By: Mark Waid (writer), Diego Barreto (art), Andrew Dalhouse (colors) & Ed Dukeshire (letters)

The Story: Bette Noir reconnects with her father and gives us a flashback of the initial rampage of the Plutonian from the heroes’ point of view.

What’s Good: I enjoyed seeing the depiction of the Plutonian’s destruction of Sky City from the heroes’ perspective.  As with any crisis, when the information is coming in real-time, you are going have pretty big gaps in your information, so it was pretty realistic to see them trying to locate Plutonian to come help them with the disaster before they knew he was the cause of the disaster.  Even then, they think he must be some villain with shapeshifting abilities (because haven’t we all seen that situation play out in comics….).

Of course, once they realize that Plutonian is behind the mess, the heroes all ask Bette if she knows of any weaknesses Plutonian has because she “knows him the best.”  Little to they know how well she “knows” him.

One other cool item is that I seem Waid possibly reinventing this series’ story yet again with the ending that shows a comatose Cary (who was abducted by Orian the Demon), flopped next to that weird binary/digital character (who kidnapped Encanta) while the robot Modeus (who snuck off around issue 5 or so) looks on.  WTF?  The neat thing is that I’ve heard people who don’t want to read this series say, “That’s just a ‘What if Superman was evil?” story.  Who needs another one of those?”  That IS how this series started out, but it has successfully changed gears a few times since showing that Waid has a lot of story to tell.

What’s Not So Good: This title has been spinning its wheels for a few issues because nothing much really happens in this issue.  There was not much new information in the flashback that Bette recounts.  I’m tempted to give them a minor pass because I know they’re trying to bring in new readers by creating a jumping on point, but I wish they’d just write “RECAP ISSUE” on the cover so that existing readers could skip it.

I’m also getting a little bored with how screwed up and sick Plutonian is.  I get it at this point…the guy attacked a school because he has lingering resentment towards kids who teased him when he was little, even though he could have killed all the little buggers when he was a child.  These reveals of how Plutonian is isolated by his powers have generally been good, so I’m not sure if the execution was a little off in this issue or if I’m just sick of the theme.  Waid has created a pretty rich universe here, so I don’t think he needs to keep going back to that well.

Conclusion: Treading water in this issue.  There’s is nothing “bad” in this issue, but after a year of getting one “holy crap” moment after another, this feels a little light.

Grade: C-

– Dean Stell