Sunday, August 4, 2013

JUSTICE LEAGUE #20

“Secrets”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Layouts:  Zandar Cannon
Pencillers: Gene Ha, Andres Guinaldo and Joe Prado
Inkers:  Gene Ha, Rob Hunter and Joe Prado
Colorist: Art Lyons and Hi-Fi
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

Despero tears into the Justice League Watchtower, confronting new recruits Firestorm Element Woman and the Atom.  The three are over matched by their alien foe, and only the timely intervention of the Martian Manhunter, who is able to shut down Despero's mind, saves the day.  Alerted by Cyborg that the Watchtower is crashing to Earth, Superman prevents further destruction by setting the wreckage down in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, but the Man of Steel is incapacitated by the Kryptonite ring.  Further analysis reveals that someone took a sliver of the rock from the ring.  Later, Batman reveals to Superman that he has hidden plans to take down and member of the Justice League, and that Superman is the key to stopping Wonder Woman, who has no weakness.  Batman also asks Superman to stop him, should he ever go out of control.  Later, the Atom arrives at A.R.G.U.S. headquarters where, as a member of the Justice League of America, she reveals to Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor everything she has learned about the Justice League while spying on them…

Notes

Page 1:  Big Belly Burger is a chain of fast-food restaurants within the DC Universe that first appeared in The Adventures of Superman #441.

“Since the accident, Emily’s been able to metamorphose herself into any element found in the human body.”  Element Woman’s origin has yet to be revealed, although I’d wager that it has something to do with the Orb of Ra, which someone, seemingly Graves, stole from the Black Room in Justice League #7.

Pages 2-3

This is all the new recruits need, some out-of-control alien implying that they don't measure up to the rest of the team.  It really wears on a hero sometimes, you know?

“They form the most dangerous super-human in the world.  That’s a secret.  I have a secret too.”  Great.  More secrets.  Just what the League needs.  I thought that we were getting beyond that, no?

Page 4:  “My name’s Emily, Firestorm, but I agree.”  Poor Element Woman.  She thought that Ronnie Raymond was calling her “Jason,” which is a strange name for a woman, when he was really chatting with Jason Rusch, the other half of Firestorm. 

“He was one of the first aliens the League ever took on.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Despero first appeared in Justice League of America (first series) #1, making him, after the Appallaxians, the first alien that the League ever faced.  In the New 52 DCU, he would probably be considered the first, given that Darkseid would be classified as more of an “extra-dimensional god” than “alien.”

I wonder if, when the Justice League first met him, he was as he appears now – big, hulking, and the fin on his head resembling a Mohawk – as opposed to how Despero first appeared historically—smaller, more cerebral, with the fin running from ear-to-ear.  Did he alter his body and mind as he did in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, or has he always appeared as he does now?

“And the last time they fought, they barely beat him – and that was when Martian Manhunter was on the team!”  The details of the Martian Manhunter's tenure – and departure – from the Justice League have yet to be revealed.

Page 6:  “Maybe I can get in his head and trigger an aneurysm.”  Anyone else having Identity Crisis flashbacks?  Rhonda, is your name really Jean Loring?

Page 8:  “You had a Kryptonite ring in the Batcave that was stolen?”  Yep.  You can read all about it in Justice League #19.

“By someone who obviously knows my identity, Diana.”  To be fair, Bruce, your secret identity is pretty much fair game to anyone who wants to know it.  I mean, I think the only one in the DCU who doesn't know that Bruce Wayne is Batman is Jim Gordon, which doesn't say much about Gotham’s police department…

“I gave it to him, Diana.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Lex Luthor procured Metallo's Kryptonite heart in Superman (second series) #2 and fashioned it into a ring to keep Superman at bay.  

Later, in Superman (second series) #44, Batman comes into possession of the ring, and keeps it on him the entire time he and Superman team-up on a case.  Remember this is back when the World’s Finest duo weren't on the best of terms, and didn't appear together on a monthly basis.  This was a big deal. 

After the case was over, Batman gave the ring to Superman, but the Man of Steel left it in the care of the Dark Knight Detective for safekeeping in Action Comics #654.

Who originally created the Kryptonite ring in the New 52 DCU, and how it came into Superman’s possession in the first place, has yet to be revealed. 

Sorry Diana, the rest of the League was already working on that when they had to take a break and  try to intervene in the potential international crisis that you and Superman triggered in Kahndaq.

Page 9:  

The Atom's reduced size gives her a bit of protection from Despero's telepathic abilities.

“It’s exactly what they keep telling me.  You say his name and he always shows up.”  Who is she calling?  Beetlejuice?

Page 10:  

Oh,. that's definitely not Beetlejuice.  So who are the ones telling the Atom about how if you say his name enough, he will show up?  Why would she ever need to do that?

I have to say, the Martian Manhunter is looking mighty bad-ass these days…

“Stay on Mars?  Your dead world has nothing to offer me, J'onn.”  Why did the Martian Manhunter trap Despero on Mars? 

Page 11:  So what is this “brother” connection between Despero and J’onn?  Is it because they are both aliens?  Or is there a deeper relationship between the two, something that we haven’t been made aware of yet?

Note that the S-shield icon is missing the small area of yellow on the left side.

So, why is J'onn on Earth?  What did he ask Despero to be a part of?  Is the persona of the Martian Manhunter as a hero and a member of the Justice League of America just an act on J'onn's part?  So many questions...

Page 12:  Ahhh!  Artistic shift!  Must adjust.

Seriously, I hate the fact that Ivan Reis has skipped two issues, but Jesus Saiz work on issue #18 was solid.  And Gene Ha’s pencils are nice, but the shift from his work to Andres Guinaldo is just too jarring for my tastes. 

Page 13:  “You mistake me for someone sentimental.”  No more Mister Nice-Martian…

Page 14:  The breaking of Despero's mind by the Martian Manhunter reminds me of when, in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, J'onn used the gift of the Mayavana on a rampaging Despero in Justice League America #40. 

Called “the sacred treasure…the great gift,” Mayavana was the Martian’s ability to reach into another consciousness and create a reality to give another what they most want.  In this case, J'onn led Despero to believe that he had killed the Justice League and destroyed the Earth. 

The difference between that situation and this one is that, due to the strain on the mind and the soul of the during a experience, a Martian could only employed once a lifetime.  Thus, it was usually saved for those that they loved; J'onn used it so that those he loved, the Justice League, could live.

Now?  J'onn’s all hardcore bad-ass and just wants to shut Despero's mind down. 

I love it when I can dig into my long boxes to look up all of these old issues.

Page 15:  “Tell no one I was here.”  I am still wondering what the conflict between the Justice League and the Martian Manhunter is all about. 

Page 17:   Happy Harbor, Rhode Island was, in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, the site of the Secret Sanctuary, the first headquarters of the Justice League of America, which debuted in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #28.

“…in hopes of finding a cure for Superman.”  Really, Batman?  Is that the best excuse you can come up with?  

Oh, you two, trying to be helpful.  The problem is, you just never know what someone will ask you to do, somewhere down the line...

“Someone carved out a tiny sliver from the Kryptonite.”  Who would do such a thing?  And should we expect some sort of microscopic Kryptonite attack on Superman sometime in the near future?

Page 18:  “The maze of lead pipes in the walls aren't functional, are they?”  The lead protects Batman’s work from Superman’s prying eyes.

“And I assume the file cabinets are to keep Vic out?”  Cyborg can access any computer system in the world, so going old school to protect your data from him, as Waller and Trevor did in Justice League of America (New 52) #1 did, makes sense. 

As I noted before, we have yet to see the circumstances that prompted Superman to hand over the Kryptonite ring to Batman in the New 52 DCU.  Perhaps in an upcoming issue of Batman/Superman?

As hinted at in Justice League #19, Batman has worked on protocols to defeat each member of the Justice League, which hearkens back to the “Tower of Babel” story line in JLA #43-46, in which Ra’s al Ghul got his hand on Batman’s plans and attacked the JLA with them. 

Page 19:  Wonder Woman doesn't have a weakness that Batman can exploit, which is why he’s relying on Superman to take her down should she ever lose control, but Superman and Wonder Woman in a relationship complicates this plan.

Since no one else will prepare to take down their fellow heroes, Batman has to be the pragmatic one and think ahead.

Page 20

So, the question is...what's in Bruce's box?

Page 22:  So, it turns out that the Atom’s secret is that she’s the traitor within the Justice League, the one hinted at back in Justice League #12. 

She’s also a member of the Justice League of America, which is how she knew how to “call” the Martian Manhunter for assistance. 

The hacking of the League’s computers took place in Justice League #18.
 
As revealed in Justice League of America (New 52) #1, Waller and Trevor chose the members of the JLA for their ability to counter the members of the Justice League.  It turns out that the Atom is there to take down Element Woman.  

So who will be recruited to counter Firestorm?  And how will all of this blow up in the Atom’s face?


“Shazam!”

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

Synopsis

Black Adam reveals to Billy that he murdered his nephew Aman so that he and he alone could possess the power of the living lightning and, in turn, free Kahndaq from Ibac.  As Adam prepares to kill Billy so that he can reclaim the entirety of the power, Mary, Freddy and the rest of Billy’s foster siblings crash a truck into Adam, stunning the villain.  Billy transforms into Shazam, ready to confront his foe, but Black Adam is one step ahead of him, holding Billy’s loved ones hostage in exchange for the power…

Notes

Page 24:  “Each member of the Council chose someone to be their champion – he was to be the Wizard’s.”  Who were the champions of these other Council members?

“Your power may flow through family, Aman."  Keep this in mind.  It becomes important later on.

It turns out that, as in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, the Wizard's name was Shazam all along.  

Page 25:  Aman sees that the power of the living lightning is all about hope and magic, not revenge, like his uncle believes. 

Page 26:

Adam?  As in...Black Adam?  No...who saw that coming?

Page 27:  “We can save them just as we are saved.”  Poor, silly Aman, wanting to save and redeem Ibac as opposed to simply killing him. 

 Page 28:


I love these kids.  I'll take them over Uncle Dudley and the Lieutenant Marvels any day of the week...

“My nephew’s sacrifice allowed me to free Kahndaq.”  You mean your nephew’s murder at your hands, don’t you Adam?

Page 30:  

Well now, at least things can't get much worse, now can they?


Monday, June 24, 2013

JUSTICE LEAGUE #19

“War Games”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado, Oclair Albert and Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

A mysterious intruder breaks into the Batcave, incapacitating the Red Hood and Alfred, and proceeding to steal something glowing and green that Batman has hidden in a secret room.  While Batman, Cyborg and Aquaman look for clues, they learn that Superman and Wonder Woman are in Khandaq, rescuing a group of hostages from the so-called Sons of Adam and going against government sanctions.  Batman later confronts the duo and reveals that he knows that they have been romantically involved.  He tells them about the break-in at the Batcave, informing them that something was stolen, something that could be used against the Man of Steel.  Meanwhile, Firestorm and the Atom are in the midst of a tour of the Watchtower when an enraged Despero, wearing a Kryptonite ring, drops by for a visit…

Notes

Page 1:  The Red Hood, real name Jason Peter Todd.  First appeared in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1.  First historical appearance (as Jason Todd) in Batman #357, (as Robin II) in Batman #366, and (as the Red Hood) in Batman #635.  An excellent acrobat and deadly hand-to-hand combatant with access to high-caliber weaponry. 

Since Jason seems to recognize Alfred, Bruce and others, this issue must take place before the events of Red Hood and the Outlaws #19, in which he has his memories taken from him so that he can forget the recent traumas in his life. 

“He didn't like it when I put your uniform up either, Jason, but I don’t want him to simply bury the pain and shit himself off from everyone.”  After the events of “A Death in the Family,” as seen in Batman #426-429, in which the Joker killed Jason Todd.  But, don’t worry, he got better.

As a side note, I really love writing about issues of Batman, mainly because that was one series that I need to reference.  No reboots, no title changes, no wacky re-numbering.  I swear, writing about the various Firestorm titles gives me a headache…

“Damian died, Alfred.  Batman’s son died.”  As seen in Batman, Incorporated #8.

Is Jason offering Alfred a cup of tea because the butler's British?  Because, I'll have you know, I love a nice cup of tea, and I'm an American, gosh darn it...

 Page 2:  


At first, I thought that this guy was the Operator.  You know, a member of the Others?  That group that Aquaman was a part of?  But then I realized that this was a ridiculous notion, so I got to thinking that the suit kind of resembled the one that Bruce Wayne wore after he came back from the dead and spied on all of his allies and called himself the Insider for no discernible reason. 

As to who this is…I don’t have a clue.  Sorry.

“I would hope so.”  Whoever he is, he’s got a whole world of hurt coming to him. 








Page 3:  Our mystery man somehow has fingerprint access to the Batcave, which is definitely not a good sign.


Seen here in the Batcave's little museum are:

1. A Matches Malone disguise; Matches is the identity that Batman uses to infiltrate Gotham City’s underworld and get information.

2. The Crab-Tank, a trophy from Batman's epic battle with the Crustacean Man back in the fondly-remembered yet rarely spoken about Batman versus the Crustacean Man 80-Page Giant from 1967, a favorite of Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek alike.

None of that preceding sentence was true.  Honestly, I have no idea what that is.  Sorry.  Got nothing.

3.  What look like a Tumbler and the Batpod, the “Batmobile” and Batcycle” of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.

4.  This sort-of resembles the armor that Jean-Paul Valley used back when he donned the mantle of the Bat and went all crazy as Az-Bats back in “Knightquest” and “Knightfall,” but since I imagine those stories never happened in the New 52 DCU, that probably isn't what this is. 

5.  Ah-ha!  Something I recognize!  Batman used this armor in Batman (New 52) #8-9 to fend off an attack by the Talons in the “Night of the Owls” story line. 

Page 4:

Hey, look, Brother I schematics!  Because nothing could possibly go wrong when you build a satellite to monitor the world's superhuman population.

How is this guy able to fake a retina scan as well?  Is this possibly Clayface, who was most recently seen in Batman (New 52) #19-20, sporting some enhanced abilities?

It's nice that Batman makes shiny metal suitcases with all of his teammates' logos on them.  It shows that he cares.

Oooooh, I wonder what glowing green thing can be in Superman’s case?

Page 5:

Armor-clad gorillas riding on the backs of snarling warthogs will never go out of style, if you ask me.  

Pages 6-7:
  
Rhonda is looking positively "Sword of the Atom," now isn't she?

Page 8:  As we find out here, Rhonda is in an online game.  Glad to see that she is learning to balance her gaming with the life of a super-hero.

Like any good gamer, Rhonda is in no hurry to part with her hard-earned possessions, no matter who might need them.

Page 9:  So, I’m no rocket scientist, but how exactly does she shrink down and transform her body into digital information so that she can actually become part of that game?  Or am I just over thinking this a little too much?

“Guild Battles off-line.”  The game is called “Guild Battles;" the Atom’s line from Aquaman (New 52) #16, “”Why did I leave my guild for this?” makes a whole lot more sense.

Page 10:

I think that's it's great that we, as a reader, get to see Firestorm as others do, not with Jason Rusch's invisible, floating head chatting with Ronnie, but with Firestorm talking to himself like he's a deranged lunatic.  
“I thought Superman never forgot anything.  Isn't that one of his super-powers?”  Note that in the New 52 DCU, every last minute detail about our heroes isn't known by the general public, so the idea that Superman has “super-memory” isn't all that ridiculous. 
 
Page 11:  Khandaq is the home nation of Black Adam, currently seen in the “Shazam!” back-up feature. 

The “Sons of Adam” seem to be using Black Adam’s name as a rallying point in their mission.  I would assume that this takes place after the conclusion of the “Shazam!” story in the upcoming Justice League #21.

Page 12:

In this panel, Superman reminds me of someone, an actor, I think he's British, Henry something, Henry Cayamn, Henry Cahill, Henry, what is that name...oh that's right, Cavill, Henry Cavill is his name... 

Page 13:  “I’m just glad you’re both okay.”  Is this a kinder, gentler Bruce we’re seeing here?  Hold on, where’d the “Dark Knight” run off to?

Translation:  This is Justice League, not Red Hood and the Outlaws.  You made your obligatory appearance now go away.

Page 14:  I know that it’s his “thing” and all, but did Aquaman really need to bring his trident?  Does he have to carry it around all the time?  It’s like he’s bragging to everyone that he’s a king or something…

As much as I like the fact that everyone in the League knows everyone else’s secret identities, I would have liked to have seen when this happened.  During the “The Villain’s Journey” story line, everyone was at odds with one another over the secrets they were keeping from one another, which prompted the team to open up presumably.  I would have just liked to have seen this happen, like how everyone reacts to the revelation that Bruce Wayne is Batman, or that Clark Kent is Superman, etc, etc.  Mark Waid did a wonderful job of this back in JLA #50, for those of you with memories as long as mine.

Page 15:

This conversation begs the question -- what is the Justice League's purpose in the world?  More appropriately, how does the common man in the DCU view the team as opposed to how the team views itself?

Superman wants to use his powers to inspire, while Wonder Woman feels that they have a responsibility to intervene when necessary; a difference in opinion that, I imagine, will come to a head at some point.

Page 16:    

The Trinity of the DCU in opposition...remember the last time this happened?  It was in Infinite Crisis #1, written by some guy named Geoff Johns.  
“Cyborg.  He has a new silent mode is his recent upgrade.”  Cyborg got this upgrade in Justice League #16.

“Instead we've got the Justice League once again caught in the public eye in a bad way.”  Between the Green Lantern-Wonder Woman brawl in Justice League #11 and the Atlanteans attacking the surface world in Justice League #15-17 and Aquaman (New 52) #15-16, the League has had a rough few weeks.

I find it interesting to see that, in the New 52 DCU, Batman is so invested in how the world perceives the Justice League.  Traditionally, he couldn't care less about public approval, but, as we saw in Justice League #6, being a member of the team got the Gotham City Police Department off his back.  The League does benefit from his involvement, but he also gets something in return from being a member. 

Page 17:  “You cannot do this to us.”  Continuing with this line of thought, Batman is very protective of the League and what it represents.  He won’t let anyone, not even two of the most powerful people in the world, ruin it. 

We all saw this "connection" back in Justice League #12.

Page 18:  “You’re the two most powerful beings on Earth.  They’re going to be gunning for you.”  They already are.  Amanda Waller has already chatted with Steve Trevor about this dangerous power couple in Justice League of America (New 52) #1.

“What’s in the Batcave that can hurt Clark?”  Uh, three guess, Diana.  And the first two don’t count…

Page 20:



First appearance of Despero.  First historical appearance in Justice League of America (first series) #1.  Possesses superhuman strength, stamina, endurance, and a third eye capable of mind control, illusions, telekinesis and telepathy. 

Say, is that a Kryptonite ring on Despero's finger?  I wonder where in the world he could have gotten that from?














“Shazam!”

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

Synopsis

While Black Adam and the Seven Deadly Sins rampage in the streets of Philadelphia, Billy Batson and his foster siblings attempt to locate the Rock of Eternity.  Francesca reveals to Billy that he is connected by Black Adam through the power of the living lightning, and begins to tell him about how Adam came into possession of its power.  Billy feels a kinship with Adam, believing that they are both children forced into the role of champion, so he rushes off to confront the villains, only to find the situation is not as he thought it was…

Notes

Page 21:

You know, Eugene, the "other Shazam person" has a name, you know.  And, if he actually had feelings, you might hurt them by not using it...

Page 22:  “First you’re in a mirror and now you’re in an iPad?”  Francesca first spoke to Billy from a mirror in the Rock of Eternity in Justice League #0.

Page 23:

Oh good, the Seven Deadly Sins are here.  It's not like Black Adam wasn't doing enough damage on his own...

“You and Black Adam are the last two beings of the six magic realms to possess the magic of the living lightning.”  So, what are these six magic realms that Francesca’s talking about?

“You are connected as family now.”  While I understand that the living lightning now binds Black Adam and Billy as family, but I wonder if it will also give Billy the opportunity to find his parents?  And any other siblings that he might have?

What is Mary's connection to the world of magic that she is able to hear Francesca?  Is she, as she was in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, really Billy's long-lost sister?

Page 24:  “If I recall, and I usually do, the Wizard said the potential was within you, Billy Batson.  You convinced him of that.”  All of this in Justice League #0. 

“You are fallible, Billy Batson.  We all are.  How do you think I ended up the face of the Wonderlands?”  What are the Wonderlands and what did Francesca do to result in her current state?

“Even if he were still alive, once the Wizard bestows the connection to the living lightning it cannot be severed.”  Well, there must be some way to sever that connection, don’t you think?

Page 25:  “And what you see is the ancient world.  The country of Khandaq – birthplace of the living lightning and the Wizard who bestowed your powers upon you.”  As seen in DC Comics -- The New 52 FCBD Special Edition #1, the Circle of Eternity, that group of mystics of which the Wizard was a member, was a diverse, multi-cultural group, so it only makes sense that the Wizard was not, as traditionally depicted, Caucasian.  Interesting to see that this “living lighting” is from the Middle East as well, an area often called the cradle of civilization.

In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Ibac was Stanley “Stinky” Printwhistle, a frail, grey-haired criminal who, when he spoke the name “IBAC,” received superhuman stamina, strength, invulnerability and cruelty from Ivan the Terrible, Cesare Borgia, Attila the Hun and Caligula.  Now, he’s an ancient bad-ass barbarian who leads an army that invented evil. 

Page 26:  

Is this kid supposed to be the New 52 DCU version of Amon Tomaz, who was granted a portion of Black Adam's power in 52 so that he could become Osiris?
If so, then please, please, please let him die a slow and agonizing death.  Osiris was so damn annoying…

Page 27:

Oh, Billy, if only you weren't so headstrong and impetuous and you had just skipped ahead to the next chapter...

Page 28:  It’s admirable, Billy attempting to establish an emotional connection with Black Adam to get him to stop his rampage.  Unfortunately, it’s also the exact wrong thing to do, apparently…

Saturday, May 25, 2013

JUSTICE LEAGUE #18

“The Grid”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

The Justice League has voted to expand, which means that it’s membership drive time!  The League invites several heroes to the Watchtower to assess who would be a best fit for the team, but not everyone is open to becoming a member.  The festivities are interrupted by an out-of-control Platinum, whose rampage is stopped by Firestorm and the new Atom.  In the end, these two heroes, along with Element Woman, join the League, but the team is soon alerted to a new threat – someone has hacked their sophisticated computer system and stolen all of their case files from the past five years…




Notes

Page 1:  Meet Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond, the two high school students who merge to form Firestorm. 

“If we’re going to get into the same college so we can keep up our career as Firestorm, you need to get your grades up.”  The odds of Jason and Ronnie being accepted to the same school are slim to none; Jason is brilliants, while Ronnie is more concerned with scoring touchdowns than studying for tests.  Not to say that Ronnie’s dumb, it’s more like he doesn't “apply himself.”

And presumably, Ronnie and Jason need to be within close proximity of one another to form Firestorm. 

“You know Blythe Bonner, right?”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Blythe Bonner, along with her brother Barney, gained superhuman abilities after a childhood accident.  Barney and Blythe, known as Bug and Byte, went on to battle Firestorm.  Blythe first appeared in The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man #23. 

Page 2:  First appearance of Copperhead.  Real name unknown.  Historical first appearance in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #78.  A deadly humanoid snake with serpentine skin and tail and capable of secreting deadly poison. 

I have a strange love for Copperhead; he’s one of my all-time favorite random villains.  He’s no Lex Luthor or Joker; he’s positively C-rate at best, but he’s a great rank-and-file bad guy. 

“Was that you, Batgirl?”  Black Canary’s on com with Batgirl, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon.  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, she previously worked with Gordon as well, although then she was known as Oracle.

Page 3:  

You gotta love Zatanna; super-hero and performer in one.

“What do you expect, John?”  “John,” of course, refers to John Constantine, mystic and con-man who appears in Constantine and Justice League Dark

“You tell me the Justice League Dark – well, that’s what they call us – you tell me that this team, excuse me, your team, no longer requires my services without any explanation.”   Is this comment about “without any explanation” by Zatanna a meta-textual reference t the fact that this hasn't been acknowledged in the pages of Justice League Dark yet?  Zatanna last appeared in Justice League Dark #18 as a member of the team, but as of issue #19, she’s gone without a discussion of her absence.  Is this scene as much of an explanation as we are going to get?  We don’t even get to see her “firing” on panel?

Pages 4-5:  “We’re going to need more chairs.”  I think the room can accommodate them, Flash. 

I love the roll call vignettes on the left-hand side of the page. 

Page 6:  “That depends on how big we think the League needs to be.”  The League decided in Justice League #17 that it needed to expand. 

“And that depends on what we go up against, be it the Cheetah or Atlantis.”  The Justice League fought the Cheetah in Justice League #13-14, and dealt with a war with Atlantis in Justice League #15-17 and Aquaman (New 52) #15-16.  As time goes on, the League has begun to deal with bigger and more dangerous threats that require a stronger team. 

“We all have our own commitments so I suggest we find some new members who are willing to dedicate to the League full-time.”  Translation – the League needs some members who don’t appear in ten titles a month, that’s right Batman, I’m looking at you…

The New 52 DCU Flash may be Barry Allen, but he's got some of Wally West's smart-alack behavior going for him.

 “You’re the only voices I hear.”  Sorry, the English major in me is saying that this sentence should probably be “Yours are the only voices I hear.” 

“I call it the Grid.”  This is how Cyborg contacted the Justice League Reserves in Justice League #16. 

Page 7:  “I’d trade a city full of gorillas for a beach full of Atlanteans any day of the week.”  The Flash had his hands full dealing with Grodd and his soldiers invading Central City in The Flash (New 52) #13-17.

Aquaman's been busy lately, what with assuming the Atlantean throne is Justice League #17.  

Also…it looks like Aquaman broke out his fancy new green collar, that he wears for Justice League meetings and membership drives.

“Someone can always look innocent or guilty on paper, but you don’t really know what kind of person anyone is until you look them in the eyes.”  I know that this is the police officer in the Flash speaking, but I can’t help but think that it’s a dig at Batman whose eyes you can’t ever see, what with those white slits in his mask and all.  

"It'll be fun."  Not sure if Batman agrees with you, Flash...

Pages 8-9:  More vignettes…  gotta love it.

Black Canary, Black Lightning, Element Woman, Firestorm, Vixen and Zatanna all joined with the League to battle the Atlanteans in Aquaman (New 52) #16 and Justice League #17.  Goldrush was contacted by Cyborg but never joined in on the fun.  As for the rest…

Blue Devil, real name Daniel Patrick Cassidy.  First appeared in DC Universe Presents #13.  Historical first appearance in The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man #24.  Wears a suit of demon skin that enhances his strength and speed; also wields a powerful trident. 

Nightwing, real name Richard “Dick” Grayson.  Formerly known as Robin.  First appeared in Batman (New 52) #1.  Historical first appearance in Detective Comics #38 (as Robin) and in Tales of the Teen Titans #43 (as Nightwing).  Unparalleled acrobat, martial artist and detective. 


First appearance of Platinum of the Metal Men, also known as “Tina.”  Historical first appearance in Showcase #37.  An artificially-intelligent robot powered by the Will Magnus-designed responsometer, able to stretch, flatten or spin into long filaments. 

“He was ridiculous, wasn't he, Aquaman?  ‘The Flying Fish!’”  Is this a reference to the  Human Flying Fish, an old Aquaman foe?  He was the height of ridiculousness.  He A,k,a, Vic Bragg, he first appeared in Adventure Comics # 272.  A swimming champion before turning to a life of crime, he received surgery to become amphibious, and wore a suit that allowed him to fly.  


Unfortunately for him, said suit featured white and purple vertical stripes; never a good fashion statement.  He later appeared in several issues of Super Friends, which was pretty much the highlight of his career.

“Ha.  Guess you had to be there.”  Blue Devil really, really wants to fit in…

“It’s a really generous offer, Batman, but I already work with a partner – Blue Devil.”   Black Lightning and Blue Devil became a crime-fighting team in DC Universe Presents #13-16.

Because no one else can see Jason when he and Ronnie are merged as Firestorm, it looks like old Flame-top is a little bit crazy, what with the constant talking to himself. 

“Perfectly.  We’re totally in synch.  Yeah, right, sure you are…

“Until Hawkman shows up.”  What’s up with the Hawkman hate, Black Canary? 

“How did you get your powers?  I won mine in my second divorce.”  Pretty sure that’s too much information for the Flash to deal with. 

Page 10:  The existence of Will Magnus’ Project: Metal Men has been hinted at in previous issues, most recently in Justice League #16. 

In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Zatanna's search for her missing father Zatara eventually led her to join the JLA.  

“Leave the big picture to the League.”  For now, Black Lightning wants to focus on fighting crime on the local level.  Am I correct in thinking that this was his motivation for turning down JLA membership back in Justice League of America (first series) #173 in the pre-Flashpoint DCU?

“I only came because I thought it was an emergency.”  Nightwing – along with the rest of the Bat-family – is still pissed-off at Batman after the events on Batman (New 52) #17, the final chapter of “Death of the Family,” in which it was hinted that the Joker may, in fact, know that Bruce Wayne is Batman.  Bruce, however, didn't feel the need to tell the rest of the family this.  Hurt feelings abound

“Aquaman, do you hear that?  A faint heartbeat.  A small one.”  Hmm, I wonder who that could be…

Page 11:  

Poor Barry; Goldrush is far more forward a woman than he is used to.

“She operates out of Dallas, Flash, and was responsible for stopping Brimstone from incinerating the entire city.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Brimstone was an artificial construct created by Darkseid in Legends #1.  It was a techno-seed that animated super-heated plasma.  Whether or not the New 52 Brimstone is a similar creature or something else entirely remains to be seen. 

Is this a reference to Rex Mason, the man formerly (in the pre-Flashpoint DCU) known as Metamorpho, the Element Man?

There’s something really…off about Element Woman, isn't there?

“I don’t want to be a soldier.”  Seems like Platinum is rebelling against her programming.

Page 12:  “What have you done with Will?”  That would be Dr. Will Magnus, the creator of the Metal Men.  She has a bit of a crush on him. 

Note how Goldrush's metallic skin vanishes as she falls unconscious.

Page 13:  “Her body is made up of solid platinum that’s being controlled and manipulated by her responsometer.”  Created by Will Magnus, a responsometer, when placed inside a volume of pure metal, will animate the material and develop an artificial brain capable of independent thought. 

Page 14:  

Note that we, the readers, can only see Jason's invisible, floating head when Firestorm is off on his own.  

“One hundred percent!”  You have got to give Ronnie props for being confident.

Page 16:  


The Atom , real name Rhonda Pineda.  First appeared in DC Comics – The New 52 FCBD Special Edition #1.  Earliest chronological appearance, albeit in shadows, in Aquaman (New 52) #16.  This is her first time we get a good look at her.  Able to shrink to microscopic size.

I love the new Atom costume; the pouches and goggles are cool in that practical, scientific sense. 

So…haven’t I been talking about a female Atom for about a year now?  Okay, okay, I thought her name would be “Ryan Choi,” and I didn't know that she’d be Latina, but I was close, right?

Page 17:  “Something shut down one of Atlantis’ bombs in Boston, Flash.”  As seen in Justice League #17. 

“I tracked her down at Ivy University.”  Does Ray Palmer still teach there, or it is Ryan Choi?  And what happened to Palmer after the events of Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8?

“There’s not a whole lot of experience with these three, but they’re ready to commit to the League full time.”  Which means that none of them currently has an ongoing monthly series.  Whoops, sorry Firestorm, but you got cancelled…

Page 18:  So who hacked the League?  What were the hackers looking for?  And did any of the new applicants have anything to do with this?


“Shazam!”

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

Synopsis

As Black Adam rampages through Philadelphia, Freddy tells his foster brothers and sisters about how Billy is really the hero known as Shazam.  They rack Billy down at the zoo where they eventually convince him to step up and take responsibility for what is happening.  They venture towards the subway station so that he can confront the Wizard and tell him to give the powers to someone else, while Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins reunite with Black Adam…

Notes

Page 19

Shazam did a number on Bryer's car in Justice League #0.

“Billy’s not here.  He hasn't been here since yesterday.”  Since he ran away from the Vasquez’s home in Justice League #1.

Note that Freddy is watching Miracle on 34th Street on TV, a particularly apt movie to be watching.  Not just because it's Christmas time in the DCU, but because it's a tale about wishing and believing.

Page 20:  “Did you threaten Billy again?”  The very-adult Mr. Bryer threatened the teen-aged Billy in Justice League #9.  Give that man a Parent of the Year award already…

“I will make sure he’s locked up in Badview State Prison!”  Could “Badview” be the name of anything other than a prison?  I mean, really…

Page 22:  

Enter, stage right...Black Adam in all his cranky glory.

Page 23:  “—evacuating Market Street!”  Market Street is a major east-west street in Philadelphia, and his home to several major historic sights on its eastern section, including Independence National Historic Park, home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center.

“Several crimes across Philadelphia, including a bank robbery by the infamous Animal Cracker Gang, were stopped by a mysterious new hero today calling himself Shazam!”  This all took place in Justice League #15.

Page 24:  

A simple little recap of the events of Justice League #0.

The photo of Shazam and Freddy that Eugene is looking at on his tablet was taken in Justice League #15.

“I’m telling the truth, Eugene.”  Seems like Freddy is a bit of a compulsive liar, so no one really thinks to take this new story seriously.

Page 25:  We first saw Billy sneak off to the zoo and chat with Tawny in Justice League #10.  Freddy followed him there, which is why he figured that he would be there now. 

Really?  The Goonies?  Billy's referencing The Goonies?  What next?  They going to go home and watch The Cosby Show?  And listen to Wham! on their Walkmans?  Man, way to take me back to the eighties...which were thirty years ago.

“You turned back to you.  You said you never would again, but --”  In Justice League #15, Billy told Freddy that he wouldnt ever transform back into a teenager again, prompting a fight between the two of them.  But circumstances – like a certain crazy Egyptian guy who wants to steal his powers – forced Billy to reevaluate things. 

Page 26:  

No, he's not.  And Darla's just the kick in the ass that Billy needs to see that he must to the right thing.

Page 27:   “I’m not supposed to be Shazam, Freddy.  The Wizard said so himself.”  That was in Justice League #0.  But the funny thing about Wizards...they’re not always right, you know. 


Page 28:  

Oh good.  This should end well...