Friday, August 31, 2012

THE BOOK OF FATE #2 - March 1997

Carnal Beckoning
Credits: Keith Giffen (writer), Ron Wagner (penciler), Bill Reinhold (inker), Gaspar (letterer), Mike Danza (colorist)

Summary: Jared discovers that he no longer needs sleep, forcing him to kill time in the middle of the night with Arnold. Arnold gives him advice on how to deal with the artifacts, and reveals that he’s created a Fate website. When Jared leaves Arnold’s home, he’s confronted by Sentinel, who places a “message from the Conclave” inside Jared’s head. Sentinel then confronts the nearby agent of Chaos, only to be possessed by the entity. The possessed Sentinel violently breaks into Jared’s home. Meanwhile, an agent of Order appears in India.

I Love the ‘90s: Jared describes the sudden movement of his face emblem as “Whoop! There it is!” (And I have no idea what he’s talking about, since the emblem’s in the same place it was in the previous issue.)

Total N00B: So, at some point Alan Scott dropped the Green Lantern title and went by Sentinel? Is he also de-aged at this point, because he certainly appears younger here than he was in Justice Society of America. Also, Jared already knows Sentinel somehow, and they have some connection to something called “the Conclave.”

“Huh?” Moment: Jared is horribly embarrassed to be purchasing “Cocoa Buffs” (later called by their real name) cereal as a favor to Arnold. Why? The story treats this as totally emasculating, but I’ve never heard of any stigma attached to grown men buying sugary breakfast cereal.

Review: Oh, more stuff that makes no sense. The book is still assuming that everyone has a full run of Fate, which puts this reader at a severe disadvantage. I’d love to read a good ol’ fashioned Jim Shooter ravaging of this comic, because large sections of the story are just opaque. Who is Arnold? How does he know Jared? How does Arnold seem to know so much about the occult? Or is he just guessing about this stuff? Why did he start a website? Why does Jared not to seem to care that Arnold’s setting up an online business on his behalf without his consent?

At the very least, Jared and Arnold do have some kind of chemistry going, so their conversation scene isn’t a total loss. Unfortunately, it’s followed by a pointless fight with a new incarnation of Alan Scott I’ve never seen before, which ties in to their connection with a mysterious group (?) known as the Conclave. And then, an unnamed monster attacks Alan Scott and possesses him, setting up another fight with Jared, who I guess I’m not supposed to be calling Dr. Fate yet. As a subplot, an unnamed figure in white reflects on India and the great monument he’ll build there. Finally, in the letters page, an editor’s note refers to the lead character as a “small time black marketer,” an idea that hasn’t clearly been expressed in the actual comic yet. That’s followed by a series of letters making obscure references to the previous Fate series that I’ve never read. Seriously, if I wasn’t already a fan of the art (and kind of obligated to keep writing about the series), why would I want to buy the next issue?

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