"The Gathering" a.k.a. "Back." Once again the cover title makes more sense the one found inside. Unless the titles found inside are forming a message. "Over", "Under" and "Back." ...All I can come up for is places comic book readers look for to hide these issues in shame. Maybe next issue will give a little more insight to what the creators are thinking. Or maybe it will be just as confusing as the content inside the comic it's self.
OLDER SPOILER AHEAD
"Somewhere, out there--maybe in the dark recesses on the far side of the world. Where even the natives fear to tread--"
Also known as DCs' editorial offices.
The Manhunters meet once again to chant their favorite phrases and giving exposition dumps for things covered in other books. The Grandmaster turns up again to recap these events. A member of the Chosen, Salima Baranizar from Iran who dreamed of a place women could have more freedom has died because Blue Beetle wasn't able to protect her. One of the Manhunters points out the obvious that they were responsible for her death. Kind of a given buddy but I like the enthusiasm. It's better than last issue having so many characters bored and looking for something to do. Grandmaster says that there are nine other Chosen but last issue has them showing that Tom was the ninth. The tenth wasn't visited but I assumed it was the dead Terra. Which would mean there aren't nine left but eight. Which must be the third least known Manhunter rule of "No one must know the Manhunters can't do math."
Unlike this first issue the meeting shows more standard Manhunters as well as humans looking agents in the crowd. Anyone want to explain that in this series? No? Then what's the deal with them saying that their immortal robot selves are a cult of the lion? Wouldn't that imply they were on Earth a long time when last issue implied that they got Harbingers' information not too long ago? But then again the Manhunters were acting as under cover agents for awhile--but the decision to have the Chosen on Earth was recently made so how did they know--you know what? Screw it. If you don't want to tell me comic then I'll just make my own reason and I decided time is broken as well as math.
Reporter: Told the Japanese press he was visited by little blue men last Tuesday. It isn't known if these are the same little blue men who Broward W. DuBois of Oolitic, Indiana says told him to call Cybill Shepherd 417 times yesterday!
Well the statement is a little off since it was only one little blue man along with a woman but I like to think the guy in Indiana part happened. The image of the Guardians being dicks for the hell of it fits well in canon and I like to think they had more fun back then. Besides it makes about as much sense as their Chosen mission.
Another reporter named Tawny talks to herself about wishing she had the news spot but lost it because she didn't cover the GL wedding. I guess that would be Johns' unless off-world GLs got hitched on Earth for the hell of it. Her boss hears her and accuses her of brown nosing him. Which is weird because she only commented on not hearing him which isn't the same as butt kissing. Anyway he tells Tawny that if she wants to earn some extra money then to cloud the issue with the Manhunters. Since she's not a reporter like Lois Lane that values the truth above money she agrees.
Nikolai Latikov, another of the Chosen, the one that was planning on using the information to his benefit ends up getting killed by his own people. Why? ...Because they don't want to try to get anything out of it? I have no idea but their pretty smug about the whole thing. Gee it's almost as if opening contacting them and not picking out better candidates was a bad idea. The GL actually do the right thing by protecting Tom and his family as HHH and Nadi(a) think it's best to gather everyone. Something they should have done last issue to prevent this. Blue Beetle arrives to inform them that Salima Baranizar is dead which they should know since Nadi(a) senses (in the same panel) that Nikolai Latikov is also dead. Tom asks if they can get someone else since he already has a family to think of.
Nadi(a): We made our choices very carefully!
THE HELL YOU DID! You guys picked someone that was a traitor/already dead (Terra), someone that wanted to profit from being Chosen (Nikolai), a racist that wouldn't work well with the others, and people that haven't shown anything worthy of notice! The only one that showed any trace of being worthy of this supposed heroic title is Tom! Most of the people they pick can't even have kids so their baby making plan (which still hasn't been mentioned) wouldn't have worked anyway! How was it decided to pick these people anyway? Randomly picking different locations then throwing lawn darts into a phone book? Why were these people chosen? It's a simple question.
Tom points out another reason this is stupid since they only chose ten people and two have died. (Again their not counting Terra as dead. Was it eleven originally or did they lose count?) So wouldn't their plans be screwed anyway? They shrug it off because they had extras in case of this. Uh, why not get MORE than ten then? Like a hundred? Why can't they pick new people? Because their dead set on their choices? Have they already passed on powers which haven't been activated yet? The vagueness just sounds like they don't know and I think that's the case.
The presidents' announcement is broadcast of him denying the truth of the alien sightings and Manhunters. He says that the heroes will quickly take care of everything and stop these "rumors." Hal and the GLs don't think this is good for them. Maybe I missed out on a lot of the information thanks to not getting the tie ins but I'm not so sure what the problem is. Why does the public have to know what's going on anyway? All that matters is the Chosen knowing the truth (which they know having met the aliens) and the heroes protecting them from the Manhunters. I mean I get the Manhunters are everywhere but their focused on the heroes/the Chosen, I don't see them acting like a threat to anyone else. Plus they've shown their too stupid to cause much fear and only pose a threat since HHH and Nadi(a) are morons. The deaths that happened were either shown or sound like they were caused by humans. In Nikolais' case it was because they heard about the alien/Manhunter involvement.
The Outsiders go to protect Takeo Yakata filling the audience in on the things we missed outside this book like Metamorpho dying and Geo-Force being the new leader Batman chose. So the exciting stuff actually happened outside the main title. They grab the guy as the Manhunters attack preparing to leave.
Geo-Force: Yes! Geo-Force!
...Does Geo-Force need some alone time...or do battles do this to him...? Even Black Lightning seems take aback at this.
Geo-Force: There is no time for subtlety!
Certainly not in this series, just look at the racial stereotypes.
Geo-Force: Geo-Force--to keep any more from dying--!
Does he usually talk in the third person? Is he having a breakdown? Explain why something is happening Millennium! Anything!
Infinity INC. gets another Chosen member. Most of them want to fight the Manhunters until Skyman reminds them making sure their charge is safe is what's important. Normally I'd say that these guys were being jerks that want to put a innocent in danger just so they could gets some kicks. But I think their as bored as the rest of us. Half of JLI turn up in DC to answer some questions.
Reporter: But what about reports that Blue Beetle has a secret identity?
You mean Blue Beetle isn't his real name? We've been lied to! Seriously phrase the question differently, he has a mask so of course he has a secret ID.
Still I'm genuinely amused by one of the reporters asking J'onn if he's one of the Manhunters based on his Martian Manhunter handle. Although I'm not sure if J'onn saying there are no UFOs is supposed to be funny or not. I wouldn't put it past this book to forget he was an alien. There's some awkward dialogue with the people in the crowd saying they distrusted the heroes but now they don't. I know what their talking about but again this is very random to people going into this blind. Dinah and J'onn talk about Captain Atom being uncomfortable addressing the crowd since he's new.
J'onn: But so is Booster, Black Canary--and if he was ever embarrassed, it was sometime before he was born!
You do realize that sentence makes no sense right? It's even more headache inducing when you consider he's a time traveler and that would technically mean he should be embarrassed in present time. Captain Atom feels bad for spying on the JLI (for the government.) Booster thinks how the group has no idea how to enjoy the attention. Since Booster is buds with the president he thinks he can convince him of the dangers the Manhunters pose. Overhearing a conversation between two men he finds out one of them is Captain Atoms' Manhunter. One of the few editor notes adds that Booster knows who he is thanks to the name on the uniform. That's not one of the questions I needed to be answered. Anyway, he warns the Manhunter to back off, boasts that no one would betray him and decides to leave him for Atom to deal with. Worried that Booster might contact Atom he wonders if he should act or wait for Boosters' Manhunter to attack him personally. General Eiling argues with Amanda Waller over what just happened and what their groups are going to do. Both pretend they have no interest but plan on investigating it.
After another pointless panel talking about one-up-manship we're introduced to the Floronic Man. He's broken out of Arkham by a woman who plans to take him to the Manhunters. Batman thinks he's one of the Chosen, so another great pick by team immortal Guardians of the universe. So he's number ten, then why aren't they counting Terra anymore? Why didn't they contact him with the others? Also why don't the heroes know who was Chosen? They guess Floronic Man is and Celia Windward has to call them to let them know. Why didn't HHH and Nadi(a) give them a list?! Way to hinder the people trying to help you out.
Batman: I hope to spook those who have a reason to be spooked, Celia. But not those who don't!
Truly one of the best lines Batman ever uttered. Celia gripes about the cost of the phone calls asking if their repay her which Batman agrees to. Then they notice the crowd and defend her from their attackers. Guy saves the day by flying them off. Great moment for him although he doesn't read too much like "nice" Guy. Shouldn't the Manhunters expect that from GLs? Why are they surprised? Whether these are actual Manhunters or just agents they should know how GLs work. Meanwhile Wonder Woman is sent to South Africa to get the racist man from last issue. She's not thrilled with it and he proves to be a sexist ass too. Her reasoning falls on deaf ears.
A man in Peru tries to commit suicide when Wally saves him. Despite this man being fairly stereotypical and Wallys' Spanish being horrible it makes for a fairly touching scene. The only scene that really feels heartfelt actually since Wally himself is hurting from his dad's betrayal.
Harbringer attacks the Manhunter homeworld and quickly gets defeated. Most of the Chosen are together when Hal realizes Tom and his family are gone.
Overall: Better than last issue but just as perplexing. I think there might be more story in the tie ins than the actual mini series. The plot seems to be stretch thin and most of the characters are stupid just to make this last longer. Still this is hilariously bad which in it's self is pretty entertaining. I may be a little quippy with this but it deserves it but that doesn't mean I'm not having fun.
Did You Notice?: I don't know how Lookers' powers work but she claims she can't affect androids. Yet the art shows her powers knocking one over before she says that.