By Maverike Comments
With the new writer there has been a time skip after the Demon Knights went their separate ways. Al-Jabr has aged into an old man and the Caliph of Spain. He placed a bounty on Sir Ystin, Exoristos, and Horsewoman to gather the team together so they could fight the army of vampires marching south across Europe. Cain leads them with an Amazonian named Fara. They first need to rescue Jason Blood/Etrigan from Vandal Savage. With the ending of Cornell’s story and the time skip the series has had a serious change in direction, but with Chang still drawing the book the characters still feel familiar. The vampire stories from I, Vampire have been great so I have high hopes for the direction Venditti is taking. The focus of this issue was setting up for the story to come, but I can’t wait to see where we’re going.
Slade lands outside Koschei’s mansion and escapes an angry group of locals. Elena shows Slade a hideout of freedom fighters that are ready to take back their country when Koschei has fallen. An assault led by Elena brings Koschei out of his mansion to join into the fight. Slade cuts his head off and then continues to beat the hell out of him. The locals start to mutilate the undying man until Slade lets Koschei commit suicide. The lesson of always rising is a bit cliché, but the best parts here are all the fight scenes. Cutting Koschei’s head off then breaking his arm and leg was easy to follow and satisfying. I can’t wait to see where the next job takes Deathstroke.
Rose and Warblade follow a beta ravager to a small town where the beta explodes. This explosion causes a chain reaction that promises kill everyone in the town. Rose and Warblade initially appear to be immune until Rose starts to glow as the issue ends and Caitlin’s ravagers arrive. Rose shows a heroic side while Warblade is sarcastic. The sheriff had some kids, but I didn’t like their story. The escaped exploding beta was weird with the glowing brains, but it looks like the kids have some immunity. I hate that the new team only had the series’ main team appear for a single splash page.
Slade is possessed by Eclipso and rips a sword from the body of Essence. Grifter makes something explode while the team retreats. Essence pulls another magic sword out of the island and explains how they can save Slade from Eclipso. Fairchild stabs Eclipso in the back so he leaves Slade to possess Grifter, but a black diamond captures Eclipso and is then taken to the proto Black Room. My main issue with this team is their size, I wish it were cut to five by removing Lance and the heavy weapons guy. Lance could be a side member when the spotlight is on Dinah, but he’s mostly been dead weight. Essence was an odd choice for this series since she is mostly just giving exposition and the magic sword. I’ve enjoyed the major characters here and the history of the black room is interesting enough for me to see where the next arc goes.
In the lab of Dr. Veritas Batman designs a three pronged attack. Superboy, Batman and Wonder Woman punch through the front while Cyborg and Superman boom into the back. Flash is going to rescue Supergirl. He’l shows Supergirl a scene from Krypton to make her cry because he is a terrible boyfriend. Superboy and Superman are taken to a pocket dimension prison for the annual where I will assume they bond and come out alive two seconds later in our time. Everyone looks super ugly. The reasoning behind the two attacking prongs of Batman’s plan is not clear beyond ditching Wonder Woman. The red alien thing really thinks the Oracle is coming. Everyone looks super ugly. I do not like.
Robin fights what he believes to be Batman in at the zoo while the Joker watches. Robin tries to escape but he can’t run fast enough to escape the jokerized fake Batman. After some more intense fighting Robin declares he would rather die than kill Batman causing the Joker to kill the fake Batman. Joker takes Robin to the finale for the conclusion of DotF in Batman #17. In the previous issue scenes with Robin’s dog while searching for Alfred balanced the scenes with the Joker at the Zoo, but here it’s too gross looking the entire issue.
In a flashback Barbara tells her therapist about dreams and nightmares where she is able to get revenge by killing Joker. At the church Joker has arranged a sham marriage with Bargirl surrounded by his lackeys. After Joker’s exposition involving marriages of state and a big chain saw Batgirl decides to risk her mother’s life by laying the smack down on the assembles lackeys. Going totally berserk with flying face kicks and mask smashing elbows, Batgirl runs out of mercy. Her fight against Joker is cut short when James pulls out a chloroform rag to knock her out. Up until this point it’s an exciting fight seeing how far the Joker has driven Batgirl, but the grenade double bluff and safe arrival at Joker’s hideout end the issue leaving me more confused than surprised. With Death of the Family ending in the Bat family, I am most excited for the Batgirl’s future to see how she is able to move on after being able to confront the monster who crippled her.
The first read through of this issue left me with mixed feelings because I had so many different expectations. This is a standalone issue, a final issue and the first issue after an alternate timeline crossover. With Frankenstein of issues 14 and 15 still kicking ass in Animal Man and another in an alternate dimension with JLD, I didn’t know which Frankenstein would be here. Reading this as a standalone story with all the different agents of SHADE without the baggage of other stories really boiled down what made this series great and makes it sad to say goodbye. A five year federal operation tracking a terrorist group is just a pit stop for Frank and the team on their way to a real serious threat. Velcoro has some great jokes while Frank recites poetry between cutting heads off. A happy ending with the team off to combat another threat left me satisfied and hopeful for future adventures from the great guys at SHADE.
I didn’t read the New Guardians title that introduced this series, but the first page quickly establishes the rules of the game and an immediate chase scene gets the action started right away. The strength of this issue is the world it creates and a promise of many characters that will get to interact together within this game. The main antagonist appears to be a group of slugs who organize the hunt to raise funds for Lady Styx. I’m really excited for the future of this series and hope it can create a compelling villain to create a framework for a huge variety heroes to organize and overcome their common threat.
The backup with Larfleeze was truly funny with amazing art style and execution. I don’t know how well these two titles really connect, but I hope that Larfleeze can recover his possessions.
Greg Capullo is an amazing artist. Scott Snyder has come up with some crazy shit for him to draw, but it looks great the entire time. As Batman climbs Arkham I wonder why Batman has so many water absorbing balls and why he would ride a horse up a spiral staircase, but these questions aren’t important when Batman meets his court in the throne room Joker has prepared. I love how Joker shows Batman that he picked him over all the other heroes along with the rest of Batman’s villains. As Joker snaps at Batman sit down I started to feel that Joker might not be totally in control of his emotions. In the backup the story continues with Batman out cold as Joker sets up the family dinner.