Monday, June 25, 2012

JUSTICE LEAGUE #9


“The Villain’s Journey Chapter One: The Call for Adventure”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair with Pete Pantazis & Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Pat  Brosseau
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

While the members of the Justice League deal with two seemingly-unrelated incidents involving their foes, Steve Trevor finds himself hunted by a former-supporter of the League who has decided that he must destroy them once and for all…

Notes

Page 1:  “Four Years Ago”  This scene takes place approximately a year after the formation of the Justice League, as seen in Justice League #6. 


All of the books on this shelf were written by David Graves.

He seems to have a fascination with the unexplained and the unknown.  Let’s take a look at his titles, shall we?

The Belmez Faces and Beyond (2005):  The Bélmez Faces are an alleged paranormal phenomenon in a private home in Spain.  Homeowners claimed that images of faces appeared in the concrete floor of the house, which was located in Bélmez de la Moraleda, Jaén Spain.  Various faces have appeared and disappeared at irregular intervals starting in 1971, and many have been photographed by reporters and visitors.

The Fatima Prophecies (2002): The Three Secrets of Fatima refer to a series of visions and prophecies alleged given by an apparition of the Virgin Mary to three Portuguese shepherds beginning on May 13, 1917.  According to Catholic interpretation, the three secrets involve Hell, Worlds Wars I and II, and the shooting of Pope John Paul II. 

The Yonaguni Pyramid: Civilization Unknown (1999):  I assume that this is about the Yonaguni Monument, an underwater rock formation off the coast of Yonaguni, the southernmost of the Ryukyu Islands, in Japan.  It is unknown whether the site is completely natural, is a natural site that has been altered, or is a manmade artifact.

The Truth Behind the Tunguska Event (2005):  The Tunguska event was a powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, on June 30, 1908.  The explosion is believed to have been caused by an air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment between three to six miles above the Earth’s surface.

Note that, for some reason, the book is titled The Truth Behind Tunguska Event, no "the.".  Must be a special, limited edition what with the printing defect and all. 

The Secret History of Atlantis (2002):  Atlantis is the legendary island first mentioned in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written around 360 B.C.  According to Plato, Atlantis conquered much of the ancient world approximately 9,600 B.C., and after failed attack on Athens, sank into the ocean.   In the New 52 DCU, Atlantis exists as an undersea city, and Aquaman’s mother was an Atlantean.  In the forward to this book, David Graves notes that he spoke with Dr. Stephen Shin as part of his research; as readers of Aquaman know, Shin knew and studied a young Arthur Curry, and wanted to exploit him.  He’s not a nice guy, that Shin. 

Stonehenge Decoded (2000):  One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire.  It is composed of a circular setting of standing stones, believed to be constructed between 3,000 and 2,000 B.C.  The purpose and function of the site is a topic of debate.

Entering the Kaliasa Caves (2003):  I am assuming that this book is about Kailashnath Temple, in Ellora, Maharashtra, India.  It is a Hindu temple designed to recall Mount Kailash, the home of Lord Shiva in the Himalayas.  It is the largest monolith structure in the world and cut into a single rock, built in the 8th century by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I. 

I have no idea why they are referred to as the “Kaliasa caves” and not the “”Kailashnath caves.”

I originally typed “All of the books on this shelf were written by David Graves” and I was content with that.  But then I started thinking about the books, and wondering what some of them were about and just had to start Googling and typing.  It’s my own damn fault, really, can’t just leave some things alone…

So, the question of the page is what happened to Graves’ family? 

Page 2:  

Oh yes, and the gentleman in the wheelchair who doesn’t look all that healthy is the aforementioned David Graves, “the best-selling world-renowned writer of some of the most popular books on the paranormal, supernatural and mythical.”  He is best known for Historic Publications line of World-Mystery books.

He’s seen better days…

For the scientifically challenged, “Neutrophil” refers to Neutrophil granulocytes, which are the most abundant type of white blood cells in mammals and an essential part of the immune system.  Long story short, if Graves is having Neutrophil  issues, then his immune system is screwed. 

Now the question of this page is what happened to Graves to leave him crippled and sick?  And does this, as I assume, have something to do with what happened to his family?

“They can’t help me.  I was...wrong.  They’re…not gods.”  Graves wrote Justice League: Gods Among Men, detailing his first-hand account of the formation of the Justice League.  It seems he has since rethought his opinions on the world’s greatest heroes. 

Page 3:  “Then my journey must begin.”  Would that be a villain's journey? 

Poor Dr. White.  We hardly knew ya.

Note that we first saw this cover to Justice League: Gods Among Men back in Justice League #6.

Page 4:  Damn, Graves has a nice house.  Too bad the rest of his life sucks.

Page 5:  “Today”  The rest of this issue takes place shortly after the events of DC Comics – The New 52 FCBD Special Edition #1, as indicated by the fact that, in that issue, Steve Trevor gets asked by his sister (through Etta Candy) if he “were still coming to dinner tonight.”


The paparazzi following Trevor work for TMZ, as we will find out later.

I like the re-purposing of Trevor as a “super-secret agent.”  It makes him a little more interesting than just a guy who pines away for Wonder Woman.  Besides, the DC Universe needs a Nick Fury.

“Forget that!  He used to date Wonder Woman!”  The details of the Wonder Woman-Steve Trevor relationship have yet to be explored; it was first hinted at in Justice League #7.  Given that it doesn’t look like Trevor will be appearing in Wonder Woman anytime soon, I would imagine that any information will be found in the pages of this title. 

First appearance of Trace Trevor.  I assume that her first name is really Tracy, but I am not positive about that.  To my knowledge, Trevor has never been depicted as having any siblings before. 

Page 6:  Bruce is staring at the letter from Thomas Wayne which the Flash delivered to him at the end of Flashpoint #5.  It’s nice to see that Bruce isn’t obsessing over it or anything like that. 

“Yes, Batman knocked the Mad Hatter’s teeth out and freed the judge and his staff, but look at the big picture for a second.”  The Mad Hatter is a Batman foe who uses mind-control technology in hats to commits his crimes.  He’s a bit of a loon.  He named himself after the similarly-crazy character form Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.   This would seem like a reference to Batman’s encounter with the Mad Hatter in Batman: The Dark Knight #8, given that it has been the rogue’s only appearance in the New 52 DCU to date. 

“…why does he bother with it?  Why doesn’t he spend all his time saving the world with the Justice League?”  On one hand, this is a valid line of thought, given that, as a group, the League can probably do so much more together than individually.  And, to the man on the ground, it must look as if the members of the League are being irresponsible in not fighting crime together 24/7. 

But this only works in certain cases.  It’s great in the various animated DC Universe continuities; in both Justice League and Young Justice, the League seems to unite for every threat, no matter how big or small.  But this only works because we don’t have any way to look in on their individual adventures.  However, the realities of a shared universe dictate that, somehow, Batman, Superman and the rest have their own adventures and extremely full lives, while somehow finding the time to save the universe once a month together as a team. 

Also, and on a deeper note, what the commenter fails to realize is that Batman’s war on crime in Gotham City won’t ever end until he dies.  For him to give up on Gotham City to devote himself fully to the Justice League goes against his promise to his parents and everything he has ever fought for.

Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth, first appeared in Detective Comics (New 52) #1.  First historical appearance in Batman #16.  Bruce Wayne’s loyal aide, guardian and surrogate father. 

Bruce’s flashback illustrates the anger he felt as a child shortly after his parents’ death.  It shows how he tried to push away his connections to Thomas and Martha so that he could cope with life.

What exactly is that helmet on the computer screen?  Something Atlantean?  Or is Bruce building OMACs again?  Some people never learn...

First appearance of the Key.  First historical appearance in Justice League of America (first series) #41.  Real name unrevealed.  Uses psycho-chemicals to grant him 11 hyper-actuated senses, increase his intelligence and feed off the minds of others.  

“Sir, you’re going to be late to your meeting with Stagg Industries.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Stagg Industries was owned by Simon Stagg, whose employee/son-in-law was Rex Mason, who found a certain Orb of Ra that transformed him into Metamorpho, the Element Man.  Now, it remains to be seen how much of this will happen in the New 52 DCU, but we known that the Orb of Ra was stolen from the Black Room by David Graves in Justice League #7…and a certain Element Woman should be appearing in this book any month now…

“Tell the board Bruce Wayne took one of his girls to our island in Cayo Espanto.”  Cayo Espanto is a private island off the coast of Belize.  Since opening in 1998 it has graced the covers of more magazines than any other island and is visited by celebrities from all over the world, including Bruce Wayne. 

Page 7Perry White, first appeared in Swamp Thing (New 52) #1.  Earliest chronological appearance to date in Action Comics (New 52) #10.  First historical appearance in Superman (first series) #7.  Perry actually first appeared in the second episode of The Adventures of Superman radio serial in 1940, and made his first comic book appearance later that year.  Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet

Lois Joanne Lane, first appeared in Action Comics (New 52) #1.  First historical appearance in Action Comics #1.  The head of Planet Global Network’s media division.

“They say one person can’t make a news crew but they didn’t factor in Lois Lane!”  Lois is an executive now, so why is she still functioning like a reporter? 

First appearance of Steven “Steve” Lombard.  First historical appearance in Superman (first series) #264.  Although it is not stated as such here, I presume that he works for the sports department of the Daily Planet in some capacity. 

James Bartholomew “Jimmy” Olsen, first appeared in Action Comics (New 52) #1.  First historical appearance (as an unnamed cameo) in Action Comics #6 and (as Jimmy Olsen) in Superman #13.  Photographer for the Daily Planet

Clark’s flashback shows how alienated he felt as a child, illustrated by the fact that he was chosen last during gym class, despite the fact that he could secretly mop the floor with every single other kid if he wanted to. 

Peter Joseph “Pete” Ross, first appeared in Action Comics (New 52) #6.  First historical appearance in Superboy (first series) #86.  Childhood friend of Clark Kent

Page 8:  Ah, yes, the World’s Finest heroes, together again.  Some things never change.



Note that they don’t need to team-up, not really.  Either Batman or Superman could have handled this incident at Arkham Asylum on their own; Batman practically admits as much on the next page.  This isn’t exactly a world-shattering even that requires the two of them.

What’s important to note here is that, on a certain level, Batman and Superman want to work together, of only for the companionship of it.  Neither one of them really has a whole lot in the way of friends in their civilian lives.  Superman is fairly alienated, and Batman has a fairly controlling relationship with most of his “allies.”   But together, they are on an equal paying field.  If they’re not exactly “friends,” then they are at the very least teammates.

Page 9Clayface, first appeared in Batman (New 52) #1.  First historical appearance in Detective Comics #40.  Real name Basil Karlo.  Possesses a physical form composed of living clay that he can alter its shape, size and density at will. 

“I wouldn’t have called, but I know the Key’s a sore spot.”  Why?  What did the Key do to Superman? 









Page 10:  

Cyborg does know how to make an impressive entrance, I Will give him that.

Page 11:  “I’m plugged into every computer on Earth.”  This makes Cyborg potentially one of the world’s most powerful heroes, given the information and resources saved on those computers. 

“Even yours.”  I’m sure Batman is thrilled with that idea…

Victor’s flashback highlights his wonderfully dysfunctional relationship with his father.  Given that Silas seems to think of his son as a machine and a tool, it’s understandable why Victor isn’t too keen on spending too much time with his father. 

The New 52 DCU Superman is a far more hands-on and physical hero than the pre-Flashpoint incarnation was.  

Page 12:  Good for Trevor, he’s the top story in an episode of TMZ.  He looks so happy about this too. 

For those who do not know, TMZ is a celebrity news and gossip website that debuted in 2005.  In 2007, TMZ launched an accompanying television series, as seen here. 

The letters TMZ stand for “thirty mile zone,” referring to the studio zone within a thirty mile radius of the intersection of West Beverly Boulevard and North La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles; shooting within this zone is considered “local.”  Obviously, given that Steve Trevor is a “super-secret agent,” TMZ reporters are willing to stalk him all over Washington, D.C. for a story. 

“I hope you had a chance to read my book, Colonel.”  Trevor received a copy of Justice League: Gods Among Men in DC Comics – The New 52 FCBD Special Edition #1.  Given that this was only a few hours ago, I doubt that Trevor has had time to flip through it; he seems like a busy guy and all. 

Page 13Iron Heights Penitentiary is a maximum-security prison which houses many Flash rogues and superhuman criminals of Central City and Keystone City.  It first appeared in The Flash (New 52) #2.  First historical appearance in The Flash: Iron Heights.

Barry and Hal’s flashbacks highlight how similar and different they are at the same time.  They each fight for what is right; the only difference is that while Barry is often on the side of the law, Hal is the rebel, in trouble most of the time. 

Note that “Broome’s Bar” is a reference to comic book writer John Broome who, in addition to writing many Golden Age DC Comics, created the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, and wrote both that character and the Silver Age Flash Barry Allen for many years.  He retired from comic book scripting to travel and later teach English in Japan, where he died in 1999. 

Page 14:  First appearance of the Weapons Master.  First historical appearance in Justice League Spectacular #1.  Real name unrevealed; may also be known as Xotar the Weapons Master.  Has access to an inter-dimensional portal where he stores weapons and armor from across the galaxy. 

In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, the Flash did just that to Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, to save the life of Fiona Webb, Barry Allen's fiancee.  

I am assuming that the Mongoose is a villain that Green Lantern makes up on the fly to scare the Weapons Master and not an actual character in the New 52 DCU.  But he does look cool, regardless. 

Page 15:  

As Green Lantern predicted, the Flash doesn't do "bad cop" all that well.

Page 16:  Diana’s flashback is the first glimpse we have gotten into her and Trevor’s relationship.  We get to see how sheltered a life Diana led while living on Paradise Island; she has no experience with a sexual relationship between a man and a woman and while this is what Trevor wants, it’s not something that Diana seems comfortable with. 

Page 17:  

Looks like someone forgot to take his crazy pills today...

It seems that the Key broke back into Arkham Asylum because he needed time to “think and rebuild” after being used by Graves.  Doesn’t he know that Arkham’s not a hotel you can just check in and out of whenever you want?

Oh, wait, yeah it is.  Sorry about that…

Graves enlisted the resources of both the Key and the Weapons Master to help him in this new endeavor of his, whether they wanted to aid him or not. 

Page 18:  “You’re going to help me destroy the Justice League.”  So why does Graves hate the League so darn much?  What did they do to him, or what does he believe that they did to him, to inspire such anger and resentment?

Page 19:  

Damn.  That Graves is so not a nice guy...

Page 20:  “I’ll tell you everything you want to know.”  So is Trevor giving in or does he have a plan?

“Shazam!”

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

Synopsis

It’s Billy Batson’s first day of school, and it doesn’t go all that well.  Despite trying to fly under the radar, he comes to the aid of his new brothers and sisters by beating up the school bullies, which lands him in hot water with the principal.  Meanwhile, Doctor Sivana makes a startling discovery in the Middle East which leaves him with the ability to see magic…

Notes

Page 21:  “I thought she was mad at me.”  Billy wasn’t very nice to Darla (or the rest of his new foster family, for that matter) which prompted Darla to run off crying last issue. 

Page 23:  “You ever see Shawshank Redemption?”  There are people who haven’t seen The Shawshank Redemption?  Really?  It’s only, like, one of the greatest movies of all time, and you can pretty much turn on TNT anytime during the week and it’s on. 

But for those of you who haven’t seen it, it stars Tim Robbins as a a banker who spends nearly twenty years at the Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover (he says he’s innocent) as be befriends Morgan Freeman.  He soon gets involved in the warden’s money laundering operation, which aids him in his eventual escape.  It’s great, believe me. 

“Are you saying Fawcett High is like prison?”  Note that in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Captain Marvel operated out of Fawcett City.

And the Mr. Congeniality award goes to Mr. Billy Batson...

Endometriosis is a gynecological medical condition in which the cells from the lining of the uterus appear and flourish outside the uterine cavity, most commonly on the ovaries.  Not something that Jermaine would probably have, to be honest.

And a hysterectomy is the surgical removing of the uterus.  Quite a witty one, that Mrs, Myers is.

Page 24:  “No.  I have a stop to make.”  Where does Billy have to go?

I am pretty sure that these Bryer brothers and their father are brand-new characters, with no connection to any previously established characters. 

Page 25:  


What many people do not know is that Billy Batson is really a ninja.  But he likes to keep that information on the down-low, you know?

Sorry.  He’s not really a ninja.  He just likes to kick ass is all.

Page 26:  Principal Peach seems positively delightful…

DUM-DUM-DUMMMMM!!!!

Page 27:  

Why does Mr. Bryer look like an older Oliver Queen?

Page 29:  

Meanwhile, back in the Middle East...

Page 30:  “Infrasound” is a sound that is lower in frequency than 20 Hz or cycles per second, which is the “normal” limit of human hearing.  It is frequently used in monitoring earthquakes, charting rock and petroleum formations below the Earth, and uncovering the hidden tombs of magical champions in worn-town Middle Eastern nations. 

“At last I can save my family!”  We still have no idea what is wrong with Sivana’s family or how the power of Black Adam can save them.

Page 31:  

Good for you, Sivana, but can you stop looking at me like that?  It's creepy...