The cover is good for being an extreme close-up of a really ugly dude. I prefer the covers that have a million heroes on them but I can see how they'd want to vary the images a bit. Also, even George Pérez has got to get tired of drawing all those little, tiny people. Wait, who am I kidding? George Pérez never gets tired of drawing that stuff.
The issue starts out with a very cool scene in which the Anti-Monitor (that's the dude on the cover who has been referred to as The Monitor up 'til now but that's too confusing) ramps Psycho Pirate's power up so he can send every single person on the three remaining Earths into advanaced states of suicidal terror. The last five panels on page 2 are particularly well-done. The three worlds are reflected in Psycho Pirate's eyes and you can see the mixture of awe and fear in his face as he realizes what sort of god he's become.
Next, the Monitor's sattelite is attacked by big, pink lightning bolts and a bunch of heroes are trapped inside as it tears itself apart. I mentioned Marv Wolfman's flashes of odd dialogue before but this issue seems to consist of a long string of non-sequiturs. For example:
MARTIAN MANHUNTER: Katana...Winged One -- Do you need my help?
KATANA: I would not turn down your help, J'onn J'onzz!
AZRAEL: Do not worry, Martian -- I will save that outsider.
HARBINGER: The Martian Manhunter is right...The Monitor's ship can't survive.
Right about what, now? How did Harbinger get MM's opinion on the structural integrity of the ship from his request to help a couple of people? I looked very closely and I couldn't find any other words by Martian Manunter so that's what Harbinger must have been responding to. Wacky.
So, Alex Luthor (the young, Pip-The-Troll-looking one) tries to use his ill-defined matter/antimatter status to umm...save every one by er, making some computations and, I don't know, hooking himself up to Cerebro or something. Wolfman is saved from having to explain exactly what the hell Alex is up to because Harbinger shoots him in the back of the head with a big, pink lightning bolt.
What is with the big, pink lightning bolts?
She does this in order to (attempt to) sacrifice herself and destroy the whole ship. BOOOOOM!!!! The explosion takes up the lower half of the page and looks like the death of the Death Star. Oh, and Pariah's martyr-sense must have gone off as Harbinger was deciding to sacrifice herself to save everyone else. That would only make him the second most put-upon person in the room so he had to "teleport to somewhere more perilous". Ass.
I'm not sure how blowing the hell out of the ship everyone was on saved them but it apparently worked because we see all of them later on.
Meanwhile, The Atom (no, the other one. No, the other other one. The one named "Al". That's right) is tending to Wildcat who lost a fight with a building and is all smashed up and lying in bed. It's an emotional scene but the sight of Wildcat's little cat nose and whiskers pushed up on his forehead kind of kills the somber mood.
Yolanda Montez is lurking outside the window, watching Atom and Wildcat. She helpfully translates the Spanish words she thinks into English for any telepaths who are listening in. Seriously, the words are in thought balloons and we're supposed to believe that she thinks things like, "We could have been un gran equipo...a great team, Ted."
Next up, Lex Luthor, the one from Earth-1 back in his green-and-purple armor days, is getting his ass kicked by Superman when Brainiac teleports him into his big ship which looks like Brainiac's head but with tentacles. Man, that robot dude is into some freaky shit.
Then a whole bunch of stuff happens which I'm pretty much gonna gloss over because it all shows how freaked out and pissed off everybody is on the three Earths which are being controlled by Psycho Pirate. Of course, with all the crap that's happening around them, I don't think Psychie had to give them much of a push.
The worst effect of the Piratical emotion manipulation is that the heroes of those Earths believe that the ones who have come in from outside are responsible for the chaos. There's a pretty good scene where Captain Marvel (no, the other one. The one with the red suit and lightning bolt. That's right.) and Supergirl duke it out because he's all mad and stuff.
Before that, there was a crappy scene featuring the Freedom Fighters doing the same thing. Shit, I hate these guys. I can't explain my irrational dislike of the Freedom Fighters but even without that I think they were the wrong choice for this scene. Uncle Sam is a plain-talkin', cornpone kinda guy which makes lines like the following fall flat:
"We got us a menace to fight and if we've got to tear apart those costumed outworlders to do it -- then by golly we will!"
"We got us"?
Oh, Christ. Seriously. That sort of language doesn't convey the proper negative emotions to me. The fact that Phantom Lady is standing there looking pornier than ever fills me with even more rage. And don't get me started on Doll Man. Argh!
Brainiac picks up some more bad guys. The madness continues. Uncle Sam breaks his hand on Steel's face (haw, haw!). Y'know, the usual. Until Harbinger does something cosmic and brings three more Earths into the (relative) safety zone. She and Alex Luthor end up on a floating rock in space and after they talk for a while, Alex utters the funniest line in the whole series, so far.
"How do we get off this floating rock?
Comedy. Freaking. Gold.
We end the issue with Yolanda Montez putting on a costume and becoming the new, improved Wildcat. Unfortunately, she does it with the following bit of monologue:
"You do not...cannot know how much you mean to me Ted. How much you inspired me. And you cannot know about my powers and what I can do. This is for you, Ted Grant. I'm no longer just Yolanda Montez, reporter. From now on, Ted Grant -- I'M THE NEW WILDCAT!!"
Did she really have to bring up Ted's name three times? OK, we get it. You're having an imaginary talk with Ted. Maybe he's the voice in her head like Firestorm had that scientist guy and she has to keep saying his name or he'll curse her.
The weird dialogue plus the "everyone is pissed off and suicidal" repetitions made this my least favorite issue so far. It had its moments but as a whole it was unsatisfying. However, Supergirl dies next issue so that'll be something to look forward to.
'Til next time, true believers!
Previous Installments: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5