Saturday, May 28, 2016

Mister Nice Guy

Last issue, the Reach revealed themselves to be master manipulators! They tested Jaime, tried converting an army of human slaves, made peace with the US Government, and then appeared to implant a scarab on Peacemaker John Rogers and Rafael Albuquerque are back, with issue #14 and a story called "Mister Nice Guy".

The issue opens with Jaime writing in a journal, recapping the events of the last couple issues...until Guy Gardner shows up. Unlike their last encounter, Jaime and the scarab are ready for him and immediately go on the offensive! Its a short fight, leaving Guy putting out a small fire in his hair while Jaime makes a quick exit.

Jaime arrives home in time for a family cookout, but is worried he may be followed. When his mother introduces the man who just came to the door looking for Jaime...Guy Gardner. Before round two can really begin though, Mrs. Reyes quickly puts a stop to things. 

Guy apologies, without actually saying he's sorry, and explains between being friends with the late Ted Kord and the ring not being fond of the scarab...well, multiple buttons were pressed, so to speak. He offers to fill Jaime in on what he and the Guardians know about the scarab and the Reach. Jaime agrees if Guy comes with him to the South Pole. Why? The scarab picked up some power levels leading him to believe a Reach base may be there. 

After an off panel bar fight in South America, they arrive in Antarctica only to find the base Jaime was tracking seems to be dimension shifted, making it harder to find. He thinks the scarab can help...until the duo are attacked by penguins! 

Before you can say "Seriously? Penguins?!" a second surprise pops up, the Ultra-Humanite! 

It seems the Reach expected Jaime to make a move and hired "local contractors" to protect their base. As the trio begin to trade blows, Ultra-Humanite uses a mental blast to temporarily blind the heroes. It looks like the big white ape is about to brain Guy when he gets blasted from behind. Jaime may be blinded, but the scarab isn't! In fact, the scarab is just itching for Jaime to let it loose and rip Ultra to shreds! 

That's enough to make the villain hesitate...and when he does, Guy makes his move and lays the albino ape out with a few well placed punches! 

And that's when a Reach rep shows up on the scene. He tries to pull a Jedi mind trick, convincing them there is no hidden base...and no Ultra-Humanite either. When they turn, Ultra is gone. The duo backs down, for now, as Guy tells Jaime they're going to do something Ted would have the long game! And later, back in their civilian identities, Guy gives Jaime a gift...a book on strategy, the same one Ted had once given him.

Well, at the start I was a little disappointed that we weren't following up on the scarab infected Peacemaker...but the interplay between Guy and Jaime more than made up for it. It was nice to see that Guy really thought of Ted as a friend, (hell, he even says Ted was smarter than Batman!) and that at least some of his anger was a result of his grief. And the's like one of the sayings I live my life by, "Monkeys are like cheese, they make everything better!"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DC Universe: Rebirth...and the return of Blue Beetles!

Well Beetlemaniacs, today DC Comics released "DC Universe: Rebirth" #1, and without spoiling too much off the bat...Blue Beetles are back!

You read that right...Beetles, plural...sort of.

From here on there will be some spoilers...proceed at your own risk!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Matter of Animus!

Last issue Ted was forced to battle his resurrected former mentor Dan Garrett for the title of the one true Blue Beetle! In the end Dan sacrificed himself, again, to defeat the evil being that controlled Dan's scarab. Needless to say, Ted is not a happy camper! Len Wein, Ross Andru and Danny Bulanadi are here for issue #19, and a story called "A Matter of Animus!"

Blue Beetle is ticked! After the events of last issue he wants answers so he storms into S.T.A.R. Labs to meet with Garrison Slate. Why would he visit Slate? We get a quick flashback to the moments immediately following the death of Dan Garrett last issue to find out. When Dan died, killed by the very source of his own power, the boy known as "File 13" approached the fallen hero's body...but before he could say anything, he passed out. The area was then swarmed by a SWAT team and S.T.A.R. Labs personnel. They're there for the boy. Slate says its because the boy escaped from a lab and contact with the outside could kill him.

 Reluctantly, Blue Beetle allowed them to take the child but now he wants an explanation! What he gets though is an assurance the boy is safe...and then a visit from S.T.A.R Labs security. 

In London, Murray Takamoto is meeting his new employers at Statistical Occurrences Limited, a private insurance company specializing in cases involving heroes and villains, Miss Theodora Twidgett and her father Alfy Twidgett of the Boy Commandos. While in France, Dr. Cornelius and Catalyst have been interrogating Jeremiah Duncan. 

It seems he had stolen compound XD-3 from Cornelius and they're eager to recover it. And at Kord headquarters, Melody decides if Ted's not going to be around to run the company then she'll find someone who will! 

Back in Chicago, Ted does a little digging into the mystery of "File 13". Using his old pal Murray's credentials and guessing at the password, he hacks into S.T.A.R. Labs files and Dr. Rose Beryl, a biologist, had spliced her genes with her friend Dan Garrett's to create a child...intended to be the first of a new race of humans. But there was a problem, the boy had no natural immunity and had to be raised in quarantine. 

Later, Beryl disappeared in a lab explosion but recently a body was found washed up on a beach with matching DNA leading Ted to determine that the biologist is still alive! He uncovers a few more details that lead him, in the BUG to Bodega Bay, California and a company called Animus Explorations Unlimited. Sneaking into the facility he finds it seemingly abandoned...until he's attacked by the furniture! 

As he battles against chairs, desks and telephones a mysterious female watches from computer monitor before ordering her "children" to bring him to her. A dazed Blue Beetle soon finds himself face to face with Doctor Animus...who is in reality Rose Beryl clad in a strange suit made up electronic circuitry. 

In Paris, at The Dome (headquarters of the Global Guardians), Fleur-de-Lis accepts an assignment from the Director. Shut down Cornelius/Kreig's research center. 

Blue Beetle tries to appeal to the motherly nature of Doctor Animus, explaining that he's there to get her help for her son, File 13. It doesn't work. She sees him as a failed experiment, nothing more. To make her point, she shows Ted pictures of other mutated failures, before showing him her success...a lab full of her creations. They'll soon be fully formed humans, with implanted memories, sent out into the world as part of plot to control the Earth! When she tells Ted he's of no use to her alive...but his cells will harvested for her experiments he decides its time to make his move! He breaks free of the weird chair creature that holds him, but Animus just laughs. He has nowhere to go! So he signals the BUG and blasts the base of of the facility starting a mini earthquake. Animus makes her escape, leaving Blue Beetle to battle more furniture and odd, half formed human parts. 

He manages to signal the BUG again to block her escape leading to a brief one-on-one battle that ends when Doctor Animus falls into the sea.

Blue Beetle returns with a disc of info from Animus' lab, which he hands over to Slate in the hopes of saving the boy known as File 13. And at Kord Omniversal, Melody makes a phone call...

Ok, I struggled with this issue. I read it and re-read it. I started writing, then deleted the words before staring at the screen. This issue just didn't grab me. Right out of the gate I had a problem. Ted rushes off to S.T.A.R. Labs and just leaves Dan's body in the street? It's weird to me! There's no mention about Dan or what happened. Did he get a proper burial? Did S.T.A.R. take his body when they picked up File 13? It seems like a glaring oversight to me. And Beryl. She's supposed to have a backstory with Dan, but this is the first time she's seen. Then for no apparent reason she's living in seclusion wearing a costume and mask? Why? This issue frustrated the heck out of me...except for one thing...that gorgeously freaky Mike Mignola cover!