Friday, December 31, 2021

"The End" Week: D.P.7 #32!

The Transformers had more of a claim to the "# in a (blank) issue limited series" joke, since it began as one; but that didn't stop the New Universe titles from using it. From 1989, D.P.7 #32, "The Cure" Written and co-created by Mark Gruenwald, penciled and co-created by Paul Ryan, inks by Danny Bulandi.
Almost three years after the White Event that gave about 2 people in every million paranormal abilities, most of the seven that escaped from the Clinic in the first issue have settled into new lives in New York City. Paranormals were common knowledge now, with NYC having most of them; but today strongman David Landers is dismayed at the headline of a paranormal cure. He had been a normal man before growing about two feet and several hundred pounds of muscle, and wonders if he could get his long unrequited love Stephanie if he was cured. David did already have a girl, though, the water-absorbing Merri. So it's kind of a surprise when Stephanie and her kids show up at the group's loft: her healing powers made her sparkle, which had made her an obvious target for anti-paranormal sentiment. Merri sees her former teammate as a threat, to her domestic bliss with David.
Meanwhile, Charlotte wasn't having any luck with auditions, but does meet a handsome man who claims to have been at the Clinic as well; a telepath who could only read minds that were at least a mile away. The man does seem familiar, but she can't quite place him. And further downtown, at a mission for paranormals, the news of a possible cure is greeted with scorn and derision: their leader claims God doesn't make mistakes, and wanted them to be what they were. Scuzz, another of the original seven, isn't sure about that: the young man's acid touch kept him from, well, getting any, so you can understand his interest. The young girl he has his eye on, says it's a test of his faith. Local superhero Captain Manhattan and his partner, Chrome, visit the Cure (not that one!) to see if he was on the up-and-up: the Captain has no interest in giving up his powers, but Chrome used to be Jenny Swensen, Spitfire of her own New Universe title. She had been mutated from exposure to "Pitt juice" after the destruction of Pittsburg, which gave her metal skin, but left her in a predicament not unlike Scuzz's.
Merri tries to drive off Stephanie, which just sends David off to find her, and he's able to finally proclaim his love for her. Stephanie reciprocates, and Merri leaves with an angry note. Charlotte brings her date over, who is relieved that "Antibody" Randy O'Brien doesn't recognize him. Later, he has to confess to Stephanie his real name, which didn't mean much to her, she had known him by his derogatory nickname, Mutator: he took a new, and usually monstrous, form every twelve hours: when he finally got a handsome one, he wanted to spend the day with "the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." Mutator says he's going to see the Cure later, but admits his old self wasn't as good looking; tough break.
A surprising amount of people seem to be opposed to the Cure, claiming "God loved paranormals." I suppose it could be a different tune elsewhere in America...the Cure says it's no one's fault if they're sick and want help. He can't cure everyone today, but promises to stay in town until he helped everyone who wanted it, and cures Mutator and Merri. (Merri would occasionally gain a lot of water weight; she didn't particularly love her power.) Randy, who had been trapped inside of one of his antibodies, almost takes the Cure up on it, but doesn't want to harm the little antibodies he made, tiny flying versions of himself. Charlotte doesn't want to give up her friction powers: they didn't show, and she admits they had been handy sometimes. Jenny plans on it, although she thinks she will miss the Captain; but Scuzz acts like he wants it, then attacks the Cure with his acid.
Stephanie is able to heal the Cure, while Scuzz has lost his powers, but kept his weird culty peer group. Stephanie wonders about the missing two members of their original seven, tranquilizer Lenore and speedster Jeff (the latter would show up in the MCU years later!) and they head off for ice cream; a happy enough ending. 

Jeff may have shown up in the final real New Universe project, the War: they may have hoped to continue the NU in some format, but that was about it. Quasar would end up there in his series, there have been a few one-shots since; and Marvel seems bound and determined to keep trying to make the Star Brand happen, but still. I had a subscription when this was cancelled--it was far and away the best of the New Universe titles--but can't recall what Marvel offered as a replacement for the issues I had left in the sub. I wanna say Solo Avengers, and thinking about it again that might be right. I found a copy in the quarter bins just this afternoon, so thought I'd better squeeze it in.
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"The End" Week: the Shadow #25!

This may or may not count as a last issue; I kind of wish it didn't, since I could've used "Shadow of the Living Dead" for the post title. From 2014, the Shadow #25, written by Chris Roberson, art by Giovanni Timpano.
All of the set-up was probably done the previous issue, as we open with the Shadow's communications agent, Burbank, trying to puzzle out the horror: starting in Chinatown and spreading across the rest of New York, the unburied dead were rising to feed upon the living. The ghouls are even giving the Shadow trouble, partly because he doesn't seem to just be shooting them in the head, but is still putting like ten bullets in each one. He's forced to escape via autogyro, to try and come up with a plan.
The previous issue apparently began with the investigation of stolen laundry soap, which was the first step in the Tong's plan, to then use an "adulterated" soap filled with pufferfish poison to "kill" victims, who would return in a suggestible, controlled state. So, the Shadow probably gunned down some innocent victims, but he's an eggs/omelet kind of guy. Mobilizing an army of his operatives, the Shadow has the Tong's soap deliveries stopped, and the zombified victims treated and cured. A slug in the head of the Tong boss lady, and that's that. 

There was a #0 issue after this, but one of the covers of #25 has "Final Issue!" on it, so here we go. Next up from Dynamite would be the six-issue Midnight in Moscow, Howard Chaykin's return to the Shadow.
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"The End" Week: Robin #183!

Another book that I had been looking for, for quite some time: it had been on my old bingo cards for the comic shows. And yet I'm tearing into it before I even open it up: from 2009, Robin #183, featuring "Robin Dies at Dawn!" and "Origins & Omens" Both written by Fabian Nicieza, art by Freddie E. Williams II. 

OK, maybe I'm not getting it: I had thought the purpose of a crossover event, was to try and bring new readers to a title. People weren't maybe reading Book X, but if they want to see all of this storyline they'll have to check it out, and maybe they'll like what they see. This issue has the tags for both "Origins & Omens" and "Last Rites," and it's the last issue! This year, and over the course of "The End" week, we've seen a bunch of last issues where DC has done the exact same thing, and it just seems...wasteful? Pointless? Maybe they need to shore up the numbers at the end; it probably has made some of these easier to find, but still. 

Anyway, while I knew some of what happens this issue from Twitter, let me hold it up to my head Carnac-style and make some predictions: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Robin visits some supporting characters he, and the readers, are never gonna see again. Let's see: in a fancy hotel room, while she accepts the complimentary chocolates, Lady Shiva tells the maid no need to turn down the bed, she won't be sleeping, as she sends a note for Detective Harper to pass on to Robin, with the title on it, "Robin Dies at Dawn!" That's a little melodramatic for Shiva. There's also a caption about her recent time with the Birds of Prey, but Nicieza, and possibly Tim, don't seem to see her as anything but a hired killer. 

Robin's plate was already full, however: Batman was missing from Final Crisis and presumed dead, although I don't think Tim believed it (later, he may have at the time) and he had a new Anarky to deal with. He had also benched his long-time on-again-off-again girlfriend, Stephanie, from going into action as Spoiler. (I feel like Spoiler's treatment, through the entire run of the title, was kind of an issue, or at least conflicted? She was never, or rarely, treated as Tim's partner or equal; more like a problem for him to take care of.) And Jason Todd makes an appearance, to hear Bruce's last message for him. Tim doesn't care to hear what that message was, he knows Jason doesn't listen...
Tim breaks up with Zoanne, his current girlfriend, over the phone: this may be supposed to indicate he thought Shiva was going to kill him, but may have been because he felt he couldn't make the time for her that she deserved. He calls his pal Ives, and tries to call Stephanie, who doesn't answer: Tim had previously sworn he'd never be as cold and detached as Batman, but was there another way? Maybe: he meets Shiva for their showdown, and immediately gets three ribs broken--and knocks Shiva out? He tells the downed Shiva, he had to fight smarter: he had known she was coming, and poisoned the chocolates with a "heart-rate activated paralytic." It's kind of a cop out; and out of character for Shiva as well: she in no way resembles my preferred version, from the classic the Question appearances. Feh. 

Nightwing had been there in case things had escalated, and tells Tim they're going to be okay. Tim agrees, since he figures somebody would be wearing the Bat-cowl soon enough. The closing narration makes it seem like he was going to continue for some time to come, but not so fast: with Damien taking the Robin role, Tim would be shifted over to Red Robin later. He's never had the same level of success, though; but at least naming him 'Drake' didn't stick.
Also this issue: creepy former Guardian of the Universe Scar reads a Robin story from the Book of the Black--kind of an analog to the Book of Oa framing device that used to be used to tell Tales of the Green Lantern Corps. Robin goes after the Obeah Man, who murdered his mother back in Detective #621. Obeah had "greased some palms" to get out of prison; when Robin goes after him he gets the traditional visions of his fallen parents (he had lost the other one since then) but since this was a six-pager, shrugs his tricks off pretty quickly, to have him put back into jail for ever. Does Scar get something out of that? We see a brief glimpse of what may be to come, with Ra's al Ghul, Anarky, and a fully-masked gun-toting Batman.

Well, I may have been partially correct: that was it for Zoanne, but Ives would appear at least one more time in Tim's Red Robin book. Detective Harper got traded over to the Superman books and may have been in the New Krypton/Mon-El storylines before disappearing. I think Stephanie is in the current Batgirls book, but I'm not sure Tim is in anything? Was Young Justice still going? Kinda feel like he's been pushed aside, squeezed on both sides, by Jason as the gunslinging antihero, and Damien as the cute one. Maybe it's tougher to write Tim: he's always been a bit more cerebral, trying to use his head as much as his fists, if not more. Even Dick goes off halfcocked more than he does; so it's probably harder to put him in fixes. Still, there's "working smarter" and then there's "cheating in a completely anticlimactic fashion."
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"The End" Week: Alpha Flight #130!

A little bit of time left in the year, so let's see if I can knock out another couple looks at another couple last issues. From 1994, Alpha Flight #130, "No Future, part 3 of 3: the Hollow Man!" Written by Simon Furman, pencils by Dario Carrasco, inks by Ian Akin and Frank Turner.
I know I had read a bit of Alpha Flight back in the Byrne days, then some around issue #100, where I legitimately forgot 'Mac' Hudson sacrificed himself. Seriously, I blogged that issue, but until I went back and looked I thought he was just MIA, not presumed dead. Anyway, he's back today, seemingly bleached of all color and the pawn of the Master, who explains he convinced Mac that mankind was doomed and didn't need a Guardian, but an Antiguard. Could've workshopped the name a bit more, Master, but whatever. Alpha Flight had, apparently collectively, having premonitions of their deaths; and Antiguard and Omega Flight could be the cause. (I did have to look it up, because the name "Omega Flight" had been used more than once, and I thought it was originally the cadets or trainees for Alpha. No, that was Beta Flight; I had thought there was a couple tiers of trainees. Wait a second...)
The fight doesn't go well for Alpha, since they thought they had already seen their defeat; but that was not the intended effect of the premonition: it had been the sending of another of Alpha's old villains, the Dreamqueen, who did not want the Master's "sterile" and dreary future to come to pass. She sends dreams to some of the heroes: Puck sees Heather in danger, and himself riding in like a knight to save her; Heather sees the future of Canada if they fail; Sasquatch sees all the lab work and discoveries he'd never get to make. (As I scanned it, Puck's dream seemed really parochial, seeing Heather as something to be saved; while she has to sweat the future of all of Canada; but Puck was much older than he appeared, and probably a bit conservative on that front. Not quite 'get in the kitchen and make me a sammich' but I suspect he had to work at it.) Others, like Northstar and Aurora, seem to rally themselves; Northstar because he's contrary as all get out, Aurora because she enjoyed her life and wasn't willing to let it go. Alpha turns the tide, until the Master gets in there, taking down Sasquatch, Wildheart (the former Wild Child, Age of Apocalypse fans) and Shaman easily. Better call in the reserves then, as Beta Flight makes a go at it: they had beat him in a previous issue, although they had been Gamma Flight then: it's nice the Master knew about their promotion and addresses them accordingly.
Finally, Heather gets through to Mac, who turns on the Master, which a speech I hope letterer Janice Chiang got a bonus for. It's not brief...the Master seemingly lets himself be killed; Mac says he had been tired of his long life. Of course he would return; I think next in Busiek's Avengers run. Alpha Flight is triumphant...for about a page, before their operations are suspended by the Canadian government, who wants to bench them until the heat goes down from an earlier issue's outcry. An injured Northstar storms off, tearing off the government's colors; he had a limited series to get to. But for now, Alpha Flight's story was over: they've had, what, maybe three series since? Not even counting Omega Flight or anything.

Bad day for the mid-tier titles: looking at the checklist, Sleepwalker was cancelled that same month. No promises, but I'm 90% sure I have that somewhere...
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"The End" Week: Red Lanterns #40!

I've written a few of these posts just this week, and it seems to be a DC-heavy year, and I've been a little down on Hal Jordan. I don't necessarily mind him, but I don't think he has to be front and center in every GL-thing across the board. Then again, when he's not they get cancelled, I guess? From 2015, Red Lanterns #40, "Hope" Written by Landry Q. Walker, art by J. Calafiore.
Red Lanterns was the book for the rage-powered corps, which had the potential to be one-dimensional villains, dumb as hell; but sometimes posed interesting questions, like how long should you stay mad? How long can you stay mad? Is pissed off and vomiting rage-blood any way to live? Atrocitus--who was probably the closest to a one-dimensional villain--and angry kitty Dex-Starr were probably the best known Reds, but about two years into the run Guy Gardner got a red ring during the "Lights Out" crossover, and would remain the lead for the rest of the series. (Supergirl would also get a red ring around #28, but wouldn't stick around long.)
In the aftermath of Atrocitus attacking earth, Guy makes a startling confession: that he was colorblind, could barely tell them apart. Come on, that's a big revelation to bury in the last issue! Guy has coffee with his sister Gloria and his nephew, but was pretty burned out: he had been absorbing red rage energy, from those infected by Atrocitus, although I kinda feel like there mighta been some rage on earth already. Since he didn't think he was going to be able to hold it back much longer, Guy transports them to a lifepod he had set up in orbit, as the Red Lantern logo flashes over the surface of the earth, almost a warning to the rest of space. Gloria calls him back from space, pissed, arguing that trying to absorb the whole planet's rage wasn't working, so he was going to have to try something else. Like helping.
Guy releases all that rage skyward, but it's tainted blue, the color of hope, because of his humanity. The red ring is seemingly inert, and afterwards Guy returns to his more traditional clean-shaven look, although not quite his JLI-days bowlcut. He may not have had a ring right that second, but it doubtless wouldn't be long; although it would probably have to wait until after the Convergence crossover. 

I don't know if there are Red Lanterns in current DC continuity--probably Dex-Starr, he's a fan-favorite, and maybe the only Red I have an action figure of! There was a DC Direct figure of Guy as a Red (eBay link that will probably go bad) but I think his red-construct chainsaw accessory may have been fragile, the uniform's paint didn't seem very crisp, and the head sculpt was from before he went with a more biker-look, longer hair and mustache. Don't break the bank, then. 
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Thursday, December 30, 2021

"The End" Week: Star Trek #60!

Sixty issues would be five years for a monthly comic, so I guess their five-year mission was over? From 2016, Star Trek #60, "Connection, part 2 of 2" Written by Mike Johnson, art by Tony Shasteen.
This was IDW's "Kelvin" continuity comic, or the one based on the last two or three movies. (Three: Star Trek Beyond was probably still in theaters when this issue came out. I really liked that one...) Today, a space anomaly is causing the main crew of young movie Enterprise to swap minds with classic original series Enterprise. Despite the swaps, the crews on both ships work to solve the problem, free the living anomaly, and get back where they should be. There's no deep reason for it, it's just fun.
Movie Uhura has to ask if her counterpart gave Spock the eye; and maybe isn't completely convinced when he says it wasn't like that. Classic Kirk has a bit of fun with Bones, ribbing him that his counterpart was in great shape. (I was going to say "and significantly younger," but DeForest Kelley was in his late forties when the original series filmed, and Karl Urban was maybe 44 in the last movie.) Both Kirks are left with some data from the other's universe, which they mark as classified...but still peek at. 

Sadly, the issue closes with a tribute to Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov; he had been killed in an accident in June 2016.
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"The End" Week: Doctor Doom #10!

You know what sounds like a great way to get killed? Telling Doctor Doom he's wrong about something. Even Doom himself can't get away with that! From 2021, Doctor Doom #10, "Bedford Falls" Written by Christopher Cantwell, art by Salvador Larroca. 

The neighboring Symkarians had framed Doom for murder, which also involved opening a black hole: Blue Marvel had already gotten sucked into it, then when Reed Richards makes Doom doubt himself, a massive explosion ensues. Somewhat battered, Doom awakens in a green field, with local Latverian birds overhead, as a helicopter arrives, and a familiar face gets off: Doom, unmasked and casual. This was an alternate reality, that he had been having visions of. But, discussing it with alt-Doom, Doom realizes his reality was the nightmare, alt-Doom's a pleasant dream. Also, after a talk with Blue Marvel: Dr. Octavius (Doc Ock) was a "limited moron" in both realities.

Doom has to admit, seeing alt-Doom's life had shown him the errors of his own. Alt-Doom thinks that's a good first step, but has more to show him: his (relatively) humble home, and family. Alt-Doom's wife suggests that may not be a good idea, and that Doom's ambition is a constant in any reality. Alt-Doom wants to hammer home the idea that it's not all about Doom; showing him co-operation with alien worlds, and power objects like the Darkhold, Cosmic Cube, and Ultimate Nullifer collected for mutual disarmament. Doom still thinks his counterpart deserves some credit; which is humbly deflected. 

Alt-Doom keeps working on Doom, pointing out Doom could fix his face if he wanted to, but he chooses not to, "to show how humanity has wronged you...betrayed you." He has to forgive, everyone, but especially Richards: with his Richards, alt-Doom had turned his world into a paradise. Then alt-Doom goes a step too far, and badmouths the armor, as "ridiculous." 

Tut-tutting threats and violence as...well, we'll never know, Doom murders his alternate before we can find out. Before Blue Marvel can stop him, Doom has that universe's Ultimate Nullifier, and he destroys it. All of it. Without a trace of sympathy or pity. As Death herself had foretold, Doom becomes her greatest servant.

Often the Nullifer will destroy whoever attempts to use it, but with Doom's extraordinary focus he is simply able to return to his throne in Latveria. Almost as an afterthought, he leaves Blue Marvel in an ocean somewhere, "the last act of mercy I will ever show in my life." After ordering an imprisoned journalist executed, Doom is visited by Kang, like the ghost of Christmas future, who seems to assume Doom had his mojo back. And sure enough, he would be once again after the Fantastic Four: I wrote this after his "wedding" was announced, but haven't read any of that yet.
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"The End" Week: Goofy Adventures #17!

OK, here's another one absolutely yanked from the quarter bin because it said "Final Issue!" on it; although I might have paid more attention if some creators had gotten some billing! From 1991, Goofy Adventures #17, featuring "Back in Time!" (Per the GCD, written by Donne Avenell, art by Antonio Bancells Pujadas.) "Goofy the Kid Rides Agin" (Plot by Joel Katz, script by Jack Sutter, art by Tello.)
The first two stories this issue are pretty routine Goofy numbers: in the first, Mickey and Goofy accidentally fire up Professor Chronolapse's time machine, travel back to prehistoric times, and destroy history in a causality loop. (OK, not really, they meet and help out their cave-people ancestors...that don't really resemble Mickey or Goofy? That's just confusing.) Then a western number, where Goofy helps his farmer uncle against cattlemen.
But the last story, "Tomb of Goofula," is just a little bit of fluff with Goofy as Dracula...from Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer; the long-running team of Tomb of Dracula! This Disney line was edited by Len Wein, which might explain how that came together. Great, but it's kind of like getting the band back together, and they play one song on toy instruments then split. (Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror comic was only able to get Wolfman and Colan for "The Sub-Basement of Dracula!" in 2005!)

Goofy also writes the farewell letters column, telling readers thanks, thanking his writers and artists, and that he had a new lead role in the upcoming cartoon, Goof Troop. 78 episodes and two movies! Hope he saved some of his money, the last thing I saw him in was that Simpsons short, Plusaversary, and...I don't think it was well-received, let's say.

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"The End" Week: Avengers Arena #18!

We mentioned before in our strip with Arcade that his track record had been pretty bad, up to this series; and today might be his high point. From 2013 early 2014, Avengers Arena #18, "Boss Level, part 5 of 5" Credits per the GCD: written by Dennis "Hopeless" Hallum (credited as Dennis Hopeless), pencils by Kevin Walker (credited as Kev Walker), inks by Kevin Walker and Jason Gorder.
Murder World--that's a misnomer, it's really an island--had started with sixteen young heroes forced to fight to the death, and five were down as we enter the endgame. Apex, Death Locket, and Chris Powell (Darkhawk, without his amulet and powers) had nearly cornered Arcade, but he teleported out, then convinced Apex that she was this close to winning this thing, and if she did she could set the narrative. With Chris down and Death Locket under her control, Apex turns Murder World's weapons on the remaining heroes, many of whom were fighting each other on the beach. Hazmat lost control of her powers and was going to blow, but Reptil scoops her into the ocean, saving the others.
As Arcade's weapons prepare to swarm the remaining heroes, Apex tells Death Locket she will be sad to sacrifice her, her "favorite toy," which sparks DL to fight back. That gives Apex's other personality, Tim, the chance to take over, and he begs Death Locket to kill him before his sister Katy kills everyone, and as the weapons shut down on the beach, you can see she did. Now the survivors are left with one order of business: getting their stories straight. This probably isn't a great idea, but understandable: the kids didn't think they would be blamed for any of Arcade's evil crap, but didn't want to be turned into a story, either.
On day 30 of Murder World, the surviving heroes (including Hazmat and probably Reptil, and Chris gets his amulet back) are rescued by S.H.I.E.L.D. and some of the heroes whose schools they had been abducted from, like Wolverine and Captain Britain. But while the kids keep quiet, that leaves the door open for speculation, and manipulation; as Arcade posts "Murder World truther" style videos, to discredit the heroes that let the kids down. There may be a grain of truth in that, but still. 

"Murder World" is spelled with a space throughout this issue; I'm used to it being "Murderworld." Like Westworld! Hopeless finishes the issue with a text feature, how he wanted to do a superhero school title, with maybe a school vs. school tournament around the third story arc, but Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso said no, go with that. There would be more though, as Avengers Undercover was next. This was a fun series, even if I feel like it did Darkhawk dirty: he's like the 23-year-old that has to sit at the little kids' table for holiday dinner, and the kids all think there must be something wrong with him, otherwise why would he be at the kids' table?
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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

"The End" Week: The Shadow #19!

I'll buy a last issue whenever I come across it in the bins, even if a lot of times I don't necessarily think I'll use it in this feature. I know I have the last issue of the Exterminators in the box, and it probably won't get blogged unless it gets turned into a series or something. (So, never?) And then sometimes Bully brings up an issue, and of course I've gotta go dig it up...! From 1989, the Shadow #19, "Body and Soul, part 6: Full Metal Shadow" Written by Andy Helfer, art by Kyle Baker.
The Shadow was dead, and had been since the end of the last storyline, when one of his agents had perhaps misguidedly tried to save a murderer that had saved him, and said murderer poisoned the Shadow. While his agents struggled to find purpose and guidance without their 'Master,' the Shadow's sons Hsu Tei and Chang brought his body back to the hidden city of Shamballa...after a series of misadventures, wherein they lost the rest of his body and only had the head left. (While the boys had some training, they were nowhere near as intense as their father; and were usually shown as good-natured slackers perhaps a bit too enamored with Western culture.) Still, no harm done: the scientist Rudra cheerfully tells the Shadow he'll be back on his cloned feet in a few weeks. But, they might have a prototype cyborg around here somewhere, left by a specialist that had left to find his fortune in the west...
Hsi Tei and Chang are feeling a little guilty about their perceived failures--their father's ring was also stolen out from under them--but they did manage to save a number of children, from a town called Malice. (I didn't hear this song until maybe the last year or so, but that had to be a reference to the Jam!) Malice was an enclave of criminals and cheats, but their innocent children were finding a new home in Shambala and learning to function as productive members of society. Except for maybe advanced troublemaker Bart...  
While picking up a new hat, the Shadow lets the kids know they need to finish their training, they weren't ready to tackle crime-fighting. But crime was ready to tackle Shambala, as the citizens of Malice attack, and make a mess of the much-vaunted 'paladins." The Shadow has Rudra put his head on the prototype cyborg, which is jam-packed with weapons, and he makes quick work of Malice's citizens. Later, he leaves his sons, to train and protect Shambala, as the new breed of paladins; while taking his new armored body, new anti-grav ride, and new driver--Bart--back to New York City. Meanwhile, back in the city, the aforementioned cybernetic specialist has just made a sale--to the Shadow's old, and presumed dead, enemy, Shiwan Khan!
Is some of this issue a little silly? Probably! There's the return of a running gag about "no post offices in Shamballa," for one. The Shadow's hat shopping is delightfully insane as well. I really feel like Helfer and Baker might have been trying to make a book interesting to them, but the licensors may not have been fond of it, and may have pulled the plug. I don't think they minded a modern Shadow, but they might've preferred a more traditional action book in the vein of the Punisher, maybe. Oddly, the checklist in this very issue lists the Shadow #20, which would never happen. 

But they must have made up: less than a year later, DC would have a new series for him, the Shadow Strikes! It was a period piece and probably much more traditional. (It will also almost certainly never be reprinted because of the writer, and we will not feature it here.) Helfer would continue to edit a number of books, Baker went on to a ton of cool things, and the Shadow has returned more than once. So, all's swell that ends swell...unless you were holding out to see Robo-Shadow vs. Cyber-Khan.
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"The End" Week: Team Titans #24!

This was purchased specifically for "The End" week, but also seems to be a great example of this year's unintended theme: it's a Zero Hour crossover, basically an invitation for new readers to check out the title, which is now cancelled, sorry. From 1994, Team Titans #24, "All Good Things..." Written by Jeffrey Jensen and Phil Jimenez, pencils by Nigel Tully, inks by Andrew Pepoy, Rus Sever, and Dan Davis. Cover by the series' previous regular artist, Terry Dodson, who I had hoped to see here. And some stones using that title, just a few months after the Next Generation finale did!
Going into this one, about the only thing I knew about Team Titans was its first issue had five variants, with a different back-up story and cover for each, but the same lead story. That crossed a line from 'gimmick' to 'scam.' Anyway, the Team's deal was they were from a possible future, ruled by Lord Chaos, and had travelled back in time to try and stop him from getting power. (Chaos was Donna Troy and Terry Long's son, so of course he was an abomination...) Or were they? A shadowy figure does a lot of monologuing and evil laughing; it's Hank Hall again, Monarch! This issue would continue in Zero Hour, where the Team Titans' possible future was erased or never formed, so the last twenty-some issues are kind of moot, then.
There may have been a few, regular Teen Titans in this issue, though; like Bumblebee, Malcolm, and Aqualad. The Terra here I think was from the alternate future, but she has turned up here and there since. Along with the usual Team Titans, there were a ton of others like the Human Mystery, Hellebore, Murder Master, and Green. Good luck finding anything on them anywhere! A lot of them seemed like the usual 90's pick-a-noun-that-hadn't-been-used-before heroes--there's a Battalion in here somewhere--but Human Mystery almost feels like a Golden Age oddball trying for a revival.

Anyway, there's a Studio 54 cameo, and a particularly hapless hero gets eaten by a pterodactyl off of the Space Needle, neither of which are as fun as you'd hope.
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"The End" Week: The Demon #58!

I haven't been a fan of McFarlane Toys DC figures, but I did get lured back in for their spin on the Demon: I probably could've waited for it to go half-off. But I'd been looking for this issue for some time, and good news: possibly thanks to some friendly encouragement, I think this has been reprinted! From 1995, the Demon #58, "The Longest Day, part 4" Written by Garth Ennis, art by John McCrea.
The angels are winning the war in Hell, as Etrigan and his forces are down to their final stand, unless they can find the Horned Crown. Etrigan goes back for one of his troops, the minotaur Morax; only to find his head, severed by the angels' leader, Karrien. While Etrigan (who seems to have foregone pants for most of this issue...) gets him with "your shoelace is undone," Karrien cuts the Demon up, since he has "right" on his side, and throws the body into a pit.
Dying, Etrigan is visited by Morax, either the ghost of his head, or a dying hallucination, but that gives him the strength to get up. He then nearly breaks his foot on something while cursing Karrien...namely, the lost Crown of Horns! Etrigan returns to the fight, restored and stronger than ever, but also now aware that maybe Karrien didn't have right--or 'God'--on his side; the angel may have been acting without sanction. Etrigan tears him up, then seemingly offers forgiveness...nah!
With the battle over, Etrigan drops the crown, and walks away; leaving the remaining denizens of Hell to consider who should take it. The concensus is ruling Hell would be a colossal pain in the ass and only a goddamned lunatic would even consider it...enter Baytor, with an extended Ren & Stimpy riff that may have been his only dialog besides "I am Baytor" ever! Hell seems more than happy with King Baytor, especially when he vomits and kills the remaining angels. Etrigan knows, though: "No future lies in ruling Hell...that's a lesson I learned well." But the last three pages are a thank-you from Etrigan, to Jack Kirby and the creators that followed him in presenting his adventures. In rhyme!
The Demon has of course returned multiple times since this. Books like this are why! Read more!

"The End" Week: Green Lantern #181!

Perhaps ironically, Green Lantern was the book that first made me consider this question: how long can you hold a grudge in a superhero universe? After somebody's been killed and reborn (and killed and reborn and killed and reborn like six more times over, in today's case) should you still be mad they killed your girlfriend/sidekick/town/whatever? Also, a dispirited young hero, weary of the burden of the cosmic legacy he had carried his entire series, pisses off into space to keep his loved ones safe in his last issue? I've seen that before! From 2004, Green Lantern #181, "Homecoming? Part six" Written by Ron Marz, pencils by Luke Ross, inks by Rodney Ramos.
Kyle Rayner's first writer is back, to wrap up his series, but I'm not sure how much of this rings true with how Kyle had developed over ten years. It's a rematch with Major Force, who infamously killed Kyle's girlfriend Alex, and may have just killed his mom to boot. Kyle is ready to kill Force, who is completely unconcerned. Not because the hero doesn't have it in him, as traditional, but Force doesn't think he can. He had returned from the dead so many times he couldn't even remember how many funerals he'd had.
Major Force tries a different tactic than the usual punch-'em-up, though: why does Kyle want the ring? What good has it ever done him? Force also admits, he didn't kill Kyle's mom, that was a mannequin planted to stir him up, but it could've been her. Force argues, a free agent shouldn't have to "bear the burden" of the ring; and Kyle--who I'm guessing was pretty depressed going into this one--agrees, and gives up the ring! Which is ridiculously goddamn stupid. How anyone could get psyched out by a purple steroid freak...
With the ring in hand, Force makes an offhand remark, that "they," presumably black ops, will find somebody up to the job. Which sparks something in Kyle: hadn't he proved he was up to the job? Over, and over, and over again? When Force won't give the ring back, Kyle stabs him in the eye with a shard of glass from their earlier fight. He recovers the ring, knocks Force into space, beats the tar out of him (with his ring, sure) and brands a Lantern-logo on his chest to give him something to think about. But that's just starters! Maybe Force can't die, but Kyle decapitates him, seals him up in a bubble, and swats him into space to drift forever...or not quite two years, Major Force would be back in 2006's Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven #5, versus the returned Hal Jordan.
Yes, this was Kyle's last issue, since the Hal Jordan train was starting again: Green Lantern: Rebirth was a month away. Kyle takes off into space, to protect his loved ones, but also in search of something new. Hopefully, a new outfit; I didn't like this one, and while I think the stubble was supposed to indicate inner turmoil, I kind of hate it for him. But he's of course stuck around over the years, even when the focus is off him; my favorite might be the absolutely brutal the Omega Men. Read more!