Batman Annual #2: King delivers another outstanding issue that delves into Bruce's relationship with Selena. Early in their careers, Selena stole the Batmobile and repeatedly broke into Wayne Manor; each time she did so, she left behind a mouse (because the mouse, like Batman, didn't see the Cat coming). At one point, Bruce confronts her and asks why she does it. She tells him it's because he's still a rich boy living in the mansion on the hill; she's trying to make him stronger. King then gives us perhaps the only vulnerable Batman we've ever seen. When Selena breaks into a safe that contains a familiar pearl, Bruce tells her it was his mother's. He offers she was murdered, Selena responds she knows, and Bruce remarks, "Everyone knows." He says it like an upset boy who still hasn't come to grips with his fate. She says she understands, because she, too, was an orphan who occasionally hated herself for feeling like she was happier alone. At some point, he draws the charade to a close. She discovers him at her place one night, and he reveals he's known where she lived since she left the first mouse. (He studied the lead profile in the mouse's poop.) He then confesses he let the game continue because, as she said, sometimes he hates himself for feeling like he's happier alone. It's all a reminder of how unique Selena is in his life, the only lid to his pot. Under any other author, I feel like this romance would be immediately retconned once "Rebirth" comes to its logical conclusion. But, King is bringing out depths here in both characters - particularly Bruce - that will be hard for DC to ignore. Batman is a better character for this relationship, and DC would be smart to keep it that way. The fact it's happening in the main title and not a separate "Batman and Catwoman" series hopefully means DC's powers-that-be agree.
Darkhawk #51: OMG, Darkhawk! Chris Powell brought '90s angst to a whole new level, and it was a trip seeing him here. Did I understand the story? Not really. I mean, I even read "War of Kings," but a lot of it just didn't make sense to me. I had to read it a few times to come close to following it. Do I care? Not really. Darkhawk!
Chris Powell is now a police officer, trying to right the wrongs of his corrupt father. His amulet hasn't worked in a year, and it's been giving him nightmares lately. As such, his fiancée, Miranda, suggest he give it to the Avengers or X-Men. He decides to give it to Project Pegasus after his shift. However, he responds to a call of a disturbance at the abandoned Wonderland amusement park, where he first found the amulet. A group of corrupt cops hear him respond to the call, and they meet him there, trying to force him onto their side. (Honestly, I'm not really sure why they do so. The ringleader mentions how Chris is smarter than his father, so I don't see what he stood to gain by risking exposing himself as a corrupt cop to a guy he seemed pretty sure wouldn't swing at that pitch.) However, the ringleader is suddenly disintegrated by two Raptors, revealing they staged the disturbance to attract Chris. During the fight, Chris realizes they're not really Raptors; they're just pledges wearing armor, not actually possessing Raptor suits. We learn the pair are brothers -- Canorus and Aceptar -- and plan to turn over the amulet to Lord Talonar to win his favor. Canorus grabs the amulet and summons the Darkhawk suit. However, he fails to control it; instead, Chris recognizes the suit is controlled by Razor, "a murderous corner of Darkhawk programming fueled by a thirst for violence and war." Razor took over the suit a long time ago (apparently during "War of Kings," but I don't really remember that) and committed atrocities throughout the Universe, ruining Darkhawk's reputation. Razor puts Chris' hand on the amulet, allowing Chris to join him in the Datasong, "where the body keeps memories of you." (The Raptors apparently call it the Perch, further complicating matters. I'm not really sure what the difference is between the Perch, Null Space, and Datasong, but whatever. It's the least of my worries here.)
Razor tells Chris how the Fraternity of Raptors started as a group who saw themselves as inheritors of the original order, seeking to gain control of the suits for their own dark designs. The suits residing at the pods at the Tree of Shadows were thrilled at the prospect of getting freed. However, inspired by Chris' heroism, Razor refused to yield and broke free of his pod, severing the link to the amulet (and Chris). He apparently also freed other suits from their pods, reducing the number the Fraternity could possess. However, these suits hunted him and came close to killing him, since he no longer had access to the Tree's restorative powers. Razor wants Chris to join with him because apparently something about his DNA allows him to mimic the restorative powers of the Tree. Chris does so and marvels at this unprecedented access to the armor, though it's a little unclear where his body is, assuming it's not in a pod at the Tree. Aceptar returns to "the stars" and warns Talonar Chris is coming for him, prompting him to laugh.
As I said at the start, I'm not sure I understand anything happening here. If Marvel was really committed to a possible relaunch of "Darkhawk," we probably should've gotten a three-issue series, giving Bowers more space to refresh our memories and set up stories for the future. But, it is what it is. It was fun to see Chris again, and I'm inspired to re-read "War of Kings: Ascension."
Moon Knight #189: Although Khonshu’s narration is awkward at times, Bemis delivers a really great issue here. Someone with the power to make people revel in their delusions and fears gets a subway driver to crash his train, apparently as a way to get Moon Knight’s attention. But, it’s not Amon Ra on hand when Marc arrives like a moth drawn to the flame; it’s some huge dude called "the Truth.” When Marc, as Moon Knight, is unable to defeat the Truth, we learn the shtick for this iteration of "Moon Knight" is Marc's ability to cycle through his personas. For example, we saw him earlier adopting his Steve Grant persona to double his wealth and a company’s net worth all “from a yacht in the Cayman Islands, even without cell service.” (He gave this wealth to his Lunar Lives Fund; he’s actually living in a run-down motel.) Here, he lets the more brutal Jake take the reigns, and Moon Knight becomes Mr. Knight. (The art throughout this issue is spectacular. Not only does Marc have the best abs in comics, but Burrows’ visual cue of Jake pulling down Moon Knight’s hood to reveal just Mr. Knight’s mask is great.) Jake dares the Truth to use his powers on him, and the Truth is so shaken by what Jake has done - including things Marc doesn’t know Jake has done - that Jake easily stabs him in the eyes. Marc is worried about this revelation that Jake has acted on his own, telling Jake after he’s taken back control it’s exactly the sort of thing that isn’t supposed to happen anymore. Bowers and Burrows don't really have us wallow in this sort of drama; he's upset with Jake, but Marc also makes the joke over the Truth's body that the truth hurts. Khonshu and Steve Grant rolling their eyes helps emphasize how integrated these personalities now are. Meanwhile, Amon Ra isn’t on hand for this fight because he’s busy tracking down the Bushman to get him to join his war against Moon Knight. I just hope they don’t mess up his pretty abs.
X-Men Blue #16: We're finally starting to get somewhere with this crew, but I'm not entirely sure where it is. We learn Magneto has been communicating with Professor X about the need for the children to return to their original timeline, hence why he and Danger have been building the time platform in the basement. Someone strikes at him, forcing him to reveal his hand to Jean before he disappears from the timeline all together, just as happened to Polaris earlier. Complicating matters, Bobby was watching the Mojo Entertainment Channel earlier, and it ran a report on Magneto's original conflict with the X-Men as head of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. During that conflict, he apparently died, something Bobby knows isn't true. On one had, it seems to imply Magneto disappeared in the present because he died in the past, but I don't get why Polaris would also have disappeared, since she was certainly already born when he originally confronted the X-Men. (Also, it raises the question how someone killed him in the past and made it stick in the present, given the Marvel Universe's time-travel rules. Doom Platform? After all, when the team originally traveled to their past, they were still there, because older Hank created a new timeline when he removed them from the past.) At any rate, the team tries to follow Magneto's orders to return to their past, but find themselves randomly appearing in different eras. They stop in 2099, where they come face-to-face with the X-Men of that era. All I have to say is: hurrah! Readers of this blog know I love me some 2099 stories, so I'm all about this development. In terms of the larger story, Bunn is still playing his cards close to his chest. Again, Hank recalls they already went to "their" past, only to discover nothing had changed and they were outside their original timeline. However, Danger cryptically warns him not to be too sure. Time-travel stories are generally the worst, so I can't say I'm excited about the prospect of Bunn eventually ret-conning the previous attempt to address their status. It feels like cheating. I guess we'll see. In the meantime, 2099!
Also Read: Spider-Gwen #26; U.S.Avengers #12