Need to Know: Insider's Guide to Comics TV 1-31-12

Arrow, “Vertigo”


The aftermath of Thea Queen's drug induced car wreck is the impetus for the action in this week's Arrow. The titular hero is on the war path for the source of the party drug Vertigo, threatening via some fancy bow work dealers of said drug to give up their source. The sole source of the drug is revealed to be a man known only by the name “The Count.”

At Thea's arraignment, a sweetheart deal for some probation gets thrown out by a crusading (and up for reelection) judge who is ready to throw the book at the youngest member of the Queen family. Thea is nonplussed by the ruling, glad to have the chance to embarrass her mother over what she thinks is her infidelity against her father and step-father with Malcolm Merlyn. Oliver turns to Laurel, who in turn turns to her father to help get the 'innocent and promising' young lady off the hook.

In his secret lab, The Count is not happy with being named to mysterious hooded vigilante, and injects the squealing dealer with the raw form of Vertigo which causes the victim to feel am extreme amount of simulated pain, to the point where when The Count offer the dosed dealer chance to shoot him dead, the dealer instead chooses suicide to stop the pain.

Oliver decides a different approach is necessary to confront The Count. At the police station and with the story that he's trying to help his sister he meets up with the young Detective McKenna Hall of the vice squad.  As it turns out, McKenna used to run with Oliver in his partying days, but is now on the straight and narrow. She lets Oliver know that The Count has never been seen and is operating out of an unknown location.

With Diggle in tow, Oliver returns to the garage headquarters of the Russian Mob, as in his position as a captain in that organization asks the local boss to set up a meeting. The boss, still skeptical that the millionaire scion of the Queen family is really a mob captain, asks Oliver to kill a man for him. Oliver quickly applies what looks like a choke hold, but is later revealed to be a kind of Vulcan Neck Pinch, and gets his meeting.

At the meeting, The Count, who killed 56 people in the process of developing Vertigo, is amenable to  Oliver's plan to distribute the drug though his new nightclub, but before he can plant a tracer on renegade chemist, the police arrive. All parties get away, but not before The Count is able to dose Oliver with half of the pure formula.

Though Diggle is able to save him using more of the herbs that he brought back from the island, Oliver is still dizzied by the effects of the drug. When McKenna and  Detective Lance confront him about being at the meeting with the Russian mob and the city’s most wanted drug kingpin, Oliver is somehow able to bluff them that his intentions were pure.

With the half injected liquid sample of the drug, Oliver gets Felicity to analyze it and determine the location of The Count's lab by the makeup of the water in the syringes. Diggle tries to talk Oliver out of going there, boldly challenging him to shoot one of the oft victimized tennis balls out of his hand, but the still dizzy archer is unable to. Defiantly he leaves his bow in the Arrow Cave and goes after The Count anyway.

Even in his condition, Oliver is more than a match for The Count's thugs, drunken boxing his way thorough a dozen of them and taking down The Count, who fairs a bit better then expected. Armed with another pure Vertigo needle, Oliver starts to inject The Count but is shamed out of dosing him all the way by the timely arrival of McKenna and Lance, thanks again to the former's secret tipster. Ultimately, The Count survives his encounter with Oliver, but is trapped in never-ending pain and is committed to a secure hospital.

Elsewhere, Moria Queen admits that she was covering for her late husbands infidelity,Thea forgives her and takes the deal that Laurel set up for her with the Judge. Thea is now committed to community service at Laurel's legal aid office. Finally, Felicity hesitantly brings Moria's copy of the book that Walter found to Oliver, who know knows of his mother's involvement in his father's organization.

On Purgatory Island, the imprisoned Oliver can't get a satisfactory answer from Yao Fei about his apparent betrayal, and is forced to watch Deathstroke brutally beat a man then finish him with his sword. Fryers then orders Oliver and Yao Fei to fight to the death. It doesn't go well for Oliver and Yao Fei apparently kills him with a familiar looking choke hold. Later, when it is time to dump the losers off a cliff and into a river, Yao Fei secretly revives Oliver, slips him the foreign language map of the island and push him into the water. Coming ashore, Oliver check the map to see that  Yao Fei has drawn a path to a point marked with an Omega symbol and an instruction to survive.

Back Issue Notes

-A long-time Green Arrow villain, Count Vertigo was the deposed heir to a tiny Eastern European kingdom that was absorbed by the Soviet Union. Born with his royal family hereditary trait of a sever inner ear defect, and experimental corrective device gave him the power to project a disorientating field   from his body (perfect against precision based heroes like archers). He used this power to commit petty crimes in a futile effort to restore his royal legacy.

-Detective McKenna Hall might be the heir to the Hawkman legacy from DC comics. The first of many to be called Hawkman was a Carter Hall, who used a winged harness made out of a special metal that allowed flight. Most applicably though they both fought on the side of justice, the strict law and order minded Hawkman was depicted to be the ideological opposite of the more passionate Green Arrow, a pattern that now might repeat with a friendship between a cop and a law breaking vigilante.

-Purgatory Oliver's map is marked by Omega symbols, which in the DC Universe has come to represent not only death, but anti-life, levaing open the possibely of an Arrow version of the villain Darkseid.

Young Justice, “The Fix”


Artemis, in her Tigress guise, has little time to lament her decision to give up her civilian life when Black Manta informers of his plan to get Psimon to restore his son's mind. Thinking fast to maintain their cover, she drugs the psychic but not fast enough before he learns their secret. Oblivious to the trust still, Artemis convinces Black Manta that Miss Martian is the only one who can help Aqualad, but is forced to take Deathstroke along with her on the kidnap mission.

At the same time, the Green Beetle is being grilled by the team to prove his aliment, offering encouragement to a troubled Miss Martian and revealing that The Reach's beverage product contains three special ingredients: a genetic marker to trace people who have either an active or inactive meta-gene, a drug that will sap the will of humanity making them incapable of revolt and an addictive agent to keep people drinking the beverage.

Afterward, Lagoon Boy and Miss Martian return to Chicago where the former confronts the Martian about her emotional distance but they are first attacked by Artemis and Deathstroke. While Artemis and   Miss Martian psychically plot to stage the kidnapping, a 'hulk-ed out' Lagoon Boy is no match for Deathstroke. Aboard Black Manta's vessel, Miss Martian, crippled by a power inhibitor collar, enters Aqualad's mind and with Artemis' battles a projection of the late Aquagirl, Tula, until they can talk a mindless Aqualad projection back to consciousness at least part of the way. The full reconstruction process is going to take weeks.

At the hospital, Nightwing lets Lagoon Boy and Superboy in on the undercover agent plan, which doesn’t sit well with either of Miss Martian’s beaus. Meanwhile Blue Beetle talked Green Beetle into using his shape shifting and knowledge of The Reach to try and deactivate Jaime's Scarab, the process silence's the alien weapons voice which delights Jaime, but worries Impulse.

Back Issue Notes

-G. Gordon Godfry appears in a TV ad for The Reach drink (available in Strawberry Mango and Peach!), implying that the forces he represents are at least game for their plan.

-Though Deathstroke appears unpowered, his mastery of combat tactics and all sorts of weaponry is augmented by an experimental chemical treatment that expanded his mind, augmented his strength and improved his reflexes.

-Deathstroke half black, half orange mask is an actual advertisement that he is blind on that side (the result of a less that amicable split from his first wife) and a challenge to foes to try and go after him from that direction if they dare.

-Green Beetle's real name, B'arzz O'oomm, is a play on “Barsoom” the name the locals have for the planet Mars in Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels of adventure on that planet, one of which was made into the movie John Carter.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series, “Loss”


It’s all about secrets and lies being revealed this week on GL:TAS, The Guardian of the Universe Scar is on Ysmault, the homeworld of the Red Lanterns, to sign and celebrate a peace treaty between the Reds and the Greens, but both sides are hiding something. New Red Lantern leader, the egotistical and cowardly schemer Zilius Zox is playing the Green Lanterns for time so he can rebuild his forces at their expense, while the visiting Guardian works to keep knowledge of the return of the Manhunters from her new 'allies,' as they are the source of their conflict. This task is made much more difficult by the activation of a heavily damaged leftover Manhunter near the site of the treaty signing.

Reluctantly Scar calls in Hal's Emerald (and Ruby) Action Team to deal with it on the QT. Despite being unhappy with the fact that Aya, who she had ordered destroyed, citing the Guardian's bad luck with AIs in the past, was still around, Scar lets them get to it. The plan to deal with the Manhunter quietly goes right out the window and their smashing around draws the attention of Zox, whom Hal has to kidnap in order to keep the secret of the Manhunter revival.

Major diplomatic faux pas are put aside almost immediately as an anti-matter pulse signals the arrival of the Anti-Monitor and his robot legions into the sector. Scar and Hal's team are forced to level with Zox and the Guardian is forced to disclose the history of the Anti-Monitor. Its is a creator on rogue Guardian Krona, who was looking to create the ultimate being to help him discover the origin of the universe. The Anti-Monitor had other plans and used its almost unlimited power and matter eating to destroy the universe, until Krona banished it to another dimension.

Scar's history lesson unfortunately takes too long and the Interceptor is spotted by the Anti-Monitor, and pursued by Manhunters. Since the jump to light-speed will take a little while, The ringbearers, minus a cowardly Zox, take to space to buy some time. When Razor is separated from Hal and Kilowog on the way back Aya attempts a rescue, but is blasted by the Anti-Monitor after pushing Razor out of the way. Partially disintegrated, Razor confesses his love for the AI before she 'dies.'

The team, minus Aya, escapes.

Back Issue Notes

-Best Construct Award:  To keep the damaged Manhunter away from prying eyes, Hal deploys a green rod and reel and hooks himself a giant robot and reels him back into the shadows

- Krona is a cosmic level threat in the DC Universe, his obsession with the origins of the universe have  imperiled all life in not only this universe, but even every alternate universe. His power even extends into meta-fiction, once threatening the Marvel Universe in the epic JLA/Avengers inter-publisher crossover.

Ultimate Spider-Man, “The Rhino”


Another OSCORP/Dr. Octopus bio-organic fluid stands in for more conventional weapons as Ultimate Spider-Man tackles the issues of school bullying and vengeance driven rampages about the same in an episode where Spider-Man’s classic rampaging villain, The Rhino, is completely reinvented.

After rescuing a group of scientists from an OSCORP lab fire with the aid of Power Man, a giant man/rhinoceros hybrid calling itself The Rhino bursts out of the wreckage carrying some containers and smacks the off-guard heroes around for a while before escaping. While SHIELD tracks him down, the heroes return to school where a previously mellowed Flash Thomson is bullying Alex, a diminutive ‘nerd’ who refuses to give up his science homework.

Peter Parker tries to intervene and befriend this new character, but is rebuffed with an almost meta-comment on how this Peter Parker is not only respected by his former tormenter, but has a pair of social circles that includes the popular and beautiful Mary Jane, generous trust fund kid Harry Osborn and the four ‘new kids’ who also live at his house. Alex also has a grudge against Peter, who gave up an OSCORP internship that Alex had since worked hard to get for himself.

That night, SHIELD reports that The Rhino is likely to attack a shipment of bio-organic fluids on a train leaving the city. When he does appear, it’s revealed that the fluid includes a rhinoceros mutagen similar to the one that turned Dr. Connor’s into The Lizard and that during the resulting battle Rhino manages to cut through Power Man’s unbreakable skin and injure the hero. Rhino escapes again, but Peter picks up on some of the clues the destructive but dim-witted villain drops and makes a connection back to Alex.

The next morning, Flash’s car is in a mangled heap in front of the school and is spray painted with a warning. Choosing to act unconcerned that someone has managed to destroy his car and is willing to do the same to his bodywork enrages Alex, who drinks some of the Rhino mutagen and transforms. In the ensuring rampage, Spider-Man keeps Rhino occupied while Flash returns to his home. It’s revealed that Flash lives in a dilapidated gas station alone and all but abandoned by his parents, but there is no time to discuss the cyclical nature of physical and emotional abuse as the Rhino arrives and the gas station, littered with junked cars and explosive hazard is the perfect place for a super powered fight.

Just when it seems that Spider-Man is done for, a still-wounded Power Man arrives to turn the tide and help punch out Rhino, who transforms back into Alex. The former Rhino is marched off by SHIELD as all parties involved, including Alex, Flash and Spider-Man (who kinda blows his secret identity here but nobody notices, especially since fellow classmate Luke Cage’s disguise is a pair of sunglasses) lament that they didn’t do more to prevent this tragedy.

Back Issue Notes

-Alex is the Romanized version of the original Rhino’s real name, Aleksei Mikhailovich Sytsevich, who first appeared in 1966 as a dim-witted Eastern European thug who agreed to have an experimental suit bonded to his skin that would increase his speed and strength.

-Power Man’s unbreakable skin, its origins as yet unexplained in Ultimate Spider-Man, was originally the result of unethical experimentation on prisoners, including an unjustly incarcerated Luke Cage. Though it is gashed in this episode, it’s said that nothing short of an adamantium blade can cut the hero.

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