Guns that shoot stars: The Heroes Reborn roundtable, week 4

Carla, Tom, Shane and JK assemble once again to discuss Marvel’s latest comics event.

We are back this week for our fourth Heroes Reborn roundtable, where we break down the latest Marvel crossover issue by issue. This week Shane Bailey, Tom Bondurant, Carla Hoffman and I talk about Heroes Reborn #4, which puts the spotlight on the very unlikable Doctor Spectrum, as well as three tie-in issues: Magneto and the Mutant Force, Siege Society and Young Squadron.

You can read part one of our roundtable discussions here, part two here and part three here.

So let’s jump right in …

JK Parkin: We’re talking about week four now, with four comics coming out this past Wednesday as the crossover hits the halfway point. Last week brought Doctor Spectrum, mutants, Nazis, Champions and James Stokoe, so let’s jump in, starting with the main miniseries. What did you think of Heroes Reborn #4?

Shane Bailey: I loved the art. Other than that, I just felt annoyed.

First of all this book feels like a last-minute tearing up of a RAW script by McMahon because on the cover it advertises Thanos vs Dr. Spectrum, and you think it’s about to go down, but that fight was literally one single page of the book. Instead we get the match that no one wanted to see, Spectrum vs Rocket Racoon!

Once you get over all that, I guess a blinded Watcher hiring an assassin to hunt down Spectrum for revenge is kind of cool. It’s just that Spectrum comes off as so unlikable here that it’s a bit too much.

I don’t know who we’re really supposed to like in this comic and why we’re reading it? Why is this important to the story? We learn that Spectrum is an ass? I guess there was that last page reveal that was important, but the rest of the story wasn’t connected to that.

Stokoe and Aaron bring that early Image Extreme feel here, throwing out crazy ideas without explanation and mentioning things you know will never be followed up on, it’s all flash and no substance. Like I said before, if you turn your mind off and don’t think about it, it’s enjoyable for what it is. If you expect anything more, you’ll be disappointed. This really reminds me of 1992. Especially after re-reading Youngblood this week and finding how many things were just vomited on to the page because they looked cool. 14-year-old me ate this kind of thing up.

We do learn a little about Wakanda at the end, too, which we’ve heard mention of, but no real information on, so I guess it pushes the story forward a tiny bit. We also get way more mentions of Mephisto being a replacement for God in this universe.

Bottom line is, I went into this wanting to be convinced to like the Squadron as they masquerade as heroes and we aren’t getting that from ultra nationalist Dr. Spectrum at all. I guess I was dumb to think that?

Wouldn’t the people in this universe see that? We get a little of that realization in Young Squadron, which I’m sure we’ll talk about soon.

JK Parkin: Yeah, I see what you mean, but I think I’m now past the point where I’m looking for any redeeming qualities in the Squadron. Blur’s issue threw me, because I did start to sympathize with him a bit, but this issue seems to cement what the universe is dealing with in a couple of different ways. One, Doctor Spectrum is just as a much of an asshole as Hyperion was. In fact, one of my big complaints about this issue was that he felt a little too much like Hyperion; his narration could have been written for either character.

Shane Bailey: True, it did sound like Hyperion here, but maybe a little bit more military oriented.

JK Parkin: Second, we now know who the actual big bad in all this is — Mephisto. I mean, I kind of figured that anyway based on what he had been up to in Avengers, but seeing that he’s pretty much replaced God in this new universe with himself (In Mephisto We Trust!) really solidifies where we’re going.

At this point we know that Mephisto, Coulson and Nighthawk are all in the know about what’s really happening, and even if the others don’t — and Spectrum confirmed he didn’t — they’re all benefiting from it. So yeah … to me the hero in this book was Rocket Raccoon.

Actually, let me correct that — the real hero was James Stokoe!

Shane Bailey: And yeah, I know that Rocket Raccoon was supposed to be there hero here, I was being a little sarcastic because I didn’t find him particularly likable either I guess? But yeah Stokoe was the star of the book for sure!

JK Parkin: I feel like the issue was written specifically for him to draw, which was why it was stacked with crazy ideas like Groot guns.

Shane Bailey: Even with how much I disliked the story, I still would have bought it for his work. I did like the mention of the Cancerverse. I didn’t like the editorial captions though, as I wanted to actually read those issues. I don’t know why I loved Amalgam so much and I’m not digging this. I guess its because it focused on heroes?

JK Parkin: There were a lot of references in this issue to crazy Marvel plot devices. One thing I did notice was that there didn’t seem to be a lot of Green Lantern references, which surprised me. But yes, this is a very villain-focused series, which I suspect will reverse itself when we get to Heroes Return.

Shane Bailey: That’s true, there weren’t. It was all to past Marvel stuff.

JK Parkin: I was thinking maybe the DC references were just really obscure, and I needed Tom to point them out for me.

Shane Bailey: I’m probably going to see-saw up when we get there and actually start enjoying myself more as I do like Aaron’s other books besides what he’s doing here and on Avengers. I promise I’m not an Aaron hater!

JK Parkin: Hahaha! No, I’d say after last issue, which has been the high point of the series, it was disappointing to see this issue regress in terms of the main character.

Shane Bailey: Now give me Stokoe on Avengers after all this.

JK Parkin: I was very fond of the Skottie Young Rocket Raccoon series, and it would be great if they let Stokoe loose on something like that.

Shane Bailey: Just let him loose on cosmic Marvel with everything that entails — Ego, Galactus, Eternity, Infinity, Celestials, all those cosmic beings. I could see a series by him putting all that cosmic history in order like X-Men Grand Design.

Tom Bondurant: I must have gotten suckered in by the Blur issue too, because I wasn’t expecting Dr. Spectrum to be nearly as ultra-nationalist as he was. I am a big believer in using the Green Lantern concept to promote diversity, but I do have a soft spot for Hal Jordan because he was the GL of my youth. Accordingly, I almost got offended on behalf of Hal before I realized that these are the bad guys. The Mephisto stuff really drove that home, like he’s turned Earth-616 into Earth-3 and not some version of the “good” DC-Earth. In that respect I saw Dr. S’s references to religion in a slightly more different light. However, those were maybe the most subtle things in a very un-subtle book.

In terms of DC references, there’s not much you can do with Dr. Spectrum/Green Lantern because as far as I can tell, he’s not part of a “Spectrum Corps” or anything similar. I guess the Nova Corps would be  a better analogue? I want to say that the Young Squadron issue had more overt GL allusions.

Otherwise, I thought Knowhere was a decent stand-in for Brainiac’s skull-ship, and Rocket was cast in the Lobo role.

Oh, and I almost forgot the hyper-meta nature of dueling GL analogues, when Dr. S goes up against StarBrand Rocket! That was a kinda-sorta homage to Ch’p and his successor Bd’g, the squirrel Green Lanterns.

Shane Bailey: Oh cool! I love Ch’p.

JK Parkin: See, I knew I needed Tom’s help! Rocket as Lobo makes a lot of sense, especially given the nature of their fight and his attitude in the story. He’s always a bit cantankerous, but it seemed very amped up in this story.

Carla Hoffman: Heroes Reborn #4 was bonkers. I was not expecting to have 2000 AD on my list of comic styles seen in Heroes Reborn, but #4 feels like nothing I’ve read from the Big Two before.  From the art style to the heavy jingoistic narration from Doctor Spectrum, this felt way more Judge Dredd than Green Lantern, the obvious parallel. 

Even worse, there’s not even much to talk about!  A bunch of Marvel Space Aliens get together with the Watcher to hire Rocket Raccoon to kill Doctor Spectrum. Surprise, he does not succeed. And dies. Horribly. Glad I spent $4.99 on that.

Pacing and story aside, the artwork for Heroes Reborn #4 is entirely the reason to buy this issue.  Inane plot, but hyper detailed linework and dazzling color really bring that psychedelic outer space feel where everything is too loud, too bright and too gross.  Most references are asides in the narration, but showing the Cancerverse unleashed as a weapon is horrifying and vulgar as it should be, still done up in the great spectrum of colors from the Power Prism itself.

Am I not reading the right Green Lantern issues to get how any of the ol’ ultraviolence and guns that shoot stars relates to the Corps?

Shane Bailey: I don’t think it does, the whole Green Lantern stand-in thing seemed to be thrown out the window for this.

Carla Hoffman: Makes one wonder why, considering they had already had a nationalist hero on Hyperion. Now with more religious fervor?

Shane Bailey: It’s his Mephisto given right to be nationalist.

JK Parkin: On that note, let’s move on to the comic about a Nazi.

Siege Society seemed to blend Thunderbolts with the Suicide Squad, and it also introduced some plot points that I think will be important once we get to the Nighthawk issue of the main series later this week — the idea that a Civil War between Hyperion and Nighthawk split the Squadron into two. That same thing happened in the original Mark Gruenwald-written Squadron Supreme miniseries, so I thought that was a nice callback.

We also got to see a lot of the lesser-known members from that miniseries — more of the “Satelitte Era” Squadron Supreme — like Blue Eagle, Arcana and Golden Archer. In many cases, it looks like this may be their only appearance. What did you guys think of this issue?

Carla Hoffman: Good catch on that Civil War reference! It went by so fast that I didn’t get that it was the Squadron that was split rather than the USA and Europe. Nighthawk did seem to be working with Hyperion though in Heroes Reborn #1, but Iron Man and Cap got over their Civil War, too…

Criminals, all of whom have done an anti-hero turn now and then, are paid by Zemo and Hydra to go stop the Squad’s intrusion into Europe for the paycheck rather than the threat of death is way more Thunderbolts than Suicide Squad to me, so is there another team they’re riffing on?

Shane Bailey: Well, we saw some of them for a little while at least. I didn’t catch the Civil War reference at first either. For some reason I didn’t even think of Suicide Squad either. I must be a little slow on the uptake this week.

This issue felt like a lot to pack in a single issue and it felt a bit rushed because of it. They had to spotlight all the important characters, have them fight, and tell what’s going on in Europe and the rest of the world while the Squadron was focused on their America first thing. That’s a lot for one issue.

That’s why I was kind of surprised to see space wasted showing us the same scene we saw in the Blur issue of Heroes Reborn, that didn’t seem necessary even if you weren’t reading the main series.

Did you guys think it was a little crowded this issue? And what did you think of the satellite characters? I really enjoyed the Golden Arrow vs Hawkeye fight myself. Or would that be Deadshot vs Green Arrow?

Carla Hoffman: DC has a lot of sharpshooters.

The extra Squaders we see are interesting so much as they were mentioned.  Like, I don’t need another issue telling me who they are or anything; that’s what recommending Gruenwald’s series is for! 

I did like getting to see Zemo match wits with Nighthawk, some great 4-D chess between them. But the motives felt weird and weren’t developed besides “Nazi Guy hates Squadron;” there was nobody to root for, I don’t even trust the good guys at this point.  Another issue to tell us the world of superheroes are at war with the Squadron Supreme?

Shane Bailey: Yeah I mean we aren’t supposed to be like “Go Nazi! Wooooo!”

Carla Hoffman: Or fight them off, random League wannabes!

Shane Bailey: I get that they were using this to explore the rest of the world, I just think it could have been done much better by, I don’t know, using some actual heroes to show what it’s like out there?

Carla Hoffman: Oh, there’s still Young Squadron to talk about…

Shane Bailey: Despite all that I did have fun with this story. Once again the art is great.

JK Parkin: I agree, Shane, that this issue did feel a bit rushed because of everything packed into it. I liked seeing the other Squadron members, but between them and everyone in the Siege Society, there were a lot of bodies to focus on.

This one I think may have worked better as a two-parter; it needed more room to breath. Also just to note, several of these one-shots seem to be positioned as “random issues” in a series —Magneto and the Mutant Force in particular comes to mind. But some of the others really haven’t felt that way, so I’m not completely sure what we’re supposed to expect from them.

Shane Bailey: Yeah, that to be continued aspect where it’s never going to be continued was what really reminded me of Amalgam.

Tom Bondurant: On one level I really appreciate the layers Jason Aaron and company are building into this event. It’s not some version of JLA/Avengers where you straight-up swap Flash for Quicksilver. Instead, you have this three-fold shuffle where the Squadron basically replaces the Avengers, but the Avengers are still “there,” and the Squadron has an added veneer of faux-DC history. And Mephisto’s behind it all, so now the whole thing is MUAH-HA-HA EVIL. However, at some point you have to tell an actual story, and the vignettes with Blade and Captain America are almost afterthoughts in the middle of all the world-building. (Part of me wants to see how this might have played out in an Annual.)

Anyway, that to me is how you get to “wait, who’s the good guy here?” I mean, clearly we’re rooting for Black Widow and Hawkeye, but they’re on the same team as a straight-up Nazi.

By the way, I am a little embarrassed not to pick up on the JLI ?America/Europe” split. I must have focused too much on the Civil War reference. As John says, there were a lot of bodies to keep track of.

Carla Hoffman: And they don’t like it anymore than we the readers do!  Widow and Hawkeye complain through the comic!  No one wants to be here!

The moment I saw Oberon, I got the reference.

Shane Bailey: Any resemblance to actual Oberons, living or dead, or actual events is in other universes is purely coincidental.

Tom Bondurant: Yeah, Tom Thumb just reminded me of how much I didn’t like him as an Atom analogue. You can have very similar ace archers on your Justice League and Avengers teams, but you can’t have shrinking scientists.

Carla Hoffman: Shrinky people is what Marvel does best!

Shane Bailey: Does Tom use Thumb Particles?

Tom Bondurant: Maybe Tom Thumb can go on an extended vacation to the Amazon jungle and have barbarian adventures…?

Shane Bailey: I would probably read that.

JK Parkin: Oh, I didn’t really pick up on that either, Tom, the JLI/America/Europe thing. Also agree on finding hard for anyone to root for — they call out Baron Zemo being a Nazi several times, which made me cringe.

The Devil or the Nazi — whose side are you on?

Shane Bailey: The Devil is like … c’mon, that’s too far.

Tom Bondurant: Yeah – not even the Joker would work with the Red Skull!

JK Parkin: I do hope we get a scene of Mephisto reading back issues of Justice League at some point in all this.

Shane Bailey: Mephisto reading Justice League and going “Damn it! I have to read Death Metal to find out what happens! This is some bullsh…”

Anyway, next book? [laughs]

JK Parkin: How about we move on to Magneto and the Mutant Force?

This was one where the Squadron Supreme really played minor roles and honestly didn’t seem that important to the overall story, as the focus was more on Magneto and Charles Xavier’s relationship and the mistreatment of mutants — a common theme we’ve seen many times before, even as the current X-Men line has moved past it.

I will point out the appearance by Skymax, the Martain Manhunter-esque member of the Squadron, who ended up being absorbed by Rogue a la Carol Danvers in the classic Avengers Annual #10. 

Shane Bailey: This was absolutely not what I was expecting at all, and I kind of liked it? Yet again it paints the Squadron as unlikable bad guys though. I mean not a speck of good there.

JK Parkin: Yeah, they were more a force of nature here, like the hurricane about to hit the island while the good guys try to figure out how to repair the boat.

Shane Bailey: Attacking a peaceful protest in 2021 is like calling out the city you are in and making fun of them in a wrestling ring.

It’s a big sign that says “BAD GUY HERE”

JK Parkin: Cheap heat!

Shane Bailey: Yeah, but I liked the role Magneto played here, trying against all odds to bring hope back into the world by reviving his friend Charles Xavier. Feeling that he failed.

JK Parkin: I like your wrestling reference way better than my disaster movie reference.

Shane Bailey: Thank you! I try to always compare things to wrestling. [laughs] And the main Mutant Force were absolutely Doom Patrol right?

JK Parkin: I was just about to ask that question — who do we think the Mutant Force were a stand-in for? But yeah, I guess I could see that. And it would mkae a lot of sense, given the two team’s histories and when they debuted.

Shane Bailey: I got a Dubbilex vibe from that two person monster baby guy. Mister One and Mister Two. The design seemed very Kirby like, have we seen them before?

JK Parkin: I was going to ask that — have they appeared in the Marvel Universe before? Or were they completely new?

Shane Bailey: We have, I just looked them up. They were mutants in Captain America Annual #4. Which coincidentally featured Magneto. And was the introduction of S.W.O.R.D.’s own Peeper.

JK Parkin: Ah, I’m ashamed I didn’t know that. I remember that annual — my cousin passed it down to me when I was young. I was always disappointed that it was billed as featuring “The Brotherhood” but besides Magneto none of the Brotherhood I knew appeared in it.

Shane Bailey: I kind of hope they show up on Krakoa now.

JK Parkin: Yeah, speaking of which, this issue was a return to more of the “old school” X-Men, where they are hated and feared and still fighting for their rights — rather than the Krakoan nation, which comes from more of a position of strength.

Shane Bailey: That’s true, it did feel a little bit of a throwback because of that, but it constantly talked about Magneto’s Island nation didn’t it?  So they left it kind of open a little bit. That there was an island out there.

I did like the thought experiment in this book on who Rogue would be if there were no Carol Danvers around. She was such a defining part of Rogue’s life. It seems Mystique’s death was a new defining factor, having her absorb Skymax instead after her death. So she essentially becomes a “new Mystique.”

Honestly, I’d be happy just reading this book for the rest of the crossover. We have clear good guys and bad guys, we have a great surprise ending I want to know more about? I feel like I’m getting this and Starjammers yanked away though.

I was also happy to see Grizzly in the background of the book. And I feel like I should know who this character is, but I’m blanking…

Shane Bailey: AH HA! X-Men 2099’s own Skullfire:

Plus we got a glimpse of Legion with the original X-Men replacing Cyclops so maybe things turned out a little better for him and Xavier before his death.

JK Parkin: It seems like Cyclops and Alex are Starjammers now, so I like that change. And agree; both would make great series on their own.

Shane Bailey: Yep, Cyclops and Havok in this continuity are off with their Dad too, all in time for Father’s Day soon!

Carla Hoffman: Magneto and the Mutant Force #1 was a heck of a thing.  Not sure what they’re riffing on, but it does get across that the Squadron would have oppressed mutants under either a Registration Act or plain ol’ racism.  The Mutant Massacre was a last ditch effort to fight back against this oppression that had Power Princess kill Xavier and set everyone back into hiding on Island M.  I feel like there’s something I’m missing… what is this supposed to be?  Just a check in that, yes The Squadron are dicks about mutants too?  What’s the Mutant Force correlation?  Why wasn’t this just an aside to a larger story? WHY ARE THESE $4.99?!??

Shane Bailey: Agreed, though I enjoyed this, yet again I don’t see the point in the overall tale being told, particularly at that price point. It doesn’t tell us much that is needed for the main storyline because the Squadron weren’t really even the main villain in this book, it looks like that person’s big reveal is at the end? Watch us be wrong and Aaron will pull all these disparate elements together at the end to tell this magnificent story of the whole world coming together to band with the Avengers against the Squadron and Mephisto. We’ll see the Mutant Force, we’ll see the Brood, we’ll see the Starjammers, we’ll see the Starbrand, all come together and ASSEMBLE to combat evil in all it’s forms!

It will all work and we’ll be like “ah, that’s why Peter was tortured in his book!” And then Blade wakes up in the shower and none of this has happened.

I do want to follow this Mutant Force series in an X-Men Forever type of book after all this.

Carla Hoffman: I mean, we all read Ruins, right?  Ellis’s super cynical take on the first Marvels mini-series?  At least that was two issues with consistent theming and artwork.  Every time I run into a Heroes Reborn tie-in and find it so bleak, I just wonder if there’s a DC reference I’m not getting.

Shane Bailey: Nothing is as bleak as Ruins. Well, maybe Spider-Man: Reign in it’s own way. Just stick that book in the middle of the two issues.

Carla Hoffman: It’s a “draw the curtains, paint your nails black and listen to the Cure kinda story.  But with the big bold McGuinness art, I feel like I should be getting a bigger vibe than “DARKNESS.”

Shane Bailey: But yeah, what we need right now is a super cynical take on The Justice League because 2020 just wasn’t enough. People just aren’t depressed enough. 

Carla Hoffman: Hey kids, what if the Avengers with Nationalist!  No, not Secret Empire, a different one!

Shane Bailey: We keep coming back to the same point on these books. 1) Why? and 2) OMG it’s dark.

Carla Hoffman: No, not Civil War either.  No, they’re not Skrulls, it’s- different!

Shane Bailey: Also 3) The art is pretty.

Carla Hoffman: Again, the why comes down to this is Aaron’s big summation of his work on the Avengers for this run.  We have returning side characters, we have big super-themes, all of this makes sense within the ongoing Avengers title.

Shane Bailey: Yeah, but the ongoing title wasn’t this dark and hopeless.

Carla Hoffman: It was dark-ish?

Shane Bailey: I mean it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the big event in ever panel storylines, but it seemed to have some hope and you knew who was good and who was bad.

Carla Hoffman: Maybe that’s why Heroes Reborn feels so weird.

Shane Bailey: Well, correction, we know who is bad here, but we didn’t focus on them.

Like with the Vampire Nation, they were kinda sympathetic as a whole, but the leader was bad. Namor, you kind of saw his side. There was a tiny bit of gray…

It wasn’t much but it was something.

Mephisto, Coulson, and the Squad are just bad. I guess we are supposed to feel sympathetic because they are being manipulated by Mephisto?

Carla Hoffman: Are they? Did they want this?

Shane Bailey: Possibly? We don’t really know for sure yet.

Tom Bondurant: As far as Magneto goes, I thought it was fine. My lack of X-Men scholarship means I didn’t get many of the in-jokes beyond the “Days of Future Past” stuff, and honestly I didn’t see much of a Doom Patrol parallel either. (This is in stark contrast to HBO’s The Nevers, which practically screams “LOOK, HATED AND FEARED!” But I digress.)

Carla Hoffman: My knowledge of DC’s Someone and the Somethings title of books is very low. I was kind of hoping you’d come in with an obscure Batman and the Outsiders reference I hadn’t heard of, Tom.

Tom Bondurant: In terms of how I think this will end, I know how Roy Thomas would end it. He would have Cap reconnect with the Golden Agency, the Squadron Supreme’s World War II-era counterparts, and they’d all team up to dogpile on Mephisto’s minions. I suspect a big superhero dogpile will be involved here, but there will have to be a reset button pushed. I don’t know how you beat Mephisto unless the Phoenix and the Star Brand are enough of a combo.

Carla Hoffman: It’s a pretty strong cosmic level duo. We’re going to have to figure out who ordered this universe and ask them for a refund, but a big “action figures in the tumble dryer” beat ’em up is definitely the finale.

Shane Bailey: In the end the real Justice League come in as Marvel buys Discovery+ and we get one cohesive gigantic DC/Marvel universe and they beat Mephisto. I’m calling it now.

Carla Hoffman: Truly, the bleakest outcome.

Tom Bondurant: I almost forgot the actual plot point of this issue, namely that Cassandra Nova basically puts Hyperion and Power Princess out of commission for a couple of weeks (in-story time). That seems like a pretty big deal, especially for a tie-in book! Not only does it take away two heavy hitters, it establishes Cassandra as a major player — assuming that the main story follows up on it, of course.

Shane Bailey: Yeah, I’m really not expecting Nova to play a central role in the story, but I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong? Maybe. So, all these took place at the same time. Are next week’s books going to push time forward? Maybe we’ll skip ahead those two weeks?

Tom Bondurant: It could be addressed in a few different ways, basically saying “this happened and now things are back to normal.” I guess I would be disappointed if it weren’t addressed somehow.

Shane Bailey: Agreed.

Carla Hoffman: Or all of that happened before Blade became aware, like in the ’80s for that Mutant Massacre feel

JK Parkin: I’m curious to see if the last page was just a one-off for that shock effect, or if this was a stealth way to re-introduce Cassandra Nova into the MU. At the end of Age of Apocalypse several of those characters, like X-Man and Dark Beast, ended up in the regular MU. I don’t really expect that, but even after things are reset there could still be some residual fallout.

And are we ready to jump to Young Squadron?

Shane Bailey: I am!

JK Parkin: Young Squadron was probably my favorite of this week’s comics, but I was always a fan of Jim Zub’s and Steven Cummings’ work, and of Champions in general, so this was up my alley. What did you think?

Shane Bailey: I’m actually a big Jim Zub and Champions fan too, so I was happy to see him here.

I actually enjoyed this one, for once it wasn’t super dark, even though Falcon is apparently dead, I liked Miles talking up that role in the absence of Spider-Man. I’m not sure why the Avengers being gone would mean no Inhumans with Kamala though. Did they mention that in passing? I know they mentioned eradicating the Nova Force in the main book this week.

JK Parkin: In the main book Doctor Spectrum mentioned that the last of the Inhumans were locked up in Knowhere.

Carla Hoffman: Also they eliminated the “Black Nova force,” leading me to wonder if there was a Green Nova force, etc.

Young Squadron #1 so far has done the most to explain how the rest of the world falls into place with the Squadron Supreme in charge.  A great mix of Young Justice and Champions, the hokey origin stories for the three super-teens makes sense and requires little thought over the nitty-gritty details.  I guess Nighthawk is getting Spider-Man’s rogues and thus a dead Robin and replacement Robin in one book, I needed the “Deadpool as Harley Quinn” moment to think of the big picture.  A fun little story with moderate stakes and some human interest in what side of good our new heroes land on…

Shane Bailey: I had forgotten that Kamala got her powers from the Terrigen Cloud.

I didn’t even think of the Batman/Robin connection there. God, I missed the Deadpool was Harley thing too. I have no reading comprehension.

I thought this was the easiest book to get into out of all the issues so far. Everything you needed to enjoy the story was here and it was nice that the younger heroes are some of the first to “come out of the cloud” that the populace is in with regards to the Squadron. And yeah definite Young Justice vibes.

JK Parkin: Agreed — I like the throwback to the Silver Age in those opening panels, too, with the Stan Lee-esque narration that introduced them. And of course, Rick Jones makes an appearance! As a blogger! If I didn’t love him before, I certainly do now.

Shane Bailey: Yeah they brought back Whisper Rick Jones from that Pleasant Hill type storyline where he was reporting on SHIELD and in Nick Spencer’s Cap.

Carla Hoffman: Always more Rick Jones!

Tom Bondurant: The Miles/Falcon origin is very Tim Drake, who helped save Batman (and Nightwing too, I think) from Two-Face and got a “take that costume off” for his trouble. I want to say that Cassie Sandsmark’s powers came originally from magical artifacts, so Girl Power’s origin tracks closely to that. Since these days you rarely see teen sidekicks with their mentors, it was nice that Kamala and Sam are apparently teaming up regularly with Power Princess and Doctor Spectrum. Ironically, Green Lanterns don’t really have sidekicks, and none of the Wonder Girls has ever hung out regularly with Wonder Woman. Still, it was pretty clever to have Falcon as Nighthawk’s partner (and to remove another potential Avenger by killing off Sam Wilson).

Tom Bondurant: Oh, and another Teen Titans parallel: The original group’s origin (told in the final issue of the ’70s revival series, a few years before New Teen Titans debuted) had the Justice League mind-controlled into being baddies, so their sidekicks decided to team up and take them down.

Carla Hoffman: It in this case, they are actually baddies and they had to have Dead-Quin explain things.

Tom Bondurant: Anyway, I have questions: Who’s Scorpia, the female Scorpion? I thought there was a female Scorpion in main-line Marvel continuity, but I’m not that familiar with her (obviously) and here she kind of has Janet Van Dyne’s old hairdo.

Carla Hoffman: You mean Carmella Black, the daughter of the Scientist Supreme and (allegedly) Bruce Banner?

Tom Bondurant: If you say so.

Carla Hoffman: And Janet’s bob is very fashionable!

Tom Bondurant: Likewise, are we supposed to recognize the villains on page 11 — specifically, the rat-guy and his minions, and the one in panel 2 with the horse-head costume? I thought the second one might be a Checkmate allusion, and I guess the first would be a “ratcatcher”; but both of those seem like deep cuts (not to mention stretches).

JK Parkin: The rat guy is Vermin, an old Captain America villain. He also appeared in Kraven’s Last Hunt. The horsehead guy is Unicorn, an old Iron Man villain.

Tom Bondurant: Since Deadpool mentions it, I’m kind of surprised Marvel didn’t put out a “Who’s Who Official Handbook” issue so we could keep track of everyone.

Shane Bailey: I loved the New Scorpion when she debuted in Amazing Fantasy way back when, but that’s another roundtable.

I also loved Vermin, and yeah he was a crossover villain that J.M. DeMatteis used in both Captain America with Zemo and in Spectacular Spider-Man throughout his run there.

I’m not as familiar with Unicorn besides knowing he was an Iron Man villain. I don’t think I’ve ever read something with him as the main villain.

JK Parkin: He fires energy blasts out of that thing on his forehead. Which seemed really cool when I was a kid but now it doesn’t seem very practical.

Tom Bondurant: Wow, that was very informative! Overall I thought this was one of the better tie-ins, and generally one of the most fully-realized examples of the Squadron-fied Marvel Universe. It mashed a lot of DC influences together with existing Marvel characters and gave us a few more heroes who want to depose the Squadron. I really liked Steven Cummings’ art, both on its own and for its stylistic similarities to Tom Grummett’s. Of course, Grummett was a longtime New Titans, Robin and Superboy artist, so that style is very appropriate for this book.

Next week: We return to talk about Nighthawk and more! Join us!

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