Last week was a dark week in comics. We saw some awfully, darned good villains cut down, one by one, in Masters of Evil, and we saw the same villain, Nightmare, appearing concurrently in two different titles, sporting two vastly different looks, driven by two completely different motivations. That’s a nightmare, all right… for Marvel’s editing staff. Meanwhile, in the DCU, Gail Simone takes a break from her duties at Secret Six, and we have to suffer through a series of kill scenes masqueading as a plot. Here are some of the lowlights. Click on the thumbnails for a full-page excerpt.

The Leaper vs the Licker

Masters of Evil #4

What had been a thoroughly enjoyable limited series came to an abrupt halt as the Hood’s plans to operate from an island fortress was halted by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Red Guard. With all of the vicious bloodletting, I can see why this Guard is Red.

Y’know, I was really bothered by this.* I counted eight legacy villains terminated within about as many pages: Batroc the Leaper, Blizzard, the Constrictor, Wrecker, Sand-man, Madame Masque, the Hood and Absorbing Man.

I’ve been reading enough comics to know that many (or all) of these deaths are far from permanent, but it really bothered me to see heroes I’ve always considered… well, heroic… dispatching villains with such extreme prejudice. For example, Nightcrawler phasing Blizzard partway through a boulder? That’s just cold.

* I have been alerted by a couple of helpful Henchpeople that this story is an out-of-continuity arc, and has no effect on the Marvel Universe Proper. Color me red.

All the good names really *are* taken…

Batman: The Widening Gyre #3

The new hero in Gotham introduces himself to Batman after helping take doen third-stringer Black Spider.

Batman: Do you have a name?
Baphomet: I’ve been calling myself ‘Baphomet’, but I’ve never said it to anyone out loud yet. You’re my first.
Batman: Baphomet. The Sabbatic goat. It smacks of villainy..
Baphomet: I wanted something that’d scare the piss out of sociopaths.

Batman: You’re not a stoner, are you?

Note to Baphomet: It’s “superstitious and cowardly,” not “bookish and scholarly.” There aren’t many Gotham villains who are going to catch the reference to a character that first appeared in a late twelfth century Provençal poem and later as a term for a pagan idol in trial transcripts of the Inquisition of the Knights Templar in the early 1300s. And if those horns aren’t throwing his balance way off, I’d be amazed. Although it does remind me of that period of time in the eighties during which Batman’s ears got so ridiculously long that it took Frank Miller himself to clip them back.

Deadshot? Try Deadplot

Secret Six #15

That wasn’t fair. John Ostrander is a great writer. It’s just that Gail Simone has developed something really tremendous with Secret Six, and anything that’s not that is just… not that. And this really wasn’t that. Instead it was a brief introspection into Deadshot’s character, interspersed with several gratuitous, gorey kill scenes, culminating in a psychobabble conclusion that Deadshot’s brother, his son and Batman are all interchangeable where Deadshot’s psyche is concerned. In a diner, Deadshot explains his troubles to Rev. Richard Craemer, former chaplain at Belle Reve

Deadshot: Actually had my hands on a genuine “get out of jail free” card.
Rev. Craemer: That’s no big deal, Floyd. I have some in my wallet There’s a place online where you can get them.

Come back, soon, Gail.

From Deadshot to Deadpool

Deadpool Team-Up #1

Meanwhile, back in the Marvel Universe, the inaugural issue of Deadpool Team-up opens witha pairing of Merc and Herc. As I said in “Five to Pull” last week, both of these characters have experienced a renaissance in the past year-or-so, so it’s fun to see them played off one another. besides, they both have unique voices (several, in the case of Deadpool). And let’s not forget the history each has to share.

Hercules: So Mino’s queen Pasiphae ventured onto the pasture inside the cow costume. The Cretan bull was completely fooled! The beast got on top of her, then–
Deadpool: Burg! That’s where minotaurs come from? Geez, you ancient Greeks really know how to throw a party…
Hercules: Aye. Good times. Good times.

The Doctor is In. For now

Dr. Voodoo #2

I just found another reason to dislike the new Sorceror Supreme. (As if that “juju” stuff wasn’t enough.) I must have missed this before, but he’s guided by the spirit of his dead brother who seems to eminate from a cauldron. So, now he’s not only swiping the Dr. Strange shtick, but that of yet another mystical comics character — a sorcerer who has been conjuring a ghostly guide out of a cauldron for decades! This has to stop.