Happy Fourth of July!

This is a Force of July image dump post.

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Outline for a Force of July Solo Book

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The Jihad have been hired by an unknown agent to orchestrate a major terrorist attack.

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Lady Liberty and Mayflower have been invited to sing the National Anthem at a championship game between the Metro Bay Minutemen and Gotham Knights.

One of the Gotham Knights has been kneeling during the anthem, making a spectacle and it’s expected that all of the Knights will be kneeling at this game.

Sparkler’s angry—“How could they disrespect the flag and soldiers and police like that?! Someone should force them to stand!”

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Major Victory—“No, Sparkler. Dark as times might be, this is still America, and they still have freedom of speech, even if that speech is disrespectful.”

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While the ladies prep to sing the Anthem, Sparkler is given a tour of the Minutemen locker-room; he notices one of the players looks like Rustam. He finds one of the Minutemen tied up and gagged in a janitor’s closet, his uniform missing. Sparkler passes the warning along to Major Victory and Silent Majority.

Major Victory chases Rustam, who is cut off by Silent Majority’s duplicates. Rustam reveals that Jaculi has swapped out the Knights’ kneepads for detonator triggers—when they kneel, it will set off bombs that have been placed in the stands.

Mayflower tries to stall for time, but Lady Liberty insists that the National Anthem must be sung. Abe Lincoln Carlisle has scanned the stadium with his supercomputer, and informs the team it’s a ruse—there are no detonators in the kneepads; the Jihad wanted to create the bad optic of the Force of July trying to stop the football players from kneeling.

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As Lady Liberty sings the National anthem, Djinn appears on the jumbo-tron, declaring that nothing can stop the Jihad. The screens and lights shatter, causing pandemonium in the crowd. Silent Majority helps the police and soldiers who were being honored that night rescue the injured and evacuate the stadium.

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Other members of Jihad appear on the field, as Major Victory, Sparkler, and Mayflower spring into action. Mayflower quips about being glad they didn’t opt for astroturf as she uses grass tendrils in the fight.

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Through the fighting, Lady Liberty keeps singing the Star Spangled Banner. One by one, kneeling players stand, tears in their eyes. “Those cops and soldiers out there helping people–it’s time we helped them!”

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Their plans foiled and completely outnumbered, the Jihad are captured.

Story ends with a peroration from Major Victory on the importance of the Anthem and respecting the sacrifices made for the country. “Just remember why you have free speech the next time you think you should kneel.”

Thoughts on Looker and the End of Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 1

I’m nearing the end of Batman and the Outsiders, and though overall I’ve loved it, I have enough future issues to be somewhat wary of the direction that it may go in Outsiders Vol.1.*

The tail-end of Batman and the Outsiders introduces the new character, Looker, and several of the Outsiders solo covers on early issues promise some really hammy villains (the Duke of Oil, the Nuclear Family, and the godawful Force of July**).

 

Even though Looker’s 4 issue origin arc was one of the best runs since Katana’s yakuza arc, there are dark clouds appearing on the horizon.

First of all, the redesign of Halo. It first showed up in Outsiders #1 the previous month, but it shows up for the first time in continuity here. Frankly, she looks awful with a pompadour.IMG_5412

Beyond looking awful, this feels somewhat questionable because it’s coinciding with the introduction of Looker. I guess they couldn’t have two pretty women with long hair on the Outsiders, so they gave Halo this awful do to help differentiate between them?

Outsiders31Emily Briggs’ introduction and the foreshadowing of the character hint at her being a much more interesting character than I’m almost certain she’ll end up being. I don’t want to prejudge too much, but it looks like they’re going to play her up as being a sex-pot despite giving her some potential for real nuance. She’s a plain-jane bank-teller who wishes her husband would notice her more, and the comic sets her up for a friendship with Tatsu, but I spoiled it for myself and find out that once she gets her powers and joins the Outsiders, she ends up being something like the “bad-mom” to Katana’s “good-mom” where Halo’s concerned.

And it’s weird that I can tell I’m going to hate this character despite the fact that she had a perfect origin story. Really, it’s because she has such a perfect origin that I feel so certain I’m going to hate her, because I know that she won’t live up to its potential.

So, Looker’s deal is that she’s a descendant of a god-blooded race of kings from the inner earth; the Abyssian royal family had been growing more and more powerful and warlike until one of them decided to throw on the brakes and preach peace–he’s exiled and stewards rule in the family’s place while searching for a descendant to put upon the throne as a puppet. Briggs turns out to be the granddaughter of the exiled king, and the warring brother and sister pretenders are fighting over her. They unlock her god-blood powers (and beauty), and each magically brainwashes her. Before Halley’s comet can destroy the earth (wait, isn’t that the sort of thing Superman is for?), Looker shakes off the conflicting magical controls and ends the bloody civil war once and for all, naming a couple mooks rulers and ushering in an egalitarian society. While Batman’s more cynical as to how Looker overcame the conflicting brainwashing, Tatsu is certain it was Briggs’ love for her husband that broke the spell (she snapped out of it and wrecked the pretender king after he broke her wedding band and demanded she be his queen). Briggs’ husband realizes he’s been taking her for granted and how much he appreciates and loves her–he spent most of the arc devastated and praying that Batman can rescue his wife (and as a mirror to Sapphire Stagg, whom Metamorpho had just married and is in the same straits); at the end of the adventure, Briggs surprises her husband as Looker happy that she can treat her husband as ‘a woman as beautiful as she thinks he deserves’.

Based on how she’s set up, Looker seems like she could go down a number of interesting paths. She could keep up her friendship with Tatsu and help her dealing with her grief over her husband and child. She could play around a lot with the ‘true beauty is on the inside’ trope, with Looker being Briggs’ “inner self brought out”, as just a really good and loving person trying her hardest. Lots of stuff. But no, she ends up being self-centered and narcissistic and even has an affair with Geo-Force (which is really not a direction I like to see him going as the team’s “Righteous Dude”).

Eventually she becomes a vampire thot or something. :/New_52_Looker

Anyway, of the issues I’m missing out B&tO, it would have to be the two immediately preceding the consecutive run of nearly 20 other issues I own, so it may be a minute before I find out just how wrong or how right I turn out to be.

*:The first several issues of Outsiders vol.1 ran concurrently with Batman and the Outsiders and the post-Batman “Adventures of the Outsiders”, the solo series takes place a year after the events of the original and still ongoing (though wrapping up) title. So, yay for confusing continuity.

**:For what it’s worth, I think that in the right hands, Force of July could be a great property. If they were given their own book in which they were presented unironically as good and earnest patriots who loved and fought for America instead of just being used a cheap punching-bag to attack Reagan Republicans, they would have a ton of potential for great stories as a kind of D or C list Justice League. I love their designs, particularly Mayflower’s. 

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The Force of July: A Villain Team, Obviously!