Monday, May 16, 2011

JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #24

“It All Comes Down to This!”

Writer: Judd Winick
Penciller: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Editor: Rex Ogle & Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

While the Wonder Woman and the J.L.I. face off against OMAC Prime in the streets of Los Angeles, Booster Gold confronts Maxwell Lord in Checkmate’s floating headquarters.  Blue Beetle ultimately takes control of OMAC Prime and destroys it, and Booster is about to apprehend Max when Lord takes control of Booster’s mind, incapacitating him.  Captain Atom, struggling to absorb energy he stole from OMAC Prime and about to launch into the timestream, forces Max to restores the world’s memories of him.  As the J.L.I. prepares to arrest Max, he teleports away, telling them that this is just the beginning. 

Two weeks later, Max has uploaded a video online explaining his actions.  He hails the J.L.I. as heroes, but informs the world that he and Checkmate will hold Earth’s metahumans accountable for their actions.  Booster Gold feels that they didn’t accomplish anything with their hunt for Lord, but Batman reminds them that they kept fighting when no one else does and calls them all heroes.  Booster laments that this is over.  

Batman tells him that it isn’t.  Booster wonders if Batman has a plan; the Dark Knight does.

A new Justice League International. 

Notes

Cover:  The variant cover is homage to the cover to Justice League #1, also penciled by Kevin Maguire.  That cover has been the basis of several other covers, most notably Justice League International #24, Justice League Europe #1, Justice League America #29, Justice League America Annual #4, Justice League Quarterly #1, Justice League Europe Annual #2, Justice League Europe #36 and Formerly Known as the Justice League #1. 

“What?  You were expecting Swamp Thing?”  A reference to Brightest Day’s revelation that Swamp Thing is the chosen champion of the Earth. 

Page 1:  “Last time that actually got him killed.”  Max Lord attempted to use a mind-controlled Superman to kill Wonder Woman, but that backfired and Wonder Woman instead snapped Max’s neck, killing him.  This took place in Wonder Woman (second series) #219.

This page gives a brief overview of Max’s plans and deceptions up until now, which have been seen in Justice League: Generation Lost #1-23.

Pages 2-3:  Fire, Blue Beetle, OMAC Prime, Wonder Woman, Rocket Red and Ice last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #23.

“-- appears to be an immense OMAC battling an unidentified black-haired super-powered woman --”  Die to the events of the “Odyssey” storyline currently appearing in Wonder Woman, no one on Earth remembers the existence of Wonder Woman.  As revealed in Justice League: Generation Lost #15 and 22, Maxwell Lord, Booster Gold,. Fire, Ice, Captain Atom and Batman do, in fact, remember her. 

“-- the Justice League International, whose team member Captain Atom was at the heart of the Chicago disaster --”  The world believes that Captain Atom killed Magog, causing a massive explosion in the heart of downtown Chicago in Justice League: Generation Lost #13.

Page 5:  “He gets more powers longer we fight him!”  Like the Professor Ivo-created Amazon, OMAC Prime can mimic the super-powered abilities of the metahumans he fights. 

Page 7:  Booster Gold and Maxwell Lord IV last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #23.

Page 8:  “Now she’s gonna die while half a billion people watch from the cheap seats.”  I get that Max is on a revenge kick right now, but he’s forgetting one important thing – no one in the world remembers who Wonder Woman is.  So killing her “on camera” in front of everyone really doesn’t mean anything to anyone but him, because what does the rest of the world care about some nameless super-heroine getting killed? 

“That’s the electromagnetic pulse that shut your suit down at the J.L.I. Embassy in New York.”  Back in Justice League: Generation Lost #1.

Page 9:  Back when they last fought, Max got the drop on Booster and beat him up pretty badly.  This time, Booster has decided to get in a little payback. 

Skeets last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #23.

Page 11:  “Rocket!!”  Fire screams with two exclamation points here because, as seen in Justice League: Generation Lost #22, she has begun to develop romantic feelings for Rocket Red. 

Page 12:  Captain Atom and Power Girl last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #23.  They have been absent from this fight so far because they were left behind in New York with Batman when Max’s teleportal transported the rest of the group to Los Angeles.  I guess it took them a little while to cross the country.

Page 13:  “I’m not going to fight it!  I’m going to destroy it!!”  Can’t really argue with that logic…

Page 15:  “I am not like the rest of them!!  I’m not human!!  I am a living bomb!!”  As revealed in Justice League: Generation Lost #6, Captain Atom has been changing, becoming less and less human and more a being of energy.

Page 19:  Whoops.  Watch your first step, there.

Page 20:  Notice how, as OMAC Prime has gained each hero’s abilities, his Mohawk-headfin thing has changed so that now it resembles Wonder Woman’s hair.  Only in comics, kids…

Page 25:  I like Jaime’s moment here.  He hasn’t really done all that much in this series, and while I was happy to see “a” Blue Beetle on the team, he didn’t really do much..  I was glad that he was instrumental in this final battle and that his kidnapping in Justice League: Generation Lost #16 served a greater purpose. 

“And this is for Ted Kord!!”  Ted Kord, of course, was the second Blue Beetle, a former member of the Justice League International who was killed by Maxwell Lord in Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1.

Page 26:  OMAC Prime go bye-bye.

Page 27:  “My suit!  You turned – my suit is working!”  Alright, I can buy that an electromagnetic pulse could disrupt and shut down Booster Gold’s suit.

But his flight ring?  His – pardon me – Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring?  The flight ring that was made in the 30th century?  The one that, as Batman said in Justice League of America (second series) #1, “I can take it apart, but the technology is so advanced, it’s like a caveman pounding on a microchip”?  That flight ring was shut off by an EM pulse? 

Page 28:  “Yes.”  As indicated by the bloody nose, Max is using his mind-control powers on Booster once again.

Page 30:  Oh boy, Captain Atom looks pissed…

Page 31:  “I’m going to get tossed into the time stream, Max!!”  Captain Atom has been tossed into the time stream two other times in this series; after absorbing the energy from a bomb in Yemen in Justice League: Generation Lost #1, and after absorbing the energy from Magog’s exploding lance in Justice League: Generation Lost #13.  Neither trip was all that much fun for him…

Page 32:  Batman last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #23.  He must have taken the long route from New York to Los Angeles.  You think he would have taken advantage on his JLA connections and gotten hold of a teleporter, you know?

“Remember.”  Max negates the mindwipe of the world from Justice League: Generation Lost #1, which caused the world to forget his existence.

Page 33:  “A man.”  Despite his fears over losing his humanity, Captain Atom has reaffirmed that he is, in fact, first and foremost a man and not just a ball of energy in a human shell. 

Page 34:  “This is just the beginning.”  No, really, it’s the final issue, Max.  It’s over. 

Page 35:  Power Girl is standing next to Nicholas “Nicco” Cho, her employee and tech guy.

Page 36:  Got to hand it to Max, he’s as charismatic and fake-sincere as he ever was.

So, two weeks later and still no Captain Atom?  Let’s hope that he returns to the present soon. 

Page 37:  “And pinned the OMACs on Dr. Ivo.”  I’m pretty sure that Ivo stopped worrying about the public’s perception of him back when his skin turned all green and scaly.

“You’re heroes, Booster.”  You.  Fire.  Ice.  Rocket Red.  Blue Beetle.  Captain Atom.  Heroes.  Like always.”  Awwww, is Batman getting all sensitive and caring on us?

I must say, this is a welcome speech from Bruce.  Back in Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1, it seemed like Bruce had all but disavowed his involvement with the J.L.I. when he rebuffed Ted Kord in his time of need.  Obviously, time has mellowed him out a bit. 

Page 38:  “That…that sounds like…well…do you have a plan?”  Such a silly question, Booster.

“Yes.”  Of course he does.  He’s Batman.  The Batman.  He always has a plan.

“What do you think?”  I think it’s a really, really, really freaking great idea…

Honestly, the creation of a new Justice League International fits perfectly with Bruce’s new Batman, Inc. idea.  I’m not saying that the new team will have anything to do with that, but it does make sense.  How a new J.L.I. will function in a DC Universe with a Justice League of America remains to be seen, but, in all honestly, I’ve enjoyed this group far more over the course of the last year than the one currently calling itself the JLA, no offense to James Robinson. 

“To be continued in the new monthly series:  Coming Soon!”  Not soon enough.

Friday, May 13, 2011

BRIGHTEST DAY #24

“Brightest Day”

Writers: Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Norm Rapmund, Vicente Cifuentes, Oclair Albert, Tom Nguyen, Mick Gray, Mark Irwin & David Beaty
Editors: Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

As the transformed elementals battle the Black Lantern Swamp Thing, Captain Boomerang throws his boomerang at Dove, but it is intercepted by Boston Brand.  As Brand dies, the White Lantern power ring resurrects Alec Holland, the Earth’s chosen champion.  Holland and the Green merge to form the new Swamp Thing, who promptly destroys the Dark Avatar.  Swamp Thing then restores the Green on the entire planet, ending the current crisis.  Aquaman, J’onn J’onzz, Hawkman and Firestorm are returned to their normal forms, but Hawkgirl remains an air elemental.  Brand assumes that he will move on to the afterlife, but the Entity informs him that he will once again aid those in need as a wandering spirit.  In the days the follow, the heroes adjust to their changed lives, while Swamp Thing begins his crusade against those who would harm the Earth.  John Constantine, however, isn’t pleased with this turn of events…

Notes

Cover:  Note that the variant edition cover to this issue is homage to Blackest Night #1, depicting a swarm of Black Lantern power rings emerging from Nekron’s head.

Page 1:  Boston Brand, Hawk and Dove last appeared in Brightest Day #23.

“That’s Earth’s new champion?”  My thoughts exactly.

Alec Holland’s death and his seeming transformation into Swamp Thing were first seen in Swamp Thing (first series) #1.

“But Alec Holland was dead.  It was not Alec Holland.”  The revelation that Swamp Thing was not a transformed Alec Holland but was, in fact, an elemental being possessing Holland’s memories first came to light in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #21.

Page 2:  Black Lantern Swamp Thing last appeared in Brightest Day #23.

Page 3:  Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, J’onn J’onzz and Aquaman last appeared, in their elemental forms, in Brightest Day #23.

Page 4:  “Are you aware you have stopped worrying about yourself, Boston Brand?”  Just call the guy a selfish bastard and be done with already, would you?

Captain Boomerang last appeared in Brightest Day #23.

“When Nekron came to Earth you were dead.”  Nekron materialized on Earth in Blackest Night #4.

“You were the only one whose life force was absolutely pure, if under-appreciated.  You were my sanctuary and this forest the Green’s.”  This explains why Boston Brand was resurrected in the first place. 

Page 5:  “Swamp Thing thought he was Alec Holland…now he thinks he’s Nekron.”  Hence his decisions to look and act like a Black Lantern.  Didn’t anyone tell him that was so last year?

“To truly eradicate the vestiges of Nekron, we need not only Swamp Thing to believe he is Alec Holland – he must truly become Alec Holland.”  So, in essence, Geoff Johns is retconning the Alan Moore retcon from almost thirty years ago, bringing Swamp Thing closer to what Len Wein originally created. 

Page 6:  “My power is evading violence, Boston.”  Keep this in mind.  It’s gonna be important really soon.

“Alec Holland needs to join the land of the living, but for that someone must die.”  Don’t say “someone,” Entity, say “Boston Brand,” because that’s what you mean.

Think about it – Brand can’t remove the White Ring from his hand.  And, as you will see on Page 9, that White Ring is the thing that restores Alec Holland to life.  So why would the ring leave Brand, other than because he was dead?  Any takers?

Page 7:  Note that Captain Boomerang’s black energy boomerang sliced right through Hawk’s hand. 

However, also note that Hawk did try to catch the boomerang.  I’m going to rant about this later.

“Digger Harkness of Earth.  Mission accomplished.  Life restored.”  As seen in Brightest Day #7, Captain Boomerang’s mission was to “Throw the boomerang at her.” 

I honestly have no idea why the Entity of the White Light refers to Captain Boomerang as “Digger.”  As revealed in Suicide Squad (first series) #44, the American press nicknamed Captain Boomerang “Digger” because he was from Australia.  (“Digger” is a slang term referring to Australian or New Zealand soldiers.)

However, the Entity doesn’t seem to be all that consistent with calling people by their full names.  It calls Hawk “Hank Hall” instead of “Henry Hall,” and Jade “Jennie-Lynn Hayden” as opposed to “Jennifer-Lynn Hayden,” but Ronnie Raymond is “Ronald.”  What gives?

I’m still irked by the fact that, in Blackest Night #8, it told “Kendra Saunders of Earth” to rise when it was really “Shiera Hall.”  I’m all for surprises, but Kendra was probably a wee bit confused when she realized that she was still dead.

Page 8:  So…did Boston really think that he caught that boomerang?  He didn’t notice it sliding into his chest?

“I am sorry.  I cannot fix his life.  Not this time.”  Is this how the Entity views life?  That death is something that needs “fixing”?  Something about this line just irks me.  It feels wrong, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is.

Page 10:  Man, Alec Holland looks so freaking confused right about now…

Page 11:  Poor Alec.  Not back for ten seconds and he’s already being transformed into the world’s savior.  Some guys just never get any peace, I tell ya…

Pages 12-13:  So, this is the new Swamp Thing, eh? 

“This is…my world.”  Well, I guess we have no say in any of this, now do we?

Pages 14-15:  Green Swamp Thing smash Black Swamp Thing!!!!!

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

Page 16:  “A new saga begins, Alec Holland.”  A reference to Swampy’s second series, The Saga of the Swamp Thing.

Page 17:  “You are human no more.”  Give the guy a break, will ya?  Up until a minute ago he was a rotting corpse; he might need some time to adjust, you know?

Page 18:  Note how Swamp Thing uses a wooden stake to kill the undead version of himself. 

Page 20:  “But your time on this world is not done.”  Was this the Entity’s plan for Boston all along?  Resurrect him so that he appreciates life, and then let him die so that he will continue to aid the world in the afterlife?

“I don’t want to be invisible anymore.”  It could be that he was “invisible” as a ghost before because he failed to make any true connections in life.  Now that he has learned to appreciate life, perhaps those with whom he was close can still connect with him?

“I cannot.”  Cannot or will not?  Does the Entity have the power to choose who gets to move onto the afterlife and who does not?  Does it know that Boston had a greater plan ahead of him as…Deadman?

“It’s just not fair!”  You’re right.  It’s not.  Move on.

Page 21:  “I can hear you!”  Is this because of Dove’s connection to the White Light, or because, as I mentioned above, that she formed a strong connection to Boston while he was alive?

“The corruption…is over.”  That’s what I like about Swamp Thing; in the wake of heartache and anguish, he’s all business. 

Page 22:  A quartet of heroes return from their brief stint as elementals.  Hawkman last appeared in Brightest Day #18, Aquaman in Brightest Day #20, J’onn J’onzz in Brightest Day #21, and Firestorm in Brightest Day #23.

Hmmm, I could swear that someone is missing…

Page 23:  “…it would seem that your mental and physical states…have returned to normal.”  Meaning that Aquaman’s hand has been restored; Black Manta sliced off his right hand in Brightest Day #19.

“There does always seem to be…a price to pay.”  Man, someone’s a real downer…

Page 24:  “…but she is all around you…”  Hawkgirl seems to be trapped in her air elemental form.  Is this part of the Entity’s plan?  In Brightest Day #18, it told Carter and Shiera that they must live life apart so that they might live it stronger, but they refused; is this, then, their punishment?  Is the Entity forcing them to live apart from one another now, so that they appreciate life more?

Look, no offense Entity, but these two have spent thousand of years trying to find one another.  They spent the past few years passing one another like ships in the night.  Let these two crazy kids spend some tome together, for gosh sake. 

Page 25:  “Eternal spring…has arrived…”  Since the Blackest Night took place sometime around the Easter holiday, and the events of Brightest Day transpired over the course of a few weeks at most, then this issue would be taking place sometime in the middle of spring.

“It all comes back.”  Like a boomerang?  Oh, wait, there’s Captain Boomerang now…

Is this a meta-textual commentary on how comic book characters always seem to come back to life?

Pages 26-27:  Whoa.  Nice view. 

“He’s restoring the Green of the entire planet.”  Which is a good thin J’onn, considering that you spent most of this series killing off plant life wherever you went…

Page 28:  “…the Green needs protection…and I will eradicate anyone and anything that…puts it in jeopardy…”  Sounds like Swampy has a new mission statement, hmmm?

Page 29:  “You have all done well.  Except for you, Hank Hall.”  Oh, man, here it comes…

“You failed your mission.”  First of all, why did Dove need saving in the first place?  As she said on Page 6, her power is to “evade violence.”  That boomerang couldn’t have hit her in the first place.

“Your life is still not your own.  I cannot free you from the influence of war.”  Okay, first off, I guess in the new, post-Infinite Crisis DC Universe, Hawk and Dove are no long powered by the Lords of Chaos and Order; rather, they are now avatars of war and peace.  But would freeing Hawk from the “influence of war” cause him to lose his powers?

And you will note that Hawk did try to save Dove; the boomerang sliced right through his hand.  Was he supposed to “catch the boomerang” in his chest like Boston Brand did?  And, if he did, was his life supposed to be the one lost so that Alec Holland could live?

With his life still not returned, what does this mean for Hawk?  What is the difference between those whose lives are returned and those whose are not?  Is this something that will be followed up when we see Hawk in the future?

I think that this is a really annoying little plot line, annoying because it seems like it has been shunted to one panel without any full explanation. 

“Maxwell Lord unknowingly played a part in protecting the world from a superhuman war.”  In Justice League: Generation Lost #13, Maxwell Lord caused the death of Magog, thereby preventing a superhuman war similar to the one depicted in Kingdom Come.  But I don’t think that there was anything “unknowingly” about it; in Brightest Day #7, Lord was told “Magog will plunge this world into war.  Stop the war before it starts.”  Seems pretty clear to me. 

“Jade balanced the darkness within her brother which would have empowered the corrupted Swamp Thing and made him nearly unstoppable.”  As seen in Justice League of America (second series) #48.

“And Osiris helped his sister Isis, the goddess of nature, return.”  This took place in Titans #32.  And I really thought that Isis was going to be the new champion of the White Light.  Oh, well, can’t win them all…

What about Professor Zoom?  While I’m happy that he freed Barry Allen from the Speed Force and all, what purpose did that serve the Entity’s grand scheme?  Was it because Allen was instrumental in defeating Darkseid in Final Crisis or Nekron in Blackest Night?  Or because bow ties were coming back in style and needed someone other than Jimmy Olsen to champion their cause?

Page 30:  “So what do we do now?”  Good question.  Maybe get yourself a regular series, or join a team or something like that…

Page 31:  Mera last appeared in Brightest Day #23.

“They lost one another.  We almost did too.”  Yeah. Like Aquaman and Mera haven’t gone through their fair share of break-ups over the years.  Glad to see that they’re staying together for a little while. 

“This technology…the weapons Xebel was outfitted with.  I recognize it.  It’s Atlantean.”  Which makes a certain amount of sense; Xebel was an Atlantean penal colony.  Or, perhaps, Aquaman means that it looks like recent Atlantean technology, which would indicate that Atlantis was somehow connected with the Xebel attack, which would be bad…

I liked the Aquaman-Mera storyline the most out of all the Brightest Day plots, mainly because it made Aquaman competent and bad-ass again without turning him into a total asshole.  His best depiction in recent years was probably in the Jim Kreuger/Alex Ross Justice mini-series, in which Aquaman was a strong, confident leader despite talking to fish.  He can definitely stand alongside the upper echelon of the DC Universe, and it’s been far too long that anyone has taken him seriously as a character.  Brightest Day has reestablished his supporting cast and foes and given him something of a purpose that sets him apart from the rest of the heroes on Earth. 

Page 32:  Melissa Erdel last appeared in Brightest Day #2.

“I removed this from your head.”  Why didn’t J’onn do that when he first visited Melissa back in Brightest Day #2?  Was he too preoccupied with other things at the time?

“You and your father gave me one.”  J’onn’s story wasn’t as epic as Aquaman’s, but it didn’t need to be.  As much as I love J’onn, he’s not going to be an A-list hero, at least to the general reading public.  I remember a time in the 1990’s when there were several Martian Manhunter stories that all mined the same ground; they were all these simple tales wherein J’onn lamented the loss of his family and Mars, he was apart from society, he learned something about being human, etc etc.  It was like no one knew what to do with him. 

My biggest concern with Brightest Day was that the writers were just going to go over the same territory all over again, about how he lost Mars, how he doesn’t fit in on Earth.  I am glad to see that J’onn has chosen the living Earth over dead Mars and has accepted his role as its defender. 

Page 33:  Joy.  Hawkman’s angry…again.  Who would’ve thunk it?

No, really.  I mean it.  I liked the introduction of Hawkworld to the Hawkman mythos, and the other-dimensional world’s connections to his past and his foes.  It was all cool stuff.  And I enjoyed Shiera being back, although I will admit that I loved Kendra as a character, and was a little disappointed hat she wasn’t restored to life.  But the chance for Carter and Shiera to move past the curse of Hath-Set was fascinating…

But she’s now an air elemental for the foreseeable future, and I’m sure that she’ll be restored to life at some point, but I question the logic within the story.  And, by this, I mean that when Brightest Day first debuted, the implication was that just because these twelve characters were restored to life doesn’t mean that they will stay that way and succeed.  It seems like Hawkgirl was one of the “sacrifices,” along with Hawk, to show that this story doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending.  While I applaud the attempt at drama, the fact that she wasn’t restored to her human form along with the others just seems forced, that’s all. 

And really, like we couldn’t have an angry Hawkman with a living Hawkgirl by his side?  Please…

Page 34:  “Some of it reads like it was written in a secret language or something.”  I feel like Jason really wants to say, “No, Ronnie, you’re just stupid and you don’t understand science, that’s all…”

“As near as I can guess, when we were blasted by the Anti-Monitor the matrix was…damaged.”  The Anti-Monitor blasted Firestorm in Brightest Day #22.

“According to the Professor’s diagnostic program…in less than ninety days we’re going to detonate.”  Hmmm.  Sounds like you might want to get working on that, hmmm?

I’ve always liked Firestorm, but Firestorm without Ronnie always seemed wrong.  I’ve enjoyed the new status quo, with Ronnie and Jason being merged together and sharing duties as a hero.  I’m not sure if Firestorm could really sustain an ongoing series in today’s market; perhaps a stint with the JLA is on order.

Page 35:  “The oil spill was cleaned up by Aquaman, wasn’t it?”  Aquaman and Mera attempted to deal with an oil spill in Brightest Day #5, but they were interrupted by Siren and her Xebel terrorists.  The Entity of the White Light cleaned up the spill and restored the dead sea creatures to life in Brightest Day #7.

Page 36:  Poor environmentally-irresponsible businessmen.  This just teaches you not to mess with…

Bum-Bum-Bum!

Swamp Thing!

I’m starting to get a little punchy…

Page 37:  “Swamp Thing returns?”  No, you’re thinking of The Return of Swamp Thing, the 1989 sequel to Swamp Thing.  Not as good as the original, but it did have Heather Locklear in it, so it couldn’t have been all that bad.

(I’m kidding.  Really.  It was crap.  Fun, mindless, campy crap, but crap nonetheless.  I recall seeing it as a kid and thinking it was horrible even then.)

Page 38:  John Constantine, first appeared in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37.  A magical adept with vast arcane knowledge. 

It would seem, from interviews given by DC Comics, that this is a younger John Constantine than the one that currently stars in Vertigo’s Hellblazer series.  With the publication of Hellblazer #63, John Constantine technically became part of the Vertigo “universe, and thus separate form the DC Universe proper.  However, he has, over the years, made some cameos and guest appearances in the DC Universe, most recently at Oliver Queen’s bachelor party as seen in Justice League of America Wedding Special #1.