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Jason Schachat carries on in his father's bowshafts...

Jason Schachat's Occasional Breakdown

The early pages of Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #1 scared the bejesus out of me. Starting out with the usual “I am forever living in my father’s shadow”, following it up with “I had that dream again, <insert name of new friend here>...”, and then capping the whole prologue with “You want me to join an archery contest?”.

Felt like being beaten over the head with the Big Book of Tired Plot Points.

But then Chuck Dixon did two great things. First, he gave the archery tournament an interesting mythological back-story. Then, rather than zip Connor along to the archery tournament and have him exchange glances with the broadly drawn stereotypes we might expect there, he does us right and shows them in action.

A bowhunter who can bring down a rhino with one shot. A wild monk scampering through the jungles. The American celebrity showoff. And, of course, Lady Shado clinging to the top of a speeding Yakuza automobile by the arrows she hammered into it.

A lesser creative team would have this crew just stand about menacingly. These guys know that a hero needs a challenge, and they roll out the heavy competition right away. Now we know Connor has to do more than just sit around and whine the whole time. Now we have a Connor story worth getting into.

An undercooked turkey
means long lines at the JSA facilities...

DC 52 #29 reaffirms its greatness and what defines the DC Universe with this issue focused on the Justice Society of America. A year ago, they’d been celebrating Thanksgiving with the Justice League. Now, they barely have enough members on the roster to convince the world they’re still kicking.

As the first Flash, the first Green Lantern and Wildcat meet for the formerly bustling event, the Thanksgiving Day parade goes by their window, complete with Lex Luthor’s Infinity Inc. The oldtimers can’t help but scoff at the names Luthor’s lackeys have taken from fallen heroes, showing no regard for history or morality, but the fit really hits the shan when the newest newbie is presented: everyone, meet Jade.

And, yes, she took the costume of the recently deceased Jenny Lynn Hayden, too. Green Lantern barely manages to hold in his anger, but his son Obsidian won’t stand for the mockery they’ve made of his dead sister.

Meanwhile, the mad scientists on Oolong Island celebrate their Thanksgiving with a chainsaw-carved roast pterosaur. Doc Magnus doesn’t have much appetite for his comrades' antics, but Chung Tzu is even less pleased when he finds that Magnus hasn’t come up with anything to flesh out Intergang’s arsenal. Of course, taking him off his medication should warp his mind enough to get the old creative juices flowing...

What you have to appreciate most about this issue is the way it exemplifies the style that makes DC unique. No other comic continuum has such a sense of legacy. Sure, DC continuity is about as shaky as Andy Dick going through de-tox, but the history builds and builds. Old heroes come back, new ones learn about those that came before.

While Marvel has enjoyed more freedom with their crossovers, having a single generation in a single universe taking most of their attention, DC’s sprawling history has allowed for a deeper, richer style of storytelling. Maybe that’s why Marvel has such a hard time passing on mantles, while DC can do it with ease.

In any case, this is an issue DC fans will feel in the gut. Don’t miss it.

My grandfather was a runaway toaster.

Do I need to tell you to pick up Runaways #22? Honestly, every Marvel marketer, comic critic, internet dweeb, and comic shop regular has been jabbering about this book since the first issue of the first volume. Which got cancelled. Not the point.

This issue is the beginning of the end, in many ways. Brian K. Vaughan finally passes on the pen to Joss Whedon, but not before he shakes up the rat cage a bit more.

The “Live Fast” story arc opens with our most lovably dysfunctional teenage supergroup tangling with a gang of werewolf cowboys.

Yes, they’re thoroughly displeased with that development, too.

But Chase Stein returns to the group after his meeting with the Gibborim wherein he learned he can bring Gert back to life by sacrificing an innocent soul. Not just giving away their life, but completely eradicating them from ever having been.

As usual, the character interaction is what makes this book so special. Nico and Victor, the most... conflicted members of the crew, see some romantic sparks fly. Which would be great if Vic wasn’t a robot.

Molly also gets a great scene with Xavin where she questions his/her shapeshifting habits. She understands Karolina likes girls, but she can’t figure out why Xavin doesn’t remain a girl all the time. He/She explains it quite simply: That’s just not who he/she is. Xavin is a shapeshifter by nature, and that’s just something they’ll have to understand and respect.

To start with a child understanding homosexuality is brilliant. Kids can understand if they’re relatives like the same gender, and we really should show that more in fiction. But explaining Xavin’s gender-swapping like that... If only Marvel had been doing this with Skrulls all along, we might remember them for more than their chins.

So don’t worry if you missed the last arc or two of Runaways. This arc gives you a nice place to jump on and enough teenage conflict to fill up a few series set at Xavier’s. Vaughan fans, enjoy the climax. Whedon fans, brush up for your new favorite comic.

Jason Schachat

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