JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
Geoff Johns • David Finch (a)
The march toward TRINITY WAR begins with part one of “WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS”! Green Lantern! Green Arrow! Catwoman! Katana! Vibe! Hawkman! Stargirl! They aren’t the world’s greatest super heroes—they’re the most dangerous! But why does a team like the JLA need to exist? What is their ultimate mission? And who is pulling the strings? Plus: Find out why Martian Manhunter is the most dangerous of them all. Period. 40 pages • $3.99
I gave up on Johns’ nu52 version of the Justice League after the first arc. I think it did a lot of things right but unfortunately I just needed to cull something off my list and aside from the Avengers and X-Men I’m not much of a team book sort of person anymore and my interest in team books on the DC side of the equation has always been spotty. I’ll fade in an out with the Titans, the League, Birds of Prey, the Suicide Squad, and others based on lineups or writers.
Rating: 2 & 3/4 Stars of 5
I’m not even gonna lie, folks. Yesterday I was on the verge of lashing out at anybody who looked at me the wrong way. Some people said some things that I felt were highly disrespectful, and then they followed up on that by asking me to go out of my way to do something that I am not actually able to do without significant time spent doing so. Why would I do this when I don’t get treated with any measure of respect in the course of my regular comings and goings? All I can say is that luckily the day was salvaged by a date with a beautiful girl and a stack of mostly excellent comics.
Yesterday was really the kind of day that comics were invented for. I was in a foul mood, the rain outside was just nasty, nothing was on TV; it was just a day meant to be ended laying on the couch reading about super powered people in bright costumes punching bad guys in the face. Honestly, yesterday would have been almost a total down note if it weren’t for my weekly pull.
ACTION COMICS #890 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #34 2.99
BATMAN BEYOND #1 (OF 6) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #607 HA 3.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #892 2.99
DEATH OF DRACULA ONE-SHOT 3.99
FLASH #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #13 2.99
HERALDS #5 (OF 5) 2.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 4.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #46 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #40 2.99
SECRET AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
THOR #611 HA 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #600 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
And now that my personal bitching is out of the way, let’s do this shit.
Lex Luthor takes over the protagonist duties on Action Comics this week, with former Captain Britain and Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell taking the reigns and bringing us a story that spills directly out of Blackest Night, which most of my readers will recall me as christening a “steaming pile of Geoff John’s diaretic feces” or something similar. And while my feelings on that particularly shoddy mini-series haven’t changed, the fallout here with Luthor, whose power hungry ego was out of control before he got ahold of an orange ring, is actually intriguing and well plotted. I attribute this mostly to the fact that Luthor is one of the better multi-faceted villains DC has at their disposal. I mean, the Joker has a lot of different degrees of crazy he can go in, but he’s still going to be the Joker. With Lex we can get mad scientist Lex or evil industrialist Lex or actually-not-evil Lex, his lack of true definition isn’t a fault of the writers it’s a byproduct of his psyche as a character. Luthor truly does not know what he wants to be. Really, he just doesn’t want to be Superman, despite what Geoff Johns would have you believe.
This particular issue knocks it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The story is obvious setup, where we learn of Luthor’s plan to quest for the rings (which sounds a little more Tolkien-esque than I thought when I typed that out). But while it’s definitely an issue meant to catch up readers who may be jumping on board as well as giving us a clear direction for where the title is headed, we also get Cornell’s Luthor clearly defined in the span of one issue. We know which Luthor we’re going to be getting. Cornell writes a very compelling Luthor, with his actions making complete sense in the context of who we’re dealing with. The way he treats Lois in this issue (probably my favorite aspect of the series thus far) is probably as good a gauge of character as we’ll ever see.
Oh, and the surprise reveal of the villain at the end made me squee, because he’s a personal favorite and I’ve been waiting for him to pop back up for a while now. But that’s just personal bias.
I only vaguely remember Batman Beyond as a show. I mean, I watched it because I was young and there wasn’t much else on but I didn’t latch onto it the way that I did with Batman The Animated Series. Chris Sims over at ComicsAlliance said that he enjoyed the show because it was basically Batman meshed with Spider-Man but set in the future. I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. The character is more Spidey than Bats most of the time, and I think that’s an interesting dynamic but it was never something that hooked me. I mean, if I want to watch Spider-Man I’ll go watch Spider-Man. Batman has a specific style and tone that I identify with and Batman Beyond didn’t really hit that note for me.
That having been said, I felt compelled to pick up the first issue of the mini-series because I’ll be damned if I’m not going to at least give it a fair shake to make me a convert. I won’t say that it has, but I think that is because a lot of what did make the show work in terms of style was lost when translated with it’s adaptation to a different medium. I think that regular fans will enjoy it more than I did because they’ll just be happy to see Terry McGinnis back in some form.
I will say that Beechen gets kudos for surprising me with the villain, if they do in fact go where they suggest at the end of the issue. He’s not my favorite villain by any means, in fact I hate the living hell out of the story that introduced him while a lot of people hold it up as some paragon of Batman lore, but given that this is an alternate reality maybe they can fix him in some small degree, although any progress made won’t resonate in the regular titles and so I’ll likely end up dissapointed either way. As you can tell, I am still harboring some residual pessimissm left over from yesterday.
Spoiler Alert – Dracula dies in this issue. Yeah, I know some people will actually complain that I mention that. Despite having the central premise of the book right there in the title. Though Marvel has thrown swerveballs at us in regards to titles and events and covers that bely my point, but this is my blog so deal with it.
Anyhow, all I have to say about this issue is that it is a damn fine little vampire story that follows the logic and style I prefer in my vampire fiction. I was hoping for a Blade cameo, but no such luck, this one is all about the fanged dudes. The clear definition that Gischler gives to the vampire sects is refreshing rather than having a catch-all group of undead with no real regard to locale or backstory. I particularly liked the hot dominatrix female vampire sect. (The fact that I almost typed that as “Sext” seals the deal. Hot vampires for the win. Good job Gisch!)
I have to appreciate Marvel’s recent revival of their vampire community. The upcoming trade reprints of Tomb of Dracula have me positively giddy as I can finally replace my Essentials. Cornell’s Vampire State arc of Captain Britain was phenomenal and every time I see a copy at the shop I get really angry that the book got cancelled because it truly was a gem. But luckily Marvel has good, talented writers like Gischler handling their vampires because they seem to understand what makes them work. Vampires are supposed to be creatures of horror. There is a lamentation in the book that humans don’t fear vampires the way they should, despite being creatures of fear by nature. And that’s the crux of this. There is a regal fearsomeness to the vampires presented in this issue. I want to thank Vic Gischler for righting the wrongs brought on by vampires like this:
Yeah, seriously. Read Death of Dracula. It’s not lame.
First, let me state how awesome it is that Matt Fraction was able to throw in a nod to Immortal Iron Fist in this annual. I think that was wicked awesome, especially for those of us who loved that book unconditionally. I will say that for the five bucks I paid to pick up this book, I got about as much content as your average trade paperback. Fraction knows how to give his readers bang for their buck, and here we got an interesting look at the life story of the Mandarin through the eyes of the director he shanghai’d to film his biopic. It’s filled with fabrications and lies mixed with fact. Kind of like a White House press conference (BA-ZING!).
It’s a hefty book, with a sprawling story that weaves itself around Iron Man without ever being about him. Which is both a good and a bad thing I suppose. I did like how Fraction essentially updated Tony’s origin to mirror the one in the film, with the terror sect from the first movie being utilized and the escape sequence recreated almost identically. We knew it was going to happen eventually, I’m just glad it was done in a way that was organic and didn’t feel forced. Like some stupid mini-series launched simply to cash in on the movie. I get tired of that. Quickly.
This annual has a lot going for it the way that Action Comics did. We get a character who is well known but not defined in any real manner. Fraction plays with that a bit to create a character who is defined by the smokescreen created by his own illusionary presence. The Mandarin is a villain who needed an issue like this to give us a reason to care about his existence. I can’t wait to see what Fraction does with the character in the pages of the book proper.
Christ on a cracker, Robinson. You’re killing me here.
JLA has turned into a solid gold turd. I mean, it started off pretty bad with Meltzer, and McDuffie’s run was a mediocre bore, but now it’s just a walking joke. Bagley’s pencils are great and all but they cannot salvage this dreck. It’s poorly written, poorly plotted, and doesn’t feel like a JLA book at all to me. There’s none of the gravitas of Morrison or Waid’s run, and none of the fun that was so prevalant in the cartoon. JLA is supposed to be big and bombastic, it’s supposed to be all that’s great about the DC characters in one book but instead I find myself reading this issue and wondering how anyone could enjoy it. It’s full of faux importance but everything rings hollow. If it weren’t crossing over with JSA, which I’m loving, I never would have put money down on this title. It’s sad to see how far Robinson has fallen since Starman, it really is.
All anyone is talking about is that damned costume redesign. Which basically confirms my suspicions that Wonder Woman is more an image than a catalyst for stories. She’s a fetishized figure that hearkens to teenage masturbatory fantasies whose value as a character is largely ignored. I personally liked every little story in the book, with my favorite of course being the one by Amanda Conner, who may be the most talented working artist around. I mean, come on. You have Power Girl and Wonder Woman teaming up to punch a giant walking egg. Don’t tell me that’s not great!
But all the coverage of this milestone issue has been about the damned costume. It only appears for one of the five stories in the issue and that seems to be the only thing that every article I’ve read since the beginning of this week has focused on. Not the fact that Gail Simone teamed up with George Perez to tell a Wonder Woman story that builds on years of Diana’s legacy for a truly genuine story. One that demonstrates how just about every other female character in the DCU is beholden to Wonder Woman in some way, shape or form. Whether in the context of their existence in the mainstream DCU or in a meta-textual manner that references the way Diana trailblazed female heroes, that story spoke volumes. And it made the message while she was wearing the classic costume. If there is anything wrong with that costume it’s simply that George Perez can’t draw every issue of Wonder Woman as well as her every appearance in every DC book. Between Gail and George’s enormous talent, their worst work would be better than the best work of some other talented creators. I stand by that firmly.
Of the Trinity’s anniversary issues, this one was probably the strongest. There was a respect to the character that was lacking in Superman’s, like the point of Superman 700 was to expose the flaws of Superman and somehow right them. Which felt a little like arrogance on the part of Stracynski. With Wonder Woman, he’s also trying to revise her and bring her some place new. But he didn’t do it at the expense of saying “your personality is wrong, this shall be fixed.”
Still not sold on him as the ongoing writer, but this issue was solid. I just wish people could see the reason why.
Hey folks, sorry the reviews are going up a day later than usual because this week was mid-term week and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing that didn’t have anything to do with comics and thus my brain and resolve has been whittled down to a viscous goop.
ACTION COMICS #887 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #624 2.99
BATGIRL #8 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1 3.99
POWERS #3 (MR) 3.95
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #2 (OF 5) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #5 (MR) 3.99
RED ROBIN #10 2.99
SECRET SIX #19 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #1 (OF 3) 3.99
SWORD #5 (MARVEL) 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8 3.99
And here’s my piddling excuse for a review section:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 624
Have you ever been walking along enjoying your day and then been smashed in the face by a brick from out of nowhere? That’s kind of what this issue feels like. I knew from extensive spoiler-riffic media coverage last week that this issue would be the one where Peter gets “fired” or some such nonsense, but I didn’t expect it to be such a contrived and out-of-left-field development that left me feeling like I was reading a different book.
Up to this point in the Brand New Day era of Spidey books, the writers have seemingly understood that Peter Parker has bad luck that really only results in an “aw shucks, that didn’t go well” sort of way. Not the “ARGH! MY LIFE IS FALLING TO UNIMAGINABLE SHIT!” kind of luck that I just call “Matt Murdock’s Life.” And this issue falls firmly into the Matt Murdock level of life upheaval. I know that his uncle was murdered, I know that his girlfriend got chucked off a bridge, but aside from that, you don’t see the entire world coming down on Peter that often. Because as Marvel’s everyman character, nobody wants to try to relate to someone who is publicly shamed and maligned for making an error in judgment.
I’m not going to say that what Peter did to get fired was out of character. Not at all. Because Peter is kind of a dumbass who does stupid things on a startlingly regular occasion. It’s the resolution that sticks me as the wrong way to move the character and it feels like all these weeks I’ve been praising the work on this book is worthless if this is what they were leading to.
BATGIRL # 8/RED ROBIN # 10
This is what I like to read. The interaction between the Bat family is something that makes those titles different from other books. You don’t get this kind of interaction with, say, the Superman family. Nor is anything like what you get in a team book like JLA. There is a close-knit togetherness and interwoven history here that doesn’t get played out elsewhere. The closest to it would maybe be the X-Men, but with the revolving door and expansive cast list I would say that it’s too expansive to work in the way the Bat family does.
This crossover deals with the fallout of the intro arc of Red Robin, with Ra’s Al Ghul coming for his vengeance as well as resolving some dangling threads from the time Stephanie Brown spent as Spoiler. Perhaps its the nature of resolution that makes this crossover so worthwhile.
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL # 1
Where to begin? Okay, I only skimmed Cry for Justice. I didn’t care for the first two issues and wasn’t going to invest any money into the rest of the series. The ending, where Green Arrow straight up shot an arrow through Prometheus’ head was both jarring and stupefying. This follow up issue, where the JLA finds out about that event, is better written than the mini-series that established the need for its existence, but that’s like saying that getting shot in the arm is better than getting shot in the leg.
I’m conflicted here, because I pretty much concur with Ollie’s new worldview, but I’m not so sure if I could ever fully imagine him as a character doing these things. With all the continuity established, Ollie doesn’t strike me as the gung-ho killer type. I’m hoping that this is leading somewhere that I’m not seeing, otherwise I might be giving up on Green Arrow after several years of collecting monthly.
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 2
This one didn’t suck. Mostly saved by Xavier trying on wigs and trying to bang Emma Frost. Reminds me of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Danny DeVito basically did the same thing. Except Professor X always makes any situation funnier. You know, because he’s a cripple.
SWORD # 5
I hate you Marvel. This book was beautiful and you tossed it aside like it was a bucktoothed hooker. For shame. Just, for shame.
And that’s all I have for this week. Next week I won’t have classwork to deal with and I’ll be able to give you some meatier writing, but for this week just be glad I put up anything instead of diving into oncoming traffic.
Dear loving God, I think I may have gone overboard on the books this week. I bought about double my usual pull and mostly because there were issues I figured would be good picks for review on this here blog.You should all feel so special.
The Pull List:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #619 GNTLT 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #32 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #7 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #2 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
CHEW #8 (MR) 2.99
DAREDEVIL #504 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #861 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #1 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #575 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #8 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #50 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
HOUSE OF MYSTERY TP VOL 03 THE SPACE BETWEEN 14.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #35 2.99
KICK ASS #8 (MR) 2.99
MS MARVEL #49 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #61 SIEGE 3.99
PUNISHER #13 2.99
ROBOCOP #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SUPERMAN #696 2.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #4 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #606 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY #1 (OF 4) 3.99
WIZARD MAGAZINE #222 MARVEL SIEGE CVR (C: 0-1-2) 5.99
WONDER WOMAN #40 2.99
X-FACTOR #201 2.99
X-FORCE #23 XN 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #232 XN 2.99
And here come the reviews:
AVENGERS INITIATIVE # 32
Taskmaster is an underated character. He’s really been getting his due in this book and this issue is no different. Initiative shows the POV of the ground level people going into the Siege on Asgard, particularly Taskmaster and Diamondback. We really get to see a clear defintion of why it is Taskmaster does what he does, something that I found refreshing in that it really fleshed his character out further than we’ve seen previously and hopefully it will generate some more interest in the character so that he sticks around after Initiative goes the way of the dodo in April.
BATMAN & ROBIN # 7
Long delayed and anticipated in ways I cannot possibly describe, the seventh issue of Grant Morrison’s flagship title for the Batman reborn storyline picks back up with a bang, not losing any of the kinetic energy that has made the book such a great read from it’s inception. The story begins in London with Batman racing against time through the streets trying to stop a runaway train brimming with explosives. The pacing of Batman’s movements through the city showcase all that artist Cameron Stewart is capable of and at the same time reminds us that Dick Grayson as Batman retains so much of the acrobatic skill that made him so formidible as Nightwing.
The book then escalates, delving into conspiracies regarding an old mine that may or may not have certain regenerative qualities. Sure enough, Batman and Robin show up and find a viable Lazarus Pit. With the themes already touched upon in the last few issues regarding Bruce’s death, one can easily see where this leads; but everything Grant Morrison does is always slightly off kilter, and I would wager that the final page of this issue is going to lead to something that defies expectation.
It should be noted that the issue has a really big lettering error, one which is devestatingly confusing. I know at least one person who assumed this was some sort of weird Morrisonian style choice, but it’s nothing so sinister. Just swap the speech bubbles and it makes perfect sense, and all will be well.E
DETECTIVE COMICS # 861
Following J.H. Williams on the art duty for Detective is pretty much like expecting a garage band to play the encore for Led Zeppelin. Artist JOCK does a great job on the title, bringing his signature look to the book an creating his own template for the action. Rucka does well balancing the dual stories, showcasing Batman and Batwoman’s investigation of the same case.
While I certainly miss the unparalleled art by Williams, this arc looks to be Rucka at the top of his game, and if that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter who is pulling the art chores.
RED HULK # 1
A book where the Red Hulk and Abomination team up to learn how M.O.D.O.K. repeatedly clones himself and harvests his own organs for future use. I’m a sucker for anything remotely involving M.O.D.O.K., so the fact that this book technically doesn’t need to exist in any way shape or form can be overlooked.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 41
I haven’t been reading Robinson’s JLA. I read the first issue of Cry for Justice and decided that no good could come from reading anything Justice League related from that particular author. Picking up this issue, I can honestly say that I was probably right. The narrative seems jumbled and the characterization stilted. I know from his run on STARMAN that Robinson can handle a diverse cast. The only explaination I can think of for his inability to craft a coherant JLA is that in STARMAN, he built his world from the ground up. Robinson seems to have issues playing in other people’s sandbox with JLA and it is visible on every page.
Which is disappointing because Mark Bagley is turning out some really nice work here, drawing a wide spectrum of characters with all his usual skill. The fact that one of the most competent artists on the DC roster is stuck drawing such a lackluster book is perhaps the biggest shame of all.
ROBOCOP # 1
I’m not sure where this fits into the movie continuity. It seems like it either takes place before the third film or ignores it entirely. I don’t so much care about the continuity, that stuff doesn’t really matter with a book like this. What bothers me most about this book is just how damned sloppy it is. It reads like tiresome fan-fiction, which is forgiveable considering that that essentially what it needs to be. What really drags the book down is the ham-fisted way they try to shoehorn blatant social commentary about our current financial dilemma into the narrative. And while the original film did a good job mixing action and subtext, this book doesn’t seem to know how to do it without coming off as forced and trite.
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY # 1
I have no f**king idea what happened in this issue. Ben Grimm hit on the Invisible Woman and then started shedding like a mangy dog, a building exploded with a purple blob thing, and Nick Fury has lunch. I’m pretty much willing to accept a lot but paying $3.99 for this makes me slightly angry.
WONDER WOMAN # 40
Gail Simone knows how to write Wonder Woman. This issue features creepy Childen of the Corn kids spreading hate-speech, racism, and fear and eventually Power Girl shows up. I love Power Girl, so this book is immediately awesome, but the character moments in the book are so strong that it didn’t even need her to win me over. Gail has organically been building this series in such a manner that in a few years it will likely be held up alongside Perez as the pinnacle in what can be achieved with the character.
And that’s it for this week. You’ll notice I actually reviewed more than one DC book this week. Aren’t I a generous soul?