Tuesday, September 18, 2012

JUSTICE LEAGUE #12


“The Villain’s Journey Chapter Four: Rescue From Within”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, David Finch
Inker: Scott Williams & various, Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair & various
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

In the Valley of Souls, the Justice League finds themselves confronted by their lost loved ones as Graves’ ultimate plan is revealed – he wants to destroy the temple that holds these souls captive and reunite everyone with the dead.  But Steve Trevor’s last minute return rallies the team to finally overcome and defeat their new foe.  However, in the aftermath of battle, public sentiment has turned against the Justice League and Green Lantern quits the team.  Superman and Wonder Woman confide in one another, admitting that they are more alone than they ever realized, and share a kiss.  Meanwhile, at Belle Reve Prison, Amanda Waller requests that Graves gives her the information she needs to take down the world’s greatest super-heroes…

Notes

Page 1:  

A fantastic shot of the Justice League, one of the best Jim Lee has done since this series began.

“The Justice League aren’t the heroes you think they are.”  This is what Graves has been getting at since his attack on the team began.  And, worst of all, he’s right.  As we have seen since Justice League #7, the League only acts like “the world’s greatest super-heroes” who all hang out with one another and are the best of friends.  In reality, they only decided to remain a team after they realized how it could benefit them all, and most of the members know very little about one another.  It’s something that has to change, or else they won’t be able to continue operating effectively. 

Page 2:  The battle between Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, with the rest of the League trying to intervene, occurred in Justice League #11.

Page 3:  

Hey, it’s the gang from TMZ again; they were last seen in Justice League #9, stalking/reporting about Steve Trevor.  Depicted here are the DC Universe versions of executive producer Harvey Levin and co-executive producer Charles Latibeaudiere. 

TMZ gives us a little recap about Steve Trevor's life and history with a certain Amazon princess.  Trevor first appeared as the head of A.R.G.U.S. and the Justice League's liaison in Justice League #7.

“But Colonel Trevor was kidnapped yesterday.”  In Justice League #9.

“World-renowned for this book, Justice League: Gods Among Men, Graves was catapulted to the short list of today’s most influential authors, alongside Stephen King, Doris Lessing and Malcolm Gladwell.”  Stephen King is the author of dozens of best-selling books, including The Shining, Carrie, It, Cujo and The Dark Tower series.  Really, if I have to explain who he is, you’ve been living under a rock for the past thirty years.  Doris May Lessing is a novelist, playwright and poet who was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Malcolm T. Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of four books whose works deal with the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences.

Really, does any other comic book blog writer detail this stuff?  Who loves ya…

“Last seen four years ago, Graves was afflicted with the same terminal illness that took the lives of his wife and children.”  As seen in Justice League #9.

Graves paid a visit to Colonel Trevor’s sister, Tracy, a single mother with two children.”  The unexpected drop-in occurred in Justice League #11.

Pages 4-5:  The Justice Leaguers are confronting the “souls” of those they are closest to, seemingly in an effort to “humanize” them.  Steve Trevor visits Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman see their parents, Tom Curry visits his son Aquaman, the Flash see his mother, Nora West, while Cyborg sees himself.  Yeah, he’s got it in his head that he’s partially dead.  Poor guy.

Green Lantern isn't falling for this; he sees through the deception and realizes that Martin Jordan hasn't returned for a father-son bonding moment with Hal.

And even though these “souls” are saying the right things – that they are proud of their loved ones, that they only want them to be happy – they are attempting to manipulate them into staying with them for the rest of their lives.  Not good.  So not good. 

Page 6:  “We can be together forever.”  See?  Not good at all.

As a side note…This issue required nine inkers and five colorists?  Really?  Honestly, I like Jim Lee’s artwork, but only when Scott Williams inks him, and with all of these multiple inker issues, the artwork really suffers, in my humble opinion. 

However, this week DC announced that Ivan Reis and Joe Prado will be the new art team for Justice League, and I could not be happier.  They make Aquaman make beautiful month after month, and I have wanted Reis to draw the League ever since he penciled their origin in 52 Week Fifty-One.  Thanks to Jim Lee for a good first year, but I am excited to see what Reis and Prado can do with this book.

Moving on…

Page 7:  “This is the only way we can be together.”  Man, those “souls” are really pushy, aren’t they?

Awwww, Superman's all protective of Wonder Woman.  You think he likes her?  You know, likes her likes her?

Page 8:  “But since the world now knows the truth – that you are as damaged as the rest of us – it’s time to be your supporter again.”  I know that I mentioned this before, but Graves’ motivation echoes that of Hunter Zolomon, a.k.a. Zoom, from the pre-Flashpoint DCU.  Zoom wanted to make Wally West, the Flash, experience great tragedy which would allow him to become a better hero. 


I am still curious as to how Graves learned everything about these heroes from their foes.  To my knowledge, Superman, Batman, Flash and Green Lantern all have “secret identities” that are still secret.  Did Graves study them for months and simply make leaps in logic, as in, deducing that only Bruce Wayne could be Batman?

As for the pains they have experienced…Superman’s adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, died before he came to Metropolis, Batman’s parents Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed in Crime Alley years ago, Flash’s mother Nora was killed under mysterious circumstances, Green Lantern’s father Martin died in a plane crash, Aquaman’s father Tom died of a heart attack after being attacked by Black Manta, and Cyborg was nearly killed by Parademons. 

“Except for Wonder Woman.  Daughter of the queen of the Amazons and of Zeus himself.”  Yeah, Zeus is Wonder Woman’s daddy, which you would have known if you regularly read Wonder Woman.

“She needed to experience a human loss.”  I would argue that the transformation of the entire Amazon race into snakes and Hippolyta into stone in Wonder Woman (New 52) #4 would be a loss of pretty epic proportions, but I guess Graves wants Wonder Woman to have a connection to humanity as well, which is where Steve Trevor comes into play.

Page 9:  “We’re going to destroy this temple and free these spirits.”  So is this Graves’ plan or did the Asuras somehow talk him into this wacky scheme?  Because, you know, it’s really doesn’t sound like a great idea.

“We’ll reunite everyone with the dead.”  Oh, yeah, that’s a healthy proposition.  Someone took his crazy pills this morning. 

Page 10:  

What?  Steve's not dead?  Really?  Phew.  Thank god I didn't send out a sympathy card yet.  Now that would be awkward...

Page 11:  “I managed to slip out of my restraints.”  Trevor escaped from captivity in Justice League #10, but his true fate remained unknown. 

Horrible when your crazy-ass plans don;'t turn out the way you like, isn't it Graves?

Pages 12-13:  “No one’s dying but you, Graves.”  There Wonder Woman goes again, swinging her sword around and talking about people dying.

“Pretas” are a type of supernatural being that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger or thirst.  Believed to have been jealous or greedy people in an earlier life, Pretas are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a substance or object.

Page 14:  

Aquaman's getting all hardcore with his trident again.  Such a show-off...

Page 16:  Wonder Woman talks a good game.  She’s been threatening to cut off Graves’ head for a while now, but when push comes to shove, does she?  No, and why?  Because he’s just a pathetic, crippled dying man?  Jeez, what a wuss of an Amazon she is…

(Diana?  I don't really think you're a wuss.  Really I don't.  No, no, it was just a joke.  Please don't chop off my head.  I was just kidding...)

Page 17:  “I miss them so muh-much.”  Note that this is something to which all of the Leaguers can relate.  They have all experienced loss in one form or another, and understand Graves’ feelings.

“Those things weren’t really your family.  But you already knew that, didn’t you Mr. Graves?  Deep down, you already knew.”  A rare show of tenderness and emotion from Batman.  Who knew?

Page 18:   

Well...Trevor's looked better...
You look fine.”  Liar.  He looks like he was run over by the Bat-mobile…Like repeatedly..

Page 19:  

Since Barbara Minerva, a.k.a. the Cheetah, is slated to appear in Justice League #13-14, I assume we will learn what Trevor is talking about here.

“Too close?  The only time I’ve seen you in over a year is on the computer.”  Trevor video-chatted with Wonder Woman and the rest of the League in Justice League #7.

“Because the League needs me!  I protect the League from all the red tape and fear mongering that festers in Washington!”  As seen in Justice League #7, Trevor runs interference for the League with the press and Congress, fostering the image that the Justice League are “the world’s greatest super-heroes” and are above reproach by anyone, even the government. 

“Just like I’ve protected you from it since the day you came here!”  As seen in Justice League #3, Trevor was Wonder Woman’s United States government liaison after she left Paradise Island

Page 20

Ow.  That's cold, Wonder Woman.  Really cold.  Why not just chop the poor guy's head off while you're at it?

Belle Reve Prison is located in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, and houses metahumans and other super villains.  It first appeared in Suicide Squad (New 52) #1; first historical appearance in Suicide Squad (first series) #1.  As you could probably deduce, it’s the base of operations for – say it with me – the Suicide Squad.

Page 21:  “And, like Graves, is the League responsible for the threats they’ve confronted over the years?”  This is a theory that has been debated for years; do super-heroes actually inspire their foes to rise up and battle them?  Would Gotham City have so many deranged lunatics threatening its populace if Batman weren’t there if the first place?  Are aliens attracted to Earth because groups like the Justice League exist to battle them?  Or do these heroes and teams emerge and form to fill a need?  In the New 52 DCU, where superhumans are new phenomena, these questions need to be asked.

“It’s time to be the team they thought we were instead of the team we’ve been these last five years.”  Throughout this arc, Aquaman has been the one most frequently questioning the other Leaguers and the team’s responsibilities to the world. 

“And I can lead us there.”  Aquaman has been setting himself up as leader of the team since Justice League #4.
I so want to see a flashback to this particular conversation, I really would.  And I don't think it's a stretch to assume that things between Batman and Aquaman will be pretty tense over the course of the next few months.

Page 22:  “You might be a great strategist, Batman, but you have no idea how to bring people together.”  Ah, and now the pissing match begins. 

“I know about the Others.  Your second team is in worse shape than us.”  The Others, seen in recent issues of Aquaman, were a team of heroes and adventurers that Aquaman operated with years ago.  I assumed that he worked with them before the Justice League, making them his first team, not his second team, but who am I to question Batman, you know?

“Do you know how long it took me to earn Central City’s trust?”  Well, Flash, you’re kind of in the dog-house with Central City again, as seen in recent issues of The Flash.

“Yes.  I was there.  And you wouldn’t stop complaining about it.”  Another upcoming untold tale perhaps?

The Justice League saved David Graves and his family from near-death in Justice League #6.

Page 23:  

Translation: Hal realizes that he's going to be very busy over the next few months participating in the  big "Rise of the Third Army" crossover raging across all of the Green Lantern titles, far too busy to hang out with the Justice League.

“I started the fight with Wonder Woman.  I was the problem.”  Actually, you tried to give Wonder Woman help and support.  She went crazy on you.  Now, you didn’t help matters by retaliating, but it seems like she was the one who initiated the attack.

“I don’t need to be accepted by the world.  Most of my work is off-planet anyway.”  An interesting idea, and one I never thought of before, but Green Lantern’s work should be mostly off-planet.  Sure, there are the occasional Earth-based menaces that he can confront, but he has a whole space sector to patrol; despite Earth being his home, it can’t be his only priority.

“You don’t, Lantern.”  Batman and Green Lantern, despite their differences, seem to have a strong bond, one going back to Justice League #5, when Batman revealed his secret identity to Green Lantern.

Page 24:  “Do we go after him?”  What?  And ruin his dramatic exit?  Have you no respect, Flash?
 
Page 26:  “When I first came here from Paradise Island, I was shocked to see that men and women weren’t at war like I’d grown up believing.”  This was hinted at in Justice League #9.

Also, the Amazons had a much harsher view of men than this.  As revealed in Wonder Woman (New 52) #7, the Amazons would give any male children born to them to Hephaestus, the god of the forge, in exchange for weapons.  This explains why there are no men of Paradise Island.  Creepy, hunh?

The irony is that the New 52 DCU Clark Kent really isn't that close to anyone.  The Kents are dead, and while he's friends with Jimmy Olsen, he and Lois Lane are not a couple, merely co-workers.  Clark doesn't have all that many close relationships and, as we have seen in recent issues, Superman isn't faring much better, unless you count afternoon day trips to Arkham Asylum with Batman.  

Page 27:  “So how close I am to anyone is debatable.” See?  Even Superman agrees with me.

"Them" meaning normal men and women.  So if, as Graves proved, the Justice Leaguers aren't gods, but they aren't like your average, everyday mortals wither, then they must be something new altogether, with their own challenges and responsibilities.  S\o, going forward, how do they tackle the unique experiences in their lives? 

Cue the Barry White...

Page 28:  Man, Trevor’s going to be pissed when he hears about this…
Oh, man, Trevor's gonna be pissed when he hears about this.

Those of you who read Justice League International Annual #1 know that Booster Gold was none to happy to learn that Superman and Wonder Woman were making out.  In fact, he was so upset by it that he seemingly vanished from reality.  Go figure.  

Page 29Amanda Waller, former member of Team 7, current head of the Suicide Squad.  First appeared in Suicide Squad (New 52) #1, first historical appearance in Legends #1.

“Finish the book for me, and I’ll take care of the rest.”  Seems that Waller wants to take down the Justice League, and will use Graves’ knowledge to do it.

Note that Graves' new book, The Villain's Journey, shares a title with this four-issue story arc.

Page 30:  Scenes from the second year of Justice League, as drawn by new artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado…

“It’s not just the Cheetah.  It’s who she’s working with.”  Cheetah is on tap for Justice League #13-14.  With whom is Cheetah working?  Any other high-profile super-villains?

“The Justice League may be the only ones who can stop Atlantis!”  This probably has something to do with an upcoming cross-over with Aquaman titled “Throne of Atlantis.”

“You aren’t so tough, Superman!”  So, Shazam is joining soon, and who can resist a good old-fashioned Superman-Shazam fight?

“It means, when the Justice League opened up the ranks, we brought in a traitor.”  Yay!  The League is expanding! 

Page 31:  And now a look at what is coming in 2013, courtesy of artist Davis Finch…

Let’s see, it involves Pandora, a box, super-heroes turning on one another, and a schism within the team.  Trinity War, anyone?

Pages 32-33:  A look at the new Justice League of America title, penciled by David Finch, featuring Vibe, Catwoman, Steve Trevor, the Martian Manhunter, Katana, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Stargirl, and new Green Lantern Simon Baz.  I assume that this is the team alluded to Green Arrow by Steve Trevor in Justice League #8.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

EARTH-2 #4

“A Confluence of Wonders”

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Nicola Scott & Eduardo Pansica
Inker: Trevor Scott & Sean Parsons
Colorist: Alex Sinclair & Tony Avina
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Pat McCallum

Synopsis

Hawkgirl and the Flash trace the source of the world’s corruption and decay even as the new Green Lantern races to Washington, D.C. to do battle with Grundy, the Gray Knight.  The three heroes battle the undead monster with little success, until Captain Al Pratt, the Atom, uses his size-changing abilities to seemingly subdue Grundy.   The Atom then restrains Hawkgirl and orders the new heroes to stand down on the order of the World Army Council, lest they want to deal with him…



Notes

Page 1:  This scene takes place five years ago, while Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were sacrificing their lives against the forces of Apokolips in Metropolis, as seen in Earth-2 #1.

Page 2:  “World Army brass thinks we might find Apokolips tech out here – it survives this – we can use it.  Reverse-engineer it.”  This would explain some of the advanced technology used on this Earth as seen in Earth-2 #2-3.

Page 3:


The nude guy is Al Pratt, last seen in Earth-2 #1.  He’s also the guy whose enormous head we saw on Page 1.  Last time we saw him, he was a sergeant, leading a squad of troops while lugging an atomic cannon into Papua New Guinea

In the present day, it seems that’s he’s been promoted to captain.  I guess that surviving an atomic weapon deserves a reward.

Page 4:  “Reports are scattered, but from what I can hear, it’s crazy down there – and not just D.C., world over – plants and tress withering, people dying, animals…”  Well, you see, the Earth has chosen a new champion of the Green, and then the Grey resurrected their own champion, and bas stuff started happening, all of which occurred in Earth-2 #3.

Page 5:  “Where is the champion, the might jade champion?!”  Yes, I know that “jade” is green, and that’s why Grundy uses that word, but note that, in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Jade, a.k.a. Jennifer-Lynn Hayden, was Alan Scott’s daughter.  At one point, Jade saved Solomon Grundy from a glacier and he became loyal to her for a time.  (Anyone remember Infinity, Inc.?  Anyone?  Anyone other than me?)

Page 6:

As I have noted before, Jay is not the sharpest tack in the box.

Page 7:  “Your body’s energy – insulating me somehow.”  Considering that Jay derives his power form a Greek and not from the Speed Force, I imagine that his powers will differ in many ways from those of Barry Allen.  You know, the other guy who runs fast.

Page 8:  “Almost enough to take my mind off what happened.  The crash.  Sam.”  Alan Scott’s lover, Sam, was killed in train explosion in Earth-2 #2.

Page 9:

You know, Grundy, you came all the way to Washington D.C., the least you could have done was brush your teeth and used some mouthwash, don't you think?

Page 10:

Jay, buddy, pal, you're doing great with the running.  The stopping?  Not so good...

Page 11:  “Sure I got its attention, saved those soldiers, but I have no idea how my weapons will be any more effective than the Army’s bullets.”  So where does Hawkgirl get her weapons and power from anyway?

Page 12:

Damn...that is one powerful crossbow.

Page 14:

Well it's about time Alan did something other than mope about his dead boyfriend.  I mean, really, he's been so moody lately...

Page 15:  “-- we ask is this the beginning of a new era of Wonders?”  Remember that, on Earth-2, super-heroes are called “Wonders.”  The first era ended with the deaths of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman during the Apokolips War five years ago.

“…this, after reports of a super-fast man saving a couple from an Apokorat attack.”  Jay saved that couple in Earth-2 #2.

“I couldn’t understand him, but I think he said his name was the Flash.”  Actually, Jay said, “Don’t worry I’ll have you out of danger in a flash!”  but since his voice was distorted, the poor guy misunderstood him. 

Page 16:  “Don’t stop, you hear me?  Do not stop!  Never back down!”  Green Lantern has quickly assumed a Superman-like role, becoming the de facto leader on this group of new heroes.

“Fortis et vigilare” roughly translates into something like “Be strong and vigilant.” 

Page 17:  “And…nothing.  My ring didn’t work.  Now what?”  Did Green Lantern’s ring fail to work because he was attempting to use it on Grundy himself?  Is his ring useless on plant life, just like the pre-Flashpoint Alan Scott’s ring was as well?

Page 18:


First appearance of the Atom of Earth-2.  First historical appearance in All-American Comics #19.  Real name Albert “Al” Pratt.  Possesses the ability to increase his size and generate atomic energy.

Note that this Atom possesses size-changing abilities, similar to Atom-Smasher, and his costume resembles Damage’s.  In the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, Albert Rothstein (Atom-Smasher) and Grant Emerson (Damage) were Al Pratt’s godson and son respectively. 

Well.  The Atom definitely knows how to make a first impression, doesn’t he?

Page 19:  “I’m not going back, Al!  Not alive, anyway!”  So, it seems our mysterious new Hawkgirl knows a certain Captain Pratt, now doesn’t she?

“Yeah, thing is Kendra, what you want isn’t really a factor in how this is going down.”  This is the first confirmation that Hawkgirl’s name is, in fact, Kendra.  Whether or not her last name is Saunders has yet to be revealed. 

Page 20:  So, was the Atom sent to take out not only Grundy but any super-powered individuals he came into contact with?  Does the World Army Council see any new “Wonders” as a threat to their power, as a certain Terry Sloan of New York City apparently does?