Batman: Arkham City #3
We start things off with a criminal, avoiding the G.C.P.D. and breaking into Arkham City. I'm pretty sure he's Batman but we don't have any proof as of yet, anyway, he thinks to himself that Joker and Penguin has both set out to make themselves the main crime boss in Arkham City, and decides to interview with the Clown Prince of Crime for a job. After a few tests by the Harlequin of Hate, our boy makes it face to face with The Joker, and also face to face with the barrel of Harley's gun. And no, that is not a euphemism. Joker asks for the guy's name, and he replies that he's Lester Kurtz, and Harley looks him up, finding out that he's done time for armed robbery, grand theft auto and aggravated assault, as well as spent two years in Arkham. Joker likes the cut of his jib, and offers Kurtz a spot on his band of merry men, which Kurtz accepts. Harley leads him to his room and once he gets away he escapes from Casa De Joker and goes to see what Cobblepot is offering. Penguin tells Kurtz he's never heard of him but he's big and strong so he's in, and he doesn't have to go through any initiations like with The Joker. Pengy then notes that he's about to be short one thug anyone, and calls out one for double-crossing him and selling his secrets to "The Joker's slut". Penguin quickly puts him to work and has his men go to the Gotham Armory to steal guns before The Joker can send his own men. Penguin's men get to the guns but Joker's men show up and Kurtz throws a grenade that saves the men at the expense of the guns. He and one of the other thugs note that sense so many of Joker's thugs were nabbed at the explosion by the cops, that they have a number advantage over Joker's crew, but Penguin is still pissed. Penguin cuts his pay and tells him now he'll be leading an attack on The Joker the next day, and Kurtz says fine. While Penguin's guards escort Kurtz away, he takes them out and reveals that he was Batman in disguise all along. He thinks to himself that Oracle really helped him out by coming up with the fake rap sheet and now he knows firsthand about the tension between Joker and The Penguin. Batman thinks to himself how he still doesn't know who's behind the stuff with Mayor/Warden Sharp though, and the issue ends as Batman leaves, unaware he's been watched the whole time by Hugo Strange. This was another really good issue, it built more interest for the breaking point, it shows us what we have to look forward to with Joker and Penguin, as well as keeping Strange relevant, and not giving away too much. It even hinted that Killer Croc, or someone else may be below Penguin's layer, so we'll have to wait and see. I'm hoping the next issue we see an appearance by Tim Drake, Riddler, Catwoman or another with Two-Face, but this was a really good, interesting issue, I'll give this a 9/10.
Hugo Strange: The disguises, the elaborate subterfuge, He's only a boy at play, really. Motivated by a child's intense passion and unshakable convictions, but ultimately doomed to fail.
Gotham City Sirens #24
And from one comic with Joker, Harley and Bats to another. And man that cover is mega creepy, especially the shadow that completely covers Joker's eyes. We start things off with Ivy telling Harley Quinn to choose between her and Joker. Ivy tries to talk sense into Harley but Harley keeps her talking so Joker can free himself from her vines. Harley and Joker attack Ivy but she blasts them both back. She asks Harley what's wrong with her, and she never acts this way, even around Joker. Harley asks how does she know that's not the real her and the rest is just an act. Harley continues her psychological mind games on Ivy, while Ivy desperately tries to get Harley to realize Joker doesn't love her. Harley then jumps to the crux of the matter, and says the only reason Ivy is her friend, is because Ivy loves Harley! Wooooo, thank you Peter Calloway. Ivy is caught off guard by Harley's statement, so Harley then manages to beat Ivy senseless, before casually dumping her into the whole she emerged form in the prior issue. On the next page we get a pretty awesome picture of Joker and Harley jumping down at the same time as Bats and Catwoman, and it's split screen so it looks as if Harley and Selina are composite Superman/Batman. Anyway, Batman and Catwoman take out a bunch of the inmates, including Clayface in a pretty funny scene. Bats tells Cash to turn on all the lights, then turn them off when he says so, and when Joker see's the lights come on, he whips out two blindfolds for Harley and himself, and tells her to put it on, interesting. Catwoman takes out Zsasz but manages to get surrounded by more inmates, but Bats drops down and tells Cash to cut the lights. When they go out, Bats turns on his Night-Vision and Selina does the same, and they make short work of the inmates. When the lights go out, Joker and Harley remove the blindfolds, and she realizes Joker had them do that so they wouldn't get dilated pupils when the lights went out. Joker and Harley then finally meet with Batman ad Catwoman, and they all have it out, but when Batman throws a light grenade and temporarily blinds Joker and Harley, they manage to subdue them, then the both of them are admitted back to Arkham with the rest of the inmates. Catwoman then finds Ivy, still knocked out and wakes her up. She mentions how they missed her when arresting the inmates, but Catwoman didn't. She then mentions how she could let her escape, but she won't, she wants revenge for when Ivy tried to steal information from her by force, and we see back when Ivy tried to drug Catwoman into telling her who Batman was. Catwoman then turns Ivy in and tells her to enjoy her stay at Arkham, as this issue ends. This was a great issue, I kept expecting Harley to be double-crossed or do it to Joker but it never happened. I'm just wondering what the last two issues of Sirens are going to be about, with one as a good guy and the other two in Arkham. I'll give this issue an 8/10 only due to the fact the fight we all wanted only lasted one splash page.
Harley Quinn: Is it because you love me?
The Incredible Hulk Annual #1
Hulk looks SO constipated...Anyway here we are at the finale of one of the best tri-series crossovers this year in my opinion, waaaay better than that Batman/Sirens/Red Robin crossover, Identity Wars. We start things off with a trip to hell, where we see The Amazing Spider, Peter Parker's soul is there while his body is comatose, and he's taking a beaten from one of Mephisto's minions. We also see this dimension's Wade Wilson, Death Mask, being sent to hell. Death Mask notes that they have a deal, he's going to serve Mephisto, and he says he's basically sending him to hell to toughen him up. We then see Hulk land in hell, and he's ready for a fight, as are all of the hell dwellers. Apparently Hulk and Bruce are separate entities here. Anyway, back on the parallel Earth, their evil horned Hulk goes after the alternate Banner, who is actually Doctor Strange's protege. He tries to banish this Hulk away but he's too much for Bruce, that is until The Amazing Spider (Our Spider-Man) shows up to help him out. It turns out Banner realizes Pete isn't the real Amazing Spider-Man, tipped off by his demeanor and the fact he's rocking HIS costume and not the Amazing Spider's. Once Deadpool shows up, Spidey has Magic Banner turn Deadpool's appearance into his own, so he can lead Hulk away. Spidey then introduces the magic Banner to our Bruce Banner, and they quickly realize the only way to stop this Hulk is to reverse the seperation spell, which will put both Bruce's back with their respective Hulk's. After some magic, both Hulks are brought to the same place as both Banner's and Spidey. They have a pretty boring fight and Hulk snaps his neck while he's in human form, yawn. Parker, Banner and Deadpool are then sent back to their own world, but not before Peter Parker drops the Amazing Spider name and comes back as Ghost Spider... I kid you not, as the issue ends. I loved the other two issues but this one was slow and boring, and it doesn't help that I'm not a big Hulk fan, this REALLY bored me which is sad because I enjoyed the other 66.6%, I'll give this a 4/10 rating.
Hulk: C'mon... Pumpkin. Is that really the best you can do? (Hulk SUCKS at trash talking...)
Amazing Spider-Man #644
We start things off with Anti-Venom standing over a tied up Spider-Man, and he tells him he gets why Spidey always fights him, because all his team ups start this way, with Daredevil, the FF, the Avengers, it's so true. Anti-Venom tells him he's Eddie Brock and tries to remove Spidey's mask but it stays on due to his sticky skin power, which luckily is still working. Eddie says that's fine, he had to earn Spidey's trust, and tells him he's trying to stop Mr. Negative. Spidey notes that he hates him too, but only stopped Anti-Venom so he wouldn't attack Martin Li, and Brock explains that Li is Negative, but Spidey doesn't believe him so Anti-Venom takes off to prove him wrong, leaving Spidey webbed up in his lair. We then see The Wraith, Jean DeWolff, getting information out of someone on Li's payroll, while unbeknownst to her, Forensic scientist and girlfriend of Peter Parker, Carlie Cooper, is watching the Wraith and taking pictures. Over at a press conference involving Jameson and Martin Li, Norah and Randy are filming a piece on it when Phil Urich, the newest Hobgoblin shows up, jealous since he's Norah's cameraman. After some friction with Randy and Phil, Norah asks Phil to film her interview with Mr. Li, to which he agrees to, but thinks to himself that he needs to come up with a permanent plan for getting Randy out of the picture. Over with Martin Li, one of his guards mentions their plans are underway, which a security guard hears and pursues them, as the security guard is actually Anti-Venom in disguise. Once Spidey finally frees himself from Anti-Venom's webbing, he's webbed up again but the recently returned Anti-Venom, which was pretty funny. He carries Spider-Man to the museum so he can prove once and for all that he's not crazy and Martin Li is Mister Negative. Eddie webs up Spidey so he can watch him prove him wrong, but when Eddie thinks he's early for his attack on Mr. Negative, he's instead stabbed in the back with a sword which counteracts Anti-Venom's healing abilities. Spider-Man is still struggling to get free ends up getting loose thanks to help from the Wraith, as they rush into action. Spidey, Anti-Venom, and the Wraith take on Negative and his henchmen but Spidey realizes they may have a problem so he sets off a museum alarm, and manages to get a HUGE shot in on Mister Negative when the villain lowers his guard. Wraith takes advantage to use her facial recognition tech and confirms that Martin Li and Mister Negative are one in the same, and uses that tech to send the analysis to every computer, smart phone and TV within range. Negative, knowing he's defeated, runs away and leaves a cloud of cyanide, so the heroes don't pursue. The Wraith leaves since she can't face the cops, and Spidey pulls the sword out of Anti-Venom's back who then heals and leaves, once Spidey admits he was wrong, which makes Anti happy that Spidey trusts him somewhat. One they leave and the cops show up, Carlie slips into a back room, and Spidey follows her on the ceiling, to a room where she confronts Captain Watanabe and tells her she knows she's the Wraith, as she planted planted her phone in her bag and followed the G.P.S. and Watanabe admits it, that she did it to make a difference and scare people into telling the truth while honoring Jean. Carlie tells her if she figured it out someone else could too, so maybe it's better to take a break for a while, and the Captain concurs. The issue ends shortly after with Peter knowing Carlie can keep a secret and wishing he could tell her his secret about being Spider-Man. This was a really good issue, lots of fun with Eddie and Peter, Eddie came off looking good for once, and even the Wraith reveal made sense, I'll give this issue a 9/10.
Anti-Venom: See, This is what I'm talking about! No one takes crazy Eddie Brock seriously! But I'll show you, I'll show everybody!Spider-Man: Right, because only the super-sane people storm off yelling, "I'll show everybody."
Man I've been waiting for this issue! We start things off seeing that Flash left a bomb with Jack O'Lantern and the villains, which apparently is the bomb that was implanted in the symbiote. The Symbiote is so smart it expelled the bomb because it knew there was a chance it would be detonated. Meanwhile, Venom is fighting Spider-Man and Flash has no control, he's just hoping Spidey can kill them before he and the symbiote hurt someone. Flash is trying to gain control of the symbiote long enough to tell Spider-Man that Betty is strapped to a bomb, but between Spidey punching his teeth down his throat and the symbiote overwhelming Flash it's pretty damn hard. Flash tries to get the symbiote to run but Spidey, thinking he's the one behind Betty's disappearance, keeps attacking, which just ticks off the symbiote. When Venom knocks Spidey through a drug store, Flash spots a shelf of sedatives and makes the symbiote take them all, and the rage of the symbiote gets sleepy instead, but it's still trying to over control Flash. Flash makes the symbiote tell Spidey that Betty is on Valentine Lane, but the symbiote then picks up a truck and flings it at Spidey who uses his body as a shield to save pedestrians. Flash outright yells at the symbiote that he will not kill Spider-Man, he's going to go save Betty, because if he doesn't Dodge will kill Flash, and the symbiote decides he doesn't want another host, and gives Flash full control. Flash tries his best to save Betty but the building explodes before he gets there, luckily Spidey was faster and saves her, but she's in shock. Venom slowly thanks Spider-Man but Spidey tells him he failed in trying to hurt Betty and next time he's taking him down. The symbiote then gives in to Flash because it knows it went too far, and Flash finds a Spider-Tracer on himself, but keeps it, because he knows once he stops Jack O'Lantern and the rest of the bad guys, he'll probably need Spidey to take him down. Venom heads after the Vibranium Shipment but is stopped en route by Jack O'Lantern, and Venom's had a toll taken on him thanks to all the sedatives, as well as the fights with Kraven and Spider-Man. Jack O'Lantern lays into Venom, all the while saying how psyched he is to finally have an arch-enemy, citing how real enemies have a grudge, then showing the remains of his face after Venom threw a grenade into it. Jack's fun is cut short when he's told by his boss the Vibranium shipment is being intercepted by government guys and to get back to guarding it now, and as Jack flies off he tells "Eugene" he'll be seeing him soon, unbeknownst to him that Venom has stuck the Spider-Tracer on Jack O'Lantern. Back at the base, Flash lies to his superior, saying the run-in with Spidey was the only time he lost control of the suit, and also keeps quiet about Crime Master, considering he knows Venom is Flash Thompson now. The issue ends with a conversation about the recent events with Flash, Peter Parker and Betty Brant literally in the middle of them as they wonder why exactly she was brought into things, and Venom and Spider-Man are unaware their a mere inches away from one another. And once again, Rick Remender outdoes himself. He's brought new life to one of my favorite characters and he's made Flash my favorite Venom after only one arc, so I can definitely say I'm into Venom for the long haul, this issue gets a perfect 10/10 rating.
Flash: My name is Flash Thompson. I'm about to kill my lifelong hero.
And that's it for this week's Ratings and Rantings, feel free to comment and leave any questions for me and be sure to participate in the Top Five 5! For those of you that don't know how it goes, you send me your top five picks for each category at KevinKavalier@gmail.com and I'll post the answers this Monday, July 4th, and compare everyone's results. Make sure ya send your picks in ASAP so you don't forget. The topics are below, and here's hoping you guys participate before the deadline of Sunday 10:00 pm EST. And lastly, be sure to vote on this week's newest poll and check out the last poll results below the Top Five 5 topics. Until next time, I'm your friendly neighborhood Blogger-Man, Jason Todd. You stay classy, Todd Squad.
Note: None of your picks are limited to DC, they can include Marvel, Image or whatever you like.
5 Characters You'd give a Green Lantern (Will) Ring?
5 Characters You'd give a Red Lantern (Rage) Ring?
5 Characters You'd give a Yellow Lantern (Fear) Ring?
5 Characters You'd give a Orange Lantern (Greed) Ring?
5 Characters You'd give a Blue Lantern (Hope) Ring?
Last week's poll asked "What DCnU retcon do you wish you could keep the same?"
Last place with 13.12% - Teen Titans and their old designs.
Second Place with 27.7% - Tie between Dick Grayson as Batman and Steph Brown as Batgirl
Winner with 33.3% -Barbara Gordon staying Oracle
Next Week on Ratings and Rantings
Batman and Robin #25, Batman Beyond #7, and Titans Annual 2011 so I have at least three books...