Justice League of America #19
Script- Alan Burnett; Pencils- Ed Benes
“Sanctuary”, part 3, involves the Justice League team’s impending visit to Cygnus 4019, a planet in a distant galaxy. It seems that Cygnus, aka the ‘Prison Planet’, was designated by the US Government as an option for exiling the most incorrigible of super-criminals. Said to have an Earth-like environment, the idea is that groups of criminals would be sent there to fend for themselves instead of keeping them on Earth to be potential threats on either a local or global scale.
The Justice League finds out that a group of criminals was recently sent there—and they have J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter as a mole in their midst. Only problem is, J’onn hasn’t checked in for quite a while. Meanwhile, Amanda Waller of the National Security Council (and shadow-ops government agencies) is confronting the team about the necessities of having extreme options in place for the criminal element—or potentially, any meta-threats out there.
The team takes a galaxy-hopping ship to the planet—only they don’t find the criminals they’ve been looking for—but maybe a greater threat.
The mystery deepens here, and some subplot threads become prominent here—the tacit romance between Hawkgirl and Red Arrow—and the complications that arise from exiled criminal Cheshire being Arrow’s ex-lover and mother of his child. Vixen is still copying metahuman powers instead of animals—a mystery yet to be solved.
Ghost Rider #21
Writer- Jason Aaron; Art- Roland Boschi
The series protagonist Johnny Blaze is still reeling from the knowledge that he was not cursed with a demon bonded to his soul. Instead, the Ghost Rider has an angelic origin—albeit a decidedly Old Testament angel, the kind that battled against Lucifer’s hordes during the Heavenly Rebellion, and did God’s dirty work when Sodom and Gomorrah stepped out of line. Essentially, he’s the Wrath of God on a motorcycle. And he’s pissed.
Currently searching for answers in a remote Montana town, Johnny has just recently rescued a teen named Lucas who claims that he saw the angel Zadkiel—a lieutenant general of sorts in Heaven’s angelic hierarchy—during a near-death-experience. Allegedly, Zadkiel plans to follow in Lucifer’s footsteps and lead his own rebellion in Heaven—and supposedly, Ghost Rider plays a part in ensuring that Zad won’t lose out like Luc did back in the days.
Johnny and Lucas are being chased by the freaky nurses who run the nearby hospital; they are angels of un-mercy, who actually do the bidding of Zadkiel on Earth, harming anyone innocent who gets in their way.
Complicating matters is an apparently haunted stretch of highway near the town. A rookie deputy investigating a recent death uncovers a grisly crime that preceded the founding of the town, and the history of fatal accidents and other disappearances that have happened with alarming frequency since then. The deputy’s search for answers leads him to the town’s funeral home, where he finds answers he probably wasn’t looking for. The issue ends with Ghost Rider (with Lucas riding piggyback) confronted by a cadre of ghostly zombies who intend for the pair to be their latest victims.
This issue contains what may be one of the most unintentionally humorous—though arguably misogynist—utterances by a super-hero ever. Exactly what, this writer will leave to intrepid readers to find out.
Script- J. M. Straczynski; Pencils- M. Djurdjevic
Thor has just recently revived the entire population of Asgard City (which ostentatiously hovers above a western Oklahoma prairie). As hinted in previous issues, there are other inadvertent revivals—most notably the evil Loki, who is now a beauteous, raven-haired woman. His strength exhausted, Thor requests a special sarcophagus so he can undergo the Odinsleep—a self-induced coma that replenishes his energy, though the length of recuperation is entirely random: it may take anywhere from a day to a year.
As soon as the sarcophagus is sealed, Thor’s alter-ego of Dr. Donald Blake suddenly manifests—after some brief exposition, Blake leaves in a hurry—the narrative reveals that he is searching for his one-time love interest, Dr. Jane Foster. But exactly who is Blake consulting with to find Jane?
Meanwhile, Thor apparently enters the Norse-culture equivalent of Purgatory; it isn’t long before he encounters his long-dead father, Odin—embroiled in battle with the demon Surtur. Odin slays his foe to win the battle, though he hints that he will be expected to repeat his conflict in time. Odin then tells Thor a story of his own childhood, when Bor was a warrior-king of Asgard, and Bor’s demise under murky circumstances compelled Odin to assume leadership, wary that a similar fate might befall him someday.
So far, Marko Djurdjevic has only been doing covers for the series, but his pencils are wonderful and detailed, perfect for the Lord of the Rings-style fantasy that this particular story is rooted in.