an escape, giving Ray time to tell his tale of life on Earth-51. As it turns out, this world’s Ray had no powers save for an incredible immunity to disease. While not exactly a worthwhile combat ability, Ray-51 was able to hang with the Justice League of this Earth in a support capacity, all the while researching what would bring about the Great Disaster: a powerful disease that was the exact opposite to Ray’s special immunities. Picking up with that thread, our Ray continued his counterpart’s work, jumping from world to world and inoculating heroes to help save their worlds should the demon disease find a foothold in their universes.
Meanwhile, Kyle uses his ring to look in on the fate of the others on Earth-51, as several others do the same thing. First on the list Donna Troy, who watches the battle between the Monitors and the villains in Monarch’s army with concern. The Monitors, for all their power, cannot find a way to work as a unit, and Monarch’s army simply splits the cosmic beings off from one another and defeats them through sheer force of numbers. Nothing, it seems, can stop Monarch. Donna has little time to consider their plight, though, as her own doppelganger returns for one more round, a fight which Donna ends swiftly and punishingly.
Elsewhere, Earth-51’s Bruce Wayne examines the evidence that our world’s Jason Todd is who he says he is. After explaining his return, Jason questions this new Bruce about Earth-51 and how the heroes came to be so lackluster in their defense of the world. Beginning with the death of this world’s Jason, Bruce took his war on crime to the extreme, murdering first the Joker, then any other villain he could lay hands on. The result was a world without crime, but also a world with a Batman that no longer has a soul, and one willing to let the world be conquered before he acts to bring down the invaders. Jason refuses to let his friends die, and challenges this Batman to do the same.
Above all the action, Superman-Prime batters Solomon, who continues to refuse the (Young) Man of Steel’s request to find the perfect world. Prime refuses to grant Solomon a final death, demanding to find his homeworld. However, the interrogation and intimidation is interrupted by the arrival of Forager, who has come to finish Solomon, only to step into the middle of a much larger battle, and a much bigger fight than just one weakened Monitor.
Back on New Earth, we return to the machinations of Brother Eye, which has fully enveloped the remains of Bludhaven, capturing Firestorm to use as an energy source and stripping the Atomic Knights of their technology. Karate Kid, Buddy Blank and Una watch, trapped inside the developing monster-machine, utterly beneath notice, as Kid recognizes the ever-expanding ability of Brother Eye to corrupt stolen tech. With Desaad’s boom tube generator still in the city ruins, Brother Eye may take his conquest far beyond this world.
Let’s finish up with an origin featuring Doomsday, written by Scott Beatty and drawn by Jon Bogdanove.
BE: Pete Woods, Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher have the art chores this issue and they do a fine job, I particularly like the angular Bruce Wayne, who heavily favors the Bob Kane version.
JE: It was nice, and nice to see an art team stick around for more than one issue at a clip. Helps keep the sense of story together.
BE: Tony Bedard and Paul Dini are at the helm again and the sense of continuity continues to be felt.
JE: Same as above. I’ve always said that any book, no matter what it is, will only get better with a regular crew working together on it. Not to fault Dini at all, because he’s kept the boat afloat all this time, but I have to wonder if teams working on incremental segments might be a possible step for a weekly book.
BE: And the challenge of keeping everything in sync with the monthly books must be grueling.
JE: No doubt. I have to wonder if that hindered any of the creative teams throughout DC this year, or inspired others.
BE: We start off with the redemption of Mary Marvel as she joins the (as you named them) the Triple H team of Hippolyta, Holly and Harley, thus ruining the possibility of a Four H Club.
JE: Wow, man, you really, really scraped for that one. However, I’m not sure how I feel about a generally useless Mary Marvel joining the Amazonian cast. She’s the epitome of needing powers for success, unlike Holly and Harley.
BE: I think she’s going to do okay here. Stay with me for a moment? Mary (like all of the Shazam family) draws her powers from the gods. At the end of the last age of magic, everything changed. The Wizard, Shazam, went away and Billy (Captain Marvel) Batson became the keeper of the Rock of Eternity. Mary and Freddie Freeman lost their powers. Freddie has been enduring the trials of Shazam (in the miniseries of the same name) to regain the powers of the gods and become the new Captain Marvel. Mary took a shortcut and got her powers (and the corruption that came with it) from Black Adam. What better way for Mary to regain her rightful powers than by earning them in battle against the false Amazons? Remember that the New Gods (Granny Goodness in particular) have barred the gods access to New Earth. How grateful would they be when they are again able to return to the mortal world?
JE: I’m totally with you now. With the return of the Gods, what better bargaining chip would he have than to say “Oh, hey, by the way, remember how Darkseid had you locked away? I fixed that.”
BE: And considering that Jeanclipso had Mary tapped as an agent of Darkseid, that would make for an excellent closing act to this particular drama.
JE: Not too shabby. We’re not too bad at this when we get rolling.
BE: Meanwhile on Earth-51, Ray Palmer narrates the invasion of his adopted world by Monarch’s forces.
JE: Interesting that Earth-51 Ray never actually had any powers. Hard to watch any hero get relegated to the Snapper Carr / mascot role.
BE: And that was another lovely Silver Age reference in a similar vein, I wonder which Earth’s JSA this version of the League teamed up with.
JE: You read my mind. I sat there thinking that this whole scene looks awfully familiar, but the whole implication of this new multiverse raises some serious questions of history.
BE: I continue to hold out hope for the survival of some form of multiverse as we reach “Final Crisis.”
JE: Seems like there’s been too much time spent on the whole concept just to toss it away so swiftly.
BE: At the same time, Monarch observes the Monitors, who seem to be failing in their defense of Earth-51 (and the multiverse) through their inability to work cohesively.
JE: Individuality, it seems, is a double-edged sword. Though Donna’s intervention may turn the tide. After all, was she not considered as a harbinger at one point in recent history? Who better to lead the Monitors, then. Of course, maybe Donna’s too busy having a Rick James / Dave Chapelle moment.
BE: I’m sure that was intended to have impact, but, sadly, it’s overdone at this point.
JE: Agreed. Still, it’d be nice to see her at the helm of the Monitors.
BE: Considering that it was another version of Donna, Dark Angel, that was an agent of the Anti-Monitor, I can’t help but think this is another perfect opportunity. Superman-Prime continues to be crazy and annoying as he faces Solomon, only to be confronted by Forerunner. I’m praying that she beats this punk to death.
JE: Dude, she’s tough, but she’s not nearly that tough. Prime is going to rip through her like… like… like something that rips through things really easily.
BE: Shush. I’m hoping over here.
JE: All right, all right, I’ll let you have this fantasy. But only this one!
BE: In the Bat-Bunker, Batman-51 and Jason Todd exchange back stories and Jason proves to be more heroic than this more pragmatic Batman.
JE: I still raise a question of morality in superheroes that all look the other way. Still, losing Jason seemed to put this Bruce (Batman-51 — I like that) over the edge all the way. Maybe having another Jason by his side will redeem him.
BE: I’d like to hope so, though it’s funny, because Jason’s stated impetus for becoming Red Hood was to do the things Batman wouldn’t do, specifically he mentions Batman not killing Joker for murdering Jason. Kids, what can you do?
JE: You’ve got a little more experience in that arena than me, so I’ll defer to you on that one.
BE: Back with Kyle and Ray, Dr. Palmer tells us about the morticoccus virus, why does that sound familiar? Because that’s what Brother Eye is going to release on New Earth and (probably) what’s killing Karate Kid.
JE: Good eye, no pun intended. Now, here’s the million dollar question: Did Ray inoculate someone on New Earth, as he did on other Earths, or is he the one we need back?
BE: Nail. Head. This is why we need Ray Palmer, to save New Earth from the morticoccus. Now we can start guessing if the disease’s origins are in any way tied into the New Gods.
JE: Seems likely. After all you can’t create a vacuum like that without something coming along to fill it.
BE: I keep wondering if the morticoccus is somehow related to the anti-life equation.
We finish up with the comprehensive origin of Doomsday, where one of his powers is listed as indefatigable — I didn’t know that that was a super power.
JE: I’d take it. Hell, I’d take any of his powers, really. The thing is a tank, man, as close to a fully-powered God-in-the-box character as we’re ever likely to see. Those kinds of characters are not only dangerous to characters, but to writers, as well.
BE: He really is a one-trick pony, once you’ve killed Superman, where do you go from there?
JE: Kill everyone else? A true Doomsday?
BE: Provided Monarch and Prime leave him a world to destroy. Wait a minute, it may be apropos of nothing, but isn’t it interesting that they should choose Doomsday to feature here. Could we see a Doomsday vs. Prime slugfest? Scratch what I said about Forerunner, feed him to Doomsday.
JE: I’d buy that.
Panel of the Week
Well, that bookends this week nicely, and come on, you know you’ve always wanted it.