Monday, April 8, 2013

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1


“World’s Most Dangerous” Chapter One

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Colorist: Sonia Oback with Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

Believing that the Justice League cannot be trusted, Amanda Waller has enlisted Steve Trevor to be field commander of a new team – the Justice League of America – that can work on behalf of A.R.G.U.S. and take on the world’s greatest heroes, if the need should ever arise.  But even as they assemble their group, Green Arrow uncovers a new threat to the world, a secret society comprised of the world’s deadliest super-villains…






Notes

Page 1:  This scene was originally depicted in Justice League #6. 

The fourth panel on this page is new; it reveals that “Super-Villain #1” is actually Professor Anthony Ivo.  First appeared in Justice League #3.  Historical first appearance in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #30.  A scientific genius who developed both the A-Maze and B-Maze Operating Systems, and created the android Amazo. 

We last saw Ivo in Justice League #3, getting carried off by Parademons.  Is this how his face got scarred?

The identity of Ivo's partner is still unknown. 

“I have a map to make.”  A map of what?  The world?  The future?

Page 3:  

This is the Dark Hunter.  He's not having a very good day...

Page 4:   They might look like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman but they’re not.  Trust me on this.

“Our creator wants him dead.”  Said creator would be Ivo.  He has this thing for building killer androids. 

Page 5: This is the new 52 DCU Justice League we've come to know and love…but if you don’t know who they are by now you haven’t been paying attention at all…

Pages 6-7Colonel Steve Trevor, head of A.R.G.U.S.  First appeared in Justice League #3.  Historical first appearance in All-Star Comics #8. 

Amanda Waller, former member of Team 7, current head of the Suicide Squad and liaison to the Justice League.  First appeared in Suicide Squad (New 52) #1, first historical appearance in Legends #1.

What’s up with the cork board, hmmm?

“Because they requested I be replaced, and you were all too eager to jump in.”  Trevor was “fired” in Justice League #12.  Waller was made the League’s liaison to A.R.G.U.S. in Justice League #13.

A.R.G.U.S. is the Advanced Research Group for Uniting Super-Humans; it first appeared in Justice League #7.  As Waller states, if was established “by the United States to support, investigate and, if necessary, combat super-human activity that poses a threat to national security.” 

“Possessed by Starro, physically shattered by Despero and most recently almost beaten to death by Mr. Graves.”  Starro is a giant mind-controlling alien starfish that the Justice League of America battled in their first appearance, was back in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #28.  Its New 52 DCU incarnation made a cameo appearance in Justice League #6. 

Despero is a three-eyed telepathic alien with an affinity for chess that first appeared in Justice League of America (first series) #1.  He later evolved into a three-eyed, telepathic hulking brute that didn't seem to like chess as much as rampaging and killing.  He will make his New 52 DCU debut in Justice League #20. 

Trevor and the Justice League dealt with Graves in Justice League #9-12.  Trevor was left near-death, and this encounter resulted in the League firing him as their liaison, due to his personal connection to Wonder Woman.  Unbeknownst to all, Waller is using the information Graves discovered about the Justice League for her own purposes. 

Trevor and Wonder Woman's past was first explored in the text pages of Justice League #2.

Page 8:  “A League that isn't hiding twenty-two thousand miles above us in a satellite.”  The Justice League Watchtower is located 22,300 miles above the Earth’s surface, which places it in a geostationary orbit above us.  

“This image was recovered off the computers in the Justice League International’s vacated headquarters.”  As seen in Justice League International (New 52) Annual #1. 

Page 9:  

Superman and Wonder Woman kissed in Justice League #12.  I'm still wondering how and why the JLI's  computers got the image so quickly.

“Well, what?  Who Diana spends time with and how isn't my business.”  Yeah, keep telling yourself that, Trevor; someday you’ll even sound convincing…

Page 10:  “The image was uploaded by Booster Gold.  Seconds later he vanished and we have no idea why.”  This occurred in the aforementioned Justice League International (New 52) Annual #1.  Booster was quite upset at seeing Superman and Wonder Woman making out; so upset that he literally vanished from this time period.  Way to overreact, dude…

“I hope you’re not talking about Chronos.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, there were two men who went by the name Chronos.  The first was a criminal named David Clinton, who first used time-related devices and later time travel itself to become the Atom’s arch-foe.  He first appeared in The Atom #3. 

Later, Walker Gabriel came into possession of Clinton’s research after his death and became something of a time-traveling anti-hero.  He first appeared in Chronos #1. 

Whether the New 52 DCU Chronos is Clinton, Gabriel, or a new character altogether remains to be seen. 

“If it’s on a computer, Cyborg will find it.”  As we have seen in recent issues of Justice League, Cyborg is connected to everything digitally, for better or for worse. 

Page 11:  So, it’s about time we started meeting the team, don’t you think?

Pages 12-13Hawkman, real name Katar Hol, also known as Carter Hall.  First appeared in The Savage Hawkman #1.  Historical first appearance in Flash Comics #1.  Possesses enhanced strength, armor and winged flight due to Nth metal.

“Katar Hol is a police officer from the planet Thanagar hunting alien fugitives and the humans working for them on Earth.”  In my opinion, this is a bit of genius on Geoff Johns’ part.  He’s taking the entire premise of the Silver Age Hawkman – the fact that he was an alien cop who came to Earth to hunt down criminals and study Earth police methods – as a cover story for the New 52 Hawkman. 

It’s absolute baloney – Hawkman just likes to bash some skulls in – but it gives him some credibility in the eyes of the world.  This is a nice way to incorporate some old concepts into this new version of the character.  To be honest, this would have been a great way to start off The Savage Hawkman a year and a half ago, and might have provided some structure to a series that has been unfortunately, quite aimless for some time now. 

In the pre-Flashpoint DCU. Byth Rok was a Thanagarian criminal who used a drug called Krotan that gave him the ability to shape-shift into any person or creature at will.  He first appeared in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #34.  Whether or not there truly is a Byth Rok that exists in the New 52 DCU remains to be seen.

Hawkman now has carte blanche to apprehend anyone he wants and use as much force as he needs to, as long as he identifies his prey as “Thanagarian fugitives.”  Good gig, if you can get it. 

Page 14Katana, real name Tatsu Yamashiro.  First appeared in Birds of Prey (New 52) #1.  Historical first appearance in The Brave and the Bold (first series) #200.  A superb martial artist and trained samurai warrior armed with the Soultaker sword that captures the souls of those it kills. 

Page 15:  “The rest of the world doesn’t really know who they are yet, Steve.” Given that the age of superhumans is only about five years old, these heroes haven’t been around long enough for the public to really know too much about them.  Because of this, Waller wants to use this to her advantage, getting out in front of the stories and rumor and being able to cast individuals like Hawkman and Katana in a positive light so that the public will accept them as heroes. 

This is also a wink and a nod to Geoff Johns’ effort to show that these heroes, who some see as B-listers, can be just as popular and engaging as the heroes who make up the Justice League.   He wants to show the world who Katana, Hawkman and the rest “really are.” 

“Tatsu Toro is an assassin.”  Presumably, “Toro” is Katana’s maiden name.

“Now Katana and Deathstroke vie for the title, figuratively speaking.”  Deathstroke is, of course, Deathstroke the Terminator, also known as Slade Wilson, one of the top mercenaries in the world. 

Page 16:  “In the words of the great Lando Calrissian, ‘This deal is getting worse all the time.’”  Trevor’s giving a little shout-out to The Empire Strikes Back.  And, if for some reason, you don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s no helping you, I am sorry…

Vibe, real name Francisco “Cisco” Ramon.  First appeared in DC Comics – The New 52 FCBD Speical Edition #1 but, since that technically occurs in the near future, his first chronological appearance is in Justice League of America’s Vibe #1.  Historical first appearance in Justice League of America (first series) Annual #2.  Able to generate seismic vibrations as well as to detect being from other dimensions. 

As explained in Justice League of America's Vibe #1, Cisco's internal vibration is no longer in sync with the rest of the world, rendering him blurry in pictures and video.

“Since then, Cisco’s been out of sync with the rest of the world.”  A reference to his abilities, as well as commentary about the character himself.  The original, pre-Flashpoint version of Vibe was not the most popular character; I’d even go so far as to say that he’s one of the more reviled heroes to join the Justice League of America.  He was a total stereotype, a Puerto Rican, break dancing gang member that seemed to be created to reflect a fad in the mid 1980’s.  As a kid, I remember reading about him and thinking that he was a joke.  I only started liking him in Justice League of America (first series) #258, when he was given something of a sympathetic personality.  It’s also the issue in which he was killed by Professor Ivo. 

Johns is trying to make him a likeable and viable character.  To do so, he’s taking the same approach that he did with Aquaman; tackling the “controversy” about the character head-on, instead of ignoring the fact that no one thinks he belong in the JLA.  Vibe is the token “red-shirt,” everyone’s waiting for him to die because he doesn’t fit in.  In this way, Johns can show that he does belong and he is a hero. 

Another version of Vibe’s apprehension of the candy thief can be seen in Justice League of America’s Vibe #2

Continuity note: in Justice League #9, Aquaman mentions Vibe when talking to a news reporter about whether or not he really belongs in the Justice League so, presumably, a hero known as Vibe already exists and is active.

However, the events of Justice League of America’s Vibe #1 show that Cisco was not active as a hero, with a code-name and costume, until approached by A.R.G.U.S., which occurred after Justice League #9.  That name issue also showed that Cisco is “Subject 2,” as referred top by Dale Gunn and Amanda Waller.

So was the “Vibe” to whom Aquaman referred really this “Subject 1”?   If it is, who was it?  And, if not, who was this other guy named “Vibe”?

Page 17:  

That's what this series is about, the potential within all characters, big and small.  

“And with training, Vibe will be able to sever the ties that people might have to dimensional power.”  Which people specifically?  Who has ties to a dimensional power, hmmm?

Page 18:  Oh boy…it’s not looking good for the Dark Hunter, now is it?

“It’s the blood loss.  I’m going into hypovolemic shock.”  Hypovolemic shock is a state of decreased volume of blood plasma; victims can feel dizzy, faint, nauseous and thirsty. 

Page 19:  First appearance of Stargirl.  Real name Courtney Whitmore.  Historical first appearance in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0.  Wields the Cosmic Staff, which allows her to fly and convert solar energy into cosmic blasts. 

I’ve always liked Stargirl, and am very happy to see her reintroduced into the New 52 DCU.  Interesting to see that she’s on the Prime Earth and not on Earth-2, given that she was a member of the Justice Society of America in the pre-Flashpoint DCU; however, given that she was created by Geoff Johns (inspired, in part, by his sister, who died in the explosion of TWA Flight 800), it’s not surprising that he’d keep her as part of the new JLA. 

“What the hell is a Q score?”  Glad you asked, Trevor.  A Q score is a measurement of familiarity and appeal of a brand, company or celebrity, most often used for used for marketing, advertising, public relations and media. 

“And Ellen recently called you the answer to Lindsay Lohan!”  “Ellen” refers to Ellen DeGneres, a stand-up comedian and television talk show host.  Lindsay Lohan is an actress who is more famously known for her numerous run-ins with the law.

Page 20

Who owned the staff before Courtney?  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Jack Knight, a.k.a. Starman, gave her the Cosmic Staff in the final issue of his self-titled series.  

What's the deal with the funky star symbol?

“Pemberton.”  I assume that this refers to Sylvester Pemberton who, in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, was the original Star-Spangled Kid (Courtney was the second).  For a time, he used Ted (Starman) Knight’s cosmic rod, and soon refined the rod’s technology, devising a belt that had the same powers.  He later changed his name to Skyman (I hated that name with a passion) and formed Infinity, Inc. until he was killed by Mr. Bones.

Interestingly enough, in the Smallville episode titled “Absolute Justice”, Sylvester Pemberton appears as a former member of the now-defunct Justice Society.  After he is killed, Courtney Whitmore takes his cosmic staff and assumes the identity of Stargirl.  Writer of this episode?  Geoff Johns.  Is Johns establishing that Sylvester owned the Cosmic Staff before Courtney, and something bad happened to him?

Page 21:  “Pat Dugan?”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Pat Dugan was known as Stripesy, adult sidekick to the Star-Spangled Kid.  Yes, you read that right.  In his later years, he married Courtney Whitmore’s mother and became the girl’s step-father, creating the robotic suit known as S.T.R.I.P.E. to aid her when she became the second Star-Spangled Kid.  In the New 52 DCU, did he and Pemberton still known one another? 

“Her biological father.”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Courtney’s father was Sam Kurtis, who worked as a common thug for the Royal Flush Gang.  Does the New 52 version still have a career as a criminal?

“He left the League after a drag-out fight.”  We caught a glimpse of this battle between the Justice League and the Martian Manhunter in Justice League #8.

“You two have met over beers.”  Trevor and Oliver Queen shared a cold one in Justice League #13.

“Is okay and Queen’s heart is in the right place – I think – but he’s not the right candidate for this spot – which is the most important spot on the JLA.”  What are these spots they keep talking about, hmmm?

Page 22Catwoman, real name Selina Kyle.  First appeared in Catwoman (New 52) #1.  Historical first appearance in Batman #1.  Highly-skilled athlete and hand-to-hand combatant, expert burglar, and wields a bullwhip with deadly accuracy.

Page 24:  “You’re Wonder Woman’s boy-toy.”  Public perception of Trevor is that he’s Wonder Woman’s boyfriend, which just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

“Ex boy-toy.”  At least he’s got a sense of humor about this.

Bad kitty...

Page 25:  “I’m not talking about your identity, Miss Kyle.  I’m talking about the woman who stole it.”  Okay, this is a little confusing, and I’m not all that sure how to make sense of it.  In Catwoman #0, writer Ann Nocenti alluded to the fact that that Selina Kyle is not Catwoman’s birth name; rather, she was a Russian orphan, brought to the United States and given that name.  Oh, and she has a brother, too.  But, later, when she “transforms” into Catwoman (in a scene taken straight from Tim Burton’s Batman Returns) she seems to have a bit of amnesia, which leads me to wonder if she remembers that her real name isn’t her real name.  Also, I wonder if she’s pissed off that her origin has gotten so damn complicated that Wolverine now mocks her…

“She should be part of my Suicide Squad, not the Justice League of America.”  The Suicide Squad is a black ops group of super-villains, led by Waller, that take on missions for the U.S. government. 

Pages 26-27:  

The secret revealed...the Justice League of America has been assembled to take down the Justice League, should it ever come to that.

Some of these choices make sense.  The Martian Manhunter can definitely go toe-to-toe with Superman; he might even have the advantage, given his telepathic abilities. 

Hal Jordan definitely has more experience being a Green Lantern than Simon Baz does, but Baz has shown an incredible amount of willpower in recent issues of Green Lantern, such as healing his injured brother-in-law’s brain and reviving him from a coma.

Vibe has apparently been brought on board to neutralize the Flash’s other-dimensional connection to the Speed Force; this is what Waller was talking about on Page 17.

Aquaman and Hawkman are both warriors, but while Arthur has that whole regal, royal, kingly thing going on, Katar’s just a savage brute when in battle. 

I’m not sure if Katana can really stand up to Wonder Woman.  I mean, Diana’s a demigod.  Tatsu looks a bit outmatched here.

I have no idea what Stargirl can do to Cyborg; maybe all the Internet searches for her will overload Victor’s system?  Or perhaps he’s powerless up against her downright cuteness.

And then there’s Catwoman, who has, as Trevor said, “the most important spot on the JLA” – going up against Batman.  She was apparently chosen because she knows Batman as well as Trevor knows Wonder Woman, but will that be enough against the Dark Knight?  Poor Green Arrow, he gets kicked off the team simply because he never knocked boots with Batman…

“Agent Fed is in the debriefing room to download you on Simon Baz.”  Agent Fed has been tracking down Simon Baz ever since Green Lantern (New 52) #0. 

“Fed didn't bring the Lantern in with him?”  Continuity issue here.  In Green Lantern (New 52) #16, Agent Fed lets Simon Baz go after realizing that the new Green Lantern isn't guilty of being a terrorist.  As Baz and Green Lantern B’Dg fly off, Fed calls Waller, and says that “we need to talk about this new Green Lantern.”  Presumably, she would know from that conversation that Fed did not have Baz in custody. 

“And get Etta and your staff on Martian Manhunter.”  “Etta” refers to Etta Candy, Trevor’s assistant.

“Public perception of the Justice League is at a low because of Atlantis’ assault.”  As seen in the recent “Throne of Atlantis” story line in Justice League #15-17 and Aquaman (New 52) #15-16.

Page 28:   The Martian Manhunter, real name J’onn J’onzz.  First appeared in Stormwatch #1.  Historical first appearance in Detective Comics #225.  Possesses superhuman strength, speed, senses, endurance, telepathic ability, able to become invisible or intangible, can fly and shape-shift.  And he also has “Martian vision,” whatever that is.  He’s pretty darn tough. 

Page 29:  “I know why you’re really doing this.”  Please, enlighten us, J’onn.

J'onn's not joking; he did the same thing to the Stormwatch team in Stormwatch (New 52) #12.

Page 30:  

Now Trevor knows how Jim Gordon feels all the time...

Page 31Kielder Forest is a large plantation in Northumberland, England surrounding the Kieler Water reservoir.  It has the distinction of being the largest man made woodland in England.

Page 32:  A-ha!   I knew that the Dark Hunter seemed a bit familiar…all the self-loathing and snarkiness…

Green Arrow, real name Oliver Queen.  First appeared in Green Arrow (New 52) #1.  Historical first appearance in More Fun Comics #73.  Skilled archer and athlete armed with an arsenal of normal and trick arrows. 

This explains why Green Arrow did not answer Cyborg’s call to join the Justice League Reserves in Justice League #16; he was operating under deep cover as the Dark Hunter during that time. 

“…call themselves the Secret Society…”  Of Super-Villains, perhaps?