Your Home for Toy News and Action Figure Discussion!

The Non-Marvel Action Hour – 8/20/8

New Wonder Woman, middle-aged Peacemaker, Freshmen, Sonambulo, Usagi Yojimbo, and Young Justice.

Employee’s Pick

Young Justice 32

[DC] Young Justice #32-37
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Todd Nauck

Young Justice’s two newest members, Empress and Li’l Lobo, go on a date. Hilarity ensues. Hilarity and exposition, in the form of Empress’ origin story. The team’s most mysterious member ceases to be an enigma, while with the aid of hypnosis, we see a side of Lobo that hadn’t previously existed. The Top Teen’s kind of a softie… maybe… a little… And Empress reveals her one character flaw: longwinded speechifying.


Empress and Cissie bond after the latter lands a part on everyone’s favorite TV show, Wendy the Werewolf Stalker. I love how David keeps finding ways to use Cissie after she gives up being Arrowette; an Olympic-class archer is a perfect fit for a show where the main character hunts werewolves with a crossbow. Another Olympic-class archer, now a werewolf himself, disagrees. Seems he and his pack are upset about the portrayal of werewolves on the show, and Werearcher is peeved at Cissie for beating him in the Games, so they’re out to kill Wendy. Because, y’know, trying to kill the Werewolf Stalker is something the show’s werewolves have never done. Maybe they’re mad because the wolves lose? I’m leaning toward "they’re idiots" myself. At any rate, all this drama forces Cissie into situations where firing arrows would be prudent, ‘cept she’s still not over the incident that made her give up crimefighting. Makes me wonder if David planned to bring her back onto the team at some point, or if he was merely easing her out of the superhero lifestyle. It certainly wasn’t an easy change. As great as it is that she finds other pursuits in life, it’s hard to watch her nearly get killed by indecision. Maybe if she took up trick arrows, or a different weapon? She’s displayed incredible accuracy with a variety of thrown weapons. She could fight crime with boomerangs, even.

There was that other problem, though, about not wanting to inspire people to become superheroes themselves. Too many teen heroes leads to someone being careless and getting killed. You might say fighting werewolves on a popular TV show does the same thing, but there’s a big difference between acting out a fantasy that people watch on a magical picture box and beating up real bad guys right in front of them.

Bart helped.

Crossover break. Our Worlds, apparently, are At War, and… Lex Luthor? Luthor’s gathering all the heroes together? Uh… Okay… Oh, right, this is when Luthor was president. Yeah… So YJ get drafted, but not as soldiers. Since they’re kids, they get attached to a medical unit. Search and rescue, aid for the combatants. And Cissie’s there! As a medic. Seems she knows first aid and a bit more. They wind up on Apokolips, surrounded by parademons. Lobo comes to the rescue, but he’s not the Main Man he used to be. Lobo is killed, and the rest of Young Justice are taken captive by Granny Goodness.

Robin and friends are tortured, all except Secret, whom Doug Side butters up with ice cream. Doug wants to unlock Secret’s vast potential for evil, but she’s not digging it. She runs, YJ escape, and just when they’re all about to be recaptured, Lobo returns. Much like Bebe’s Kids, Lobo doesn’t die, he multiplies. Where once there was one Top Teen, now there is an army. Next: Slo-bo.

New-Type Books

Wonder Woman 23

[DC] Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #23
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Aaron Lopresti

The four-part saga, Ends of the Earth, concludes as Wonder Woman battles the demon D’Grth on Earth. Simone would have us think Wonder Woman has been dramatically altered. Certainly her spirit has, though she remains surprisingly compassionate for someone with no soul. Her appearance, however, does nothing to warrant a reporter’s description of her as "someone who looks like she might be Wonder Woman." She looks exactly like Wonder Woman, aside from the red eyes she got from Stalker and Claw the Unconquered’s unintended gift of… a claw. Which is covered by a gauntlet. So, Wondy with one gauntlet and red eyes. She also has a red bandana on one arm, the standard of her patron, Kane. Will that get her weird looks after this is over? Not likely. It’s a far cry from the truly monstrous appearance she’s taken on in Final Crisis.

Like that, this change fades away as the story ends, and I’m happy for it. It’s good to see Wondy wrestle with demons inside and out, having adventures she won’t soon forget, if ever. Simone sold it well as a permanent change, too, making me think Wondy might be forever changed, if only in some small way. She is in the sense that anyone is changed by their experiences, but she hasn’t been saddled with a demon claw or any less of a soul, any less compassion than she had before. She remains, as ever, Wonder Woman.


Back at Diana’s apartment, Tresser and the gorillas kiss and make up, and Donna Troy drops by to be awesome. I hope she’s going to be a regular cast member. Between her, Etta Candy, and the battle gorillas, (and Nemesis, kinda) this book’s going some way toward rivaling the stellar supporting cast from Greg Rucka’s run. Adding Cassie "Wonder Girl" Sandsmark would help. Also, I’m prepared to accept any excuse to get resident gourmet chef and Kithotaur, Ferdinand, back in Diana’s life. She eats, right? Someone has to cook. Ferdinand cooks. It’s so obvious!

And oh, the art. There’s one panel where Donna reaches back, not looking, with one hand to restrain one of the gorillas. She’s both gentle and firm in her speech and mannerisms, and Lopresti captures this perfectly. The writer and artist seem to be on the same page at all times. I’m not so sure about the colorist, though. Either Tolifhar, the leader of the gorillas who has one red eye and one blind eye, is also known as Rhanda, or Rhanda is another gorilla’s name and he was mistakenly given Tolifhar’s eyes in one panel. I’m guessing the latter, since that panel has the blind eye focusing in the same spot as the red one, where in another panel, Tolifhar is shown to have one eye whose pupil doesn’t follow where he looks. I thought he merely had different-colored eyes when he was introduced, but now I’m pretty sure he’s meant to have lost the sight in one eye in some battle from the distant past. They’ve been sedentary for most of the series, but these guys were and are warriors.

Back Issues

Peacemaker Vol. 2 #1

[DC] Peacemaker Vol. 2 #1
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Penciler: Tod Smith

DC must have found Peacemaker’s slogan as ridiculous as I do, because once they brought him into their universe from Charlton’s, they decided he had to be mentally unhinged. Peacemaker, aka Christopher Smith, gets a whole new origin here. His father ran a concentration camp in WWII, and when word of his nazi past got out, dear old dad shot himself right in front of five-year-old Chris. This proved predictably traumatic, leading to a troubled youth and, later, hallucinations. Smith is "modernized" by having his backstory tied to the Vietnam Conflict/Police Action/Scuffle, committing war crimes of his own before becoming The Peacemaker. He’s not mincing words anymore, either; his new battle cry is "I’ll kill to keep the peace!"

Like the old Peacemaker, this is so bad that it’s entertaining in unintended ways. Only sporadically, though, I’m afraid. Most of it’s just dull; walls of text and stiff, pseudorealistic art. The slipshod editing doesn’t help. Kupperberg mixes up lead and led – a common mistake, but annoying as any – and another gaffe doesn’t take a grammarian to spot. The evil Dr. Tzin-Tzin Medicine Woman captures a spy whom he’s told hails from East Germany. One page later, the spy is West German, and nobody bats a lash. Somewhere in there is a plot about fighting terrorists, who break up a peace conference because… they’re terrorists. It’s their nature.


[Ninth Circle] Sonambulo #1
Writer/Artist: Rafael Navarro

It’s tempting to pick up crazy-looking indy books like this whenever I see them, but too often a comic has a small publisher for a reason. The writing here’s terrible. Flat dialogue, a bizarre hatred of commas, and a stock noir plot. All it has going for it is the gimmick: Sonambulo is a former pro wrestler turned private detective who wears his luchador mask at all times and can force people to tell him their dreams by giving them a menacing glare and saying "Tell me your dreams!" So, yeah, that’s his catch phrase. I can’t bring myself to hate it… it’s not the sort of thing that inspires strong feelings. It’s just blah.

Freshmen II 1

[Top Cow/Image] Freshmen Vol. 2 #1
Writer: Hugh Sterbakov
Penciler: Will Conrad

By Seth Green! Except not. I guess he had ideas or something. I don’t know if Green’s any kind of writer, but I was disappointed to learn his name was on this mostly for show. A bunch of college freshmen got superpowers. Some useless, some gross, some pretty cool. They formed a team to fight… Well, no one this issue. It’s all setup and bickering. Yay or something.


Usagi Yojimbo Book Five

[Fantagraphics] Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 5
Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai

There are two Usagis. There’s Continuity Usagi, whom we saw in volume four, and there’s Adaptation Usagi, whom Sakai trots out to star in adaptations of old samurai stories. Miyamoto Usagi’s namesake, Miyamoto Musashi, starred in many such stories, so it makes sense. Usagi’s life is patterned after Musashi’s. I don’t know enough to tell which parts, in continuity or not, are based on true (or "true") events, but I can tell when the overarching story is left behind in favor of filler. Usagi’s supporting cast disappears, and he becomes surlier than usual. He might become a different person entirely, so that the real Usagi wouldn’t recognize him. These stories tend to be less enjoyable than the sort found in volume four, though volume five doesn’t suffer as sharp a decline as volume six.

The first tale is obvious filler[s]bunny[/s]. It’s tangentially tied to continuity, as Usagi is hired by the widow of a samurai from the Geishu clan, Usagi’s favorite clan, home of two good friends. She wants her dead husband’s swords back, and a ronin’s gotta eat, so off Usagi goes. Doesn’t take him long to find them, in the hands of the poor guy’s poor secret lover. Usagi plays the "rar! I’m a samurai!" card, and shows little interest in anything save completing his mission. He’s not completely out of character, but more jerkish than normal.

Then we learn all about kitemaking! Yay, edutainment! S’pretty cool; ancient kitemaking was tough. Chopping down bamboo, standing in ice cold water to wash the kite paper… Not a job I’d want. Our kitemaker is trying to make the biggest kite ever, ’cause hey, gotta aspire to something. Nearby, some crooked gamblers are fleecing people of their wages, until Usagi steps in and reveals their loaded dice. All the gamblers, even the "honest" ones, get run out of town, and Usagi gets blamed. Cue chase scene, right into the kite-flying fields. As Charlie Brown would say, "AAUUGH!"

The third story ties into the overarching plot, though it lacks any of Usagi’s friends. Instead, we get his enemies, as Lord Hebi hires ninja bats to replace the ninja cats he once employed, who won’t be happy about this development. Said bats surround a town that Usagi happens upon, holding it hostage to keep their planned attack on a gold shipment secret. A pitched battle ensues, as half of the bat clan attack the village, seeking to silence them forever.

The fourth story has Usagi meet a famous retired general, who turns out to be dying. As he has several times before, Usagi ends up in a duel to the death with an honorable foe because something something macho bushido. Then we get a Lone Wolf and Cub homage, as Usagi meets Lone Goat and Kid. Naturally, he tries to kill the assassin-for-hire, after Lone Goat is misled into attacking Usagi by duplicitous lords.


Young Justice – Protip: Werewolves are vulnerable to Nair.
Wonder Woman – I love this book. I love it to pieces.
Peacemaker – Kill for peace!
Sonambulo – Tell him your dreams! Or, you know, don’t. That works, too.
Freshmen – Not as bad as some people say it is, but y’know, whatever.
Usagi Yojimbo – Not as awesomely epic as last volume, but still good.

Additional Links