Monday, December 23, 2013

The Senses-Shattering Saga of the Metal Men! Part 16!

Whoomp-whoomp! More Metal Men action comin' atcha! This is a Platinum focused issue (though you could argue most of them are, she seems to get the plot going more than half the time), again centered around her romantic foibles in re: Doc.

I sort of wanted to skip this one based on the cover, I didn't think there was anything too interesting about it, and then I turned the page and remembered why I was doing this in the first place. Oh, and let's not dwell on the obvious implications of Doc desiring a hot robot woman.

This is probably the most straightforward first-page splash in Metal Men history, and that's a pretty stiff competition. The whole "marriage" element is a little silly -- it's as if Platinum thinks any ceremony without a minister/judge/ship's captain/mayor/Elvis is at all legally binding. Anyway, a familiar scene as the issue starts out: Doc is hanging out with a hot woman, Platinum goes bananas and scares her off.

The other Metal Men follow the seething Platinum, and they see a bunch of Air Force planes stuck in a giant spider web. God, the tonal shifts in this comic can give a guy whiplash.

"The million Mongolian mysteries" is certainly a new one, and I sort of hope that phrase actually saw somewhat regular use at some point in our history. For the record, something tells me Gold is the speaker for that balloon.

Doc and the Metal Men encounter the webs later a few times -- each time they disappear, taking whatever they had trapped along with them. Oh, and Doc has a flying car separate from the flying saucer (or "Jetaway" as it's been called in the last few issues). I sort of wonder what the adult inhabitants of this city think of Doc, I'm sure there's at least one guy who sees him fly over traffic and thinks "Lookit that bum."

Retreating to the lab. there's a silly comical interlude with Platinum making a love potion, and I'm mostly including that detail for this panel of Platinum in an apron. There was also a "downtime" panel with Iron and Lead, of all people, playing chess. Oh, yeah that must have been a real meeting of the minds.

This subplot doesn't really do anywhere, it's just a one-off gag. Not to be improper, but you really have to wonder what Kanigher's deal was with women, there was clearly some kind of dysfunction in that area of his life. That or he watched too much Bewitched. Anyway, the next time a web shows up, Doc decides to just drive into it, reasoning that they'll be taken wherever the other stuff was.

I think "the giant spider web was actually a space warp" perfectly encapsulates the craziness of your typical Metal Men story. The planetoid with all the stolen crap on it is inhabited by robots (duh), but they're all robot spiders who immediately start attacking the people who were in those planes, trains, etc.

The Metal Men are soon overwhelmed and ensnared by the spiders' ruler, a huge 'black widow'. She, as you've no doubt guessed, hypnotizes Doc into seeing her as a beautiful robot woman whom he wants to marry. Why a robot? There's nothing in Doc's history that suggests he's into robots like that, he dates human women very consistently. Eh, it's still hypnosis. And to state the obvious: yes, the black widow's plan is to eat him.

Platinum and Nameless (really) manage to get everyone free by acting like they're into some of the male robot spiders, who dissolve the web to get some girlie action. I'm not joking, Nameless used her feminine wiles (ahaha) -- and this isn't even the first time, if you'll remember the climax of the BOLTS encounter. Maybe it's a robot thing; after all, unique among the Metal Men, she doesn't look at all like a pained human.

After being freed and taking out their captors, the Metal Men have a pretty easy time saving Doc, there's nothing really exciting about it at all. The issue ends with Platinum doing the hypnotic suggestion thing to a still-dazed Doc, because if your crush doesn't like you, brainwashing is the only way to go.

Oh, yeah, that's appropriate.

Incidentally, the "stealing crap from Earth" thing -- at no point is it explained why the spiders were doing that. Well, not directly, it's implied that they might be eating the people inside the buildings and stuff they steal, but it's not stated outright except in the case of the black widow. I bet this is going to make the letter column in a few issues, in any case.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It All Started with the Big Bang! Part 16 (Issue #31)

The Knight Watchman is really Big Bang's flagship character, as there are tons of stories starring him. This issue tackles a pretty obvious situation if you're doing a Silver-Age Batman thing: Bat-Mite-induced shenanigans.

I'm not going to pretend like the Knight Watchman "really" dies: he doesn't, it's a trick of some sort. This isn't a spoiler, it's common sense. Besides, why would anything be as it seems when you're dealing with the equivalent of Bat-Mite, Knight-Sprite?

The story opens with Kid Galahad finishing his homework and hearing the call to adventure over the police radio. Some parade balloons came to life and are running amok. He goes on this one solo, as Reid Randall, the Knight Watchman, was at a business meeting at the time. Being giant balloons, he pops them without trouble.

Blah blah -- it's the work of Knight-Sprite, a cartoonish jester with near-limitless power, who likes to mess around with the Dauntless Duo.

He's actually more of a Mxyzptlk type than a Bat-Mite; Bat-Mite was a well-meaning Batman fanboy, whereas Knight-Sprite is pretty mean spirited. For instance, he sends Kid Galahad to another dimension just so he'll stay out of his way. Alone in Dimension X, Kid Galahad braves some native wildlife before meeting up with the Knight Watchman, whom he guesses was also sent there by Knight-Sprite

Woah, did I just hit on a Garden of Eden thing, or am I doing that "reading too much into their relationship" thing people do with Batman and Robin? Galahad is in trouble due to the alien snake from the story splash, and the Knight Watchman dies saving him from it. Specifically his head gets split open under his hood when the snake bucks him against a tree -- a pretty nasty death for, you know, the kind of story this is trying to be.

 I'm no expert on Silver Age issue numbers or covers, but that's a pretty direct reference to a famous Batman cover, with the roles reversed. Anyway, this took a dark turn, huh? Kid Galahad demands Knight-Sprite send him back to the regular world, and this is all reminding me of the TNG episode "Tapestry", when Picard is in the altered present as a crappy science officer and yells at Q about how this wasn't part of the deal.

Knight-Sprite sends Galahad back to the regular world, and Galahad somberly realizes that the Dimension X thing was all real after noticing scratches on his arm from the snake attack. He swears to live up to the Knight Watchman's legacy as a solo 11-13 year old hero.

Almost immediately he sees a crime in progress, with crooks he recognizes hiding out in a warehouse. He busts in to take them out, but since he's outnumbered 4-to-1 and half their size, it doesn't go so well for him. That's when dun dun duuuuun the Knight Watchman arrives on the scene.

After the gangsters are dealt with, and KW and Galahad exchange "What?!"s, Knight-Sprite shows up to set the record straight -- the Watchman in Dimension X was a copy retrieved from Galahad's mind. He didn't say anything about it because it was pretty much identical to the real deal, and thus he figured it wasn't worth mentioning. It's sort of a cute detail, he really didn't understand why he might have been expected to say it wasn't the real Knight Watchman.

Oh, and when they get home, there's a surprise birthday party for Jerry, because I guess it was his birthday all along and nobody mentioned that. Reid converted their basement into a basketball court as a gift, which seems a little ostentatious but I guess he's sort of rich.

Moving on, we've got the stunning origin of Gorilla Cop! That's right, Big Bang even has its own version of Detective freakin' Chimp. While Detective Chimp was a regular chimp granted intelligence by the fountain of youth or something, Gorilla Cop was a regular cop turned into a gorilla by an "evo-ray".

Sam Douglas is a regular beat cop; he's best pals with his old partner Artie and has a swell girlfriend named Kim, whom Artie is secretly hot for. Sam investigates a light in an abandoned warehouse and is captured by Dr. LA Mental, whose "evo-ray" needs to absorb evolutionary energy by devolving people into gorillas in order to evolve someone further.

Sam is turned into a gorilla by the ray, and is about to be put in a drug-induced rage like Mental's other victims when Artie bursts in. Mental flees, leaving Sam in possession of his faculties (apparently the evo-ray doesn't devolve brains, even though Mental's plan hinges on it evolving his own). Sam can't speak, but tries to tell Artie who he is by flashing his gold tooth, which the evo-ray naturally shaped into a simian canine what do you want from me

That's not quite as silly as it sounds -- after all, Artie saw Sam go into the warehouse and never come out.
This story moves along at a blistering pace from here on out -- Sam (who I'm just gonna call Gorilla Cop from now on) sneaks back into the lab that night to see if he can figure out how to change back or something like that. He discovers an unconscious Artie, Mental, and his girlfriend Kim in a cage. It's not really clear why Mental captured Kim -- I guess he figured Gorilla Cop would come back and wanted leverage. He's used the ray to evolve into the super-intelligent, psychic space guy seen above, but Gorilla Cop deftly smashes the ray gun, causing it to backfire on Mental and devolve him into nothing (while dooming himself to life as a gorilla; compare Hummingbird's origin) Oh, and he can talk now, because he tried really hard.

As is often the case with a Silver Age pastiche (and many real Silver Age stories), I sort of have a lot of questions -- Gorilla Cop clearly got promoted, so he's not on the beat anymore, but he's not a detective, so is he the guy behind the desk at booking or the evidence room or something now? Hell, what does this mean for his relationship with Kim, or Artie's relationship with Kim? And I'm almost positive there isn't a second Gorilla Cop story to clear any of that up, too. Wait, am I really clamoring for more of this? Big Bang Comics, the things you do to me...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

So Long, Creature Commandos! (WWT #121)

This is seriously the last full-length Creature Commandos story; they didn't appear in WWT #120 or the last issues I have, #122, where in both cases GI Robot was the headliner and was backed up by one-off stories more typical of the pre-CC days. They're also not in #123, and in the last issue, #124, they're relegated to a one-page epilogue with GI Robot

For the first time in a while, Death introduces the story to us -- and he is clearly just a guy in a skeleton costume. Is that the joke? I don't even get you sometimes, Bob Kanigher.

Because we've yet to be beaten over the head with the idea behind the CCs enough, the story opens with them visiting a carnival freakshow and upstaging the freaks. You know, I sort of have to wonder why they would go to that sort of thing -- that's, like, their people, you know? Hell, I don't know why they even go out so much, they obviously know how much they unnerve people by this point.

The freaks go so far as to gawk at the CCs and call them hideous and disgusting. No offense, but these guys have access to mirrors, right? Eventually, and I swear this is really what I'm seeing, the circus freak union seeks a court order to prevent the CCs from appearing in public.

There's a scene here I find way too great -- Velcro, Griffith, and Shrieve are all buddies when some cute ladies from the WAC walk by. But not Lucky, because he's a gentleman (as Rhodes is always saying). He could also be gay, you know. There's been a Rhodes-Lucky-potential-romance subplot going on for a while now, I think I know where this is going.

Anyway, the CCs are headed for a secret mission via sub, and there's a meaningless scene where Shrieve and Lucky clear out sea mines.

Anyway, the Reich's secret weapon against the CCs is, duh -- women. Three hot blondes claiming to be Dutch freedom fighters run into the CCs once they get to shore, and freaking duh they're actually assassins so I'm not going to pretend otherwise. I'm surprised they didn't try "use women to kill them" before, it seems like an obvious tactic. This plot is loosely recycled from an earlier GI Robot story, by the way, which is copped to in a scene where Hitler's inner circle brainstorms ways to take care of the CCs.

There's some engineered heroics with mechanical German soldiers, so the male CCs feel more connected and protective towards the ladies.

Velcro takes care of them with an airborne grenade delivery, and the team discovers their assailants were robots. Of course, you'd think the charade would fall shortly after this scene, because the girls start showing interest in our heroes. Shrieve I could understand, and maybe even Velcro if that's your thing, but come on, Griffith? Hell, I think it's out of character for Shrieve to not think something's up when a hot girl gets cozy with Griffith.

Anyway, the CCs mission is taking out a secret rocket facility, and since this is the Netherlands obviously it's disguised as a windmill.

As the CCs are distracted by the rocket fire, the assassins strike, incapacitating everyone but Lucky and Rhodes. Naturally, any danger is quickly averted when Rhodes disposes of them with a grenade. She and lucky plant charges on the rocket windmill and take it out without incident. Apparently nobody was keeping guard; I guess that's one way to keep a low profile. Later, upon examining their remains, it's clear that the would-be killers were robots all along. Rhodes is asked how she knew, since she used a grenade like Velcro did on the earlier robots

Yes, the implication is that either the male CCs never even looked into their would-be robo-assassins' eyes, or that they just didn't notice a detail like that. Why use robots in the first place, anyway? Because a real woman would be too disgusted by the CCs or something? I always have so many questions at the end of every Bob Kanigher story. You know, now that I think about it, Rhodes' snake hair hasn't come in super handy in a while -- her real contribution to the team is simply being a woman, and all that that entails.

So that's it for Weird War Tales and the Creature Commandos, at least right now. For all intents and purposes it's the final CC story, since, again, they're only on the last page of #124. They (and GI Robot) face a firing squad for... something when a last-minute reprieve is granted in the form of a special mission to pilot an ICBM to Hitler's front door. It might not necessariyl be a suicide mission, maybe they've got chutes in there. GI Robot's pet robot dog and cat (I assure you they exist) also hop aboard. The rocket goes into space, and the ending is a total "OR IS IT?!" deal. It sort of reads like Weird War Tales/Mystery Science Theater fanfiction. Oh, and Shrieve isn't there -- no, instead of Shrieve there's writer Bob Kanigher, who also boards the rocket and goes into space. How appropriate.

All in all -- some pretty good comics and also some really crazy comics. Figure when I'm finished with Big Bang I'll start doing more 'regular' blog stuff like talking about new releases and whatnot.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What the Hell is up with Forever Evil #3?

I'm back! Sorry, school had me really occupied for most of the whole last month. I'll try to update on the regular again.

One thing I regret is that this post is pretty outdated by now

The issue opens with a short flashback from Batman and Catwoman, wherein we see the first glimpse of the JL/CS fight. Sort of. It's mostly Deathstorm busting up Firestorm. They're still at STAR Labs talking to Cyborg's dad, and have no useful information about what happened to the Justice League or what they should do next. Somehow this manages to be the most boring part, I don't think anything interesting is even discussed here.

Luthor is having Bizarro dig through rubble for some satellite crap so the end of this issue doesn't seem so forced. Bizarro gives him a flower instead.

This is the only part of the issue that vaguely entertained me, except for one line from Black Manta at the end. I really don't know if I'm that into the "less intelligent Scooby Doo" version of Bizarro here.

Ultraman's fight with Black Adam, hinted at last issue, finally happens. It's really brief, and naturally features the now-ubiquitous use of the "SHAZAM!" lightning bolt as an offensive weapon. I think that's a little tired, but at the same time it's perfectly in Adam's character.

That's seriously up there with "STOP RAPING ME!" and "I'LL KILL YOU TO DEATH!" Surprisingly enough for one of Johns' pet characters, Black Adam is trounced pretty easily by Ultraman, and is left for dead in the ocean. Afterwards, Ultraman calls Grid about Metallo's whereabouts, because he needs to refuel on Kryptonite dust. How is this sustainable? There's only so much kryptonite, eventually you'll crush it all.

Luthor sees Ultraman flying and notes he avoids direct sunlight. The man who had described himself earlier in the issue as "the most powerful mind in the world" hasn't quite put together that Ultraman, whom he saw block out the sun, does not like the sunlight.

Meanwhile Deathstorm and Power Ring shake down the Rogues, who refused to raze Central City for the Syndicate (blah blah Rogues Revenge, "buy this other comic to get the whole story" and other bull). Power Ring is basically the star of this sequence, and it really reinforces my dislike for the character.

See, Power Ring is the most pathetic and dysfunctional member of the Crime Syndicate. This is only natural, because it means that his good counterpart, Hal Jordan, is the best and brightest of the Justice League, a sentiment that Geoff Johns has clung to for years (and that nobody else can relate to). He starts a fight that the Rogues are ready to finish.

I don't really see how this version of Power Ring can really be called "evil" -- he's more "tortured". He feels like a victim to both his ring and Deathstorm. I've mentioned before that of the Crime Syndicate, Power Ring is the most annoying after Johnny Quick and the lamest of the bunch period, but I think these attempts to show more of his character went too far in the other direction -- now I don't really buy him as the evil GL.

Deathstorm removes Captain Cold's powers, talking about it out loud as he does so. Even so, the first thing Mirror Master says after Cold is left powerless is "What did he do to you?" I thought the Pied Piper was the deaf one. The Rogues try to retreat via Mirror Master's mirror powers, but Power Ring flips out and shatters the mirror they were using, sending them all who-knows-where.

Meanwhile, Luthor and Bizarro summon Black Manta, who has recovered Black Adam's body from the ocean. Implicitly he got in contact with Manta via the satellite thing he asked Bizarro for help with earlier. There's actually some cool characterization for Manta here -- the Syndicate took Aquaman from him, stole his revenge, and now it's time for them to pay.

By contrived coincidence, Captain Cold is blasted out of the mirrorverse basically right next to Luthor's little team. I'm sorry, let me count the conscious people here -- Captain Cold, Lex Luthor, Bizarro, and Black Manta? Isn't this a partial Legion of Doom reunion? If this isn't just a coincidence, I'm wondering how they'll get Grodd (who doesn't like Cold but loves what the Syndicate has made for him), for instance, to join them.

And then this is seriously what happens

See, this is the problem with this whole event -- if the Justice League went to Earth-3 or wherever, would the heroes of that world hate them?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Senses-Shattering Saga of the Metal Men! Part 15!

The Metal Men are mostly pretty silly, and this issue's no different. I will say, though, I sort of miss the continuing story -- remember that? Been a while since one issue fed directly into the other. 

Being shrunk is basically something every superhero goes through. Wait, would you consider these guys superheroes? They mostly just finish stuff bad guys start, they don't look for people to help. Whatever, the point is, I'm surprised it took this long for this plot to occur... although technically that adventure on the giant planet covered it before.

I read ahead: no, Nameless won't be named in this issue, or for that matter any issue. The matter of her name isn't even alluded to in this one. Was she really a draw back in the day? Shudder to think. So the issue opens with Toy Story-style walking, talking action figures Doc invented for sick kids, because let's face it this guy has way too much free time.

Stealthy ads for other DC comics, nice! Incidentally, on the topic of Captain Storm and Johnny Cloud, few people realize that the Losers were all solo stars (or in the case of Gunner and Sarge, an existing team) before they teamed up.

And not to sound crass or anything, but I really don't think brain-injured children will be comforted by living toys with tiny working machine guns. Man, look at that line-up, though -- one superhero, five war characters. I sort of like superheroes just fine, but it really goes to show how different the whole comic landscape was back then.

Oh, and Doc has a new girlfriend, a model named Cleo. I don't know what these women see in him; he's no Mr. Personality, and between six 'kids' and his work he's got a ton of baggage.

Like all the girls before her, Cleo leaves in a huff shortly after Platinum does, angry at Doc for caring about his robot at all. Doc's not too broken up about losing his girl, or about Platinum having another one of her 'episodes', but then again this is like the tenth time those things have happened to him.

Platinum runs off in the flying saucer, and the other Metal Men catch up to her via Iron-thrown Tin boomerang (including Iron, just roll with it). Apparently she just wanted to blow off some steam by driving. To space. They get a distress signal from a nearby planet, but the flying saucer is hit by a weird beam that shrinks them.

Where this beam came from and why are never really bothered with, probably because it was figured nobody would care. And I guess I don't, really, so whatever. Gold turns into a stack of coins so the Metal Men can still operate the consoles, and Nameless is pretty turned on by it.

Is this another "women, am I right fellas?" kind of thing? Also, Gold's imagination seems pretty lacking these days, he's used that same coin form a bunch of times lately. We get it, gold is valuable. Remember the time you turned into a deck of cards, though? You're better than this, man.

I seem to remember a totally different kind of robot termites from a few issues back, but whatever. I wonder what kind of bourbon is in those barrels. Anyway, a decent fight breaks out, which is naturally handled in one panel as opposed to a whole issue like it would today.

This is a pretty sound victory for the Metal Men, despite Gold's silly tooth form and joke. The angered Termites, however, are already howling for revenge, and scurry away to gather reinforcements for a large-scale Earth invasion.

After a wacky comic relief interlude with the wooden barrel robots, the Metal Men give chase and head back to Earth, still at fun-size. They try to find something in Doc's lab that can make them grow back, but accidentally hit the button for Space Ghost's Stasis Beam. And yes, it was Platinum who messed up, because, you know, women.

The Metal Men are confused with regular toys and shipped to a charity bazaar, where a blind kid picks them up. Nobody else wanted them because unlike the other toys, the frozen Metal Men can't move or talk, but this kid's just a big fan. What is it with poor blind boys and the Metal Men? That night, he hears about the Termites collapsing a bridge, and is brought to tears by how helpless he feels. In a classic fairy tale moment, the tears fall on the tiny frozen Metal Men, who are soon up and moving and back to regular size. Uh, it was something in the saline. It's funny how this comic was supposed to be educational but turned out to be really nonsensical.

They hurry to where the Termites were last seen, but at normal size the little guys move too fast for them. The only solution: blow themselves up, stupid! This is accomplished by Gold forming a coil around the others until Mercury goes kerblooey.

You know, either these guys aren't the best at pattern recognition, or they're like the Venture Brothers and don't remember their many previous deaths. 

I'm a little concerned with the fact that the normal heroic sacrifice has mutated into attention-seeking group suicides more-or-less every issue. Doc investigates the explosion later out of simple scientific curiosity, and revives our metal heroes with the traces he recovers from the scene. Then the whole group heads back to that blind kid's house to thank him (and give him some real Metal Men toys). I hope they went to check in on Billy afterwards, reminded of him by this similar unnamed kid.

Friday, October 18, 2013

It all started with the Big Bang! Part 15 (issue #30)

Jumping forward a bit (and retiring that qualifier since there's only five issues left and the only sequential ones I plan to look at are #33 and #34), we get an oddly modern-style cover (or modern for 1999, at least). This issue stars the Verdict, AKA the Knight Watchman's answer to the Outsiders. If you don't know a lot about the Outsiders, Siskoid will hook you up, but long story short -- they kind of sucked.

The interesting thing about the Verdict is that they were created by Mike W. Barr -- creator of the Outsiders themselves! I don't  think it's super amazing (it was pretty stupid after all, and to be honest so is this issue), but it adds a couple layers to the proceeding story.

This all starts with the Knight Watchman staking out the meeting of some secret society, only for it to be crashed by Psi-Mage, the woman you probably noticed the hardest on the cover up there. Let me just say -- I don't for one second claim to understand what Psi-Mage's powers really are, she seems capable of basically anything. She can even see through that blindfold, I guess, as it's not mentioned to hinder her at all.

She steals that book, but the Knight Watchman bursts in and starts fighting her, even though they're clearly both enemies of the same secret society of wizards or whatever. I never really thought about it, but jeez, superheroes can be so immature; cops don't get into fights over collars like this, for instance.

Also in the group are Hot Wire, some electrical ghost who inhabits the body of a wanted murderer (below) and an edged weapons expert called Kuttar. Similar to how the A-Team gets BA on planes, they have to drug and handcuff the murderess when Hot Wire wants to come out and play. Credit where it's due, that's a somewhat interesting concept.

They get their own action scene where they steal computer codes from some secret criminal cabal. In utter defiance of the rule of threes, there isn't a third secret group to steal from -- the book and the codes were all they needed. The two of them meet back up with Psi-Mage at a motel, where they're interrupted by the Knight Watchman, who is interested in hearing what the hell their freaking deal is.

These are the Verdict -- Psi-Mage, Kuttar, Hot Wire, and Quintessence, your fakey Looker, Katana, Halo (or maybe Black Lightning, or both), and Metamorpho. Of the bunch, Kuttar is the most similar to her inspiration, being an Indian woman wielding and named after a katar (cool spelling, Mike Barr) rather than a Japanese woman with a katana.

Note that their story is more similar to Gen13 or the DNAgents, though, being as they are refugees from some secret project. I can't help but think this panel is a little melodramatic, though -- surely the Round Table of America is a bigger deal than these guys. Anyway, the Knight Watchman knows idiots when he sees them, and insists he come along with them on their quest to retrieve their 4th member, Quintessence.

Also unlike the Outsiders, the Verdict (especially leader Psi-Mage) is very much in the driver's seat throughout the rest of the issue, with the Knight Watchman just along for the ride. I'm not sure if this is more or less embarrassing than Batman's relationship with the Outsiders. Again, I don't know a whole lot about the Outsiders, but I never would have guessed Looker was Barr's clear favorite.

Anyway, they've traced Quintessence's location to a water purification plant, and discover him chained up in the bowels of the place. He doesn't seem to remember them and is soon mind-controlled into fighting them by their old captor Dr. Smight. The Big Q's powers are sort of like the elemental version of Ultra Boy's:

..and so on in that fashion, air, water, 'n all that 'n all that, only one at a time. The fifth power is a mystery. Oh, and yes, this makes him the Metamorpho equivalent, duh, though like a lot of these guys (except Kuttar I guess) he's a pretty loose counterpart. Somehow it turns out that Smight is actually in the next room, along with her evil sidekick Dr. Rajeev, Kuttar's father.

"Smight", that's cute. I do sort of like the evil old crippled scientist being a woman for once, that's pretty unusual. Kuttar's dad being evil is clearly a cheap way to tie her into the backstory, as there's nothing superhuman about her at all, though. Oh, and when Smight says that, yeah, his daughter has to go, he's like "oh, okay then." Gee, thanks, pops. 

Quintessence is ordered to attack, but Psi-Mage tries to override his brainwashing. She can't take over his mind, but she can activate one part of it, making him use his fifth power: basically just exploding. The Verdict and the Knight Watchman escape the blast, but Smight and Rajeev don't appear to be so lucky. They regroup at their motel and say their goodbyes to the Knight Watchman, who for some reason still cares about their asinine lives.

 Next is a Psi-Mage solo story. It basically reads like an extremely self-gratifying dream Psi-Mage might have -- people praise her beauty left and right. The art and story are also shamelessly exploitative, though blame should be shared among Barr and artist John Watkins-Chow. In any case, we start off by getting into her head a little for the story's sole dramatic moment

...which is itself pretty silly anyway. And then she walks into a health spa, turning heads and stopping traffic on the way. This is a for really-real line that gets said of her: "If I had madame's figure all I'd wear is a wet t-shirt and a thong." I don't know about sexist, but this material is pretty repulsive. Like, you ever seen Queen's Blade? I'm about as embarrassed as when I tried to watch that. Anyway, clients keep their valuables locked up in a room while they get treated, and naturally a heist goes down while Psi-Mage is there.

Based on the tone of the story thus far, I was pretty surprised that Barr gave her a way to magically put her clothes on. And nice job handwaving why her costume from the first story wasn't the one on the cover, by the way. In any case, 'putting clothes on' doesn't stop the "Psi Mage is so hot you guys" train at all. She even stops to admire herself, like a wrestler with a narcissist gimmick.

I really can't overstate how hard this comic tries to be sensual. And I guess it more or less succeeds, in the sense that it's making me very uncomfortable. Jeez, I'm a huge fan of Danger Girl, why is this getting to me? Probably because it's more like Codename: Knockout. If you found Psi-Mage at all likeable before, you probably hate her as much as I do now. She does, however, use her powers creatively, tricking the thieves into thinking she has the Philosopher's Stone and can turn stuff into other stuff when she's really just messing with t

 With them taken care of, the woman at the front desk pulls a gun on Psi-Mage, demanding she hand over the stone and her cape. What comes next actually happens for real, not via illusion.

Psi-Mage seriously thinks "that's what she gets for calling me 'blondie'!" God, I liked Wesley Crusher more than this freak. Still, so ends the drama. Psi-Mage can't stick around for the cops to show up and thus can't get her regular clothes, so she (sigh) struts out of the spa wearing her costume, with the cape wrapped around her in such a way that it sort of looks like a dress.