Or – “Because I’ve Fallen Further Behind Than Ever Before…”

I have to tell you, two weeks of being unable to type without crying like a little girl really makes your work pile up.  The last couple of weeks of comics have been a tumultuous ride, with a whole lot of minor things happening that made me happy.  An old favorite disappoints, while a surprise contender impresses the heck out of me.  British vampires, time-lost Arcturans, underground civilizations, the chupacabra, and a fifty-foot stalk of marijuana await you, beyond the fold!

Previously, on Just About Every Comic Ever Printed (Except Skateman): Our hero was horrified to see that his or her own best friend was the man behind the mask of the mysterious villain.  Add to that the stresses on his or her family (including his or her sickly aunt/mother/cousin/grandmother) as well as the inherent clashes that come with belonging to his or her given super-team, and of course, the torrid love affair with his or her crimefighting partner/childhood sweetheart/former villain or villainess with a heart of gold.  Luckily, he or she was able to muster up enough testicular and/or ovarian fortitude to triumph over evil, unless he/she didn’t, at which point, tragedy probably inevitably struck.  Either way, we’re looking forward to this summer’s big event during which he or she will find that his/her mentor is back from the dead, or possibly that his/her marriage never happened, or perhaps even that a psychotic race of gods created by Jack Kirby aren’t dead at all, but are in fact inhabiting every single frickin’ title in the world and completely watering down any cache that their relaunch might have had!

 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #3:  Once again, the story begins with the after-battle briefing session, as Rocket Raccoon (GO ROCKET!) explains the GotG’s battle with the Cardinals of the Universal Church of Truth.  The team takes a few hard hits but manage to defend a seemingly abandoned Dyson sphere, only to find that the survivors of the sphere are a greater threat than the Cardinals.  Vance Astro tries to figure out the 20th Century, only to find another time-lost member of those OTHER Guardians has followed him to the past.  Of course, Starhawk wasn’t this agressively nasty before, and makes short work of Mantis and Major Victory.  Adam Warlock is revealed to be using actual “read a spell” magic, making him for the first time in his long history an actual warlock.  Paul Pelletier’s art is better than usual here, and Abnett and Lanning turn in another excellent cosmic epic, with Gamora burning nearly to death (and when did she get a healing factor?) and the head of the Church revealing that the cocoon that rebirthed Adam Warlock isn’t the only one in the universe.  The Magus, anyone?  Either way, it’s nicely done, if not that revolutionary, and progresses the story well…  3 out of 5 stars.

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LEGION OF SUPER=HEROES #43:  I’m saddened at how unremarkable the Shooter/Manapul run on the Legion has been, with subplots galore and a general overuse of faux cursing.  Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy and Chameleon Boy go to the wall for their pal, keeping Ultra Boy out of the hands of the Rimborian authorities.  Meanwhile, in Metropolis, the Legion finds their quarters ransacked in the name of “security,”  while, in space the Young Heroes get captures as easily as the amateurs they actually are.  Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl get recruited by SOMETHING (could this be related to Legion of Three Worlds?  Or perhaps 52, where Val and Lu appeared together?) Brainiac 5 gets a proposition, Lightning Lad gets his feet cut out from under him, Timber Wolf shows why he’s the inspiration for Wolverine, and the Legion gets disbanded.  So why does the issue still feel so uneventful?  Manapul’s art is well done, but hard to follow in places, and Shooter’s script feels a bit out of it’s time, combined for a general “so what?” feeling.  With L3W in the wings, this all feels like an excercise in futility.  2 out of 5 stars.

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DYNAMO 5 #14:  The events of the last 3 issues have left the children of Captain Dynamo in disarray (some of ’em goin’ disarray, some of ’em goin’ datarray.)  Their discombobulation has led the criminals of Tower City to run rampant, but luckily, a new force has arisin:  Vigil, a woman trying to pick up where the D5 left off.  Slingshot has a talk with her daddy about mommy’s infidelities, while Visionary still hasn’t forgiven his mother for turning on his sibs to save him.  Scatterbrain manages to talk his way back to the first string, but reaps the seed of his brother’s ladykilling ways, while said brother (Myriad) hooks up with another faceless hottie.  Augie Ford, agent of FLAG, makes the case that Vigil is a force for good, and Scrap has a talk with Zephyr Noble that leads to her joining Vigil in the streets.  The issue ends with Scrap ready to return to her life of sexy sexy crime-fighting ways, just in time to save the new kid from having her head snapped off by a faceless lowlife.  It’s still compelling, but the whole “broken up by internal forces” is very much Fantastic Four circa 1968, and not in all the good ways.  Still, Mahmud Asrar delivers the goods on pictures, and Jay Faerber again hits all the right notes, leaving me looking forward to the next issue.  3 out of 5 stars.  

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THE TWELVE #6 (of 12):  For six issues now, they’ve hinted at it, but the truth about Rockman is at hand, and it’s…  not what I expected.  This issue opens with The Laughing Mask being processed by the NYPD for a sixty-year-old murder, while the Black Widow once again finds herself more at home in the goth culture than the goths themselves.  There’s also a moment that makes me think she isn’t ignoring Phantom Reporter’s advances so much as she’s not into men…  As for the P.R., he’s facing a crippling case of writer’s block, and considers returning to costume action only to get a call from Mastermind Excello warning of danger.  Dynamic Man and Captain Wonder throw themselves into their work, as if competing to see who can save more lives, but Dynamic Man again finds that things have seriously changed when he ends up on the receiving end of a come-on from a male admirer.  A strange woman arrives at the mansion, explaining that she’s looking for her lost grand-uncle.  She tells the tale, and it mirrors perfectly the story that Rockman told about his origin, with a twist:  He was a miner from West Virginia, who fought against a corrupt company that used him and his fellows as little better than pack animals.  When he tried to unionize the company, they sent in thugs, and the future Rockman beat them all.  The foreman set off an explosion to bury him and his fellows, but the exposion and a combination of underground gases gave him his powers…  but he dug free only to find that the collapse of the mine has destroyed the town, killing his beloved wife and daughter.  Rockman’s mind snapped that day, and he disappeared.  The general in charge of The Twelve lies to her about his identity, for all the right reasons.  “If it were true…  would YOU want to know that you’d never, ever see your wife and child again?  Or would you prefer to live in the illusion, the dream, that someday, somehow you would see him again.”  I’m with the general…  This issue is the turning point, the halfway mark,  and we close the issue with all our players taking the field, ending the issue with the Phantom Reporter putting on his mask again.  This issue is moving, it’s beautifully drawn, and it’s exactly what I love about J. Michael Straczynski’s writing…  4.5 out of 5 stars.

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MANHUNTER #32:  Kate Spencer finds herself south of the border, and meets up with the new Blue Beetle, whose armor hates her uniform (of Darkstar origin, you might recall) more than it hates Green Lantern rings.  BB gives her a lead into crime in the area, setting her on a collision course with La Dama.  Meanwhile, her son Ramsey finds himself enchanted by Iron Munro’s gift of a puppy, while mother Sandra Knight (the first Phantom Lady) warns Iron about buying the boys affections.  The puppy (named Thor…  why does that remind me of something ominous) wags it’s tail and barks adorably and records everything with it’s built in camera lens.  (Oh, right…  THAT’S why it’s ominous.)  We see a Joker murder (with a reference to “Smylex” gas ((hellooooo, Tim Burton!))) which the police blame on Manhunter’s tech guru Dylan Battles, and we see Kate enrage Director Bones of the DEO, by reminding him that his transparent skin is heavy on melanin, and he should be behind her crusade to help the little guy.  Bones ominously calls in Amanda Waller, Manhunter gets some JFK-esque secret assistance, and the face behind the disappearing women is revealed to be a new version of an old Batman villain.  Michael Gaydos does an excellent job on the art, and Andreyko provides the usual brilliance.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

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FRESHMEN SUMMER VACATION SPECIAL #1:  Seriously…  We’re gonna have to start calling it “Sophomores” sometime, right?  The kids of Freese college come back together to defend the world against Susie (Green Thumb’s former plant, who is apparently a ficus, NOT a cannibus) in an issue narrated by The Intoxicator.  Brady and Renee are forced to use their powers together, and try to come to terms with the end of their destructive relationship, Intoxicator ends up getting his whole team buzzed, and only the return of Wannabee turns the tide.  For his part, though, Wannabee is more Batman than ever after the death of his girlfriend, and the team takes out Susie by leading her into a polluted lake (because there’s always one around, right?)  It’s an interesting issue, but the art (by Sheldon Mitchell) is weirdly rubbery, and the characters’ college-age angst doesn’t ring true for me, though I may not be the target audience here.  I feel like Sterbakov and Green really hit the mark with the first series of this book, but I liked the second series a bit less, and this one-shot doesn’t really blow my dress up at all…  Maybe the projected third part of the story will reawaken my interests, but this issue only ranks 2 out of 5 stars…

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PATSY WALKER, HELLCAT #1 (of 5):  Here’s a surprise…  This is my favorite comic book of recent weeks, hands down.  Former Defender Hellcat, far from the angsty path of old partner Nighthawk, (keep reading for HIS story) ends up becoming the Initiative’s super-hero ambassador to Alaska.  The art is exquisite, echoing Patsy’s origin in girl’s fashion comics, while giving her heroic identity some real teeth.  Patsy keeps her wits about her, manages to throw some witty bon mots into the mix, and cuts a swath across the 50th state with pure attitude and chutzpah.  It’s a fun book, a FUNNY book, ending with the Hellcat in mortal combat against demon polar bears and someone who might be C’thulu’s uglier brother.  It’s a thrill-ride, pure and simple, and Patsy hasn’t been this much fun since J.M. DeMatteis left the Defenders lo these many years ago.  I’m quite certain that I’ll take flak for this, but Hellcat #1 earns 5 out of 5 stars for uniqueness and sheer entertainment value.  I wish there were more books that were this enjoyable to read…

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GREEN ARROW AND BLACK CANARY #9 & #10:   So, Connor Hawke has been shot, see?  And the minds behind it seem to be those pesky killers in the shadows, the League of Assassins.  In tracking down what they think is Connor’s body, they instead find a trapped Plastic Man (wasn’t he just an Eclipso?)  Speedy and her new pal Dodger ( a British sneak thief with undefined powers) run afoul of the LoA, while Plas, Ollie and Dinah end up joining forces with the big bad Bat.  The Assassins (each given an ultimately forgettable name and gimmick) take on this Justice League Light lineup, and are easily thwarted by stealth, guile, and polyvinylchloride limbs.  Green Arrow again shows his new skills with a blade, and Batman proves that he’s ready for anything, taking down a telekinetic villain’s big play with a show of explosive force.  “[It’s] not designed to kill you.  Just lose a limb.  Paralysis perhaps.”  Heh…  the Assassins stand down, and Batman quizzes them on their leader, whom they insist is Ra’s Al Ghul.  “You’ve never met Ra’s Al Ghul,” growls the Bat, “and according to him, you “AREN’T his League of Assassins.”  Dum dum daaaah!  Another twist capping off nearly a year of twists on this title, and, frankly, I’m getting whiplash from the cliffhangers.  Judd Winick does his usual deft job with scripting, especially the little moments where characters get to be super-cocky, but the plotting is a bit… off.  Cliff Chiang, however, turns in a stellar art job that makes both issues go smooth like a honey lemon cough drop.  Nicely done, but ultimately just another comic book, Green Arrow and Black Canary 9 & 10 rank a combined 3 out of 5 stars.

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CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI:13 #2 & #3:   This just in:  Former Captain Britain Brian Braddock is STILL dead.  Maybe.  Possibly…  The Skrull Invasion of the Earth isn’t limited to just New York City, and the London contingent of heroes has their work cut out for them, as their most powerful member (the aforementioned Braddock, aka Captain Britain) apparently sacrifices himself in battle.  Pete Wisdom is haunted by mystic voices, telling him to “make a connection,” and he tucks in his pride and calls upon Tink, his former fairy lover, as we find that the Skrulls are after Britain’s ancient magic.  Trolls, knights, and and fey folks join the fight, but the green jerks from space still manage to synthesize true magic.  Spitfire (who is now, for some reason, a vampire) joins the fight, and Pete finally follows the voices in his head to release… Merlin!  Mr. Ambrose, the son of the devil, and wearer of shiny, shiny helmets, then uses his powers to resurrect Captain Britain.  In a pretty powerful scene, all the Union Jack flags within miles coalesce and surround Braddock’s body, as the magic rebuilds C.B. in a new shape.  Just as Magic Skrull threatens to kill the Black Knight and new character Faiza Hussain, the Captain arises, pulls Excalibur from it’s stone and heads into battle.  The skrull roars that he will teach them of pride, determination and grandeur, only to be laid low by one shot.  “I think you’ll find we know already,” says the new Captain Britain, “We just don’t like to make a fuss.”  It’s a nice John Wayne moment for a character who doesn’t get many of those, and an enjoyable, if somewhat jam-packed, couple of issues.  Doctor Who scribe Paul Cornell hits all the right notes, and makes the story truly English in a way I can’t describe, and Leonard Kirk does well on art, save for a few transitions that are unclear.  These two issues are nicely done, but I’m more interested to see where this goes after the Invasion.  3 out of 5 stars overall…

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BIRDS OF PREY #119:  I have to say, the ‘Platinum Flats’ epic has so far left me somewhat less than impressed.  The Huntress takes on Carface as this issue opens, in a pretty empty show of action, while the criminal masterminds of the city start to make things more difficult for Oracle and her cronies.  Lady Blackhawk shakes off her mindwiping with a wave of her hand (“Ain’t go much use for bellyaching,” she scoffs) while Misfit tries to come to terms with the sudden revelation that Black Alice may be her sister.  Manhunter, for her part, is on detached duty in Star City, checking out Black Canary in her new life as den mother of the Arrow clan of Star City.  Oracle has a tete a tete with Calculator, who was forced recently to come to her for a save, and now owes her a debt of honor.  Calculator tells her that the brains of the outfit in P.F. is a man called Visionary, and I wonder for a second if they’re in Tower City by mistake.  Manhunter is confronted by the very quarry she’s supposed to be tracking, and the issue ends with M.H. and B.C. facing down on a rooftop.  I’m a little disappointed that DC seems to think that this book needs Dinah to survive, but with Nicola Scott on pencils, I pretty much don’t care.  Her drawings are lively, attractive and well-done, which makes up for a lot of the deficiencies of the kind of scattered script.  It’s a middle-of-the-road outing, averaging 2.5 out of 5 stars.  I want to know where this Platinum Flats business is leading…

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THE LAST DEFENDERS #5 (of 6):  Are we there yet?  The fifth issue of Nighthawk and his Amazing Friends starts with the Son of Satan takin Kyle Richmond to task for giving up his superhero identity.  Daimon Hellstrom leaves in a snit when Richmond insists he’s retired, and we see an icy interaction between She-Hulk and Iron Man where Jennifer explains in no uncertain terms that she is quite unhappy with Mr. Stark.  Yandroth finally arrives in the main plot, confronting Kyle, showing him the origins of the Defenders, and telling him that he’s got it wrong, that they’ve never managed to hit the perfect alchemical formula to make the Defenders work.  Yandroth finally raise some strange ninja pirate zombie robot version of Kyle’s old partners in the Squadron Sinister, only to have the walls knocked down by… The Defenders?  Krang.  The Son of Satan.  She-Hulk.  And Nighthawk?  Kyle goggles at the sight of The Last Defenders lineup, and I wonder what exactly is going on here…  The last issue COULD be the key that puts it all together, and I hope it is, as this issue is a pretty average 2.5 out of 5 star affair.  Here’s hoping for a ballyhoo ending…

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TEEN TITANS #60:  The Terror Titans’ evil plan has come to fruition, as Kid Devil finds himself drugged into a stupor, fighting against Hardrock (wasn’t he a Raver?) in the Dark Side Club.  Ms. Martian manages to keep him from becoming a killer, while Ravager infiltrates the Terror Titans from within, kicking ass and taking initials (’cause she don’t got time for names.)  The Titans come together and manage to break out of the Dark Side club, with Ms. Martian promising to come back and save all the former heroes trapped within.  and Clock King nearly have a meeting of the minds, and he reveals that he, like her, can see a few seconds in the future.  They’re fated to work together, he says, and tells her that he’d trade his whole team for one of her.  Rose manages to take out C.K.’s magical stopwatch, freeing all her teammates (somehow) from their captivity, leaving them all in Greece.  The threat ended, the Titans head for home and try to rebuild, as Wonder Girl and Robin decide that they have to deal with the Ravager problem once and for all…  but it’s too late.  Ravager takes the stopwatch that Clock King gave her, and disappears into the timestream.  I’m saddened by her exit, but I’m hoping that Titans can be revitalized in her wake.  This book really has yet to recover from One Year Later, in my opinion, no matter how many revamps or lineup changes DC has tried.  This issue just sort of happened for me, not a bad outing, but not really spectacular or new, earning a vaguely-almost-disappointed-kinda 2 out of 5 stars.

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It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for comics, but nothing that struck a spectacularly bad note for me…  But the important question is this:  Who votes that Rocket Raccoon with his gatling gun should become the permanent Rapid-Fire Reviews mascot?


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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11 Comments

  1. Sanlear
    July 17, 2008 at 6:53 am — Reply

    “But the important question is this: Who votes that Rocket Raccoon with his gatling gun should become the permanent Rapid-Fire Reviews mascot?”

    Most definitely, yes.

  2. Josh P.
    July 17, 2008 at 7:35 am — Reply

    I second the Rocket Raccoon motion.

    Nothing like a raccoon with a big gun.

  3. Cory
    July 17, 2008 at 7:51 am — Reply

    Yes, on the Rocket Raccoon question.

    Hell, Rocket Raccoon should be the mastermind behind the whole “Secret Invasion” thing. Clearly, he has an issue with Earth having household pets.

  4. Cory
    July 17, 2008 at 7:55 am — Reply

    I wonder if the Alien menaces Rocket Raccoon has vanquished sometimes refer to him as “The Raccoon”. It would be very pulpish and cool if they did.

    Thanos: “Has ‘The Raccoon’ become involved?!”

  5. ykw
    July 17, 2008 at 8:51 am — Reply

    Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl get recruited by SOMETHING (could this be related to Legion of Three Worlds? Or perhaps 52, where Val and Lu appeared together?)

    52? Or COUNTDOWN? ‘Sides, the Lu-n-Val who came to the 21st Century in COUNTDOWN, JLofA and JSofA weren’t from the current series’ timeline, anyway, but the one Geoff Johns later showed in ACTION.

    Patsy hasn’t been this much fun since J.M. DeMatteis left the Defenders lo these many years ago.

    Marc was the guy who made her not-fun, marrying her off to Daimon and starting her on a two-decade path to victimhood and near-oblivion several years before he (and the original book) left town. J.M. did many great things on (THE NEW) DEFENDERS — Cloud, the Seuss issue, the elevation of Candy Sothern, the gathering of the ex-X-Men — but his treatment of Hellcat definitely does not rank among them.

    Cliff Chiang, however, turns in a stellar art job that makes both issues go smooth like a honey lemon cough drop.

    Mike Norton. Chiang’s been off interiors for many moons now.

  6. ykw
    July 17, 2008 at 8:59 am — Reply

    Also:

    The puppy (named Thor… why does that remind me of something ominous) wags it’s tail and barks adorably and records everything with it’s built in camera lens. (Oh, right… THAT’S why it’s ominous.)

    ANY reference to MILLENNIUM, no matter how obscure or oblique, should be considered ominous. Even in a book with other explicit ties to that “event”.

  7. July 17, 2008 at 9:41 am — Reply

    “I’m saddened by her exit, but I’m hoping that Titans can be revitalized in her wake. This book really has yet to recover from One Year Later, in my opinion, no matter how many revamps or lineup changes DC has tried.”

    The problem with this book since One Year Later is that DC tried to pawn off the idea that there were all of these junior heroes running around — Power Boy, Miss Martian, etc. — and that, somehow, every older hero in the DC Universe had this younger counterpart that’d always been around but we just hadn’t heard of before.

    Having Ravager make the team was the single good thing about Teen Titans since One Year Later.

    It made sense. Deathstroke had tormented Batman by, apparently, stealing away Dick Grayson (for a while in Nightwing) and then by taking Batgirl (post-OYL) — it was fitting that the ‘gap’ was filled by Dick managing to swing Rose to the side of the angels.

    I suppose now that Batgirl’s good again, and they’re trying to explain away everything that happened there, it fits that Rose goes back to the ‘dark side’ … but it would’ve been nice to let the heroes hold onto that one victory and, frankly, having Rose have something of a ‘salvation’ story made her a more interesting character (rather than just relegating her to little-girl-Deathstroke) …

  8. Mark I.
    July 17, 2008 at 9:55 am — Reply

    Rocket Raccoon should be on the list of “50 Reasons Why Comic Books Exist.”

  9. Josh P.
    July 17, 2008 at 2:39 pm — Reply

    I am eagerly awaiting the day Marvel solicits a Rocket Racoon hardcover/paperback collection.

  10. July 17, 2008 at 10:27 pm — Reply

    So I sez: “Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl get recruited by SOMETHING (could this be related to Legion of Three Worlds? Or perhaps 52, where Val and Lu appeared together?)”

    And then HE sez: “52? Or COUNTDOWN? ‘Sides, the Lu-n-Val who came to the 21st Century in COUNTDOWN, JLofA and JSofA weren’t from the current series’ timeline, anyway, but the one Geoff Johns later showed in ACTION.

    Good catch. Of course, I’m a man under sedation who just reviewed FIFTEEN or so comic books. An error or two was bound to slip in. :)

    And then I sez: Patsy hasn’t been this much fun since J.M. DeMatteis left the Defenders lo these many years ago.

    And then HE goes: Marc was the guy who made her not-fun, marrying her off to Daimon and starting her on a two-decade path to victimhood and near-oblivion several years before he (and the original book) left town. J.M. did many great things on (THE NEW) DEFENDERS — Cloud, the Seuss issue, the elevation of Candy Sothern, the gathering of the ex-X-Men — but his treatment of Hellcat definitely does not rank among them.

    I liked his Hellcat, especially during the Six-Fingered Hand storyline. She wasn’t a candle to Dave Kraft’s version, but still… :)

    And I sez: Cliff Chiang, however, turns in a stellar art job that makes both issues go smooth like a honey lemon cough drop.

    And then HE goes: “Mike Norton. Chiang’s been off interiors for many moons now…”

    Wow… new guy draws just like Cliff Chiang! Also: FIF! TEEN! BOOKS! :D

    But yes, these are all valid points…

  11. ~wyntermute~
    July 18, 2008 at 11:10 pm — Reply

    Isn’t Ravager/Rose going to be the “protagonist” of the Terror Titans mini-series? Thought I read something to that extent somewhere…. Just a gut feeling, but I don’t think she’s going back to the “dark” side (no, not the %@#%ing club; I mean that metaphorically).

    Fifteen comic review = new high score?

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