Wednesday, December 21, 2016

PART 14: ARMAGEDDON: 2001 #2

WRITER: Dennis O'Neil
PENCILS: Dan Jurgens
INKS: Dick Giordano, Art Thibert, Steve Mitchell
COLORS:  Adrienne Roy
LETTERS:  John Costanza

SYNOPSIS:  Here it is. The moment that Waverider's quest has been leading up to.  He has managed to make contact with one of the few superheroes who can rival even Superman in sheer power--Captain Atom.  Waverider gazes into Captain Atom's future...

We see a young family gunned down violently by automatic weapons.  A few streets over an elderly Nathaniel Adam hears the gunfire and worries.  Rounding the corner, his fears prove true.  Hid family is dead.  On top of everything else, there is nothing the police can do.  According to recent laws, the gang members have been legally granted turf and Nathaniel's family stumbled into a legally accepted battleground.  Nathaniel's rage almost prompts the change into Captain Atom, but his female companion talks him down.

Later at the morgue, they try to identify and claim the bodies.  The workers inform them that the morgue is full up and they did what normally happens when the morgue is full--the bodies were tossed out at the landfill.  When they arrive at the landfill, the mass grave of wildly strewn bodies and the sheer stench of the decay is overwhelming.  Nathaniel's rage and grief are also overwhelming.  He begins to feel the power surging within him.

Waverider also feels something--something moving through the timestream, almost as through it were crossing parallel to them

Captain Atom unleashes his fury upon the mass grave that the landfill has become, wiping it from the face of the earth.  He states that it is not nearly enough, though.  He flies to the police station and intimidates the cop who dealt with the murder into giving up the location of the gangs involved in the shooting.   Captain Atom shows up at the gang's hideout and allows them all to shoot at him as much as they please, to no effect.  Once satisfied they have finished, he simply unleashes hell upon them by turning the entire block into a crater in a blinding flash.  He then proceeds to take out his anger upon the rest of the city, seeing corruption and decay everywhere.  And after all his rage and energy is spent, he collapses to the ground, transforming back into his human form, and dies.

 Back in the present, the assembled JLE looks on in disbelief as there is a mass of energy behind Waverider and Captain Atom appearing.  From the rift emerges Monarch!  Monarch attacks and the heroes try to stop him.
 Superman and Metamorpho manage to hold him tight, but the villain from the future teleports away, leaving the heroes to ponder how he arrived and what his plans are.

Far away, Monarch reappears in a wooded area.  This is the campground of Dawn Granger and Sal.  Monarch emerges from the woods and blasts Sal, killing him instantly.  Dawn transforms into Dove and attacks.  Monarch knocks her out with an energy ray and the two teleport away.

Back at the embassy, Waverider and the Justice League sort out that Waverider has actually been closing off possible timelines every time he checking into one.  Nothing he has done has been helpful to his actual cause.  Plus the chronal energy Waverider releases plus Captain Atom's quantum field energy has allowed Monarch to traverse the years and appear in the present.

Monarch and Dove appear in a remote location.  She instantly attacks, but Monarch subdues her again and then vanishes once more.  He reappears in front of Hank Hall, who wastes no time transforming into Hawk.  Hawk fares only slightly better than Dove by landing a blow before being knocked out and teleported away.  Monarch places Hawk next to Dove and then teleports across the globe to various locations collecting what appears to be random items.

The assembled heroes toss ideas around on what the items could be for, with a few jokes about politics tossed in for good measure.

Monarch reappears near Hawk and Dove.  He begins to tell the pair things about themselves that lets them know he is intimately aware of them.  He takes special notice on Hawk, taunting him and goading him with the amount of psychological detail Monarch is aware of.  Monarch completes his machine and informs the two that with it he will defeat all the world's heroes.  Hawk says that even with all the others gone, Superman will still fight. Monarch says that he is certain it will even eliminate Superman.  He lifts Dove up, tosses he aside and blasts her with several every beams.  Dove has been killed.

Dove's death sends Hawk into a murderous rage.  Monarch frees Hawk for some unknown reason.  Hawk leaps forward and pummels Monarch.  He rips Monarch's helmet off and hits Monarch in the face over and over and over, knocking the life from the villain.  As the scene calms down, we see that Monarch whispers his last that things played out exactly as he remembered...he killed himself.  Monarch was Hank Hall, Hawk.

Hank thinks to himself how if Dove were still alive she would talk him out of crazy things, not to be brash or give in to his anger.  But since she is dead, maybe he can finally channel his anger into a reformation. Perhaps he CAN change the world into a place that makes sense to him and keep things under control.  He puts on Monarch's armor and decides to continue with the plan.

Elsewhere, in Metropolis, as people attempt to evacuate to less-urban areas, Larry and Marge look for their young nephew who has gone missing. We see him, lost in the subway below.  Across the city groups like the Team Titans, the Metal Men, and even both branches of the Justice League all prepare to meet Monarch.  He has announced a place and time for all the heroes to gather or he shall destroy the world.  Simple enough plan, right?

When the heroes are assembled, Captain Atom suggests that he take on Monarch alone as he has the best chance to survive any sort of nuclear weapon Monarch might have.  Superman and the Flash point out that Monarch will panic if he doesn't see the assemble heroes.  Captain Atom, in a huff, flies off saying that Monarch won't miss just him.  Shortly after, Monarch appears.  He has brought his machine with him and begins to use it.  Superman acts quickly and his punch shatters Monarch's helmet.  Hank Hall stands revealed to the heroes and several can scarcely believe it.
 Captain Atom reappears and attacks Monarch causing the other heroes to follow suit.  However, Monarch is prepared for them, with Captain Atom proving the only one effective against Monarch.  Monarch's machine threatens to explode at any  moment, but Captain Atom uses his quantum energy to absorb the blast.  He and Monarch are caught within the quantum field and disappear in a flash of light.

Meanwhile, the STAR Labs building collapses due to Monarch's machine.  The heroes rush to stop the collapse, move the debris and help the bystanders.  In the wreckage, Waveride pulls a small boy to safety.  He says to the heroes that this boy's name is Matthew Ryder and that a forty year old question has now been answered.

Elsewhere/elsewhen, Captain Atom stands among a forested landscape.  The blast has shifted him in time, something he is familiar with.  However, instead of moving forward, he has indeed moved into prehistoric times as there is a dinosaur nearby.  Captain Atom looks down and sees Monarch's gauntlet, still smoking.  He knows that he has not made this trip alone.

MY THOUGHTS:  Wow.  This is a fairly decent conclusion to this story.  I can't say it's great, but given what we know now about the changes that were made, I can still say it's OK.  For those unfamiliar, Captain Atom was supposed to become Monarch.  There are several obvious points in the story where this could have played out--Captain Atom's future, the moments following that sequence, and especially the flying off to do his own thing when the heroes assemble.  It all could have easily worked.  Not that I necessarily want him to be a villain, but it's a better story than making Monarch about Hawk and Dove.

As I said, the story works pretty well as a good conclusion to this crossover.  The art also is amazing.  It's good to see it match with the opening chapter of the crossover, so no complaints here.

I was especially happy to see several heroes assembled that WEREN'T part of the crossover--the Outsiders, Huntress, Orion, for example.

The deaths were actually pretty extreme for a book from the early 90's.  Sal's skull is shown and Dove's skin is melted on her face.  It's still not anything too gross or anything, but I remember being a kid and thinking "Wow, this is intense."

So, this is pretty much how it ends.  Monarch is revealed and defeated.  But this leads into a new miniseries, Waverider more or less becomes a supporting character in Superman stories and a couple other crossovers happen later.  Other books down the road borrow elements from some of these annuals to influence stories that were told.  All in all, not quite the worst crossover in DC history, but certainly not one of the more memorable.

Is this the end for this blog? Well, one more epilogue post coming soon to give quick details on post-A2001 stuff. See you there.

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