Writers – Steve Orlando and Gerard Way
Artist (main story) – Dale Eaglesham
Artist (epilogue) – Nick Derington
Colorists – Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise
Letters – Clem Robins
Cover – Clay Mann and Marissa Louise
Editors – Jamie S. Rich and Molly Mahan
WARNING: This review is so full of spoilers you will feel like you have already read it. Please make sure if you haven’t read it to opt for our spoiler-free review by clicking here!
I’ve really been blocked when it comes to writing this review. Why? Because the comic is just so great I don’t even know how to begin to do it justice (pun not intended, but awesome).
We start the book with Rita Farr in a terrible predicament. I may have gotten this wrong, but, based on her many appearances throughout the crossover event, I have to believe that she was expected to be a big part in Retconn’s plan to make the others conform, but she was always non-compliant. A good show of this would be in Shade/Wonder Woman when she tries to remind Shade about Honey. As a result of her continuous rebellion she is now being punished by living out a play where the pain is real and she’s a Jesus like figure. I think the reason why she is being punished in such a religious way is Retconn’s way of saying “This is what we do to Saviors.”
When we first meet her she is going back and forth between no hope and hoping for hope as she is tortured, but then we are transported to Retconn offices in Final Heaven where we learn she is not the only one being tortured. Milkman Man is torturing Cave Carson to find out just how much Cave knows and how he knows it.
I personally love when Milkman Man asks Cave “How long do you think you can make it against Reconn’s Superman?” and Cave’s reply is “I’ve known Superman a long time, Milkman Man. He taught me to never give up, even if it hurts.”
As a G Way fan, I can honestly say that’s one of the things he has taught me. So, to read it coming from a character he initially helped write (and in this instance, may in fact be writing) in regards to a superhero felt surreal and extremely satisfying.
The torturing of Cave continues as Milkman Man tries to find out information about where Caves family and Swamp Thing went, how he freed the dreamers and how he found Retconn, but Cave’s not talking.
Suddenly, all our heroes come crashing in. The Doom Patrol, Shade, Mother Panic, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League of America have all come to Cave’s aid. All while Cave hilariously says “I think I’ve got something in my eye.”
If this were any other book, you may think they would quickly set to work on ending the villain, but in a switch they all try to reach Milkman Man with love, all while explaining he has been a victim of circumstance but he can choose to survive being manipulated and choose a new path where he could find love. As you may expect, it doesn’t go over well.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Retconn’s pencil pusher is trying his damndest to convince Lord Khan to buy his product, but Khan can see that the “Passion Play” they have Rita stuck in is barely holding her, and he knows the reality he’s being sold is damaged goods.
From there we tune back into the Passion Play where Rita is being nailed to a cross with spikes that say “The like of DC Superstars,” which to be honest, I feel like this was something I was supposed to understand but didn’t because I am new to DC beyond Young Animal. What I do get, is that Rita isn’t willing to accept that she will die beneath this title because she is a superstar and feels she has more story left to her life.
Once we are convinced there’s more to Rita’s story we return to Retconn offices where mutated bovine known as Retconn’s soldiers have joined the fight that our heroes must overcome, and Black Canary asks Milkman man to help them, but he refuses saying “Retconn made me something I shouldn’t be…but they’re the only ones that could accept me now.”
I love the panels on this page. So much is happening and so many wonderful lines were spoken. We have Frost finding cow soldiers weird while Shade says she doesn’t find it weird because “The only strange thing where I’m from is same.”
We have Batman and Flex finally doing what needs to be done and over powering Milkman Man.
And then we have one of my favorite scenes, Cliff says “I ain’t like you. Some extra dimensional muck-muck scribbled me up outta fan fiction. Could be i’m not even the real Cliff Steel. Just a made up hero.” and Ray replies “Even if you are fan fiction made up…you’re pretty real to someone.”
Now I’ll admit I don’t understand why Cliff is so self aware about being written and not real, but I know when I pick up Mother Panic comics she’s so real to me. I think everyone who reads comics can find a character (or characters) they relate to so much they can say “This is me.” and that’s what makes them real. They are heroes that teach us ordinary people how to cope with what happens to us and, often, how to overcome it. I feel like a stronger person every time I read Mother Panic and I bet there are others who could say the same. I mean, Gerard did wear an outfit very similar to Ray’s, so maybe Ray was, to him, what Mother Panic is to me.
Getting back to the fight, Milkman Man has been able to free himself from Batman and Flex and now Wonder Woman is giving it her best to bring him around, but the only person that can get him to stop to listen is his parent, Casey.
I need to talk about this incredibly touching panel that happens at this point where Casey says, “I’m right here. And I’m not giving up on you.”
I love this because after all the bad Milkman Man has done, here’s the loveable Casey who’s willing to unconditionally love him and do whatever it takes to reach him.
We’ll have to wait to see if Casey can reach Milkman Man because we’re thrust back upstairs where they are contemplating using the ‘ultimate fail safe’ to end everything and making a final offer to Khan to help them clean up the mess and sanitize our heroes and they will consider Prime Earth paid in full.
Meanwhile Rita is still nailed to the cross struggling with what’s real and then she remembers she’s also elasti-girl and she can expand or shrink at will. Will this change things? The disruption in image quality seems to make you believe it will.
Back with our heroes, Casey stays behind to talk to Milkman Man as the team fights their way to the Retconn offices upstairs. Khan and his client (who I’m sorry but I don’t know who he is, or if I’m supposed to know) have decided no sale and Khan seems to teleport out of the offices just before our heroes bust through.
So here we are, Retconn offices above are being demolished by our heroes fighting the bovine soldiers and the Retconn staff are deciding they have to resort to their last fail safe – eliminate Earth Prime- Casey, on the other hand, is still below talking to Milkman Man in yet another epic show of good parenting. But things are moving fast now and all outcomes look pretty bleak as we return to upstairs just in time to watch as the final reset button for Prime Earth is pressed.
When Casey and Milkman Man realize what has happened, Casey says the most wonderfully human thing, “No one exists forever. A hundred years after someone dies, everyone they ever knew will be gone, no one will remember them. It’s natural…and it sure as hell doesn’t mean they don’t matter.”
I love how it makes you feel small and big at the same time, and coincidentally small and big is exactly what our heroes need to overcome this…
“We fight a mystery with mystery…muscle mystery.” Batman tells Flex. Flex doesn’t think it can help but offers another plan- inflation intensity.
With the use of Vixen’s Tantu Totem all the heroes can connect and Jane’s Scarlet Harlot can focus the psycho-sexual energy of inflation and together they can all expand and use the energy to hit the restart button and save earth. (No, I’m not sure how this works…it’s comics, I just accepted that I didn’t need to understand this to understand it.)
So that’s how it’s done. In a hilarious two-page layout, our heroes all blow up to look like Violet in Willy Wonka when she turns into a blueberry, and it’s just enough to hit the reboot. We know it’s working because Rita tells us she can see everything and can feel the rebooting as she crawls from a pool of nothing (or milk?)
But not everything is the same. Mother Panic finds herself back in Gotham, but can feel the absence of Batman’s presence. Cave finds a calling to go into space and Loma finds herself in a space where “Everyone is gone and everything has changed.”
We then go back to where everything began, Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. This is where we find all our other heroes, including Rita Farr. Everyone feels like they woke up from a dream but can’t remember much of what happened except Rita Farr who fills them in about Retconn.
Casey has a great conversation with Wonder Woman where she thinks she can remember that she had a son and Wonder Woman tells her “The holes in our hearts cannot always be named, Casey…but we may yet find ways to fill them.”
And then we flip to a beautiful conclusion monologue from the narrative that says, “From the sacred gel of the void, from the brink of sameness, creation is born anew. It has heroes once more, ready on the front lines. And with them there, free and bizarre…the next day will always be different, and more beautiful than the last.”
A beautiful end to a beautiful story that inspires you to be yourself, be strong, don’t drink someone else’s kool-aid (or milk) and keep going no matter what life throws at you- even if that something is nothing. You matter and what you choose to do with your life and who you choose to be matters.
On a personal level I absolutely love how hard everyone tries to bring Milkman Man back. They all had every reason to hate him but they chose love. I think a true hero is someone willing to make those kinds of hard choices. I’m so glad in the end the last thing Milkman Man knew was love both for and from Casey. It’s a true shame that in real life, love can’t always solve a problem or reform a tortured heart that’s been jaded. But that’s life and we all have choices to make that will define who we are and who we become and I would rather choose love- even if it hurts.
This comic crossover event was so absolutely beautiful, heart warming and utterly hilarious at times. I can’t wait to see how the Young Animal books continue from here. I mean, is Batman trapped on the Island and that’s why he’s missing in Gotham? Will Cliff no longer be robot man? How will Casey go on knowing (or suspecting) she had, and lost, a son? Will Terry reappear? Will Rita become a regular? Ah! So many glorious questions. I feel like Morticia Addams in labor! I can’t wait!
Last thing I really need to say here is how much I loved the exchange between Casey and Wonder Woman in the end. There’s a scene in a previous issue where Casey went up against her negative counterpart and she tells Danny “I’ll Keep choosing love.” Also, Diane says the same thing at the end of her movie. I’ve always felt like these two women were meant to be friends so seeing them a) both try to bring Milkman Man to choose love and b) in the same panels inspiring each other where Wonder Woman tells Casey she’s the heart of the Doom Patrol and imparts some wisdom that seems to help Casey come to grips with the loss of her son. Absolutely perfect.
The only thing that I would have needed for this to be 110% satisfying would be to have had more Mother Panic….but hey….even in this she swears, so it’s still satisfying.
I could go on and on about my personal opinions of this comic but I think I’ll end it here by simply saying: Be yourself. Be weird. Be different. Don’t listen to what the world tries to make you be. Find humor even in the darkest places and whenever possible choose love- even if it hurts.
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