Monday, December 16, 2013

More Crossover Debris:

Even though I'm the guy that loves a big, random pile of comics from the quarter bins, one of the hazards of such is getting pieces of a crossover, rather than the whole thing. Sometimes, that's enough to get the general idea. Like today's books!

We'll start with the conclusion of 1995's number-one consumer of neon green ink and the year's big crossover for DC, Underworld Unleashed #3, the cheekily-named "Seduction of the Innocent" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Howard Porter, inks by Dennis Janke. This was a couple of years before Porter's work on JLA, but right in the middle of Waid's run on Flash. And the Flash is among a small team of heroes fighting their way through hell, in an attempt to recover Superman from the devil Neron, as things go more and more insane on earth. Longtime Flash rogue the Trickster, James Jesse, is one of the few villains to encounter Neron and not end up losing his soul; but he realizes Neron's inability to resist a deal may be his downfall...

Waid uses Captain Marvel well here, but there's so much ground to cover. Admittedly, some of that may have been covered in tie-ins, so you could follow Mystek, Triumph, and Gypsy as they defend Paris against gargoyles, if you wanted, maybe. But Alan Scott (who was probably Sentinel then) is captured by Neron and imprisoned, then freed to fight...for about a panel and a half. I'm not even sure you see him get out of hell with the rest of the heroes. Major Disaster also appears a couple of times, in a somewhat confusing sequence since I didn't recognize his rather nondescript costume here, to represent the villains who sold their souls for power: they seem to have got away with it, unless Neron comes back for them.

I know I was reading at least a pile of DC books at the time, but aside from Mr. Freeze selling his soul in Batman #525, I don't recall any of the Underworld Unleashed tie-ins. But I do remember there being at least occasional reminders: Aquaman villain Ocean Master sold his soul for a magic trident, which had the side effect of causing him agonizing pain if he let go of it! That one was referenced in Grant Morrison's JLA, and the packaging of the recent Ocean Master figure!

On the other hand, we've got a couple issues of 2008's Salvation Run, namely #4 (where Gorilla Grodd brains Monsieur Mallah with, um, the Brain) and #7--with Luthor's hands covered in blood, there was also a similar Joker cover. Not having the whole thing and only being vaguely aware of when it was released, I had to wikipedia that a bit: apparently it was based on a George R.R. Martin pitch! But these two issues were written by Matthew Sturges with pencils by Sean Chen. Sick of rampant super-villain attacks, Amanda Waller arranges to have...somehow...a ton of villains captured by the Suicide Squad, then deported to an alien world. Possibly not the alien world they thought they were ditching them on, either...

As usual, the Flash's Rogues Gallery kicks ass.

There's some potential here: the Joker and Lex Luthor end up leading two "tribes," while Vandal Savage takes some girls with him and heads his own way--we'll just say the immortal Vandal is more interested in the long game. Deadshot gets double-crossed and ends up stranded with some of the villains he put on that planet. The Martian Manhunter is there, in disguise as Blockbuster, but Lady Vic suspects, and Catwoman knows...and while Lex is playing both reasonable-sounding businessman and mad scientist, the Joker has a bit less depth. After Grodd violently rejects an alliance with Monsieur Mallah and the Brain, killing them both, the Joker kicks a wounded Grodd off a cliff, since he doesn't want to share power.

That's kind of the failing of this series: some of the villains die for shock value, but they're villains, so you aren't going to have the same emotional attachment to them that you would to a hero; and the villains seemingly die every other encounter anyway. Other villains seem like they should die: when Grodd returns, Luthor has to talk him out of killing the Joker, on the grounds of needing all hands against an army of Parademons. (Grodd suggests a compromise, tearing off only one of the Joker's arms; but is sadly interrupted.)

In the end, Luthor saves the day, by building a space bridge back to earth...out of some of the lesser known villains, telepathically coerced into place by Gorilla Grodd. Luthor appreciates their sacrifice, even if he has no intention of letting anyone derail his plans with sympathy for his pawns. His speech to them points out the heroes were the bad guys on this one, dumping them all on this planet to die, even as he's a complete monster...

The book closes with the Martian Manhunter, surrounded by flames, and opposite a house ad for Final Crisis that asks "Where were you when the Martian Manhunter died?" Which wasn't here, even. I'm not up on my Final Crisis, so I'm hard-pressed to tell you what, if anything, from Salvation Run was ever touched upon again--except I remember Catwoman having a bit of a problem with Batman afterwards.


Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

I've gotta find that Salvation Run mini, cause it really seems to have some good scenes in it, especially the ones you mentioned.

The Underworld Unleashed was only good for the two twists at the end; Everyone thinking Neron was after Superman when it was really Captain Marvwl he was after, and The Trickster pwning Neron.
But I do have one of the tie-ins, an Aquaman issue w/Major Disaster, and Peter David definitely made clever use of the tie-in.

googum said...

That's not the one where Thanatos--guy looked like Aquaman, in his blue outfit, on a lot of steroids--finally gets to this dimension to kill Aquaman...only to immediately be shot and killed by Ocean Master?

Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

Yep, the very same one. I don't have issue to explain if it does, what happened. But yeah, that's the one;)