Sunday, December 22, 2013

Justice League of America #9 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

This story wasn't all that interesting when we read it for the first time in issue #8; sitting through it a second time through the eyes of Stargirl doesn't make it any more interesting.  Moreover, the ending is ridiculous.  Stargirl defeats the J'onn doppelg√§nger, but, instead of staying to discover who he is -- and, therefore, discover the truth about the Justice Leagues' "prison" -- she flees.  Kindt clearly has orders to keep this story alive as long as possible, but I doubt that I'm going to be here to see it concluded.  

* (one of five stars)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Batman #25 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

The most interesting thing about the issue -- though not necessarily in a good way -- is that Snyder has seemingly decided to make Jim Gordon and Lucius Fox more interesting in the DCnU by turning them into less upstanding characters than they normally are.  We learn that Gordon seemed to have covered up something related to the murder of Bruce's parents (though he claims that "secrets" are involved in said murders) and we see Fox attack Bruce seemingly on behalf of Dr. Death.  Now, Snyder is clearly planning on showing us how these interpretations are jumping to conclusions, so I don't think that we should shred their applications for sainthood quite yet.  But, I'll say that I felt like Snyder is going once more for shock value here than trying to tell an interesting story.  Remember when we spent the first few issues of this series being forced to speculate whether Dick was a murderer, when we all knew that he wasn't?  These "developments" when it comes to Gordon and Fox feel the same way.  Since I'm doubtful that we're going to learn anything about Gordon or Fox that really tars their image, these intrigues feel like unnecessary distractions.  After "Detective Comics" #25 and "Batgirl" #25, I wanted to see some focus on the chaos in Gotham in advance of the upcoming storm.  Instead, we get this bizarre Dr. Death diversion and some sort of mysterious sequence involving troops in Nigeria.  I get that multiple things happen to a character at once, but, as Gordon himself speculates, you have to wonder why everyone is chasing down a guy who's killed two people when the entire city faces possible annihilation.  Hopefully next issue will be better.  

** (two of five stars)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Batgirl #25 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

OK, I'm not some insane Simone fanboy:  I think someone other than her can write this series well.  But, the face of the matter is that things tend not to go well when someone other than her actually does so.  This issue is no exception.

I'm not sure what exactly Bennett wanted us to take from Barbara constantly repeating, "Protect the homestead" to herself throughout the issue; I took a need for a stiff drink to distract me from the boredom.  Plus, although I get that this issue in some ways is supposed to portray Barbara's loss of innocence, I don't for a minute believe that she didn't see that a caring, handsome, and well-built stranger is anything other than trouble in Gotham, even six years ago.

All that said, I stand by my assessment in "Detective Comics" #25 that these "Zero Year" tie-in issues are actually helping Snyder's cause in "Batman."  If you've read the two of them, you go into whatever drama awaits us in "Batman" #25 with a full sense of the scale of tragedy unfolding in Gotham City.  Snyder probably covers that ground in the first few pages of the upcoming issue, but these two issues definitely help make that case.  If only this issue hadn't been so dull...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Captain Marvel #17 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

OK, Carol moving into the crown of the Statue of Liberty is just about the coolest thing ever.  (JJJ, Jr. telling her that it wasn't his problem whether she'd be able to afford the rent was possibly the funniest thing ever.)  But, the highlight of this issue is Kit telling Captain Marvel that the Captain Marvel lessons that she mentioned throughout the issue were something that she was going to give to Carol and not something that she expected Carol to give to her.  I mean, I totally cried.  I held it together during the "I am Spartacus" moment earlier in the issue, but I'm only human.  This series, man.  It's always been as much about Carol's gang as it's been about Carol, since the former helps show the awesomeness of the latter.  Carol's gang essentially expanding to include all of New York seems the perfect metaphor for explaining just how awesome she really is.

My only complaint is that DeConnick really fumbles the ball when it comes to the villain.  I'm still not exactly sure what Grace Valentine's app does or what it's connection to philosophy (or "absolute objectivism") is.  Moreover, I'm not sure why she needs some second-rate magazine to publish a piece about it for her to have self-worth; after all, as several people mention throughout the series, it seems that the millions of downloads in and of themselves would be sufficient validation.  (Wanting a magazine to publish a piece on you to feel like you've made it seems so old economy.)  DeConnick hints that Grace has something else up her sleeve with the whole data-mining scheme, but her villainy really seems to come from this unexplained need for validation.  As such, she just seems totally unhinged, rather than a character driven to villainy for some sort of valid reason.  Moreover, given that she portrays an image of herself holding someone hostage, I'm pretty surprised that everyone seemed to let that drop.  I mean, shouldn't someone be trying to help her partner?

At any rate, this issue brings an end to this version of Carol.  DeConnick has managed to take us on a tour of the last 45 years of Carol's history, integrating parts of her story that no one really managed to bring together in quite the same way.  Although she's lost her memory, the Carol that we have here is, possibly for the first time, the sum of her parts.  With that firm foundation, we seem ready to see what Carol can really do, something DeConnick clearly intends to do now.  If she can just do a little better job on introducing new villains, this next series should be even better than this one.

*** (three of five stars)

Captain America #13 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I actually don't have a ton to say about this issue, since it's pretty straight-forward.  We get some background info on the Iron Nail, though it's clear that Remender is just setting up that story.  We also get Sam trying to protect Steve from his responsibilities while he heals, emotionally and physically.  Remender really gives us some great characterization here, making it clear that Sam feels overwhelmed by that task.  Remender makes it equally clear why he would feel that way, since Cap's in a pretty bad place throughout the issue.  We first see him lying in bed in the middle of the day, something that an emotionally hale and hearty Steve probably wouldn't be doing.  Moreover, Steve's thought-process in combat when he faces Nuke underlines implication that he's close to losing it.  It's pretty stream-of-consciousness, in a way that makes it seem like Cap's just trying to hold it together.  We're definitely building to something here and this issue makes it clear that it's not going to be pretty.

*** (three of five stars)

Amazing X-Men #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

OMFG, I totally squeeed when Angelica met Bobby and I want them to start making adorable water babies as soon as humanly possible.  I don't care how ridiculous it is that we're talking about a story where the X-Men storm Heaven to rescue Nightcrawler as he defends Heaven from Azazel.  I don't care how absurd it is that Azazel would somehow have managed to waltz into Heaven to steal souls for no reason in particular and with nary an archangel to stop him.  I also don't care that Bobby isn't really all that attractive in his ice form, so Angelica's sudden lust for him makes little sense.  Who cares?  Firestar and Iceman!  If Spider-Man appears and calls them his amazing friends, I will die from sheer and total joy.

** (two of five stars)

Forever Evil #3 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Ugh.  OK, this issue isn't terrible, but the ongoing muddying of the Bat-family's history continues to be the worst part of the DCnU.

If Catwoman doesn't know who Dick Grayson is, then we have to presume that the story that we saw in "Nightwing" #0 is correct, that Dick remained an orphan living in an orphanage and served as Robin in secret.  (I'm assuming that Selina knows Bruce's identity, so she would know his connection Dick if he had been his ward.  She might not have known that he was Robin and/or Nightwing, but she would've recognized Dick in his civilian identity and, as a result, Batman's connection to him.)  The problem is that even the DCnU has portrayed Dick as an open member of the Wayne family, even if it hasn't clarified whether he was a legal one.  One of the first images of the DCnU, in "Batman" #1 was almost all the various Robins -- Dick, Tim, and Damian -- together in their civilian identities for the event where Bruce launched his vision of Gotham's future.  Moreover, in "Batman and Robin" #10, they all sit for a family portrait.  Why would Bruce parade around Dick publicly if he wanted to keep his connection him secret?  ("Bruce, darling, who's that strapping young man with Tim and Damian?"  "Oh, Bambi, he's just some orphan -- he comes for the food."  "Why's he in the family portrait then, lover?  It seems odd."  "Um, we needed another raven-haired boy for the symmetry to work."  "Why not just use that Jason Todd ruffian who used to hang out here.  Wasn't he your ward?  What happened to him?"  "Look, forget it.  I don't know who the kid is, he's not my ward, and he's definitely not Robin."  "OK, OK, OK, kill a girl for asking questions.  Let's go count your money.")  The fact that DC can't even keep this story straight within the reboot really takes the cake when it comes to how bad DC is at continuity.

Beyond that, the rest of the issue works well in advancing the story, even if it makes you accept some remarkable coincidences.  For example, Captain Cold conveniently learns of Lex Luthor's location thanks to Mirror Master stumbling upon a view of him standing with Bizarro and staring at the sun.  Simultaneously, Black Manta emerges from the ocean with Black Adam's body and also happens to find Luthor staring at the sun.  (He must've been doing so for hours on end.)  The two offer their services and the Legion of Doom is essentially born.  (Unlike the scene depicted on the cover, a great example of pet peeve #2, Bizarro, Black Adam, Black Manta, Captain Cold, and Lex Luthor become a team; they don't fight one another.)  We also learn that the Justice Leagues somehow got absorbed into the "Firestorm Matrix," but I'm not exactly sure how that meshes with the prison that we saw in "Justice League of America" #8.  Did Firestorm create that as a way to maintain his psyche?

I will note, oddly for Finch, that the art is inconsistent in this issue.  There's a moment during the fight between Black Adam and Ultraman that it looks like someone else drew the page.

In other words, it's not the best issue in the world, but if you can get past the Dick silliness, it at least moves us forward a bit.

** (two of five stars)

Earth 2 #17 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about this issue.  Although Robinson wasn't the strongest scripter and his plots have been overly crowded in recent issues, he succeeded in creating such a compelling and vivid world that it was hard to see anyone else writing this series.  However, I'm glad to say that I'm a little less worried after reading this issue.

First, Taylor wisely decides to put everyone in the same place so that we can actually have a clearer sense of the status quo.  Robinson has been moving so many different pieces on the crowded board over the last few issues that it was almost impossible to remember what each character was doing the last time that you saw her or him.  By bringing virtually everyone to the same place, Taylor makes it a lot easier to follow the story, since everyone is now more or less involved in the same plot.  Sure, characters like Terry Sloan or Mr. Terrific may only have a line or two, but you at least know where they are and to what they're referring without having to go through back issues.  As simple as that seems, it's an improvement over recent issues.

Looking at the plot itself, Taylor does a great job of conveying the panic that the Wonders feel in the wake of their routing at Superman's hands in Dherain.  I thought that he made the wise decision to send Dr. Fate against Superman one-on-one, since it narrows the field of combatants.  Again, it's a lot easier to follow the action when it's just two characters whaling on each other rather than several whaling on several others in different locations.  Plus, it makes sense for it to be Dr. Fate, since magic does seem logically to be the one thing that might stop Superman and the one thing that he has that no one else has.  When he fails to stop Superman, it helps add to the sense of panic, since the Wonders seem to have exhausted all possibilities.  (Enter Batman, and the criminals and madmen.)

Taylor also gets in some good moments of characterization, something that this series did well at the start but lost in the shuffle over the last few issues.  Jay saving Khalid and then volunteering to distract Superman while everyone else figures out a plan reminds us what a stand-up guy he is.  Moreover, the revelation that the Red Tornado is Lois Lane was shocking, but Taylor totally sold it, even though the reasons for her becoming a robot remain shrouded in mystery.  He uses General Lane's clear love for his daughter to make us buy the fact that he wouldn't done everything that he could to save her, making the details of how her consciousness was transferred to a robot less important.

However, he does make us realize how many mysteries we still have left on the table, now that we've added yet another significant one.  We have no idea how Lois died and how Clark handled that.  It also raises the possibility that Superman has come to the World Army's base to get her, though Taylor doesn't confirm that.  We also still don't know what Batman is doing; for that matter, we still don't know who he is.  If Superman is somehow still alive, is this Batman the original Batman?  Probably not, but Taylor is playing his cards close to his vest.  That said, it's exciting to have Batman finally emerge from the shadows and take a central role in the drama.  Robinson did a great job not rushing the moment, making it all the better when it comes in this issue.

So, clearly, it's a good start to this next era.  Taylor has to ignore some other sub-plots, like Hawkgirl's investigation into Sam's death and Big Barda and Mr. Miracle doing something out there somewhere.  But, he seems set to bring some of the various other sub-plots to some sort of conclusion all at once, so hopefully we'll be able to clear the decks a bit before we add those mysteries to the pile.  All in all, it's a strong steady opening to a series in need of a somewhat less frenetic pace.

**** (four of five stars)

Detective Comics #25 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

After finishing this issue, I checked the cover to see who wrote it and wasn't surprised at all to learn that it was Layman.  It's the type of tightly crafted story that we're used to getting from him, with nary a loose end left dangling or a secret motivation left unexplained.

First, I thought that it was particularly clever to reveal that Henshaw, the corrupt Internal Affairs officer assigned by Commissioner Loeb to help Gordon hunt down crooked cops working for the Black Mask, aided Gordon in his investigation so that he could use the information that they gathered as insurance against the Black Mask in case he turned on him.  Other authors would've left Henshaw's decision to help Gordon for a week before betraying him go without any explanation; Layman uses it as a great reminder of how crooked the G.C.P.D. was in those days, with everyone crossing and double-crossing each other.  Moreover, he actually pins the denouement on it, since it's Gordon's hunch about Henshaw's motives that sends him to Henshaw's apartment after Henshaw tries to kill him and produces the evidence that allows Gordon to prove that Roman Sionis was the Black Mask.  In the end, we're all left with an appreciation of the dark days that plagued Gotham during this era and a reminder of the breath of fresh air that Jim Gordon was for the G.C.P.D.

Moreover, this issue is great not just because of Layman's tight storytelling.  He also uses the DCnU's blank slate to great effect here, teasing us throughout the issue whether or not Commissioner Loeb is as corrupt now as he was in the DCU.  The revelation that he was instead just a defeated man was all the more powerful thanks to the tension building to the reveal; Layman made sure that we were aware that we were waiting for a definitive answer.

Finally, Layman gets in some good fan-wanking here; we not only see the start of the Gordon-Bullock relationship, when Bullock saves Gordon for his other corrupt partner, but also the genesis of the Bat-Symbol.

Moving past Layman's work, we do get an example of pet peeve #1 here, when the title page reveals that "Zero Year" refers to the devastating year that Gotham experiences as a result of the Riddler turning out the electricity right before it's hit by the oncoming Superstorm Sandy-esque storm.  It makes the connection with the first issue of "Zero Year" (where Batman is riding a horse in devastated Gotham) and shows us that this arc isn't just about Snyder trying to give us his own "Batman:  Year One," but also a separate story about Gotham.  The expansion of Snyder's stories into other Bat-family titles was pretty disastrous in "Night of the Owls" and "Death of the Family.  However, even if I'm annoyed by the way that "Zero Year's" dual levels were revealed, it might actually work here, giving us a large enough story by focusing not just on Batman, but on Gotham as a whole.  If the other tie-in issues are like this one, I'll be a happy camper.

**** (four of five stars)

Batman/Superman #5 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

This issue is totally a Monet:  The overall picture is clear, but it becomes almost incomprehensible when you take a closer look at it.

Mongul has apparently used an unidentified woman to create a video-game platform that converts the millions of video-game players online at any given time into an army.  His plan seems to be for them to think that they're playing a video game, but, in reality, help him defeat Earth's superheroes.  It's a remarkably clever idea (though vaguely "Ender's Game" feeling).

However, I had no idea what happened the first time that I read the issue.  I had to read it again to be able to piece together the plot.  Initially, I thought that Hiro knew that he was fighting Batman in the real world, not just the video game.  Pak doesn't make it clear how the game actually becomes reality, so, even when I had a better sense of the sequencing, I still wasn't clear on the details.  Some sort of pixie dust seems to be involved, but it can't just be the pixie dust, since Hiro fights as Metal-Zero in real life before it arrives.  (Maybe only Hiro was initially infected?)

Honestly, I've got serious doubts that Pak's going to be able to explain it more clearly in a way that makes sense.  All of a sudden, I'm wondering how long I'm going to be getting this series.

* (one of five stars)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Spider-Man 2099 #40: "Judas Goat"

*** (three of five stars)

In a hospital room, Tyler Stone screams at a doctor to tell him where Dana is.  He tells the doctor that, if it's too difficult for him to do, he should get President Doom on the line.  The doctor tries to stall, but Stone demands an answer.  When the doctor tells him that Dana is dead, Tyler sheds a tear and asks how.

Downtown, the Goblin attacks Spidey from behind, hurling a projectile at him that sends him into free fall and then hitting him with a flash grenade to disorient him.  Spidey remembers the location of a near by building and manages to grab the side of it, arresting his fall.  The Goblin announces that he's there to reveal Spider-Man as a fraud; Spidey comments that one masked guy calling another masked guy a fraud is a bit ironic.  The Goblin tells him that he's betrayed the people of Downtown and must be forced to confess, though he doubts that "one such as [Miguel] could ever be genuinely penitent."  He attacks Spidey with another projectile (some sort of bird-looking item) and Miguel leaps to avoid it.  However, before Miguel can get off a Web-Line, the Goblin entraps him with some sort of mechanical belt, pinning his arms to his side.  Nearby, Kasey, with Raff in tow, is driving to a location that the Goblin provided to her in a message, in which he told her that he'll prove what he was saying about Spider-Man.  Raff remarks that he doesn't care what the Goblin has to prove, because he doesn't trust either of them.  They see Spidey falling above them, where the Goblin is telling Spidey that he'll release him if he swears to a public confession and agrees to leave Downtown forever.  The Goblin says that he wants to save the citizens, but, before he can continue his rant, Miguel entraps him with a Web-Line.  Spidey tells the Goblin that he has to save both of them if he wants to save Downtown.  The Goblin tells Spidey that he can't fly ensnared in Miguel's webbing and Miguel tells him that he'll have to free both of them to free himself.  The Goblin says that he'd sooner die and they simply stare at each other as they continue to fall.

At St. Pat's, the Net Prophet appears looking for Father Jennifer, but she's not there; he then leaves.  Outside, the Goblin finally blinks and releases Miguel, who tells him to go loose so that he can snag him.  The Goblin refuses the help, breaking off the webbing himself.  He then fires a series of blasts at Miguel, who struggles to avoid them.  One of the blasts connects, however, and Miguel falls.  When he gets to his feet, he sees numerous goblins and bizarre colors.  Miguel wonders if he's been tossed in cyberspace as Kasey and Raff watch from the sidelines.  Miguel then attacks Raff, thinking that he's the Goblin.  The Goblin declares to the crowd watching the fight that Miguel is "lashing out" over the Goblin confronting him with his lies.  He continues, noting how easily Spidey struck down "one of [their] own" and warning the crowd that Spidey'll want to leave no witnesses.  Miguel hears him yelling (though can't make out the words) and continues his rampage, acknowledging how confused he is.  The Goblin tells the crowd that he'll protect them and tells Spidey to face him.  Miguel focuses on the Goblin's voice as he taunts him, managing to raze his wing with his claws.  Miguel realizes that only one of the denizens is attacking him and shuts his eyes to rely on his senses to defeat the Goblin.

Uptown, Xina packs a bag, telling Jack (her electronic servant) that she'll be leaving town after Dana's funeral to find the "cosmic purpose" for why she's alive and Dana's dead.  Downtown, the Goblin taunts Spidey for "just standing there," but Miguel hears his footsteps and feels the rush of air next to him, accurately guessing where he was.  He grabs him with some webbing and then attacks him, kicking him across the jaw and then landing several punches.  He contemplates how he was just minding his own business when this guy attacked, as others have, but then the effects of the blasts dissolves and Miguel sees Kasey.  Kasey confronts him, telling him that she thought that she knew who he was.  Spidey tries to explain that he was seeing visions, but the Goblin cuts off his sentence, saying that he made him see the truth.  The Goblin declares that he's no hero for the masses, but a corporate stooge.  He then plays a series of videos -- of Doom offering Spidey a Cabinet post, of the Public Eye telling Spidey that it's got orders to leave him alone, of Miguel telling the Public Eye that Spidey is off limits, and of Spidey rescuing Hikaru-sama -- claiming them as proof that Spidey's a stooge.  Spidey wonders how the Goblin has all that video while trying to defend himself, telling the crowd that he saved Hikaru-sama's life when he didn't even know who he was.  Goblin tells him that he just saved his meal ticket.  Kasey asks him to deny it, but an angry guy in the crowd says that he shouldn't, since he's always acted better than them when he's gone slumming in Downtown.  He notes that people always get hurt or die when Spidey's there and asks who needs him.  An enraged Spidey says that he tried to make their lives better, wondering who needs them.  He departs, saying that they're free to listen to the Goblin's lies.  The angry guy tells him not to return and Spidey asks how he'll stop him; the guy and several other denizens show their weapons and some open fire.

Spidey returns Uptown and wonders how he got fired form a job that he never wanted.  He wonders why the denizens bought the Goblin's lies and ponders Doom's message of just taking power and not worrying about people's feelings.  However, falling emps (as seen in "Doom 2099" #33) interrupt his reverie.  Meanwhile, the angry guy from the crowd watches from a rooftop, saying that he and the Goblin now can feed off the rotting corpse of Downtown.  Revealing himself to be the Vulture, he takes flight, revealing that he plans on eliminating the Goblin to have it all to himself.

The Review
This issue feels like a clear shift in the status quo, with Spidey evicted as protector of Downtown and now enjoying not one, but two arch-nemeses.  It's all the more of the shame that this series ends in six issues, since David really just seems to be hitting his stride here.

The Really Good
1) It's not like any period of "Spider-Man 2099" has been bad, but this entire sequence with the debuts of Venom 2099 and the Green Goblin 2099 have certainly felt like something of a renaissance.  Given that both villains test Miguel's ability to defeat them, it make you feel like Miguel is entering the next stage of his career, facing more difficult enemies that challenge him even as he becomes more adroit in using his super-powers.  With Venom, it was finding a way to overcome his sheer strength and brutality, but with the Goblin -- as it should be -- it's outstmarting his array of toys and weapons.  The Goblin using his psychedelic blasts to get Spidey to attack the Downtown denizens was a brilliant tactic, showing that the Goblin knew exactly what he was doing when it came to laying the appropriate trap for Spider-Man.  McDonell really did a spectacular job throughout this issue using a wide palette of bright colors to show how disoriented Miguel was.  Both the device itself and the elaborate plan attached to it are exactly the type of things that the original Green Goblin would've used, making this one a worthy successor.  Both villains make Miguel step up his game, exactly where we should be as we approach 50 issues.

2) Miguel's weariness is really clear here.  As he's fighting Goblin blind, he contemplates how many people have attacked him.  It reminds you that we're talking about a guy who never wanted to be a superhero in the first place.

The Good
1) It's not exactly a hint, but Spidey and the Goblin's mutual refusal to stop their free fall has a fraternal feel to it, something that'll be all the more hilarious when/if it's revealed that the Goblin is really Gabe.

2) It's interesting that Miguel offered to save the Goblin.  After all, he let the Vulture fall to his death.  David seems to be implying that Miguel has realized that the guilt that he still feels for letting the Vulture fall means that he wants to be a better kind of hero.  David doesn't say that explicitly here, but it seems clear that Miguel is embracing a more "Heroic Age" view of heroism here than he is a 2099 one.  It reminds me of the recent arc in "Scarlet Spider" where Kaine refuses to return to being the monster that Kraven wanted him to be.

3) David shows how advanced Miguel's use of his powers is here, with him defeating Goblin literally blind.  It's that delicate dance, with Miguel learning how to use his powers better because he needs to use them better to survive.

4) I thought it was clever that David used a disguised Vulture to incite the crowd against Spider-Man.  It would've been hard to believe (as Miguel found it to be) that the crowd would've turned so suddenly against Spider-Man on its own.  With the Vulture whipping up their anger, it made a lot more sense.

The Unknown
1) I have to say, David is really going to have to deliver when it comes to explaining how the Goblin got his hands on the video that he did.  The images that we see make it appear that he's had some sort of flying drone following both Miguel and Spider-Man wherever he goes.  Is it maybe the Roving Eye that Miguel's father invented?  Is the Goblin Miguel's father and not Gabe?  However cool that may be, it would still be hard to believe that Miguel has had something like that hovering over his shoulder this entire time without noticing it, no matter how accustomed that he is to living in the surveillance society of the 2099 world.

2) I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to believe about Tyler's relationship with Dana.  David made it pretty clear when it all start that it was essentially just Tyler using Dana to get at Miguel, but this issue makes it equally clear that Tyler grew to care for her.  I'm totally fine with that, but it would be nice at some point to get an idea of his original plan (if it was anything more than just screwing with Miguel for the fun of it).

The Unsure
1) If Gabe is the Goblin, his heel turn is notable not just for the fact that he's willing to attack his brother, but also that his plan is so nihlistic.  Rather than just hurting Miguel, Gabe is trying to destroy the faith that Downtown residents have in Spider-Man as their protector.  Gabe doesn't really believe (or care) that Miguel is a corporate stooge; he only want to destroy people's (and particularly Kasey's) faith in Spider-Man.  I can't think of anything more selfish, taking away the one hero that a downtrodden group of people has in order to get revenge on a former girlfriend.

2) Just when I thought that I had continuity more or less established, this issue takes us back a few steps.  This issue shows the emps falling from the skies, an event that originally happened in "Doom 2099" #33, published at the same time as "Spider-Man 2099" #35.  It seems then that everything that's been happening over the last few months in the 2099 universe since "Spider-Man 2099" #35 -- namely, the events of "Doom 2099" #33 and #39, "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1, "2099 A.D. Genesis" #1, and "Fantastic Four" #2 -- occurs after this issue.  Crazy, but true, I think.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Spider-Man 2099 #39: "Brother's Keeper"

*** (three of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "I have two half brothers.  One thinks he's my full brother, and hates Spider-Man...and the other doesn't know we're related and hates Miguel.  Add them up, I've got one whole brother who hates me completely."  "It's nice to have family."  -- Miguel and Lyla, on his interesting family dynamics.

Miguel becomes increasingly agitated as he walks the halls of Alchemax, noting that people who previously would've called him "Miggy" or nothing at all now refer to him as "Mr. O'Hara."  He enters a lab where Kron is held in a stasis tube and, after Kron taunts him, instructs everyone in the lab to leave.  Miguel asks Kron how he's still alive, but Kron tells him to "byte" him.  Miguel tells him that, as a serial killer, he's only still alive due to the alien symbiote making him a subject of scientific interest.  When Miguel tells Kron that he's killed people that Miguel loves, Kron calls him gutless.  Miguel releases Kron, telling him that he can leave if he can beat Miguel in a fight without the symbiote; if he can't, he explains how he became Venom.  Miguel lands the first punch, sending Kron across the room.  Kron leaps at Miguel, but Miguel grabs his arm; when Kron tells him to "leggo," Miguel tells him that he's trying to "let go" of his anger, but it's not working.  Telling him that he'll have to keep beating up Kron until it's gone, Miguel proceeds to whale on him.  Kron tells him that he'll talk, but Miguel tells Kron that he wants Kron to scream, for all the people that he's killed.

Downtown, Raff is sitting with Kasey and notices a streak of light outside her window.  He asks if she saw it but she continues talking about her confrontation with the Vulture, noting that he had her in his clutches, but some guy appeared to save her.  Raff points at the window and asks if the guy looked like the figure hovering outside it.  Kasey lets the figure into her room and Raff is shocked at her doing so.  He pulls a gun on the figure, who looks remarkably like the Green Goblin and disables the gun with some sort of electrical bomb.  The Goblin then asks Kasey if the Vulture had "manhandled" her since the "scuffle."  She says that he hasn't and the Goblin tells her that a new order exists Downtown; he says that they can all live in peace and reclaim what Alchemax has taken.  The Goblin asks if she'll help and she says that she will.  She begins to say something about him and Spider-Man working together, but the Goblin dismisses Spider-Man as a "corporate tool."  Kasey insists that he's not, but the Goblin tells her that he'll make Spidey confess it personally.  He departs and Raff tells Kasey that he doesn't trust him.  She says that she doesn't either and that she doesn't know who to trust anymore, but she'd like to know more about him.

At Alchemax, several men stand outside the lab wondering about the noises that they're hearing.  One wonders whether they should call security, but Miguel emerges and tells them that it won't be necessary.  He says that they'll find Kron more cooperative and departs; one of them enters and expresses shock at Kron's bleeding and broken face as he asks what they want to know.  At home, Miguel marvels that he has two half-brother, one who hates Spider-Man (Gabriel) and one who hates Miguel (Kron).  Lyla tells Miguel that she's deleted Dana from his holiday-card list and discontinued her security clearance.  Miguel asks why Dana's death doesn't mean anything to her, but she asks why it should.  He acknowledges the point and asks if Gabriel's home.  She says that he's not and he asks about Xina.  She says that Xina's electronic servant, Jack, told her that Xina's not taking calls.  Miguel then heads to Xina's (testing out the new Web-Foil repairs on his costume).  Xina is deep in grief, telling Miguel that she can't believe that Kron has returned to haunt them.  She says that Dana's only crime was that she was over-eager to love people and expresses guilt over the fact that Dana was ready to sacrifice herself for Xina and all Xina could think was that she was glad to be alive.  She asks Miguel what kind of monster she is but Miguel tells her that she was just scared and it's not wrong to be happy that she survived.  Telling her that it doesn't make her misery any less sincere, Miguel is shocked when she tells him that she thinks that he should run Alechmax, asking rhetorically who she is to tell someone how he should run his life.  Downtown, the Goblin tells a figure to stop skulking in the shadows and the Vulture emerges, asking if their "little act" impressed "her."  The Goblin says that it did and the Vulture asks why he singled out Kasey.  The Goblin tells him that it's because she's a pivotal figure in Downtown, but the Vulture asks if he had any "juicier" reasons; the Goblin says that he didn't.

At Alchemax, Miguel is staring at a holographic image of Kron when Father Jennifer enters his office.  He asks why she's so far from Downtown, but she's startled that he knows who she is.  Remembering that he only knows her as Spider-Man, Miguel tells her that he dropped by her church one day.  Jennifer reveals that she was Dana's sister and she's hurt when Miguel makes it clear that Dana had never mentioned her.  Miguel stresses that Dana had talked about her sister "Jenny" in the beginning, but not later.  Jennifer says that they used to be very close but had a falling-out a few years earlier.  Saying that she can never make it right, Jennifer sees Kron's image on Miguel's desk and asks if he's the "individual."  Miguel confirms that he is and plays the video of Kron explaining how he became Venom.  After the Punisher shot Kron, he threw his body into a sewer, where it came into contact with the symbiote.  A revived Kron then used the symbiote to "fry" a homeless person; he left his I.D. on the ashed body and gave an anonymous call to the authorities where they could find it.  He then laid low while his body adjusted to the symbiote but decided to emerge when he heard that Tyler had been shot in order to get his chance to kill him.  Jennifer mutters, "Lord, forgive him" and Miguel berates her for saying that about the monster who killed her sister and his lover.  He says that Kron deserves to burn forever, but Jennifer says that it's to the Lord to judge.  She also tells him that she'll knock out his teeth if he raises his voice to her again.  Jennifer leaves as Miguel gets a call from Gabriel, telling him that he needs Spider-Man to come to Downtown.  Later, Spidey makes his way Downtown, wondering if Dana's death had driven Gabe around the bend, given that he evaporated for a while and then suddenly re-appeared needing Spidey.  He notes that insanity runs in their family -- mentioning his mother and himself -- but decides to indulge the Goblin swoops at him from behind.

The Review
This whole Venom arc has been really great, injecting some needed direction and drama into the series after the Nightshade and Mexico City digressions.  The threats that Miguel is facing are no longer just affecting his superhero activities but his personal life as well.  It's really upped the stakes and makes you wonder how Miguel is going to respond to such an unremitting string of challenges and tragedies.  It's these moments where superheroes are supposed to shine, though David hasn't made it clear yet if Miguel -- who remains somewhat ambivalent about his role as Spider-Man -- will rise to the challenge.

The Good
1) The revelation that the Green Goblin was working with Vulture made a lot of sense.  For a moment, I was worried that David would want us to believe that it was just a coincidence that the Green Goblin just happened to be watching Kasey when the Vulture attacked, but, of course, David is too careful of a plotter to make that mistake.  However, we do eventually need to learn how the Vulture survived his fall and how the Goblin not only found out he did, but recruited him.

2) The design of the Green Goblin is impressive.  It's really a great homage to the originally Goblin's outfit, with the bright green and vivid purple, but with the expected futuristic twist.

3) I was glad that Xina didn't hold against Miguel the whole "choice" debacle.  David definitely gave himself some wiggle room there, given that Miguel originally screamed Xina's name.  But, more importantly, he has Xina focus on her role in Dana's death.  Her soul-searching feels profound; it's likely to provide better fodder for stories than some sort of manufactured outrage at Miguel for possibly choosing Dana over her.

4) Kron refering to "we" and "our" was effectively creepy.

The Unknown
I wonder why Father Jennifer and Dana had a falling-out...

The Unsure
I'm hoping that David isn't done showing us Miguel's grief over Dana's death.  David certainly isn't ignoring it entirely; we clearly saw his grief as Spider-Man last issue and his anger at Father Jennifer forgiving Kron in this one was totally believable.  However, we'll need to continue seeing him grapple with his grief as we continue forward.  After all, the last two times Miguel and Dana spoke were when he screamed at her after he discovered Tyler Stone was his father and when he confronted her in Tyler's hospital room after he learned that they were in a relationship.  Sure, they shared a brief kiss before she escaped from Venom in issue #37, but they never really had an opportunity to assess their relationship after the incident in issue #26.  Miguel did seem remarkably composed when he was comforting Xina over Dana's death; it was odd that neither he nor Xina mentioned his own grief.  In the end, David should be playing up the parallels between Dana and Gwen Stacy, not hiding from them.

The Bad
OK, after finishing this issue, I pulled out issue #38, the issue where the Green Goblin apparently first appeared.  However, he really does look like a living laser.  I get that he zips around so fast that he looks like that (as seen in this issue), but it was still odd to see him presented here like we had previously met him.  It wound up being anti-climatic to see him fully for the first time simply climbing in Kasey's window like he owned the place.

A Note on Reading Order:  I've generally tried to post these reviews in a logical reading order.  Given Miguel's frequent appearances in other titles, particularly "2099 Unlimited," it hasn't necessary been easy to do so and I've tried to at least comment where I think certain stories outside the main title fall.  However, the most recent round of issues have been particularly challenging.  As I mentioned in my review of "Spider-Man 2099 Special" #1, the issue appeared at the same time as issue #37 despite the fact that the events detailed in it took place before issue #26.  Similarly, I began to read the "Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man" #1, since it was published at the same time as issue #37 and "Spider-Man 2099 Special" #1, but realized that it happens after Spider-Man's fight with a revived Vulture.  I expected that fight to happen this issue, but it's clear that it won't happen at least until next issue, issue #40.  Moreover, "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 and "2099 A.D. Genesis" #1 appeared with "Spider-Man 2099" #38 and #39, but I don't think that we're close to them yet, since Doom still seems to be President in "Spider-Man 2099."  Basically, I've taken a long way to describe that the continuity right now is a little difficult to follow, so bear with me.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Doom 2099 #39: "May the Circle Be Unbroken"/"The Night Before Yesterday"

The good news is that we get confirmation here that Herod is working on behalf of the corporations.  Finally!  Color me a happy man.  I'm still not sure who he is or if he's working for all the corporations, but at least we're getting somewhere in clarifying the 2099 universe's post-"Doom 2099" #33 status quo.  Moreover, Ellis fleshes out some motivations here, implying that Herod's relationship with Stark-Fujikawa was an alliance meant to remove Doom -- and his anti-corporation policies -- from office.  But, it remains unclear if Herod's collaboration goes beyond Stark-Fujikawa.  Based on this issue and "Fantastic Four 2099" #2, I'm actually not sure if Alchemax played any role whatsoever in the coup d'√©tat; if it did, it would imply that someone at Alchemax was working against Miguel's leadership, since he's the Acting CEO.

Moving past the larger 2099-wide questions, Ellis does a great job of using Doom's defeat to tease out his character.  Naturally, Doom realizes that he was deposed because he failed to see everything at once; he was too focused on running the United States and not on the larger battle against the corporations.  Now, he sets his sights on cyberspace; by controlling it, he would have access to all the information that he needs to rule the world.  It's a really brilliant take on Doom.  His focus on saving the world comes only because he's now realized that it's the easiest way to run it.  Somehow Doom makes good evil.

The bad news is that this issue is essentially one long information-dump.  It's apparently Ellis' last issue on the title, so he's obviously clearing the decks.  I'm OK with that, but Ellis does so by dispensing with any notion of story-telling here; instead, we're subjected to one long narration with no dialogue or plot to break up the monotony.  Unfortunately, I've found that the 2099 books (except "Spider-Man 2099") have been using this playbook way too often lately.  We're often told that something is happening instead of seeing it happen.  I understand that the whole premise of the 2099 universe requires a lot of world-building, but I feel like the editors could've done a better job of making sure that the authors didn't rush the process.  I feel like Ellis could've somehow presented the information that he does here in a way that actually required someone saying something.

I know that the upcoming cancelation of the 2099 line is coming.  It seems hard to believe, because David is doing some of this best work in "Spider-Man 2099" right now.  But, reading this issue and the "2099 Apocalypse"/"2099 Genesis" issues, I actually can see why sales started dropping.  The 2099 is interesting because of the characters, not just the differences between then and now.  When authors like David use the characters to show those differences, it succeeds.  When authors like Ellis lose sight of the characters to focus on the differences, it fails.  It's sad, but, with so many 2099 titles falling into the latter category, I can see why the line eventually lost steam.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fantastic Four 2099 #2: "Frightful Four"

If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I'm not exactly the type of guy to let a plot drop.  I'm particularly given to getting fixated on the progression of long-running sub-plots as they advance issue by issue.  As such, I'm still bothered by the fact that Herod has been running the 2099 universe since "Doom 2099" #33 and I have no idea what his motivations are.

In this issue, we learn that he wants to "suck America dry" in five years, though I'm not sure if that means that he supports the corporations or not.  I would guess that he does, since he seems to be working with Stark-Fujikawa in this issue; Stark-Fujikawa also worked with him in "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1, when it turned over its in-house superhero, Galahad.  After that issue, I thought Stark-Fujikawa was simply trying to curry favor with Herod, but now I'm wondering if Stark-Fujikawa isn't more directly involved in his plans, since it seems clear that it wants to take control of New York from Alchemax.  I'm hoping that I get some more insight into the state of play between Doom and Herod in "Doom 2099" #39, the next issue in this recapping project.

Of course, we're not talking about "Doom 2099" right now; we're talking about "Fantastic Four 2099," so I understand why Kesel isn't wasting a lot of space on the ongoing machinations of the 2099 universe's power elite.  But, it's not like I also don't have a host of questions that I wanted this issue to answer.

Since I didn't read the first issue of this series, I'm not clear how the Fantastic Four got resurrected.  In "2099 A.D. Genesis" #1, Stark-Fujikawa seemed to be blaming it on Alchemax (asking to review its systems), but it was also clear in that issue that Stark-Fujikawa was running the facility where the Fantastic Four were kept.  In this issue, Miguel and a recovering Tyler Stone are concerned that Stark-Fujikawa is pulling Alchemax into its problem, using Alchemax's network to announce to the public that the Fantastic Four were on the loose in New York.  So, if Stark-Fujikawa was keeping the Fantastic Four in suspended animation, why was it doing so?  Unlike my frustration with the Herod question, I understand why Kesel is drawing out the question of how and why the Fantastic Four find themselves active in the 2099 world.  I'm just hoping that it's not an open-ended mystery.

In terms of the story itself, I can't say it was all that gripping.  Kesel apparently divided up the team in the first issue.  In theory, it should've given us multiple opportunities to see them adjusting to finding themselves suddenly in 2099.  However, they all pretty much just marvel at the posters showing Doom as president.  However, since Doom hasn't been President for a few weeks at least, presumably, it seems oddly un-coordinated, like this series got delayed several times before it actually debuted.

All that said, Kesel did throw in a great 2099 moment here, with Stark-Fujikawa broadcasting images of the Fantastic Four attacking S.H.I.E.L.D. agents not because they had actually done so, but because it was their "predicted behavior."  Oh, 2099!

Monday, December 2, 2013

2099 A.D. Genesis #1: "Mid Day Sun"

*** (three of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "And I got bored with little men who sprout sharp things from their hands a long time ago." -- Dust

In the Negative Zone, a "volt storm" hits a Stark-Fujikawa facility of some sort.  As the facility's maintenance crew flees to the "homegate," a computer monitor in the facility reveals that the "life stasis field" is disconnecting.  On Earth, a man walks through the desert, as he has for the last 75 years.  "The Word" has told him that a mutant Messiah and a Herod would be coming and instructed him to find the Messiah among the children in Halo City, the mutant city-state created by ex-President Doom.  The man, named Dust, cuts to the front of the line of mutants trying to enter Halo City and demands entrance from the immigration officer.  The officer tells him to get to the back of the line and the mutant at the front of the line (a dead ringer for Doomsday from "Superman") puts his hand on Dust's shoulder to force him.  However, Dust uses his powers to wither faux-Doomsday's arm and then to hurl the officer from his seat.  The officer and another officer activate their mutant powers as Dust says that Bishop would be disgusted with them considering themselves "security."  The officer asks if Dust was one of the 20th century X-Men; he responds that he was and then knocks him and the other officer unconscious.

In Downtown, a shadowy figure observes the misery of the people living along the 13th St. fault line, expositing that he came from there before dragging himself over it.  He mentions the Night of the Long Knives, when the United States killed the "special people" for reintroducing them to magic (Metalstorm), hope (Galahad), independence (the Hulk), and justice (the Punisher).  The figure saw it happen on the news and committed to showing "them" that it takes "more than gunfire to kill an idea."  He ponders having "no life, no home, no ties, no love" and, jumping off the ledge where he stands, thinks that a man without love is a man without fear.  (Dun-dun-dun!)  Below, a man tries to sell drugs to a woman with two children.  She asks if it's addictive, saying that she and her son could use a "pick-me-up."  He says that it's not and offers her two free doses.  However, the shadowy figure -- revealed to be Daredevil 2099 -- shatters the vials in the guy's hand.  He observes that the pusher is affecting a 13th St. accent, hypothesizing that he's really from Uptown.  The pusher's bodyguard attacks Daredevil, but he uses an energy staff to defeat him; he then hurls it at the fleeing pusher, tripping him.  Daredevil tells the pusher that he knows that the drug is free because it has a "rider chemical" that leaves the user sterile.  He then breaks the pusher's arm, accusing him of trying to kill all birth in Downtown.  He breaks another bone and asks for the pusher's employer; the pusher admits that someone named Frank Wilson created the project because Alchemax can't make a profit with the Downtowners "eatin' and breathin' an' dying."  Daredevil shows the pusher a drug called "chain;" the pusher notes that it comes with a 30-year prison sentence.  Daredevil knocks him unconscious and puts the packet in his hand, informing the unconscious pusher that new legislation now means that it carries a death sentence.

In Halo City, Dust finds Shakti Haddad and demands that she take him to "the children."  She tries to "mindshock" him but he warns her not to do so lest she roast her brain.  She asks how old he is and he tells her that he's from the 1990s, showing her a pendant that he wears.  She asks which one he is and when she starts to suggest Cable, he says that he needs to see the children.  In Manhattan, Mirielle and Suzanne Carter (from "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1) use two stolen stealth-units to launch a rocket at Alchemax, something they do as part of the burgeoning  Re-Activ-8 civil-disobedience movement.  In Halo City, Dust enters the office of the city's leader, Morphine Somers.  Dust tells him that his powers to age something aren't going to work on a guy who's 150 years old and asks to see the children.  Shakti tells Somers that Dust is legit and Somers agrees to take him to them.  They make their way through a tunnel as Somers tells him that they're stashing them there until they can finish the shelter, since they've had some "local" problems.  He asks if Dust knew Xavier and Dust says that he knew "'em all."  Somers opens a door and Dust sheds a tear as he looks on the shadowy members of X-Nation; several of them wear the same symbol that Dust has on his pendant.  He informs the children that one of them is going to save mutantkind.  He then tells them that he was born in the 20th century, but he's changed his name so often that he no longer remembers his real one.  He says that he remembers the time, though, from "the Nineties through to the Great Exodus in the late 2020's [sic]."  He says that he didn't have the guts to be one of the "legends that wore the X," that he was frightened to give himself to the Dream so he ran while the X-Men fought and died "for their place in the sun."  He tells the kids never to "turn away" -- as several of them begin to walk from him -- and murmurs "Forgive me," with one member of X-Nation kneeling with him.

In Manhattan, someone is buried in the Alchemax rubble; Alchemax was left unprepared for the attack since it hadn't employed anti-missile defenses since the Corporate Wars ten years earlier.  Daredevil identifies the man as Frank Wilson; he says that he knew where his office was located because Doom had made all corporate directories and office plans publicly available before he was deposed, to make corporations more accountable.  Daredevil tells Frank that he wants to bring him to justice for the sterilization plan and Frank notes that he could've used the law to do so.  Daredevil sells that he used to love the law, but then discovered that it could be bought.  He says that he realized that the law is blind when you need it the most; at that moment, his glowing eyes go dark.  He punches Frank, who says that the corporations should've ridden themselves of the superheroes when they had a chance.  Daredevil declares everything past the 13th St. fault line to be his territory and then forces Frank to take all the pills.

The Review
I was hoping that this issue was going to give us a better sense of the state of play of Herod's efforts to take over America and generally of the 2099 world.  Instead, it mainly serves as the launching point for the new Daredevil 2099 and X-Nation 2099.  It's not necessarily a bad thing, but, given that this issue and "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 were hyped as essential reading for the 2099 reader, it's hard not to feel disappointed.

The Good
I will say that I was intrigued by Daredevil 2099, but I would've liked more information, honestly.  Given how close I am, at this point, to the end of the 2099 line, I'm pretty sure that he didn't wind up getting his own title; I have to wonder where we're going to see him again.  Hopefully he appears in "Spider-Man 2099."  That said, I'm actually disappointed that we won't see more of him, since he seems like he could fill a gap in the 2099 world.  Downtown is obviously fertile soil for stories that expose the corruption and horrors of the 2099 universe, but we only generally see stories about it in "Spider-Man 2099."  However, Miguel isn't a creature of Downtown; he's generally also juggling Uptown problems.  Daredevil is the perfect character to resurrect (so to speak) to dig into these deeper types of stories.

The Interesting
Although I wasn't super intrigued by the X-Nation story in and of itself, I was fascinated by the fact that it seems to mirror the premise of "X-Men:  Messiah Complex."  Moreover, "Dust's" comments about the unexplained mutant exodus in the 2020s actually really meshes with the story that Remender is telling in "Uncanny Avengers" about the Apocalypse Twins creating Planet X.  I've said it previous in my "Spider-Man 2099" reviews, but, every once in a while, these stories lead me to wonder if Marvel really didn't map out 30 years of stories before it launched the 2099 line!

The Bad
1) Unfortunately, I still have no idea why Herod deposed Doom or what he wants.  It's still unclear to me if he's pro- and anti-corporation and I still don't know if "President" Rogers is the real Cap (doubtful) or someone else.  Again, I concede that these subjects might be covered in "Doom 2099," but, given that Marvel advertised these two issues as necessary to understand the future of the 2099 universe, we should've been given at least a sketch of the new status quo.  Instead, Daredevil 2099 really could've been debuted in the canceled "2099 Unlimited" series (or his own one-shot) and X-Nation clearly could've been handled with in the context of "X-Men 2099."

2) Honestly, I'm over the "mysterious man who forgets his name" schtick.  After all, we still don't know who the Net Prophet is in "Spider-Man 2099."  Ellis hints that "Dust" is actually Cable, but his comments about meeting Professor X once don't really gel with that.  I can't say that I'm intrigued by the mystery to care.

3) I didn't mention it in the summary, but the Daredevil story is interrupted by a several-page montage of splash pages of Doom, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, and the X-Men.  It's totally random, but, to make it worse, it also interrupts the flow of the Daredevil story.  I have no idea why they're included at all, let alone in the middle of the issue.

The Really Bad
As I've probably made clear at this point, Ellis really misses the chance to connect this issue to the larger events transpiring in the 2099 universe.  I was expecting to see heroes rising to Whitlow's call at the end of "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 for the people to rebel and we get that to a certain extent with Daredevil's debut and Re-Activ-8's attack.  But, they're both street-level actions that don't further our understanding of the power struggle happening at the highest echelons of the U.S. government and between the various corporations.  These one-shots seemed to have been the ideal opportunity to make sure all the 2099 readers are working off the same page as we move to the new status quo, but this issue unfortunately dropped the ball that "2099 A.D. Apocalypse" #1 started moving down the field.