Wednesday, February 13, 2013

JUSTICE LEAGUE #15

“Throne of Atlantis” Chapter One

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

In the middle of the Atlantis Ocean, the U.S.S. Mabus accidentally launches several nuclear warheads that target Atlantis.  Aquaman travels to Gotham City to ask for help from Batman; it seems that Aquaman suspects that the Trench have returned, and he might need the assistance of the League.  Meanwhile, Clark Kent and Diana’s date is interrupted by a tidal wave crashing into Metropolis, with the U.S.S. Mabus being swept into the city.  Superman and Wonder Woman do what they can to rescue the city, and gain some assistance from Vulko, an Atlantean who needs to speak to Aquaman .  With both Boston and Metropolis floods, Gotham City is next.  Aquaman recognizes the tactic as the Atlantean War Protocols that he came up with to one day attack the surface world…

Notes

Page 1:  

Ooooo...pretty fish.

Page 2:  Generally, an aircraft carrier losing control of their nuclear warheads is not a good thing…

Page 3:  “This has to be a malfunction.  There’s nothing down there!”  I think that the Atlanteans would argue with you on that particular point.

Damn.  That is one big honking seahorse...

Page 4:  In Justice League #14, Clark brought Diana to Smallville in an effort to show her what it is that he fights for.  Personally, I think it was just a really smooth pick-up line that happened to work, given the fact that it seems like this was an “overnight date.”

“So I came up with the idea of a dual identity.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, Clark had the help of Jonathan and Martha Kent to do this, as seen in multiple versions of his origins, such as The Man of Steel, Superman: Birthright and Superman: Secret Origin.  However, in the New 52 DCU, the Kent's’ deaths force Clark to come up with his alternate identity on his own, thus without the benefit of Martha’s sewing skills. 

“I thought about wearing a mask like Bruce does.”  Until this point, I was unsure if Batman had revealed his identity to the rest of the Justice League.  “The Villain’s Journey,” in Justice League #9-12, would indicate that he hadn’t, because the story reinforced the idea that the Leaguers were keeping too many secrets from one another.  For example, it was pointed out that no one seemed to know anything about Superman at all, with the exception of Batman.

However, Batman did unmask in front of Green Lantern back in Justice League #5, and Hal would, in my mind, be the worst person to reveal your identity to.  So Bruce must have unmasked to everyone else at some point in the League’s history.  Clark, however, has still kept his private life close to the vest.

This has long been Clark's rationale for not wearing a mask; unlike Bruce, he wants to inspire trust, and a mask will only make others think that he has something to hide.

“You have to be kidding me.”  Diana’s reaction is only natural; how can someone hide their identity from the world with a simple pair of glasses? 

Compare this to the scene at the end of Infinite Crisis #7, in which Diana tells Clark and Bruce that she longs to reconnect with her human side.  Clark, with a tip of his glasses, says, “I can suggest a way to clear your perspective.”  One year later, post-52, a glasses-wearing Diana Prince serves as Wonder Woman’s secret identity.

Page 5:  “His daughter is stationed on the U.S.S. Mabus.”  So, according to the writings of Nostradamus, the death of someone known as “Mabus” will herald some sort of cataclysmic event, involving vengeance, hunger, and maybe a comet.  No one seems to know who this “Mabus” is, but there are some wonderfully fun theories…President Barack Obama, both former Presidents Bush, and Osama bin Laden are popular ones.  Could Johns be commenting on the fact that this aircraft carrier inadvertently causes a cataclysm in the DCU?

It could have also been named after Ray Mabus, the United States Secretary of the Navy, but I think that the first theory is so much more fun, don’t you?

This scene is a perfect example of Victor’s current relationship with Silas…it’s all work, without any personal connection.  Silas, actually, is making much more of an effort to reach out than Victor is. 

“There’s nothing a parents cares more about than their child.”  Which explains why Silas transformed Victor into a cyborg in the first place; he didn't want to lose him, and would do anything in his power to save him. 

Page 6:  “You should've thought about that before you agreed to testify against Professor Crane.”  Crane is, of course, the Scarecrow, who was referenced in Justice League #10 as one of the villains that Graves attacked and interrogated about the Justice League.  Scarecrow has also appeared in recent issues of Batman: The Dark Knight

The young girl in the boat whom the Scarecrow’s goons have abducted was kidnapped by the Scarecrow.  Batman rescued her in Batman: The Dark Knight #14.

I love Gotham City criminals...they know how to accessorize.

“And I’ll call your father and tell him you’re all right.”  I like this relationship that Batman seems to have with Cyborg.  Assuming that Victor is around the same age as Dick Grayson, Bruce would have something of a big brother/paternal attitude towards Cyborg.  He also sees that Victor and Silas don’t have the best relationship right now, but Bruce is, of course, incredibly aware about how devastating it is to lose a parent.  Seeing all of this, it’s only natural for him to try to keep those lines of communication between the Stone men open. 

“You don’t need to do that.”  Yeah, like Batman’s going to listen…

Page 7:  So, lots of nice panels on this page…

Oh, yeah, time to comment on the new artist.  So, I’ve been a huge fan of Ivan Reis’ work for years, ever since his DC debut back in Action Comics, continuing through The Rann-Thanagar War, Green Lantern, Blackest Night and to his most recent work on Aquaman..  And, ever since he drew the JLA’s two-page origin in 52 Week Fifty-One, I have longed to see Reis tackle the World’s Greatest Heroes. 

Not to take anything away from Jim Lee, who is a wonderful artist, but, as of late, I have enjoyed his work more on solo characters.  His art of the “Hush” and “For Tomorrow” story lines in Batman and Superman several years back was wonderful, but I find his work on a book with a large cast like Justice League to be lacking.  Moreover, I was less than impressed with the jam-inker issues of Justice League, issues 5 & 6 for example.  Lee’s work just doesn't do much for me unless Scott Williams inks him.  So I am more than happy to welcome Reis and Prado to this title, and hope that they stay for many issues to come…

Page 8:

Oh yeah.  Aquaman's still a bad-ass.

Page 9:  One of the refreshing things about the New 52 DCU is that the public doesn't know all that much about the heroes; all they have to go on are the rumors and stories they hear.  Thus, the idea that Aquaman lives with a mermaid isn't that far-fetched, and Atlantis is still a myth…well, maybe not too much longer.

One of the hallmarks of Geoff Johns' run on Aquaman is that he is considered something of a joke by the public.  Note the he is, in actually, anything but...

“I know we don’t see eye-to-eye on how to lead the Justice League, and we need to talk about that, but first, I've got a problem.”  As pointed out in Justice League #9-12, up until this point, the members of the Justice League didn't really interact with one another all that much outside of the team.  Sure, Superman and Batman have worked together several times, and Green Lantern and Flash do their thing, but, other than that, they don’t really have much of a personal relationship.  Their solo careers and private lives are separate from the League.

That, however, is starting to change.  As we saw in Justice League #13-14, the League aided Wonder Woman in apprehending the Cheetah.  And now, even though he has differences with Batman, Aquaman does to him for help with a matter that, as of yet, doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the team.  That’s progress.

“The last time this happened, it was on an isolated beach where a group of flesh-eating creatures rose from the oceans and attacked a town.”  As seen in Aquaman (New 52) #2.

Page 10:



Mera, real name Mera.  First appeared in Aquaman (New 52)#1.  First historical appearance in Aquaman (first series) #11.  Able to increase the density of water and create structures with it. 



A simple introduction that lets the reader know that, in the New 52 DCU, Batman has, in fact, met Mera before now.

Page 11:  “You look concerned.”  When does Batman not look concerned?

So...I wonder what's up with this fishing boat...

Page 12:

The Metropolis Seafood Grill?  Kinda swanky for your second date, don't you think, Clark?

Page 13:

The explanation/justification for "how eyeglasses work as a disguise" in the DC Universe.

“It is for me.”  As you may have seen in recent issues of Wonder Woman, Diana doesn't have much of a social life.  Her “family issues’ take up most of her time. 

“Hopefully it’s the first of many.”  Who, slow down there, tiger.  How about you get through dessert first, no?

Pages 14-15:  So that’s where the Mabus went to. 

Oh, hey, look!  There's that fishing boat from Page 11.  I knew that would come back to haunt us somehow...

Page 16:  

Not just a job for Superman.  It's nice to see Clark thinking about his new lady-friend in a time of crisis.

Page 17:

What's a disaster in Metropolis without Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane being smack-dab in the middle of it?  

Pages 18-19:  “Did Wonder Woman and Superman just catch an aircraft carrier?”  Now this is an epic shot, one worthy of a two page spread.  And, honestly, this is what Justice League should be all about.  Superman, Batman and the others can have their own adventures in their own titles, but this book should be where the really big, really important stuff that affect the entire DCU happens. 

What, Lois, jealous?  No, never...

Oh, look, Lois Lane needs saving.  It must be a Wednesday...

Page 20:



Vulko, full name Nuidis Vulko.  What the hell kind of name is “Nuidis” anyway?  Probably Atlantean…  First appeared in Aquaman (New 52) #0.  First historical appearance in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #73.  Former adviser to the Atlantean throne, he lives on the surface world now. 

Page 21:  “Boston was hit by a tidal wave.  Along with Metropolis.”  Boston and Metropolis must be somewhat close if they were hit by tidal waves at somewhat the same time.  So where is Metropolis?  Rhode Island?  Somewhere in Connecticut?  Whatever happened to it being in Delaware?  (Points to you if you recall where that little tidbit of information first appeared.)  Ah, the vagueness of fictional cities and their “real-world” locations…

“The next wave’s about to hit Gotham.”  Continuing on with our exploration of the geography of the DCU, given that the wave will hit Gotham after Boston and Metropolis, Batman’s hometown must be slightly further to the south of both those two cities.  New Jersey, perhaps?

Page 22:  “Because I wrote them.”  Whoa.  Awkward.



Ocean Master, real name Orm.  First appeared in Aquaman (New 52) #14.  First historical appearance in Aquaman (first series) #29.  King of Atlantis who uses Atlantean crown and trident to control the ocean and the storms. 

Note that, in this story, Orm has yet to be referred to as “the Ocean Master.”  But, why let a cool name go to waste, you know?





 “Shazam!”

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

Synopsis

While trying to have a fun night on the town with his pal Freddy, Shazam finds himself drawn to multiple crimes which require him to use his powers to help others.  After learning that he can fly, Shazam decides that he’s not going to transform back into Billy Batson, which upsets Freddy.  Angry with his friend, Freddy storms off, just in time for Black Adam to locate Shazam for some one-on-one time…

Notes

Page 23:

And this is why no one in the DC ever wants to go out to dinner with Shazam...

“A case of beer’s gotta be at least five dollars.”  Ah, youth.

Page 24:  “A magic spell?  To get money from am ATM machine?”  Yeah, kinda like I do every time I go to the ATM.  “Please let me have enough money, please, please, please…”

Page 25:  “Look!  They’re robbing the place, too!”  Way to be subtle, Freddy.

Page 26

Why wear a coat when you have that stylish hood and cape combo going for you? 

“Uh…Shazam?”  Yay!  Shazam can actually say his own super-hero name and not be instantly transformed via magical lightning bolt back into Billy Batson.  Twenty-first century progress right there, I tell you…

Page 28:

Zap a pumpkin and turn it into a car?  What does he think he is, a fairy godmother?

“What are the chances of walking into a bank robbery, a liquor store holdup and a car thief in one day?”  Yeah, I mean, it’s not like they live in Gotham

“Being drawn to places of need is actually quite useful for a champion of Eternity such as yourself.”  This is a meta-textual way of explaining how and why super-heroes always seem to arrive where they are needed at just the nick of time. 

Page 29:  “My name is Francesca.  I saw you in the Rock of Eternity.”  When Billy was there in Justice League #0. 

Page 30:

There is nothing more touching than a boy who magically transforms into an adult taking his juvenile-delinquent foster brother out for their first flight together.

Page 31:  “We’ve been gone since yesterday, Billy.”  It was late at night when Billy snuck out of the Vasquez’s home in Justice League #10.  Given that it’s mid-December in Philadelphia and it is, according to Freddy, almost sundown, it’s somewhere between 4:30 and 4:40 PM

Its true.  If you were a kid who could, with one magic word, transform into a super-powered adult, why would you ever change back?  Hopefully, future chapters of Shazam's story will explore just that.

Page 32:  Billy might look like an adult as Shazam, but he’s still a kid at heart, with all the good and bad that goes along with that.

Page 33:

Watch it with the magic lightning, dude, you're zapping all the Christmas lights...

Page 34:  

That's funny, I didn't even know you were looking for me...

So…Shazam, Black Adam.  Black Adam, Shazam.  Discuss…