Wednesday, March 13, 2013

JUSTICE LEAGUE #17


“Throne of Atlantis” Chapter Five

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier
Inker: Joe Prado, Oclair Albert and Sean Parsons
Colorist: Rod Reis with Nathan Eyring
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

The Justice League regroups and joins the Reserves in Boston to battle both the Atlantean army and the Trench.  The team splits up, as one group deals with the bombs that the Atlanteans have activated throughout Boston, while another searches for Vulko, the mastermind of the entire affair, while Aquaman challenges Orm.  As the tide turns in favor of the heroes, Orm yields the throne to Aquaman, who declares himself king of Atlantis once more.  Satisfied with what he has wrought, Vulko surrenders, and the Justice League teams with the Atlanteans to repel the Trench.  In the aftermath of the conflict, Aquaman returns to Atlantis without Mera, Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller form a new team, a secret society of villains forms, and Batman decides that the Justice League must open its ranks for the first time…

Notes

Page 1:  This is the lighthouse in which Arthur lived with his father Tom until the elder Curry’s death.

Pages 2-3:  “It was Vulko, Arthur.  He sabotaged the warship.  He sent those missiles to Atlantis.”  In Justice League #15, someone launched missiles from the U.S.S. Mabus to attack Atlantis, which prompted Orm to lead an invasion of the surface world.  It was revealed in Aquaman (New 52) #16 that Vulko was behind the attack.

“Because Vulko was exiled after Arthur left the throne, Superman.”  Aquaman talked about his brief reign as the king of Atlantis in Aquaman (New 52) #15.

“It’s what they did to my ancestors.”  As revealed in Brightest Day, Mera hails from the other-dimensional realm of Xebel, a penal colony for an ancient group of separatist Atlanteans.  Mera's not Atlantis’ biggest fan, to be sure…

Nice to see Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg accessorizing for battle.

“But a war with Atlantis isn't.  It’s the responsibility of all of us.”   Wait for it…wait for it…

Pages 4-5:  “This is why the Justice League exists.”  After a year and a half, we finally get something in the way of a purpose for the Justice League.  Too often these days, it feels like super-hero teams have no real reason to exist other than to simply have that team exist.  But I genuinely feel that each team needs to have purpose, a mission statement, if you will. 

In Justice League #6, we saw why the group came together in the first place, and what justification each of the embers had for staying with the team.  But it’s five years later, and those reasons and justifications can’t possibly be the only thing holding them together.  And here, finally, we have the League stepping up and admitting that they have a greater responsibility, not just to their own wants and needs, but to the world. 

If I haven’t said it before, Ivan Reis rocks.  He so knocks this issue out of the park, a this double-page spread shows.

Here we have Firestorm, Element Woman, Black Canary, Black Lightning, Vixen and Zatanna facing off against Orm and the Atlantean army, with the Trench not far behind.  It just goes from bad to worse, doesn't it?

Pages 6-7:  “My brother…he must've figured out how to use his telepathy to control them.”  Orm mistakenly believes that Aquaman is controlling the Trench. 

Note to self:  you don't ever want to see Hawkman swooping down at you, mace in hand.

Lots of two-page spreads in this issue.  They remind me of Reis' work on Blackest Night, as well as Mark Bagley's art on Justice League of America

In Justice League #16, Cyborg accessed the Grid to recruit other heroes to aid the group against the Atlantean army.  Most of those called have appeared in Aquaman (New 52) #16 and this issue, with the exception of…

Green Arrow, but he’s otherwise occupied.  Check out Justice League of America (New 52) #1 for more information;

Shazam, who probably has school and can’t get away for the afternoon.  But, seriously, given that the Justice League knows who that Shazam even exists, this story must take place after the events show in the “Shazam!” back-up feature.  Billy’s origin is set to conclude in Justice League #21…

And Goldrush, who….oh, I dunno anything about this chick.  Anyone have a clue?

Pages 8-9:  Oh yeah, the Justice League is here.  Big freaking heroes time…

Everyone is in awe of the Justice League, even other heroes.

Remember, in the New 52 DCU, these heroes don’t get together every six months to worry about why the skies are red, to repel an alien invasion, or cross over to parallel worlds.  The “let’s get together and save the day” concept is still new to most of them.  So when they are called into action by the Justice League, and then the big guns actually show up?  They’re impressed.

Page 10

In Aquaman (New 52) #16, Orm consigned Aquaman, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to death in the Dark Waters (near the mid-Atlantic Trench), but they escaped, with some timely assistance from Cyborg and Mera.

Page 11:  “I've worked with most of you --”  Any chance of a new The Brave and the Bold series so we can see some of these Batman team-ups?  Pretty please?

“Not me, Batman.  I’m Element Woman.  And you are the awesome.”  They might be impressed by the Justice League…but they’re in awe of Batman and will follow him without question.

Even Hawkman, who doesn't exactly play well with others, does what the Dark Knight asks.

Page 12:  

Well, stop acting like one, Orm.

Page 13:  “But you found Atlantis first.”  As seen in Aquaman (New 52)#0.

Page 14:  

Hey, look!  It's the new Atom!  And guess what?  It's a woman!!  Who would've guessed that, hunh?  Oh, wait, I did...

Page 15:  “Up, up and away!”  One of Superman’s catchphrases, of course.

The Justice League...big freaking heroes...

Note that, when Orm uses his crown to control the oceans, it makes a nifty "VRR VRR" sound effect, similar to how Aquaman's mental telepathy sounds like "VUU VUU."  Just like in Super Friends, kids...

Page 16:  Everyone’s getting their moment to shine.  Batman’s rallying the reserves, Superman and Wonder Woman throw a bomb into the air, and Mera holds back a tidal wave.  Cool stuff.

Zatanna's spell, of course, turns "Water to ice."

Page 18:  

Part one of Aquaman;'s big moment...punching out his brother, who's been acting like a tool for a few issues now.

Page 19:  “King Orm has fallen.  Kill Aquaman!”  Oh no, they didn't…

Page 20:  

Part two of Aquaman's big moment...declaring himself king of Atlantis once more.

Page 21:  “I surrender.”  This was Vulko's plan all along, getting the throne back for Arthur, whether he wanted it or not. 

Pages 22-23:  “I tried to establish a connection when I first encountered these things, but I can’t.”  Aquaman and Mera first met the Trench creatures in Aquaman (New 52) #2.

“We need the Dead King’s Scepter if we want to control them.”  Aquaman and Batman learned this in Aquaman (New 52) #16. 

Page 24:  So, Vulko, you hijacked a battleship’s missiles, sent them to attack Atlantis, prompted a war between Atlantis and the surface world and unleashed a horse of man-eating monsters…all so Arthur would become the Atlantean king again?  Surely there are easier ways of doing this than that?  Couldn't you doctor some photos so it looked like Orm was smoking some undersea pot or catch him hiring mermaid hookers like we do on the surface world?

Page 25:  

Part three of Aquaman's big moment...sending the Trench packing.  A big day for Artie, no?

Page 26:  

Aquaman looks genuinely sorry for what he has to do with Orm, but he doesn't have many options.  He's a king now, and he needs to make hard choices.  He can't be seen as being preferential to Orm, despite the fact that they are brothers.

Page 27:  “The terrorist behind this, the monstrous ‘Ocean Master,’ is being held in Belle Reve Prison awaiting trial.”  Hey, you got your super-villain name, Orm!  Congratulations!  “Ocean Master” is much more menacing and foreboding sounding than “Orm” ever will be.

Belle Reve's gotten an influx of prisoners lately.  The Cheetah in Justice League #14, Black Manta in Aquaman (New 52) #14, and now Ocean Master…Anyone else think that keeping them all locked up in the same place is a really bad idea?

Who is Orm speaking to here?

Page 28:  “The last time you took the crown, the Atlanteans nearly killed you for it.”  In an as-yet untold tale. 

Mera is trying to convince Arthur that returning to Atlantis is a really, really bad idea...

“You know why I can’t.”  Could have something to do with the fact that the Atlanteans exiled her ancestor to another dimension…

So what's the deal with that shell.  Is it an Atlantean relic of great importance, or just a souvenir from that magical summer that Arthur spent on the Jersey shore?

Page 29:  Poor Doctor Shin; all he ever wanted was to become famous for his work regarding Atlantis, but he was treated like a crackpot for years.  Now that the world knows that he was right, he feels bad for Arthur and all that has happened.  The guy can’t catch a break.

“You saw how he hit Superman.  He was out on control.”  Aquaman struck Superman in Justice League #16.

Page 30:  

Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller discuss the justification for their new team, which debuts in Justice League of America (New 52) #1.

“We need to do what we haven’t done before.”  The threats to the world are growing stronger, but the Justice League has weakened – Green Lantern quit, the Flash is off fighting gorillas, and Aquaman is going to be tied up in Atlantis for a while – so they need to make some changes…

“The opportunity is now.”  This guy is one of the two “super-villains” – the other being Professor Ivo – who met in London in the aftermath of the formation of the Justice League in Justice League #6.  It also seems that he’s the head of some new “Secret Society,” if you believe in such things…

Ladies and gentleman, your new Justice League of America – Catwoman, the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern Simon Baz, Vibe, Stargirl, Katana and Hawkman.

Yay!  A membership drive!  And one for real this time, not like Cyborg telling people "Welcome to the Justice League" and then not inviting them back to the Watchtower for snacks afterwards...

I read of a review of this issue online where the writer commented that it was strange that the Justice League is going to be adding Scarecrow and some villains to the team.  No, sorry, these are the potential members of that oft-mentioned “Secret Society,” Whatever that is. 

Seen here, from left to right, are Captain Cold and Mirror Master (currently appearing in The Flash), someone I can only assume is Blockbuster (who has yet to make his New 52 DCU appearance), the Cheetah (incarcerated in Belle Reve), the Scarecrow (most recently seen in Batman: The Dark Knight), Killer Frost (another villain who has yet to debut in the New 52 DCU), Black Manta (also a Belle Reve resident), Felix Faust (who fought the Justice League Dark a few months ago), Poison Ivy and Clayface (this happy couple faced Batman in Detective Comics) and Grodd (who’s been busy invading Central City in The Flash).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

EARTH-2 #9


“The Tower of Fate: Prologue The Man Who Was Scared”

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Nicola Scott
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Mike Cotton

Synopsis

Hawkgirl attempts to urge her friend Khalid to accept the power of Nabu, but he is afraid of losing himself to the ancient mage.  She tells him to go to Michigan to look after Jay Garrick, who has decided to check in with his mother.  Jay quickly finds himself under attack by Commander Dodds and the World Army, who have tracked him down athis home.  The Flash is outnumbered until Khalid aids him, and the two of them, along with Mrs. Garrick,, are magically teleported to Nabu’s realm, where the mage Wotan requires Khalid to allow her entry into the Tower of Fate


Notes

Page 1


First appearance of Khalid Ben-Hassin.  He’s been chosen by Nabu to be his new host, which means that he’ll be called Doctor Fate soon.  And he’ll have magical abilities.  But not yet.  Right now, he’s just plain old Khalid.



Pages 2-3:  Kendra’s got a bad-ass little shack, now doesn’t she?

“Especially with that arrogant ass, Alan Scott, acting all ‘better than everyone.’”  Green Lantern rejected the Flash and Hawkgirl’s idea of forming a new team of Wonders in Earth-2 #6.  He came off more than a little bit obnoxious. 

That's the problem with the Helmet of Nabu -- Nabu is a control-freak and his spirit begins to suppress the personality of the host body.  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Kent Nelson dealt with this for years, as did Hector Hall.  

“Nabu foretold where Garrick would be so you could meet.”  Hawkgirl found the Flash in Poland in Earth-2 #2.

Page 4:  “Nabu told you how important the Flash was…how vital he’d be in the future.”  Looks like young Mr. Garrick has an important role to play, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

“No, Khalid, I got these damn wings the same time Nabu chose you.”  The circumstances of Kendra receiving her wings have yet to be revealed, but they have something to do with the World Army.

Page 6:  

Kendra really likes her heavy artillery, doesn't she?

Page 7:  As seen in Earth-2 #1, Jay Garrick is from Lansing, Michigan.  Odds are, he went to Michigan State University.

The video screens on the building are showing scenes from the Wonders recent battle with Grundy, as chronicled in Earth-2 #4-6, as well the death of Wonder Woman at the hands of Steppenwolf five years ago in Earth-2 #1.

“…initial sightings of Steppenwolf in the isolated nation of Dherain --”  Steppenwolf, with the aid of Wonder Woman’s daughter Fury, took over Dherain in Earth-2 #8.

“-- how long has the World Army had Wonders like the giant ‘Atom’ who --”  Al Pratt, the Atom, works for the World Army.  His existence was revealed to the world in Earth-2 #4, when he joined the other Wonders in Washington, D.C. to battle Grundy.

And, in his free time, Khalid likes long walks on the beach, moonlit dinners, and ranting like a lunatic on street corners...

Page 8:  “You’re scared, Khalid, I know that, you said so to the warrior of Horus.”  Obviously, this is Nabu, speaking in Khalid’s head.  The “warrior of Horus” would be Hawkgirl, given that Horus is the falcon-headed Egyptian god of the sun, war and protection.

“Though honestly, with all the time I’ve spent partying at my friends or being over at Joans’ place…”  That would be Joan Williams, Jay’s girlfriend…sorry, ex-girlfriend.  She broke up with him in Earth-2 #1 because she wanted to make something of her life.  She was kinda mean about it, if you ask me. 

First appearance of Mrs. Garrick.  She’s Jay’s mom.  Not much more to say about her yet…

Page 9:  “Dodds, he said his name was.”  Commander Wesley Dodds, a.k.a. the Sandman, of the World Army. 

In Earth-2 #2, Mercury passed on his super speed abilities to Jay Garrick, transforming him into the Flash.  Unfortunately, when Jay was struck by that bolt of lightning, he dropped his cell phone and obviously never thought to retrieve it.  

Page 10

Most civilized people use the front door, Atom...

Page 11:  


First appearance of Major Sonia Sato.  Historical first appearance in Birds of Prey (first series) #100.  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Sato was known as the third Judomaster; she possessed an “aversion field” that prevented her from being hit by attacks specifically aimed at her.  Here, she is a member of the World Army, a representative from Japan







Page 12

What's the deal with al the Kirby Dots around the Atom's giant hand?

Page 13:  

Oh, man, threatening a guy's mother?  That's cold, Dodds...

Page 14:  Jay really needs to learn how to fight.  And soon.  He keeps getting his ass handed to him.

Page 15:  “You’re a grade-A bastard.  Just saying.”  You tell him, Jay!

Page 16:  Jay Garrick continues to use his powers in new and exciting ways.  Could you see Barry Allen speed-kicking the remains of a house at a foe?  Naaah…

Page 17:  

Damn.  Major Sato looks pissed...

Pages 18-19:  

Jay's mom is a real downer, isn't she?
“…the magical abilities of an Egyptian mage, the greatest ever in existence, who --”  In contrast to the pre-Flashpoint DCU Nabu, who was a Lord of Order, the New 52 DCU Nabu seems to be a powerful, albeit human, sorcerer. 

Page 20:  “…this is Nabu’s realm.”  Okay, okay, he’s a powerful human sorcerer who has his own realm.  That’s pretty cool.  And that tower in the background?  I’d wager it’s called the Tower of Fate.  Just a hunch.


First appearance of Wotan.  Historical first appearance in More Fun Comics #55.  Traditionally, Wotan was depicted as a man, but here it seems that he’s had an operation of sorts and is now a woman.  A sorcerer who has mastered the dark arts. 

“…the mage of an organization that seeks to augment its control of magic in the world by obtaining the power of Nabu’s that you consigned to the tower yonder…”  Wow.  That was a mouthful, no?

Friday, March 1, 2013

AQUAMAN #16


“Throne of Atlantis” Chapter Four

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Sean Parsons
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

As the battle against the Atlantean army rages in the streets of Boston, Aquaman and the rest of the Justice League find themselves banished to the Dark Waters and sentenced to death.  Aquaman and Batman attempt to learn the connection between the Trench and Atlantis, but are attacked by the man-eating creatures.  Only the timely intervention of Mera and an upgraded Cyborg saves the League from almost certain death.  As they return to the surface to aid their allies, they learn the true identity of the individual who attacked Atlantis in the first place; Vulko, Arthur’s former adviser and trusted ally…

Notes

Page 1:  “We should wait for Sarah.”  Referring to Dr.Sarah Charles, a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs Red Room; she works alongside Silas Stone and T.O. Morrow.  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, she and Victor Stone had a romantic relationship; not sure if one exists between them in the New 52 DCU or not. 

In Justice League #16, Cyborg decided to allow Silas to install upgrades that will allow him to operate underwater, at the cost of his one remaining lung, so that he can rescue the rest of the League.

Page 2:  

The android to which T.O. Morrow refers is the yet-to-be-activated Red Tornado.  

Page 3:  “-- the League was last seen fighting Aquaman before they vanished!”  In Justice League #16.

“We can only speculate as to what’s going on out there, but it appears Aquaman’s siding with Atlantis in this attack.”  Actually, what Aquaman was trying to do was end this crisis before it escalated much further by convincing his brother Orm that the surface world did not intentionally attack Atlantis.  It didn’t work…

“You ask me, he was probably planning this from the beginning!  Since he joined the Justice League!”  Well…kinda.  As revealed in Aquaman (New 52) #15, Arthur came up with this Atlantean war plan shortly after he became king of Atlantis, in the event that the undersea kingdom ever needed to declare war on the surface world.  Several months later, he abdicated the throne to his brother and soon joined the Justice League. 

Shin's "betrayal" of Arthur was first revealed in Aquaman (New 52) #3.

Page 4:  “Instead, Arthur sends Cyborg to save you from death.”  Cyborg rescued Shin from a squad of Atlantean soldiers in Justice League #16.

Page 5:  “We must be on the other side of the thermocline.”  Look at Batman, using the big, scientific words.  So, the thermocline is a thin layer in a large body of fluid in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above and below.  In an ocean, it acts like an invisible blanket that separates the upper mixed layer from the calm deep water below. 

“You have a power I don’t know about?”  I like it when Aquaman gets snarky with Batman.

Page 6:  “This is where the man-eating creatures I told you about came from.”  They would be the Trench, which appeared in Aquaman (New 52) #1-4.  Aquaman told Batman about them in Justice League #15. 

“I found an ancient Atlantean craft down here, but it was clearly lost when it crashed.”  This occurred in Aquaman (New 52) #4.

Page 7:  

Aquaman sealed the trench in Aquaman (New 52) #4, but it was reopened in Aquaman (New 52) !4.

“But someone with Atlanteans by his side stole a scepter from me that’s capable of sinking entire islands.”  This happened in Aquaman (New 52) #13.

Pages 8-9:  In Justice League #16, Cyborg accessed something called the Grid and extended invitations to join the Justice League to several heroes, some of whom have traveled to Boston to confront the Atlantean army.  Seen here on this lovely two-page spread are Firestorm, Vixen, Black Lightning and the ever-eloquent Hawkman.

Page 10:  

If you're concerned about Firestorm talking to himself, don't be, it's par for the course with him.  He's actually two people, Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, merged together to form Firestorm.  Ronnie controls the body while Jason is the brains of the operation.

“I wouldn't believe anything you read about him now, Jason.”  Pardon the pun, but the tide is turning against Aquaman, even among other super-heroes.

Not only is Batman acknowledged as the leader of the Justice League, but most of the rest of the heroes of the DCU seem to look up to him as well.

Oh yeah, and there’s Black Canary joining in on the fun.

That's right, Black Lightning.  Mouth off to the crazy guy with the huge mace.  See where that gets you...

Element Woman makes her introductions to Black Lightning; she’s a bit of a chatter box, now isn't she?

Hawkman's a bit...intense, no?

“Get down Hawkman!”  And who might that be?


Page 11

Is that..?  Could it be..?  Is it the new Atom, making her first appearance in the New 52 DCU?  And what's this about a guild, hmmm?

Page 12:  We see that Victor and Sarah are romantically involved, at least in Victor’s dream state.  Ah, young love…

Page 13:  

The origins of the Trench and their connection to Atlantis have yet to be revealed.

Page 14:  “I was hit by a small spattering and I could feel it tingling against my skin.”  This is odd, because Aquaman was attacked by the Trench in Aquaman (New 52) #3 with the same organic fluid but remarked that he couldn't feel anything.  It was Dr. Stephen Shin who commented that his skin tingled because of it.
 
Page 16:  “They don’t like loud noise.”  Given that the Trench have lived their entire existence down in the mid-Atlantis trench, far from light and sound, loud noise probably wouldn't agree with them.
Given that the Trench have lived their entire existence down in the mid-Atlantic trench, far from light and sound, loud noise probably doesn't agree with them.

Page 17:  “You’re down here, Vic.  You actually went through with it?”  As first seen in Justice League #15, Batman has developed something of a protective, paternal attitude towards Cyborg.

Batman and Cyborg have obviously kept their plans to expand the League a secret from the rest of the team.  

Cue ominous music now...

Pages 18-19:

Well now...didn't see this coming, now did we?

Page 20:  “My brother must be controlling those monsters.”  Eh…not quite…


Good question, Victor.  Class, any thoughts on what Victor asked?

Page 21:  Just when you think you know an ex-Atlantean royal adviser…

Page 22:  

Vulko, a.k.a. the Big Bad.  Who'da thunk it?