Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Earth 52 #9 & 10

Sorry I haven't had a chance to post lately. This damned oppressive heat has kept me from making any sort of trek to the library, as I have no desire to be cooked alive. But I've made it now. So, without further ado, my write ups for the last two issues of Earth 52.

When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were faced with an angry army of amazonian warriors on one side, and an army of skeleton warriors and Ares, god of war, on the other. With very few choices as to what side to pick, the Battle for Themyscira begins in earnest. Necromancer and Paradox begin fighting against the Spartoi, Necromancer firing magical flaming skulls at them, and Paradox growing giant and smacking large swaths of them. Meanwhile, Myrmidon leads his undead forces into battle against the Amazons, going toe to toe with Artemis.

Ares, hovering over the island and watching the battle, begins to make use of his particular abilities, trying to turn the team savage and bloodthirsty. Most of the team resists the effects, except for Steve Trevor, who begins to succumb to the god's power. When Marathon notices this, he grabs Trevor and flies further into the island with him, hoping to keep him out of the battle. Angry that the team will not submit to his power, and that several of them are attempting to destroy his army, he turns his attention towards the young Necromancer, blasting him with divine fire!

Luckily for Necromancer, his magically enchanted hoodie (the Casket Jacket) manages to keep him from being disintegrated by god fire, allowing him to heal himself the first chance he gets. As the fighting continues, it occurs to the team that Ares has not actually set foot on Paradise Island, and they realize that he is incapable of doing so by Zues' decree. Taking the risk, Paradox manages to grab hold of Ares, and with some help from Marathon and Necromancer, slams the god down into the beach and summoning Zeus himself to the island.

Zeus dismisses the army of Spartoi and declares that he shall send Ares to Tartarus as punishment for his invasion of Paradise Island. However, the team realizes that something isn't right here. After all, why would Ares want to invade Themyscira? What could possibly be of value to him here? The one thing that comes to mind are the gates to Tartarus, the only physical means by which to enter the Underworld that exist only on this island. They attempt to disuade Zeus, telling him that this is likely what Ares wants. However, Zeus is a stubborn god, and when he sets his mind to something it is nigh impossible to change it.

However, the group is equally obstinate, and so they race to the gates of Tartarus, attempting to convince Zeus to change his mind. Zeus ignores them, opening the gates and taking Ares in with him to Hades. And just before the gates close behind them, something, or rather someone, flies out: Isis.

Isis confronts the team, asking them if one of them is Myrmidon. The team, of course, asks why she is looking for Myrmidon, to which she answers that she is to be married to him. Through various deals, Ares has gained possession of Isis' soul, deciding that she would make the perfect wife for Myrmidon, able to help him in conquering the world in the name of his father. The rest of the team eventually arrives on the scene, and the group has to decide what they will do. After some discussion, they agree that Isis should be given a chance to see her real husband, Black Adam, one last time.

So, heading to the invisible helicopter, the group prepares to leave for Kahndaq, but not before Queen Hippolyta asks them to never come back, a reasonable request (honestly, it's a wonder we don't get exiled from more places). The team agrees, and they set off to find Black Adam, Necromancer hoping like hell that he's sort of forgotten that whole 'shot in the face' thing. They decide to go in stealthily, and land outside the borders of Kahndag, with the hopes of not causing two international incidents in one day.

They successfully land, and upon exiting the helicopter are met by armed guards. They inform the guards that they want to speak to Black Adam, who arrives fairly quickly. Upon his arrival, Necromancer ducks back inside the helicopter after it becomes clear that Toth-Adam clearly remembers their last encounter, and why shouldn't he? It only happened a few hours ago.

Anyway, the team brings Isis out, and the the couple have a somewhat tearful reunion before Isis returns to the land of the dead. Surprisingly enough, Black Adam is thankful for this last chance to be with Isis, and so he informs the team that he will perform one favor for them when they require it. But he still promises to take them before the Reckoning. The team accepts his offer, and then get the hell out of there before he changes his mind.

Returning the Central City, the team finally has an opportunity to get some things done. Most of the team begins working on getting into Amanda Waller's private files, hoping to find out what information she's hiding about them. Meanwhile, Necromancer performs a ritual to enter the Dreaming, encountering Destiny and then Dream, fulfilling his promise to return the Dreamstone back to Morpheus. In thanks, Morpheus allows the Necromancer to see some of his own past, in particular, he witnesses a rather disturbing lost memory: being killed by Black Hand.

Ah, very exciting! And what happened the week after that?

After gaining access to Waller's private files, the team learns a few rather startling things: first, all of them (with the exception of Paradox and Myrmidon) were inflicted with some sort of terminal illness by Black Adam. Second, Waller has developed some sort of failsafe for the team (again, with the exception of Paradox and Myrmidon). If Waller dies, so does the team. Now, given the fact that the team pretty much hates Waller, they know its only a matter of time before someone kills her, and so they're living on borrowed time.

So, not only does the team need to find and stop whatever terrible, god-like, villain that has possession of a device that will kill all mankind, they also need to find the Justice League, the Justice Society, and the Teen Titans, and they need to get rid of Waller's failsafe. Honestly, it's a sucky place to be. The team's between Scylla and Charybdis, with the sword of Damocles hanging by a Gordian knot!

But first, the most important thing: team names! The team figures they need a name of some sort, they can't just be 'those guys in Central City'. A number of names are proposed, among them are: The League of Sub-Par Gentlemen, The Astonishing Department of Justice (my favorite), and finally the New Guard which is what the team temporarily decides upon. There is also the discussion of the base which is currently being built, and what they should do with it.

Paradox, for a government agent, is surprisingly uneasy about letting the government have any control or presence on the base. Myrmidon and Fahrenheit suggest that the base be staffed by strippers. After all, with their college education they'd have valuable knowledge and skills. Necromancer is ambivalent towards the idea, though he's in favor of supporting single mothers. Among other requests is one made by Beorn, who wants the base built near the forest preserve. Necromancer suggests that they build teleporters for the base, which he would be happy to do. However, Paradox is not comfortable with relying on Necromancer's magic (which has been so stunningly ineffective thus far, right?).

Onto actually important business, team figures that they have no leads on the Reckoning device, and their best bet is to use the favor they recently acquired from Black Adam. From what he's said to the team, they suspect he knows something about the device, probably more than they do. Of course, he may know nothing at all. It's a huge risk. But Necromancer reminds them that they aren't entirely devoid of leads. After all, Black Hand killed them all (again, with the exception of Paradox and Myrmidon) to keep them from stopping the Reckoning.

And so the team decides that their next course of action should be to track down Black Hand. They make a forged request for sample of Black Hand's blood, using Waller's system for access. The sample is to be sent to the Central City S.T.A.R. Lab, but before they can deal with that, they have a meeting with the police department. Apparently, the police department has hired someone to work as a liaison with the team, Arnold Mazlo, a recently retired detective from Coast City.

During the meeting with this new liaison, the team begins to realize that something isn't right about him. The way he speaks is just.. off, not to mention that when Necromancer focuses on him with his mystic senses, he isn't able to see a soul, which everyone else in the room has. The team becomes increasingly confrontational towards Arnold, but doesn't yet reach the point of throwing punches. Necromancer and Myrmidon teleport to Coast City after getting access to Mazlo's address, only to find his atomized remains.

Meanwhile, after attempting to convince the rest of the team that they should all have beer and pizza with him, and failing (sort of), Mazlo reveals his true identity: Professor Ivo's Amazing Amazo!

Quickly becoming aware of his abilities as he actually hurts Marathon, the team gives him everything they've got, including a flying bear! During the battle, Amazo makes use of several Justice League member powers, eventually using Martian Manhunter's ability to become intangible when he's on the ropes. However, he isn't able to adapt to Necromancer's spells, and is taken down when struck by his Skull Swarm (which affects intangible foes). Marathon and Necromancer tear the android apart, but the head is left intact so that whatever information is on it can be analyzed by S.T.A.R. Labs.

When the situation is over, the team picks up the Black Hand sample and Necromancer performs a spell to determine his location. Surprisingly, he's inside a cave in a mountain near Coast City. And so the group heads straight there, finding that Black Hand has been waiting for them, demanding that they kill him. Of course, the team refuses, which actually disappoints Black Hand. Necromancer demands that Black Hand tell him who his 'master' is, the one who had the team killed in the first place. Black Hand eventually tells him that is Nekron, Lord of the Unliving, though the Necromancer has no clue who that is.

Black Hand also reveals that he has in his possession a black ring, though no one but Necromancer is aware of the disturbing nature of this item. To the Necromancer's mystic senses, the ring is covered in black tendrils which are trying to worm their way into the team (except for Paradox and Myrmidon). The group argues over the item, Necromancer being all in favor of destroying the thing, though Myrmidon feels that they should keep the item and use it, suggesting that Necromancer doesn't understand what's evil and what isn't, given that his powers aren't that far off from what the ring supposedly does.

Another argument that keeps Necromancer on the periphery of the group, looking in. Superpowers are fairly easy to understand, but the subtleties of magic seem to escape his teammates.

Black Hand even attempts to kill himself during the encounter, but was quickly dispatched prepared to be sent back to the Coast City authorities. After the argument, the group finally relents to Myrmidon's wishes, but only if the ring is put somewhere secure where it won't harm anyone else, with Necromancer even accepting the wisdom of holding onto the item, given that it might, despite its unnatural powers, be of some use in the future.

The team takes Black Hand to Coast City, handing him over to the authorities where they learn that the city has been having some strange occurrences of their own. Several criminals (the Shark, King Shark, Doctor Polaris, and Sonar) all turned themselves in, and afterwards had no recollection of doing so. Necromancer checks in on the criminals, unable to detect any sort of magical mischief at work. Meanwhile, something attempts to gain control over the members of the team, all of them resist except for Paradox, who is commanded to write down everything he knows about the Reckoning, which he does, and then promptly forgets ever doing so.

While the team deals with this, Marathon and Myrmidon fly back to Zandia, to the Reckoning Bunker, where Myrmidon places the black ring for safe keeping.

So, there it is. I just want to mention that this game is just so incredibly fun. Every session has felt exciting and entertaining, and I always wait for the next game with great anticipation.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say, if I didn't have the players I have, we wouldn't have the game we have. You guys have been great, and I really look forward to each session as well.