Thursday, February 16, 2012

JUSTICE LEAGUE #4


Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor:  Darren Shan
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

As Victor Stone adjusts to his new life as a Cyborg, Aquaman joins forces with the rest of the future Justice League against the invading Parademons.  The Unites States military enters the battle, complicating matters, forcing Superman and the Flash to take a stand against them.  After Cyborg teleports to Metropolis, a massive Boom Tube opens, sounding the arrival of Darkseid on Earth.  The dark lord of Apokolips easily dispatches the heroes as things go from bad to worse…

Notes

Page 1:  “His ultimate transformation is unforeseeable.”  Well, how’s that for an ominous statement, hmmm?

Page 2:  “Tech Files:  Responsometer/Doctor Magnus, William.”  Pre-Flashpoint, Doctor William Magnus was the creator of the responsometer, a micro-computer that could animate pure metals, giving them life, which allowed him to create the Metal Men. 

And, not that this has anything to do with this issue of Justice League, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the Metal Men trade paperback, which reprints the eight-issue mini-series, with story and art by Duncan Rouleau.  It’s a great read, and Rouleau is a fantastic storyteller.  Plug over. 

“A-Maze Operating System/Professor Ivo, Anthony.”  In the Pre-Flashpoint DCU, Professor Ivo created Amazo, the android that could absorb the powers of the Justice League of America.  In the New 52 DCU, Ivo has created the A-Maze O.S., presumably the precursor for such an android. 

“B-Maze Operating System/Classified.”  In the Pre-Flashpoint DCU, the B-Maze O.S. was the basis for predicting societal changes within a superhuman community.  It was first introduced in Sugar and Spike #46, a pivotal issue that introduced the titular characters to the Red Bee, cementing their inclusion in the still-forming DC Universe…

Wait, sorry, that’s wrong.  As in, I totally made it up.  What I should have typed was, “I have no idea what the B-Maze O.S. refers to, and why it’s classified remains to be seen,” but I really had a compulsion to write about Sugar and Spike, and I was weak, and gave in to my silly impulses.  Sorry, sorry, it won’t happen again…

“White Dwarf Stabilizer/Graduate Student Choi, Ryan.”  Pre-Flashpoint, Ryan Choi took up the identity of the Atom when Ray Palmer went missing after the events of Identity Crisis.   Both Palmer and Choi used white dwarf star matter that allows them to shrink to subatomic size.  In the New 52 DCU, Ray Palmer is currently seen in Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., while Choi has yet to appear; however, rumor has it that he will be appearing as the Atom in Justice League.

Page 3:  As seen over the past few issues, the Parademons are able to transform when necessary.  Sometimes they have wings and fly, other times they are more insect-like.  The Parademons shown here act more like dogs. 

It seems that Victor Stone -- I mean, Cyborg -- is able to transform his limbs into weapons.  Is his body now made of liquid metal, as the pre-Flashpoint Cyborg's body was at one point in time (during Devin Grayson's The Titans series).

Page 4:  “White Noise Cannon Enabled.”  The new, upgraded version of Cyborg’s “white sound blaster.”

Page 5:  “You did this to me!”  Ungrateful kid…

Page 6:  “They call him Aquaman.”  Batman’s such a know-it-all…

“I thought Aquaman was a sketch on Conan O’Brien.”  Green Lantern is a bit confused here; “Dear Aquaman” is a gag on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, in which the Scottish host dresses up as Aquaman and reads letters sent to him. 

And you all should watch The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, if only because it’s the only late night talk show with a homosexual, robot skeleton sidekick, cussing puppets, and a midget that dresses up like a leprechaun.  And guests.  Lots of celebrity guests.

“First Batman’s real, now this?”  Both Batman and Aquaman have been, up until this point, urban legends.  Why someone whose been chosen by an alien race to be a member of an intergalactic police force finds a man who dresses up like a bat and another man who talks to fish so unbelievable is beyond me…

“I found this creature in the ocean.  It set off some kind of device that tore open a hole in the water.”  That “device” would be a Mother Box, which opened a Boom Tube in the ocean, through which a bunch of Parademons flew out. 

“You’ve obviously gathered together to fight them.”  Though this was not their intention, this is what ended up happening.  Their individual motives and intentions have given way to the greater good and, although they all might not get along, they have to set aside their differences for the good of the world.

This scene reminds me of a conversation between Batman and Superman in Justice League of America (second series) #7 by Brad Meltzer.  Superman is worried about the newly-formed JLA, and wonders if they should not have left the roster to chance and happenstance.  Batman counters…

“Happenstance?  Is that really what you think this is?  Look at our lives.  There is no happenstance.”

Translation – these heroes were fated to be drawn together, whether they like it or not. 

And now, for my favorite panel of the issue...



Let the pissing contest begin…

Page 7:  “I’ve got some experience with leadership.”  This hints at some as yet untold adventures of Aquaman before the events of this issue. 

“I’m the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis.  I’m their king.”  Aquaman hasn’t learned yet that being a king to loyal subjects and leading a group of equals are two completely different things.

“And I’m the mayor of Emerald City.”  The “Emerald City” is a reference to the capital city of the Land of OZ in L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. 

“You’re supposed to be on my side, Flash.”  Green Lantern feels that his friendship with the Flash is being threatened by the presence of the other heroes. 

“We’ve already got one wannabe superhuman trying to boss us around, we don’t need another.”  The “wannabe superhuman” Green Lantern refers to is Batman, who is actually being pretty mellow, all things considered.

Page 8:  

Can someone please slap Green Lantern upside the face?  He's becoming so insufferable that I half expect Aquaman to take him out like he did on the cover...



This is the sound effect for Aquaman’s mental telepathy that he uses to control sea life.  Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis first introduced this depiction of the effect in Blackest Night #2.








Pages 9-10:  The lesson here is, don’t mess with Aquaman, or else he’ll send a shark to eat you and shove a trident through your skull.

Page 11:  

Green Lantern's off to sulk in the corner for a while.

Note how, even though these heroes just met a short time ago, they’ve already begun working well together, almost acting like a – dare I say it? - a team.

This, of course, is the essence of the Justice League, in whatever incarnation – a group of the world’s greatest heroes, working together, despite their differences, to save the world.  It’s unique among other comic book teams in a way; many other groups are put together to be effective as a team, with members balancing one another in both powers and personalities.  There is usually a clear leader, a rebel, a love interest, the young, inexperienced hero.  Examples of this include The New Teen Titans, The X-Men, the Outsiders.  Or, in the case of the Avengers, there are one or two A-listers and most of the rest of the team are B-listers who basically call the Avengers their home. 

But the Justice League – especially this roster – is all the big guns (ok, ok, Cyborg throws a wrench into this equation, but work with me).  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash and Aquaman all have full lives and careers outside of this group.  And none of them are exactly subservient to anyone else.  Any single one of them could conceivably be team leader.  But this isn’t the Avengers; the Justice League doesn’t need Captain America to rally the troops.  They all know what needs to be done and what they have to do, even if they only met each other five minutes ago…

Page 12:  

This is the first time we have gotten to see Wonder Woman play a little bit of "bullets and bracelets."

I am assuming that the gunner accompanying Trevor on this helicopter is a Checkmate agent, given the logo on her shoulder. 

Page 13:  Note the “Made in America” sign behind Cyborg, another reminder that he lives in Detroit, MI, the home of three of the biggest automotive companies in America

Cyborg interfaces with the Mother Box to download information and data, just as he did with the S.T.A.R. Labs computers.

Page 14:  In a nutshell it seems like these towers transport to various worlds to collect and harvest “organic materials” that are transformed into Parademons.  So, last issue, when Batman and Superman wondered what the Parademons wanted with us?  There’s your answer.

Page 15:  “You seem like someone who wants to do the right thing, but the same can’t always be said for everyone in positions of authority.”  The New 52 Superman has a different way of looking at things than his pre-Flashpoint counterpart.  He’s more willing to go against the system if the system isn’t working.  He’s looking out for the little guy, and will challenge authority when he sees fit.  Right now, he’s trying to get the Flash to look at things just a little bit differently. 

It's not often I laugh out loud while reading a comic.  This scene made me do just that:


I don’t even need to see Batman laughing hysterically at Green Lantern; just knowing that it's happening is enough. 

Page 16:  “I got this one!”  Poor Green Lantern, he so wants to impress the others that he goes completely overboard and tries to crush a fellow hero.  He tries; you gotta give him that…

Page 17:  BOOOOOOOOOOOMMM”  That is one big honking Boom Tube…

Pages 18-19:  First appearance of Darkseid.  Historical first appearance in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134.  A New God from Apokolips with superhuman strength, invulnerability and control of the Omega Effect, which can manifest as a concussive force or a disintegrating energy. 

Way to state the obvious, Green Lantern.  Seriously, why hasn't Batman housed him yet?  You know he wants to...

Pages 20-21:  What exactly is going on here?  Does the force of Darkseid’ footsteps cause earthquakes?  Does lifting his arms in prayer release shock waves?  Is he passing gas?  Someone tell me.

Page 22:  “I am DARKSEID.”  Well, nice to meet you, I think…

Pages 23-27:  This issue’s text pages features S.T.A.R. Laboratories Employee Dossiers.  Some interesting notes include…

Page 24:  Dr. Silas Stone was recruited by S.T.A.R. Labs to participate in the recovery of…something.  He also reverse engineered…something else.  And he replicated…well, a third something.  All of these “somethings” have been redacted, but he’s quite prolific in doing stuff, it seems.  He also created promethium, the metal bonded to Victor in order to save his life last issue. 

The S.T.A.R. Labs Red Room was designed to “collect and analyze foreign, extraterrestrial and sentient technology deemed too dangerous to share with the world.”

As I mentioned in the notes for last issue, the circumstance of Dr. Elinore Stone’s death have yet to be revealed.

Page 25:  As in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Dr. Thomas Morrow has a fascination with the future and its technology.  He attempted to time travel but abandoned that field of study after he and Dr. Will Magnus nearly died.  Magnus now works for the U.S. military on Project: Metal Men.

Morrow seems to be working on some projects that he won’t share with his colleagues at S.T.A.R. Labs, and is also under investigation by the F.B.I. for reasons unknown.

Page 26:  Sarah Charles in only 17 years old, the same as Victor, but is apparently brilliant, as she is currently working on her master’s degrees while working as an intern at S.T.A.R. Labs. 

Marian High School (note that “Marian” is misspelled, perhaps for legal reasons) in Bloomfield, Michigan is a private, Roman Catholic high school for girls.  I like the fact that she did her thesis on cyberware and here she is, only a few years later, witnessing the creation of an actual cyborg. 

It seems that S.T.A.R. Labs is in the center of controversies about its purpose and future, presumably influenced by the introduction and existence of superhumans on Earth. 

Page 27:  Professor Anthony Ivo is a pioneer in the process of “creating technology to mimic organic life down to the cellular level”…sound like any classic Justice League villains we know and love?  Presumably, Ivo’s A-Maze O.S. will lead to the creation of some bathing-cap wearing android sometime in the near future. 

As I mentioned before, I have no idea what the B-Maze O.S. does, but I’m sure it can’t be good. 

In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Ivo long sought immortality because he a terrified on dying.  This eventually led him to transform himself into a grotesque mutant simply so he would never die. 

I like the fact that these classic “mad scientists” like Morrow and Ivo aren’t just holed up in the woods somewhere, building their devices and androids in secret.  It makes sense that they would be working for a place like S.T.A.R. Labs, where they pretty much have unrestricted access to resources and technology to do their wonderfully insane work.

Pages 28-29:  Sketchbook of the Flash’s new costume.  Concept art by Francis Manapul, design by Jim Lee. 

The only thing that irks me about this costume is the lines on the boots.  I like the electric seams on the bodysuit that light up and pulse with electricity when he runs, but I find the “intricately etched details suggesting electricity and movement” on his boots to be a distracting design detail.  Just my opinion.