DC Universe Presents 0

Today, Patrick (guest writer) Bryan Coratti are discussing DC Universe Presents 0, originally released September 19, 2012. DC Universe Presents 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.

There are five separate stories within DC Universe Presents 0, each one from series that were cancelled back in April. Generally, these stories serve as excellent reminders of why those series were shit-canned in the first place. Patrick and Bryan tackle these stories one-by-one.

1.) O.M.A.C. in “Origins Matter After Cancellation”

Patrick: In light of the most recent failed O.M.A.C., Brother Eye reminisces with Maxwell Lord – who appears to be his partner. Checkmate (Lord’s criminal organization) has been assisting Brother Eye with his search for the ideal host for the O.M.A.C. virus, but the repeated failures of sniveling science-goblins like Mokkari have soured their relationship. Maxwell Lord attempts to disconnect and destroy Brother Eye, but the sentience has grown too powerful (and too well prepared) for Lord’s plan to have any effect on him. Turns out, O.M.A.C. is like ten-million steps ahead of Lord – which makes me think he was overzealous in naming his organization “Checkmate” – because the virus is already hidden in a million doses of flu vaccine. We close on an image of Kevein Kho standing in line for a shot that’s going to change his life… for the worse.

There’s some pretty grim shit in this story – not least of which is the implication that Michelle Bachman is right and we should be avoiding vaccinations. But there’s also a pervading sense of inevitability around this story. Both Brother Eye and Maxwell Lord are super intelligent entities, with keen eyes for strategy. Neither of them take any real action against the other within the pages of this story, but  their secret, passive-aggressive war has been playing out all along.

The narration-only method of storytelling should be more obnoxious, but there’s something unnerving about the meticulous way each of these characters states their plans. Neither one is surprised by the treachery of the other, and their reactions feel scripted – preordained. Further, I find it wholly terrifying that Brother Eye was somehow able to develop right under Batman’s nose. Batman is so frequently one of those uber-prepared infallible actors that it freaks me out a little to see him so thoroughly bested by the program.

I also sense an under-current of editorial anarchy: the title of this story is “Origins Matter After Cancellation.” Which is sort of a ‘fuck you’ to… well, I’m not sure who the flip-off is directed toward. The readers that didn’t buy the original series? The people who question the point of the zero issue? The editorial staff that cancelled it? (That last one’s not too likely, as Didio wrote O.M.A.C.). Check out these credits – everyone else is listed as some kind of virtuous juggernaut, but the editor? “Irredeemable” Harvey Richards. Ouch.

Bryan: The wrap up to O.M.A.C. was a bit of a forced downer ending/new beginning coming off of what was a fun (not good, but fun…ish) story. With all the great characters DC has out there at present, O.M.A.C. just doesn’t hold my interest. The fact the issue was more about Brother Eye and Maxy Lord (we go way back, I can call him that) it just confirms that DC feels the same way.

2. ) Mister Terrific (no story title)

Bryan: This self-promoting narrative walks us through the nonsense that brought Mister Terrific out of Earth 2 and into the rest of the Universe… and what will eventually take him back. Mr. Terrific is a great team character, but his story alone is a narcissistic self promotion. That begs the question: why promote such a bronze-medal character?

Terrific goes on a trip through a time stream of possible realities, seeing visions that offer up a whole lot of questions. Guess you’ll need to tune into Earth-2 to get some answers, at least, I hope (for those who care anyhow.)

Patrick: Between your plot summary and actually reading this story twice, I don’t know what the fuck happened in this thing. I even had a hard time following individual pages. Check out this one – incoherent images and voice-over boxes (I can’t tell which order to read these in, by the way).

With all this text supporting the story, you’d expect it to be tight, descriptive writing. WRONG. James Robinson strikes again with his own unique brand of incomprehensible prose. It doesn’t help that Robinson is trying to explain the transdimensional adventures of a guy that can see his own future. Ugh, I’m not looking forward to seeing him pop up in the pages of Earth-2 (as threatened).

3.) Hawk & Dove in “Balance of Power”

Patrick: Showing all the narrative grace of country song, Hawk & Dove‘s “Balance of Power” takes the form of Peace and War telling each other things they already know. Oh, before I move ahead without explaining the obvious: Peace is the Goddess of Order and War is the God of Chaos.

Naming these characters at all is stupid, but giving them these pointlessly obvious names AND THEN EXPLAINING WHO THEY ARE is possibly the dumbest, most redundant thing I’ve ever seen in a comic book… that is, until I read the rest of this story. It’s a Rob Liefeld joint, so I shouldn’t be surprised how crummy the rest of this thing is. Basically, the lady Dove (Dawn) falls in love with / gains the power of male Dove (Don). And then Don dies. War – because he’s apparently totally impotent and Peace is totally omnipotent – blames Peace for this turn of events.

Christ this is dumb. You have anything to say about this one, Bryan? 

Bryan: From issue 1 to 0, I found this title to be painful. The only good thing I can say about this is that the art – for once – is pretty good, seeing as how Leifeld is off (well, off everything, thank the lord). Hawk and Dove are peripheral characters at best, let them stay there.

4.) Blackhawks in “Mother Machine”

Bryan: A team of no-one-I-can-recall fights through The Battle of Metropolis. This is battle is WAY more entertaining in Justice League.

Blackhawks tells an old special ops team story – you know the kind. A story where all the characters say in unison: “We’ll disobey our direct order to save our teammate! Damn the odds (and possible civilians as air crafts come crashing down)!” But alas, they were too late to save their fallen comrade. I just found myself thinking “damn good thing this book’s over: these guys are terrible at their jobs.”

Sorta cool though? Their fallen teammate was reborn as a new “villain.” With her ability to download into other bodies, it seems like she will eventually be… let’s say “cylon-esque.” And even through there is no more Blackhawks, this development is intriguing nonetheless.

Patrick: Sure, it’s a team of characters you’ve never seen before but… uh… I guess it’s fun to consider that non-superpowered people had to suffer through the Darkseid invasion. It’s amazing how much that battle was undersold in Justice League – and the rest of the universe. Except for Earth-2, I don’t remember any of the other series even referring to a WORLD-WIDE ALIEN OCCUPATION OF EARTH. Shouldn’t that be a big deal for, y’know, all the alien characters in the DC Universe?

Hey, wait a minute: is the woman on the Blackhawk team named “Lady Blackhawk?” “L.B.” for short. I guess that’s only marginally stupider than “Canada,” “Lincoln” and “Atilla.”

Lady Blackhawk does have one unmistakably bad-ass moment in this issue that I just had to mention. She’s trapped in the hold of a parademon and calls her to team to give her a grenade launcher. She pops the barrel in the parademon’s mouth and pulls the trigger – that’s pretty tough.

5.) Deadman in “Instant Karma”

Patrick: This is more like it. A freshly dead Boston Brand is deposited in the body of what he thinks is just some random dude. But Deadman quickly discovers that this is a one-armed assassin that just got back from killing Boston Brand. The assassin was trying to get back into the good graces of the crime family that shunned him, but his little stunt did more to infuriate his former associates – and one of them comes over to silence him forever. Boston, seeing a chance to let the universe sort itself out and get instant gratification, flees the scene. But in his absence, an elderly neighbor is caught in the crossfire. Boston returns to fix his very first post-death mistake, but it’s too late.

Great art in in this one. Scott McDaniel delivers some incredible performances on the faces of his simplified character designs. Deadman’s face, which is usually pretty simple, is reduced to its essential details, making every crinkled line amazingly expressive – even when trying to convey something impossible like “I can’t believe I’m inhabiting the body of the man that just killed me and now I’d like to kill him.”

Bryan: Best part of the issue. Art, story, everything. This is a character who works well in books with others, but could totally hold his own title, and this 0 issue backs that up. He has so much depth to his character that I found myself wanting more. Again, best part of DC Universe Presents #0.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

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5 comments on “DC Universe Presents 0

  1. The Mr. Terrific story (like the actual one) is all about loose ends from the 8-issue series. In his solo book we know he travels around using the 9th dimension which his devices have allowed him to access – it is a new scientific frontier that only Michael is aware of. What we never saw in his book before it abpruptly ended (thus sending over to the Earth-2 roster) is that this extra-dimensional revelation actually also made him aware of the presence of parallel dimensions, and after Aleeka leaves him and he sets the like-minded Jamal as the company’s heir he no longer has a good reason to stick around – so his scientific curiosity and apparant death wish cause him to make the blind leap on purpose. The huge revelation in this very short epilogue is that the son he *should* have had with is deceased wife Paula (who contacted him apparantly from a parallel dimension where Paula survived and they had a son together in Mr Terrific #1, thus convincing him to become Mr. Terrific in the first place) is actually just a fabrication of Earth-2’s Terry Sloane (the *original* Mr. Terrific)… thus seeding a rivalry

    • Hahahaha. I don’t have space in my brain for Mr. Terrific – I just don’t. He’s one of these characters not-at-all-simplified by the relaunch. He can have a home in Earth-2, and that will be fun enough in a deeply flawed way (you know, like Earth-2 in general).

      • Yeah, I like that aspect too. I was a fan of the series and collected until cancellation, so I liked getting this. It does bother me on a Didio-flexing-muscle level though. First, no one else whose title was cancelled for sales would get to take over a team book annual AND write a headlining short in an anthology book so that they can wrap up their stories. On top of which, any one else who would try to cheekily reference the fact that they were cancelled in the story’s titled would be flatly denied that opportunity. DC skirts using the word ‘cancelled’ at all in their announcements – it’s always “will be ending” or “the conclusion”, and yet here’s Didio bluntly using the negative term in a cheeky title

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