Tuesday, May 8, 2012

JUSTICE LEAGUE #8


“Team-Up: Green Arrow”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Carlos D’Anda with Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb with Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

As Congress pressures Colonel Trevor to convince the Justice League to expand its membership, Green Arrow begins his quest to join the team.  Over the course of several weeks he attempts to aid them in his quest to win them over, to no avail.  Trevor intervenes, telling him that there’s no way that the League will allow him to join…but Trevor has another team that the archer can be a part of.  The Justice League reflects on their past, particularly the one time they allowed someone else onto the team – J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, who apparently betrayed them all.  Meanwhile, J’onzz telepathically spies on them from afar, and notes that “They’re not prepared”…



Notes

Page 1:  “Why haven’t the Justice League ever expanded membership, Colonel Trevor?”  The question of the issue, boys and girls.

“Like you were with Team 7.”  In the Wildstorm Universe, Team 7 was a military special operations unit whose members were all exposed to the Gen-Factor, a substance that gave individuals superhuman abilities.  They first appeared in Team 7 #1.  Apparently the team now exists in the New 52 DCU, with Trevor having been members.  Others who were also involved with the group are Amada Waller, the head of the Suicide Squad, and Kurt Lance, Black Canary’s supposedly-dead husband. 

“Yes, everyone knows the Justice League are close friends…”  This is the image that the League has projected since they formed, that they are a group of “Super Friends.”  It’s pretty far from the truth.

Page 2Green Arrow, real name Oliver Queen.  First appeared in Green Arrow #1.  Historical first appearance in More Fun Comics #73.  Skilled archer and athlete armed with an arsenal of normal and trick arrows.

Page 3:  

The Justice League are frequently seen as "godlike," even among other heroes.

Page 4:  First appearance of Amazo.  First historical appearance in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #30.  Able to duplicate metahuman abilities, including all of the powers of the Justice League. 

In Justice League #4, mention is made of the A-Maze Operating System created by Professor Anthony Ivo, Amazo’s creator.  Presumably, this system is the basis for Amazo’s programming and abilities. 

“It’s hard to tell exactly how long Amazo’s going to be out of commission, but the nanites are already rebuilding his nervous system.”  Are these the same nanites that Silas Stone injected into Victor back in Justice League #3 so that his son wouldn’t reject the Promethium skin graft that saved his life?  And T.O. Morrow alluded to the fact that these nannies were never tested, and were recovered from…oh, that’s right, he never said from where they were recovered.  And why is that?

Page 5:  “I can boom Professor Ivo’s bad boy wit us to the Red Room.”  As seen in Justice League #7, the Justice League transports via Boom Tube technology that Cyborg downloaded into his system during Darkseid’s attack on Earth.

As revealed in Justice League #3, the Red Room is a S.T.A.R. Labs project that studies technology, presumably alien and human alike, recovered from all across the world. 

“One out of a thousand jumps you malfunction and kick us over to Apokolips until you can reboot.”  Isn’t that an acceptable price to pay for instantaneous travel?

Page 6:  

I like how Green Arrow is so over-the-top he makes Green Lantern look mature and sensible.

Page 7

Green Lantern and Batman have a relationship based on disdain for one another, with a dash of respect thrown in for good measure. 

‘There’s a very good reason we don’t bring other people into the team, Superman.  You already know that.”  Please, tell me Batman, please please please?

“Oh, yeah, Cyborg.  Does he ever.”  Man, this group is a secretive bunch.  Green Arrow refers to the fact that he met a “mer-man once” in Green Arrow #6; this first meeting is mentioned again in a few pages, so look for it. 

Page 8

It's interesting to see the conflict between Green Lantern and Green Arrow given that they were the best of friends in the pre-Flashpoint DCU.


Page 9:  This scene takes place concurrent with the events of Batman #9 and the rest of “The Night of the Owls” storyline running through May’s Batman family titles. 

As Batman describes, the Court of Owls is a centuries-old secret organization of great power and influence that is a part of the very history and design of Gotham City.  Most have discounted them as a myth, but they are very real, at Batman and his allies have recently learned. 

The Talons are the assassins of the Court.  During “The Night of the Owls” storyline, they have been sent out across Gotham City to kill a number of influential figures in Gotham City, including Bruce Wayne himself.  Here, they have targeted a group of A.R.G.U.S. agents which seems a bit contrived, but it’s a story, so I’m just going with it. 

Note that Batman is talking to Cyborg over his communications device and is otherwise preoccupied with not getting killed by a swarm of semi-undead lunatic assassins, so he’s not hanging out with the rest of the Justice League right now. 

Page 10:  

Despite his loner persona, Batman respects his teammates in the Justice League and seems to almost enjoy being a member of the group. 

“Like Aquagenic dermatitis.”  While I find no details on this condition that Aquaman mentions, I presume that it is an inflammation of the skin brought about by contact with water.  It doesn’t sounds like a lot of fun, especially is you’re an Atlantean. 

Page 11:  “Let’s try to act professional around the agents, okay?”  Another reminder that the Justice League isn’t the group of “super friends” that the public assumes they are, and they strive to maintain this carefully constructed image, even around A.R.G.U.S. agents. 

“I don’t even think these men are alive.”  As revealed in Batman #7, all Talons have a significant amount of electrum in their bodies.  This compound of silver and copper seeped into their cells, and then allowed the Count of Owls to reactivate and heal the Talons over and over, essentially making them unkillable killers. 

“They’re monsters then?  So no arguments about the sword?”  Wonder Woman’s only concern is whether or not she can kill the Talons without the rest of the League trying to stop her.

Page 12:  

Oliver Queen was stranded on a deserted island after being thrown overboard his yacht.  Poor guy.  Anyway, to survive on the island, he learned to shoot a bow and arrow and, after returning to civilization, used these skills as Green Arrow.  Apparently, in the New 52 DCU, Aquaman found Queen on the island and aided in his rescue but they didn't seem to part as friends, which is strange given that they're both so personable, you know?

Page 13:  

"Uh...anyone known how Batman got here?  He wasn't with us a second ago..."

I’m going to assume that Batman’s presence with the rest of the League is an artistic error, because it seems like he’s a little busy defending the rest of Gotham City from the Talons to hang out with his “super friends” right about now. 

Page 14:  As the editorial note at the bottom of the page indicates, this scene takes place concurrent with the events of Justice League Dark #9, which involves these mysterious cultists in some way. 

“Stop following us or we’ll pick up where we left off.”  Seems that Aquaman and Green Arrow have more than a mild dislike for one another; I’d say it borders on loathing, but maybe I’m just a bit sensitive. 

Given that Green Arrow arrives back at his lair (is it his “Arrow Cave”?) shortly after his confrontation with the League, I’d say that they confronted the cultists in Arrow’s hometown of Seattle, but I could be mistaken about this. 

Page 15:  “I know them all well enough to see…they’re not super-heroes.  They’re like me!”  I find Green Arrow’s statement to be interesting.  He’s not trying to say that he is like them, superhuman, worthy of the adoration that the Justice League receives.  Rather, he has seen behind the façade, and realized that they are just men and women, albeit with great abilities, that are passing themselves off as gods.  Recall that in Justice League #7, David Graves has realized that he was “right about so many things” but “wrong about others,” a reference to the idea that the Justice League are “gods among men.” 

Please fill us in, Colonel Trevor.


“The League could do so much more if they had a social conscience.”  Right now, the Justice League shows up, saves the day, and retreats back to the Watchtower; they don’t seem to have much connection to the people they save.  What Green Arrow wants to do is bring them down to Earth a little bit.  Geoff Johns has indicated in interviews that the Justice League will be altered by their upcoming battle with David Graves; I assume that this will have more to do with their method of operation than it does a simple roster change. 

Page 16:  “So I have another team you might be interested in giving a social conscience to.”  So what team is this for which Colonel Trevor is recruiting Green Arrow?

Page 17:  



Our first look at the Justice League’s Watchtower.

It resembles the pre-Flashpoint JLA Watchtower a bit.  That headquarters =was designed by Jim Lee, who, I assume, had a hand in designing this Watchtower as well.  

Nothing against Carlos D’Anda’s artwork…but these next four pages by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado are just beautiful.  In fact, Reis is my number one pick to pencil Justice League if/when Jim Lee steps down from the book.  I know, I know, they’re busy making Aquaman look great, but a fan can dream, can’t he?

As for my other top picks to drawn this series, I’d have to go with Stuart Immonen, Olivier Coipel or Paul Pelletier.  Any thoughts or suggestions?













Now, back to the story…





It's interesting to note that the sole alien in the group is the one most receptive to having others join the team.

Notice how the entire League walks behind Batman; it’s as if they are following his lead.  This would make sense, considering the idea that, even though the age of superhumans began only five years ago, Batman has supposedly been active for almost ten years, operating as an urban legend for the first half of his career.  He has the most experience, so it would make sense that they would look to him as their senior member, even though he lacks powers. 

In a way, the entire group is modeled after him somewhat.  They have their secret headquarters, they shun publicity, they’re aloof and remote from those they protect.  Remind you of anyone?

Also interesting to note is that Superman hovers above the rest, his feet never touching the ground.  His “alien-ness” is far more pronounced than with the pre-Flashpoint Superman, who was very much a down-to-Earth Kansas farmboy. 

“Maybe or maybe not, Aquaman, but there are a lot of people out there who could help this team.”  Interesting to see that the one alien in the group is most receptive to the idea of others joining the Justice League. 

“I’m going to agree with Lantern for once.  We have an image to protect.”  One must remember that, in the early part of their careers, most of these heroes were hunted and feared.  Now, because of the League, they are respected and looked up to.  None of them want to give that up, and want to keep their public personas squeaky clean so that the public doesn’t turn on them again.

“We have a world to protect.  That’s our priority, right?”  Flash seems to be something of the moral conscience of the group.  And it’s not the fact that they need to protect the world that is in question, it’s the lengths to which they go to distance themselves from the world. 

“Now I’m going to agree with Batman.”  As I have talked about before, Batman and Green Lantern actually have quite a bit in common, despite their notable differences. 

“We all know what happened when we let someone else onto this satellite and into the Justice League.”  Oh do we?  Please, elaborate…

Pages 18-19:  Oh.  Wow.

That doesn’t look good.

I was going to scan the two-page spread because I think that it's really freaking cool...but my scanner isn't that big.  Alas...

The Martian Manhunter, real name J’onn J’onzz.  First appeared in Stormwatch #1.  First historical appearance in Detective Comics #225.  Possesses superhuman strength, speed, senses, endurance, telepathic ability, able to become invisible or intangible, can fly and shape-shift.  And he also has “Martian vision,” whatever that is.  He’s pretty darn tough. 

“It ended badly.”  Understatement of the year, Bats. 

So…what did the League do to piss J’onn off so darn much?

Page 20:  “The Martian Manhunter’s long gone.”  Not exactly; he’s hanging out with Stormwatch these days, but since no one seems to know much about Stormwatch, the League probably doesn’t either. 

“He still knows everything about us.”  He is a telepath, of course.

“More than we know about each other.”  The Leaguers still don’t trust one another enough to reveal everything; do they know one another’s secret identities at this point?


Prepared for what, Mr. J'onzz?  What's coming that they need to be prepared?

"Shazam!”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gray Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

Billy Batson meets his new family, and he’s not impressed.  He only wants to be left alone, and doesn’t adjust too well to a new life of parents, siblings and rules.  Alone in his room, he thinks about his parents, when he notices a strange thundercloud in the sky that seems to be looking at him…

Notes

Page 21:  A mysterious, in-the-shadows view of Billy Batson’s new foster family.  I wonder if we’ll recognize any of them?

“That’s his social worker.”  Mrs. Glover, whom we met last issue.

Page 22:  “I think I preferred the subway.”  In past stories, Billy Batson was an orphan living on the streets when the wizard Shazam found him.  I guess Johns is taking a more responsible and modern approach to Billy, making him a foster child rather than some homeless kid that no one notices or even cares about.

“That’s three more years of handling.”  Which makes Billy fifteen years old. 

Page 23:  

Mrs. Glover can't get rid of Billy fast enough.


Page 24:  

Hey, I feel like I've seen these kids somewhere before...

For those of you who read Flashpoint, these five kids, along with Billy, were each given a portion of Shazam’s power.  When they spoke the wizard’s name, this S!H!A!Z!A!M! family united to form Captain Thunder.  It looks like they made the jump from the Flashpoint timeline to the New 52 DCU with Billy.

First appearance (from left to right) Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, Mary Batson Bromfield, Freddy Freeman and Darla Dudley.  First historical appearance of Mary in Captain Marvel Adventures #18, of Freddy in Whiz Comics #25 and of Pedro, Eugene and Darla in Flashpoint #1. 

Mary and Freddy were, of course, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr (later CM3 and Shazam) in the pre-Flashpoint DCU.  What the future holds for them with regards to powers and costumes remains to be seen.  

Note that I am assuming that their last names are the same as their Flashpoint incarnations, and if Mary is still Billy’s long-lost sister, I doubt that either of them knows this yet. 

Page 25:  

It looks like Freddy is "helpful" in more ways than one.


Page 26:  Mary is something of the den mother of the family, having been with Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez the longest.

“And this is my rabbit Hoppy.”  A reference to Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, a “funny animal” version of Captain Marvel that first appeared in Fawcett’s Funny Animals #1

“Freddy Freeman here.  Never met a fire alarm I didn’t pull.”  Billy and Freddy seem like two peas in a pod, if you know what I mean. 

“Um, I’m…I’m Pedro and, um…I’m Pedro.”  Pedro’s the chatterbox of the group.

“I only read non-fiction.”  Well, excuuuuuuse me…

“And I’m Darla!”  Whoa, someone needs to get this kid to open up more.

Page 27:  “I’m not your brother.  We’re not family.  None of you really are!”  It looks like Billy Batson has a lot to learn about being part of a family. 

Page 28:  Beware of Mary, Billy…she’ll kick your snotty ass. 

Page 30:  That cartoony tiger is probably Mr. Tawky Tawny, who was a humanoid tiger and a close friend of the Marvel Family that first appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #79.

Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Mr. Tawky Tawny…what drugs were those Fawcett Comics guys taking anyway?



I assume that this is a photograph of Billy’s parents at a zoo somewhere.  Notice how Billy’s dad always seems to look like Captain Marvel, as if Billy somehow “chooses” to look like his dad.

But…it’s 2012.  Why is the photo in black and white?  Hell, what kid these days carries around photos at all?  Doesn’t he have an iPhone?  And is that the New 52 DCU version of Tawky Tawny in the enclosure behind them?

Page 31:  “I didn’t mean to make her cry.”  Ah, a glimmer of hope lies within Billy after all.

What is that creepy face in the clouds?  Some sort of cosmic Peeping Tom?