Thursday, April 12, 2012

JUSTICE LEAGUE #7


“The Villain’s Journey” Prologue

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gene Ha
Colorist: Art Lyon
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

            While the Justice League deals with the threat of Spore in Baltimore and backs in the accolades of an adorning public, A.R.G.U.S. chief Steve Trevor handles the League’s mundane work, like holding press conferences and standing up to Congress.  But unbeknownst to all, a new foe has his sights set on the world’s greatest heroes, someone who once looked up to them as gods…

Notes

Page 1:  Those lovely looking creatures with the razor-sharp claws and teeth are Spore’s seeds.  We’ll meet Spore himself, who resembles his “offspring,” in a few pages.

Page 2:  That’s Colonel Steve Trevor blasting away at the seeds. 

Page 3:  First appearance of A.R.G.U.S., the Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans.  We’ll learn more about them over the course of this issue but, long story short, they are something of a link between the United States government and the Justice League. 

“You’re the head of A.R.G.U.S. and the world’s liaison to the Justice League!”  Yeah, Trevor’s kind of important these days.

With the exception of appearances by several of the Leaguers in Justice League Dark, this is the first modern-day appearance of the Justice League in the New 52 DCU.

I have no idea what that building is where the A.R.G.U.S. agents are fighting the seeds.  Anyone know anything about Baltimore landmarks?

“We’re going to be okay!  Everything’s going to be okay now!”  The public looks up to the Justice League as gods, which I imagine will prove problematic for them sometime in the future. 

Pages 4-5:  “Thanks to me, they call them the world’s greatest super heroes.”  This unseen narrator is David Graves, who wrote the book Justice League: Gods Among Us, as mentioned in the text pages of Justice League #3 and seen in Justice League #6. 

Page 6:  

As a living, breathing computer, Cyborg is now the Justice League's intel guy.

Note that Green Lantern has put ring-generated umbrellas over everyone except for Batman. 

In the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, the Orb of Ra was a radioactive meteorite that transformed Rex Mason into Metamorpho the Element Man.  

I presume that the “Black Room” is where A.R.G.U.S. keeps any discovered or confiscated artifacts and technology. 

“—leaving Street exposed to the “Spore” virus.”  Where did this “Spore” virus come from in the first place?  Is it manmade or alien?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

Aquaman looks genuinely annoyed with Green Lantern, doesn't he?

Page 7:  Despite overwhelming odds, Batman tries to get the rest of the team organized.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. 

Page 8:  

Good to see that Green Lantern's matured a bit over the past few years, you know?

Batman’s problem is that he’s used to working with partners and sidekicks who listen to his every word.  The reality is that the Justice League is comprised of A-listers, all of whom have their own ideas about how to best accomplish a task.  The fact that the Dark Knight probably has more experience than all of them and is tactically their superior doesn’t factor into the equation. 

Page 9:  

After working with one another for the past five years, Green Lantern and the Flash have begun to rub off on  one another.

And to everyone who's bellyaching that Green Lantern's acting different in Justice League than in his own title, think about this -- do you act the same around everyone all the time?  Maybe you're more reserved around your family and goof off more around your friends, or vice versa?  Perhaps you really hate your job and are a miserable S.O.B while there, but you light up when you go home?  Green Lantern just acts a little more like a cocky goofball around the Justice League than he does in, say, the Green Lantern Corps, that's all. 

Page 10:  First appearance of Spore.  He’s a charming, lovely chap, wouldn’t you say?

That’s his ex-wife clutched in his hand; she is wearing a Georgetown T-shirt and has a look of absolute terror on her face.  Not a good day for her, I imagine. 

Page 11:  “I hate being saved by Wonder Woman.”  Note that, because he’s wrapped in Wonder Woman’s magic lasso, he’s forced to tell the truth.  This first happened to Green Lantern in Justice League #4.

I love that Aquaman finds amusement in this.

Page 12:  The Justice League in action; note that this could have been a long, drawn-out fight scene between our heroes and Spore, but it’s not.  Instead, it’s one page, with the outcome of the battle never in doubt.  That’s because the conflict with Spore isn’t the important part of the story.  This is the kind of thing that the League deals with all the time.  The important stuff is the character bits, and their relationship with Trevor, and how he fits into their world. 

“So you’re divorced, huh?”   Classy, Green Lantern, real classy.

Page 13:  “A.R.G.U.S. is fully capable of dealing with threats like this, but we exist to support the Justice League and step aside when we need to.”  A nice, neat little description of A.R.G.U.S.’ mission statement, don’t you think?

As seen in this press conference, the public is entranced with the world’s superheroes, and see them as perfect.  They are willing to turn over the government to the Justice League if need be.

People think that everything is all roses and sunshine between the members of the Justice League.  Funny how perception is different that reality, isn't it?

Page 14:  
Is that supposed to be Jonathan Ross?
Image from Wikipedia.



















First appearance of Etta Candy.  First historical appearance in Sensation Comics #2.  Steve Trevor’s aide.  Note that in the New 52 DCU, she is African-American, as opposed to being Caucasian in the pre-Flashpoint DCU

Page 15:  “They’re polite, if not a bit dismissive, when interacting with any of us down here, but still…the secrets.”  The current Justice League is a bit more aloof and remote than previous incarnations of the group have been.  Are they taking tips from Batman on how to gain friends and influence people?

The Watchtower, the Justice League’s satellite orbiting the Earth, has yet to be seen.  The first Justice League satellite appeared in Justice League of America (first series) #78, after the JLA was forced to abandon the Secret Sanctuary, their original headquarters.  In Justice League America #0, the group used a satellite orbiting the Earth known as the Refuge which was created by the Overmaster.  The first Watchtower was actually a lunar base that debuted in JLA #4, while the second Watchtower, a redesigned satellite, became the League base of operations in Justice League of America (second series) #7 (that issue also saw the first appearance of the Hall of Justice in the DC Universe as the JLA’s Earth-side embassy).

Page 16:  “We pour billions of dollars into A.R.G.U.S. so that the Justice League has what it needs.”  So, indirectly, the United States government funds the League which, I guess, would make Congress a bit curious about what the team actually does.

Trevor's no dummy; he's using the public's own words and feeling about the Justice League to back Congress into a corner.  

Trevor's skilled at playing up the Justice League's image, defending in them in ways that the League itself probably wouldn’t do.  Odds are that Superman more than likely wouldn’t sweep the Congressmen’s offices with his X-ray vision to see what he could find, but they don’t need to know that. 

Page 17:  “You really believe in the Justice League, don’t you?”  Note that Trevor responds by saying, “Doesn’t everyone?”  He doesn’t answer.  Whether he believes or not is irrelevant.  His motives for aiding the Justice League are a bit more selfish that everyone assumes. 

Page 18:  “Congress still thinks you guys walk on water like the rest of the world, but they’re getting pretty curious about -- ”  They only think that because Trevor was strong-arming them.  If he wasn’t around doing the dirty work, they’d probably have a lot more questions than they do.

“We could’ve done it cleaner.  Less property damage.  Less risk.”  Ah, good old Batman, trying to whip the team into shape.

It's almost as if Green Lantern and Batman enjoy their verbal sparring and don't want anyone else involved.

Page 19:  “Hey, tell your gang we need more rations.  Food and drink and stuff.”  It seems that part of the “billions of dollars” that Congress spends on A.R.G.U.S. goes towards stocking the Justice League’s pantry.

“Tell the U.N. to shut down that joke calling itself the Justice League International.”  Batman’s attitude towards the J.L.I. confuses me, if only because he was an active participant in the group’s first mission as see in Justice League International #1-5.  He did work alongside them, but nothing in that book indicates that he thought of them as “an embarrassment.”  I’m not sure if he’s just trying to play up his anti-social persona with Trevor, or if a conflict between the two Justice Leagues is coming sometime soon. 

This scene does clarify that the Justice League sanctioned the creation of the J.L.I. so that the latter team can do the “political glad-handing” that the original team doesn’t want to do. 

It's nice to see that the Flash is trying to be cordial while the rest of the team is bitching at Trevor.

What’s fun to see here is that this is the “real” Justice League.  They’re not a group of “super-friends” as the world thinks, but individuals who work together for a common goal that don’t always see eye-to-eye.  They bicker, argue, and annoy one another, but the public only see them as gods that arrive on the scene to save the day.  In a way, it’s very reminiscent of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ Justice League International series, which favored depicting the interpersonal relationships between team members over traditional super heroics. 

Page 20:  “How are you?”  Wonder Woman genuinely cares about Trevor; he’s not just their liaison. 

While there might be an element of truth to this, this isn't why Trevor does it. 

Page 21:  “I’m in love with her.”  And this is why Trevor does it – so he can, in some way, be close to Diana.  He loves her, and this is the only way he can be a part of her life. 

Page 22:  Here it’s revealed that David Graves is the one who stole the Orb of Ra from the A.R.G.U.S. Black Room, thereby inadvertently creating Spore.  But what will he do with it?

“I’ve been right about so many things.  But I’ve been wrong about others.”  Graves was one of the League’s biggest supporters; why has he turned against them?

In this panel, the focus is on the word "Gods."  Has Graves become disillusioned by the Justice League and now sees them for the men and women that they truly are?

Note that, in the text pages in Justice League #3, this book is titled The Justice League: Gods Among Us, but the book depicted here (and in Justice League #6) is titled Justice League: Gods Among Men

“But now I know the key to destroying the Justice League.  And it’s not an object or a weapon.  It’s Colonel Steve Trevor.”  Will Graves turn Trevor against the League?  Or something worse?

On a totally unrelated note…did anyone else notice that the crystal skull in Batman’s hand on the cover to DC’s Free Comics Book Day issue looks a whole heck of a lot like those cufflinks worn by the shadowy “super-villains” at the end of Justice League #6?  Coincidence?  I think not…

Image from Comic Book Resources.

Image from Justice League #6.

“SHAZAM!”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Nick Napolitano
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

            Doctor Sivana investigates reports of abductees who may have a connection to the mysterious Rock of Eternity, which could save the lives of his family.  Meanwhile, Billy Batson, a thoroughly unpleasant orphan, convinces yet another foster family to take him in, unaware of magical destiny…

Notes

Page 23:  

Note that the button marked "7" emits an arc of lightning towards the narrator's finger.  Is this a reference to the Seven Deadly Sins?

Page 24:  Someone did an extreme makeover on that elevator car.  Looks kinda futuristic retro, don’t you think?

Page 25:  

The narrator has found himself in the Rock of Eternity, for which we'll get an explanation in a page or two.  It has seen better days, though.

“There was an old man with a long, shaggy beard sitting on it.”  He’s probably a wizard.  Sounds like what a wizard would look like, doesn’t it?

Page 26:  These abductees who were tested to see if they were worthy of “Shazam” were first mentioned in the text pages of Justice League #2.

Page 27:  First appearance of Doctor Thaddeus Bodog Sivana.  First historical appearance in Whiz Comics #2.  A brilliant inventor with a genius-level intellect.

Note that Sivana’s appearance is dramatically different in the New 52 DCU than in previous incarnations.  He is typically depicted as shirt and scrawny, and looking more “mad scientist” than he does here.  


New 52 DCU Sivana.
"Classic" Sivana.  Image from Wikipedia.
























According to Sivana, the Rock of Eternity was “a hidden castle where the world’s first sorcerers and sorceresses shared their secrets.”  This is a bit different than the pre-Flashpoint Rock of Eternity, which was situated at the exact center of space and time, and could only be accessible by faster-than-light travel.  A different spin on an old concept. 

It also seems that the concept of “Shazam” has changed as well.  As Sivana mentions, Black Adam was chosen by the sorcerers and sorceresses of the Rock of Eternity to be their champion, as opposed to only the wizard Shazam choosing him.  It seems that Shazam is no longer the name of the wizard.  Is it the name of the champion, the power itself, or something else?

“Kahndaq” is a fictional Middle Eastern nation in the DC Universe that was the homeland of Black Adam.

“The Seven Sins” refers to the Seven Deadly Sins of Man; they are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. 

“I spent my life trying to unlock the secrets of science to save my family.  But science failed.  They need a miracle.”  What happened to Sivana’s family that only magic can save them?

Pre-Flashpoint, Sivana’s family included his wife Venus and their children Beautia, Magnificus, Sivana, Jr. and Georgia. 

Page 28:  Not sure of Fawcett City exists in the New 52 DCU, but, for now, the story is set in Philadelphia, PA.

Page 29:  First appearance of William Joseph “Billy” Batson.  First historical appearance in Whiz Comics #2. In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Billy was granted the power of Shazam to transform into Captain Marvel.   Now?  Keep reading. 

Page 30:  “I like to do my podcast on the social work Mrs. Glover does.”  Billy might be lying about the podcast, but it does harken back to his pre-Flashpoint career as a reporter for WHIZ radio.

Aww, who wouldn't trust that face?

Page 31:  

Ouch.  I guess Billy isn't as sweet as he appears, hmmm?

Page 32:  Man, that Billy Batson is one unpleasant brat.

Page 33:  Some Geoff Johns patented “signs of things to come.”

Page 34:  A sneak peek at Captain Marvel’s…I mean, Shazam’s new costume.  A hood has been added to give it a more mysterious look, with an emphasis on the lightning aspect of his abilities. 

But here’s my thought…if his name is “Shazam,” and if he still has to say “Shazam” to transform back and forth from Billy Batson, then can he never say his super-hero name?  Like, if someone asks his name, does he have to ignore them and act rude?  That doesn’t seem very super heroic of him.