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To QUOTE Haruki Murakami: “Listen up - there's no war that will end all wars.”
“Guest artist Paul Pelletier joins the JLU for a special storyline that sees Stargirl and the team of Steel, Robotman, Batgirl, and Vandal Savage enter a war zone that’s at once very familiar and utterly weird. Plus: the long awaited return of a legendary DC Comics hero”.
That's how the solicit teased the events of this issue. And, well, it does exactly what it says on the tin. We can split hairs over the overhyped “long awaited return” tagline, and how March wasn't all that long ago, even if it was an alternate timeline, but otherwise that's all you need to know.
For those lagging a bit behind on what's up with Jeff Parker's spin on the JLU, the post-Convergence status quo is a team reduced to its blue-clad members (Alanna Strange, Equinox, Stargirl, and Animal Man) with Adam Strange trapped in Zeta-Space. They detect breakers around the world that cause “weird points that don't obey the usual laws of time and space”, and, gather an ad-hoc team to defeat the anomaly. Sometimes against their will (see “Vandal Savage,” above).
Pelletier's art is a nice change a pace. Perhaps a bit more traditional “superhero” style than normal, but appropriately paired with this arc dealing with an area in
, where soldiers from battles of all different eras are
locked in simultaneous combat. Where,
of course, the presumed “legendary DC Comics hero” has history with a member of
our team. Arracourt, France
Two thirds of this issue give Pelletier a chance to show off some spectacular battle scenes, with explosions left, right, and center, as our carefully assembled team rushes in half-cocked and without a plan. There's the expected snarky smack talk between the desired approaches of the strategist (Savage), the technologist (Steel), and the brute squad (Robotman), which plays very naturally save for the initial charge.
My only beef with Parker's characterizations would be the intensely terrified Batgirl. Just because she moved to Burnside doesn't mean she suddenly didn't grow up on the streets of
hopping across rooftops with the Boy Wonder, and studiously not getting shot or
blown up in the multitude of mob wars and psychopath attacks. Except that one time she did get shot, hint-hint, but
that's another story and doesn't really explain why she's suddenly worried
about marching in to an impossible war zone and making nervous chatter while
hiding behind Robotman.
Girl's been to WAR WORLD, man. Kicked ass, took names, and came home to tell the tale.
Otherwise, though, this is a superb opening to our next arc. At 21 pages, however, it feels very short, especially after dedicating the opening pages to a little flashback preamble and the requisite Zeta-Space team briefing scene. But these pages are necessary, as we are slowly getting more specifics as to the conditions of Adam's confinement and the ways he communicates mission details to the team.
On the plus side, it looks like this arc is three issues rather than just two, so while we barely got in to the meat of this situation, there's more time to tell the tale before our recruits go their separate ways. And it ought to be a good tale, for while this breaker isn't actively trying to eat them, there are at least several dozen innocent soldiers trapped inside it. Some of whom (at least, those with a name that designates them as the heroes' enemy) may be trying to harm our fine men and women in preposterous uniforms. (Or maybe save the gentler sex from the harsh realities of war?)
I must have missed the issue where Batgirl started wearing two giant hoop earrings in each ear while in costume, though. What's up with that, Pelletier?
Life is much too short and precious to spend fighting wars these days. What else to use as the soundtrack to a cataclysm of soldiers past and future trapped in an otherworldly bubble of reality-warping doom? Edwin Starr's War, of course. What is it good for?
My brother and sister-in-law used to have a border collie. My wife and I were visiting once, and I think maybe some other friends were over as well, and we were all standing around the kitchen, chatting casually, when we suddenly realized that everyone was standing uncomfortably close to everyone else. It was like, “oh, hey, sorry for rubbing up against you there...” close. The dog had been gently herding us together and we didn't even realize it.
The way this issue's particular anomaly is described as trying to build up barricades around itself -- and, as a result, push all the warring soldiers together -- reminded me of a border collie herding people. Only the anomaly is herding people from across time and space. And I couldn't find a photo of this happening, so you get ducks instead. So it's sort of like a Timelord border collie herding duck people thing.
Well, there's no sign yet of Doll Man, Fear, Maximillian O'Leary, Robbie the robot dog, Ibis the Invincible, or Little Boy Blue in this issue. There's not even any actual Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos beyond their grinning mugs in the cover art. But there's the military heroes you'd expect to see, and their necessary arch-nemeses.
There's the silliness with Batgirl that I didn't like, and the potential for the approach to these breakers to get formulaic over time (ad-hoc team's heavy goes down early, cajoled villain is the first to realize the lack of strategy involved, some arguing takes place before the core team rep realizes what needs to happen, and everything is wrapped up in a tidy bow?). But for now, I'm really enjoying this series. The format is unique, and if Parker can keep the individual missions interesting then I'm really hooked on the slow reveal of Adam Strange's fate.
Barkeep! Bring me another issue! I need something to read en route to Gallifrey to learn about the duck people.*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.