Monday, August 20, 2012

JUSTICE LEAGUE #11


“Atonement”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams with Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Alex Sinclair with Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

As the Justice League recovers from Graves’ initial attack, they realize that this new foe has kidnapped Steve Trevor.  Tensions run high and the team is pushed to the breaking point, but they pull together long enough to learn that Graves has ties to their past.  After a trip to his writing cabin, they visit the Valley of Souls under Mt. Sumeru, where the Leaguers are confronted by visions of their dead loved ones…including Trevor himself…





Notes

Page 1:  Batman is reliving the murder of his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, at the hands of Joe Chill. 

This is how Batman overcomes misery and pain, by refusing to dwell on it.  He simply buries it and moves on.

Out of all the Leaguers, Batman has the best relationship with Superman; as such, the Man of Steel is the first one he notices is incapacitated and rescues.  Also, Batman knows to make sure that the team’s big gun is back in action first after being attacked. 

Page 2

Both Jonathan and Martha Kent are deceased in the New 52 DCU.  Although Pa Kent's heart attack has been referred  to several times, his actual death has yet to be seen.

“I couldn’t save him.”  Echoes Clark Kent’s sentiment in Superman: The Motion Picture after he is incapable of saving Jonathan Kent from a heart attack.

“My dad’s plane…it crashed.”  A young Hal watched helpless as his father, Martian Harold Jordan, died in a plane crash as seen in Green Lantern (fourth series) #29. 

“It doesn’t matter.”  Batman’s not really up for sharing his emotions.

Tracy “Trace” Trevor was last seen in Justice League #9.

Page 3:  “You have some of my books.”  David Graves has written quite extensively about the mysteries of the world and the unknown.

Graves mentions that becoming an Asura is one of the “four unhappy births” that results from a soul being punished and denied an afterlife.  How did these Asuras reconnect Graves with the souls of his family?  Were they denied the afterlife and condemned to one of these “unhappy births”?  And, if so, then why? 

Graves in convinced that the Justice League sees themselves as gods, despite the fact that he is the one who referred to them as such in his book, Justice League: Gods Among Men.  Does he now have a change of heart because he feels like a false prophet?

“Where’s Steve?”  Steve?  You mean Steve Trevor?  Oh, he’s locked up somewhere after being tortured by Graves in Justice League #9.  Yeah, Steve, poor Steve, he’s not doing so well…

Page 4:  

So it Graves' family actually there?  Or are they just figments of his imagination, or manifestations of his power?

Page 5:  “Did you see that shimmering?  Graves just disappeared.”  And from where, I must ask, did Graves get teleportation technology?  And why didn’t he just use this technology to sneak onto the Watchtower on his own?  Is the League’s satellite shielded from just such a thing? 

“You already broke his heart.  You crushed his self-worth.”  Tracy’s a bit peeved that the Diana-Steve Trevor relationship didn’t work out.  Or rather, as it seems, that Diana strung Steve along with the hope of a relationship that would never happen. 

“But he still dedicated his life to you.”  Steve Trevor, as the head of A.R.G.U.S., still works closely with Wonder Woman and the Justice League, and doesn’t seem to have much of a life otherwise, as seen in Justice League #7

Page 6:  

And just how close did you get, hmmm Diana?  Still insisting that you and Steve are "just friends," as you did in Justice League #10?

To be fair, as the flashback in Justice League #9 shows, Diana did not have a great understanding of male-female relationships after leaving Paradise Island.  Given that she came from an all-female society, this was to be predicted.  Even simple things like hand-holding to show affection were new to her.  So it’s not out of the question that she would give Steve the wrong signals or otherwise inadvertently screw things up with him. 

Also, it should be noted that, as of Wonder Woman (New 52) #11, Diana is twenty-three years old.  That would make her around 18 at the time of her debut in Justice League #3.  Steve, a colonel, was presumably not 18.  Probably closer to his early thirties, if that.  So he’s old enough to know better, and just because she’s a demi-god doesn’t mean that she’s infallible in the ways of love.  Actually, if you've ever reading anything about mythology, you know that it it probably reinforces that fact. 

“The author.  We saved him and his family during Darkseid’s invasion.  Then he wrote the book about us.”  As depicted in Justice League #6.

“But you know it catapulted us into the public’s favor.”  The book was Justice League: Gods Among Men, which solidified that idea in the public’s mind that the Justice League were “the world’s greatest heroes,” an image they continue to uphold to this day, for better or for worse.    

“David Graves disappeared a few years ago.”  After the events seen in Justice League #9.

“They thought it was some form of cancer.”  Was this cancer caused by caused by the Apokolips invasion?  Or something else?

There Wonder Woman goes again, talking about cutting off the heads of her foes.  Must be a Wednesday...

Page 7:  “And we don’t cut off anyone’s head.”  A little bit of patronizing from Batman.  What a change...

“So you don’t trust us to help?”  Green Lantern’s question is a bit meta-textual, as it is at the very heart of this entire storyline. 

“Lantern, I have this.”  Batman just knows, deep down, that no matter how good-intentioned Green Lantern is, that this probably will not go well.  That, and he has severe control issues…

Green Lantern is actually trying to be sincere and supportive with Wonder Woman, making an effort to appeal to her and get her to listen to reason.  Too bad it doesn't work...

Pages 8-9:  Hunh.  Seems like Wonder Woman’s fist is stronger than Green Lantern’s will.

Page 10:  
Once upon a time, there might have been one lone photographer -- Jimmy Olsen, probably -- who was able to snap a few shots of a super-hero fight.  Now, in the age of social media and cell phones, everyone and anyone can shoot a crappy video and take sub-par pictures of a super-hero fight.  Ah, progress...

“Like hell she did.”  Green Lantern might think that Wonder Woman’s hot…but he’s not going to let her make a fool out of him without a fight.

Page 11:  “You’ve been dying for this haven’t you?”  This comment from Wonder Woman would make more sense had we seen any kind of real conflict between her and Green Lantern before now.    

“This isn’t giving me any pleasure.  But I’m sure you’ve heard that before.”  I can honestly say that this is the first time in nearly thirty years of comic book reading that I have read a blatant, sexual joke from Wonder Woman.  Anyone else? 
It seems like Wonder Woman doesn't really appreciate Green Lantern's jokes and more light-hearted nature.  That being said, it would have been far more appropriate if she kicked his ass while he was being a jerk and not when he's trying to help her out.

Pages 12-13

Yeah, Superman, that will teach you to butt in and try to help stop a fight between your teammates.  A good foot-in-the-jaw will learn ya...
Graves knows where the cracks in the Justice League are and is exploiting them to his benefit.  As he wrote back in Justice League #7, “I know the key to destroying the Justice League, and it’s not an object or a weapon.  It’s Colonel Steve Trevor.”

Page 14:  Cyborg has Boom Tubed the League to Grave’s cabin, last seen in Justice League #9.

Page 15:  “Some cabin.”  My thoughts exactly.

“I don’t need help from someone who treats everything like a game.”  In these moments of stress and crisis, true feeling begin to emerge ad get spoken when they would otherwise be hidden.

Within the Justice League, the members should be able to  reveal their true selves to one another, as a hero among other heroes.  For Hal, being in the Corps is a job; the Justice League should be where he goes to be among friends, but the team isn't quite there yet.

“We all want to bring Trevor home, but we’re going to do that faster if we work as a team.  A crazy idea, I know.”  Aquaman is pointing out the fact that this “team” doesn’t operate as one.  The fa├žade that surrounds them is falling apart, and the group doesn’t have enough structure and support to survive.

“Superman’s better with words than you.  And he’s more charismatic.  Smarter.  Taller, too.”  For being the straight-arrow, the Flash can definitely give Green Lantern some well-deserved grief when he has to. 

Page 16:  “What if Graves is right, Lantern?  What if he was exposed to something?”  Then, as Superman surmises, others would have been.  Now, did that happen, or did something else occur to kill his family?

Page 17:     
Batman's awfully casual about discounting the fact that Cyborg might be partially dead, isn't he?

Pages 18-19:  And, in the Valley of Souls, the Justice League is visited by the souls of the departed…

Batman sees his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne…

Green Lantern sees his father, Martin Jordan…

Superman is visited by Jor-El and Lara, his Kryptonian parents…

Flash shares moment with his mother, Nora Allen…

Aquaman watches as his father, Tom Curry, vanishes (and why does that image disappear when none of the others do?)…

Cyborg sees…himself, giving credence to the idea that he is at least not totally alive… himself? 

Page 20:  And Diana sees Steve Trevor.  Is he really dead, or is this all a trick?  Is Graves’ power reaching into the minds of the Justice Leaguers and showing them those they long to see, so that it can play with their emotions?  Or are these, in fact, the souls of their loved ones?

“Shazam!”

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

Synopsis

Billy and Freddy enact their plan against the Bryers, but things go awry when the car alarm goes off, alerting the family to their presence.  After he hides Freddy in the bushes, Billy leads the Bryer brothers on a chase through downtown Philadelphia, where he evades capture by hopping on a subway.  The lights flicker, and Billy is on a different train altogether, one that soon transports him to the mysterious Rock of Eternity…

Notes

Page 21:  Black Adam really doesn’t appreciate being called a “demon”…

Page 22:  “”  The Wizard is, of course, one of the surviving members of the Circle of Eternity that imprisoned Black Adam millennia ago.  We last saw him in Justice League #7.

Page 24
It seems that Black Adam's lightning bolt chest symbol isn't just for decoration...

Page 25:  
Nice to see that Billy and Freddy are bonding over their mutual juvenile delinquency...

Page 26:   
Admit it, Billy...you've wanted to knock Freddy down since you first met him.

Billy had a fight at school with the Bryer Brothers, and later, a verbal sparring match with Mr. Bryer, in Justice League #9.

Page 27:  So, either this story is taking place around Christmas…or Philadelphia keeps its Santa Clauses working twelve months out of the year.

Uh-oh.  Billy Batson and subways can only mean one thing…



You got it!  Turnstile jumping!

Page 28:  But, seriously, looking back over the years, anytime Billy gets on a train, a subway, or any other similar type of transportation on rails…

Things start to happen…


Like lots of lightning…

Page 29:  Some redecorated, possibly Art Deco or retro-inspired railcars…


Page 30:  Only for the kid to end up at a station that’s not on the map anywhere…


The Rock of Eternity, which we last saw in Justice League #7.  About time Billy got here, hunh?

Monday, August 13, 2012

EARTH-2 #3


“Jade Knight”

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Nicola Scott
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Pat McCallum

Synopsis

In the aftermath of a horrific train accident, Alan Scott is transformed by the embodiment of the Earth’s energy into the Green Lantern so that he can be a champion on the coming dark times.  In Poland, Jay Garrick meets Hawkgirl, who tests the new hero’s super-speed abilities.  Both notice that the flora and fauna all around them has died, even as Grundy, an agent of the Grey, attacks Washington, D.C. to attract the attention of the Green’s new champion…




Notes

Page 1Hangzhou is the largest city of Zhejiang Province in eastern China and has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities in China for the last 1,000 years.

“Just as I was proposing marriage to --”  Alan proposed to his boyfriend Sam in Earth-2 #2.  Then there was a slight train accident, and the moment was lost...

Page 2: In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, that “green, talking bonfire” was known as the Starheart, a collection of all the wild magic in the universe gathered together by the Guardians of the Universe. 

Page 3:  

Good to see that Alan can make jokes despite the trauma of a horrible train accident and the death of his boyfriend.  A sense of humor is a good quality in a super-hero...

Page 4:  “I saw green light within that explosion.”  Evidently this occurred off-panel, as there was no indication in Earth-2 #2 that Alan noticed this.

“That was the work of another.”   So who caused this train crash and why?

“An evil will soon be upon the Earth, which if left unchallenged will destroy all life.”    Is this the same evil hinted at by Mercury in Earth-2 #2?

“I am the embodiment of the Earth’s energy.  In truly dark times, a champion is chosen.”  The depiction of both the green energy and Alan Scott’s role remind me of Just Imagine Stan Lee with Dave Gibbons creating Green Lantern.  In that book, Professor Len Lewis was imbued with the power of the Tree of Life, the greatest power source known to man, to achieve a balance between the needs of humanity and nature.  The Tree of Life, also known as Yggdrasil, was the spirit of the Earth itself, similar to a certain “green bonfire.”

“The world then had a sun god among its defenders.”  That would be Superman, who was powered by the sun.  He was, however, killed during the Apokolips War, as seen in Earth-2 #1.

If Superman had not landed on Earth, would this green flame have chosen a champion to defend the planet from Darkseid?  And, if so, would the outcome have been different? 

“This evil to come will make that war inconsequential.”  An evil worse than Darkseid.  Jeez.  That’s no good.

Page 5:  The Flash ran to Poland and met Hawkgirl in Earth-2 #2.

Yeah, Jay's a bit of a dope.

Page 6:  “Fate showed me the way.”  As in…Doctor Fate?

“Maybe you will when you meet the guy.”  Yep, Doctor Fate.

“Yeah, but considering what I’ve been through…the year I’ve had, let’s just go with it.”  Like her pre-Flashpoint counterpart, Kendra Saunders has something of a mysterious past.

Page 7:  Jay’s trying his best to show off in front of the pretty lady with wings…

Page 8


…only to fall on his ass while doing so.  Oh, well, give the poor boy some time.  He just got his powers a few hours ago.


It's cool to see that Hawkgirl is using her wings not only as a means of transportation but for offensive purposes as well.  Over on Prime Earth, Hawkman has been doing the same thing as seen in the pages of The Savage Hawkman.  

Page 9:  “Even though Mercury said I shouldn’t trust anyone…”   Don’t listen to him, Jay; gods can be so paranoid that way.

Page 10:  This death and decay looks similar to something called the Rot on Prime Earth.  Any relation?

Page 11

In effect, Alan has become the lantern itself, as opposed to drawing upon the power from another source.  This is similar to the depiction of Green Lantern in Kingdom Come, in which Alan Scott integrated his lantern into his armor.

“Visible as green energy it can take any shape or form, only limited by your imagination.  And you can fly.”  Well, Mr. Green Bonfire here is a regular fountain of information, now isn’t he?

Page 12:  



First appearance of the Green Lantern of Earth-2.  First historical appearance in All-American Comics #16.  Real name Alan Ladd Wellington Scott.  Able to…well, the green flame just told us what he can do…Do I really need to repeat it all?

I must say, this new costume is a vast improvement over his old one.  I am pretty sure that I am not going to miss the red shirt and purple cape combo anytime soon. 

Page 13:  “…In the name of the Grey I must arise.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, the  Grey was a fungal intelligence, similar to the Parliament of Trees, that first appeared in   Swamp Thing Annual #4.  Now seems more similar to the Rot, a force opposing both the Green and the Red on Prime Earth, as seen in both Swamp Thing and Animal Man. 

Page 14:   “You must have a token or a weapon with which to focus your power.”  You know, something small, maybe it can fit on a finger, something like, oh, I dunno, a power ring, you don’t happen to have a power ring that you can use, do you?

Page 15:  “Has this happened before?”  Will we, in the future, meet some of the past champions of the green light?

“While you await the great evil, there are still other threats walking the Earth.”  So…when exactly is this “great evil” set to arrive?  Today?  Next Tuesday?  Five years from now?  Think Alan can go grab a sandwich beforehand?

“My time is over.  My task is done.”  So is this green flame a former champion of the green light whose final task it is to pass on this power to Alan?

Page 16:  

After the Apokolips War, the inhabitants of Earth-2 have become a bit more fearful and paranoid about anything otherworldly and different.  They just need some positive alien role models, that's all.

“…We’ve nothing to fear.”  This echoes the idea that the Green Lanterns from the Prime Earth universe are chosen because they are fearless, or at least able to overcome fear.  Also, also, Alan Scott is now the “Superman” figure on Earth-2; he’s the leader, the one everyone should follow and be inspired by.  Don’t be afraid of him, look up to him as a beacon of hope. 

Page 18:  “So I can kill him yet again.”  This agent of the Grey has had experience in killing the green champions; does it think that they are all the same?  Does it fail to see any differentiation between them?

“To take the hope from this world.”  Green Lantern represents that hope, especially in a world without heroes. 



Page 20:  First appearance of Grundy, formerly known as Solomon Grundy.  First historical appearance in All-American Comics #61.  Full extent of powers unrevealed, but he seems to have control over plant life to some extent and acts as a vampire, draining power from the living. 

Traditionally, Alan Scott was vulnerable to wood, a weakness that never made a lick of sense, despite many explanations.  However, if Grundy is an agent of the Grey, and he seems to have control over plant life to some extent, that would explain Alan’s wood vulnerability, if it still exists, given that the Green and the Grey are opposing forces.  Only time will tell…

One question of utmost importance...what's with Grundy wearing the leather bondage gear?  I mean, an undead zombie guy that can control decayed plant life I can deal with, but him wearing that get-up?  Downright creepy, if you ask me...