Saturday, May 25, 2013


“The Grid”

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


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…


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?


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


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…


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...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The story so far...

So, I got in my head over a year ago to do some fun annotations for DC Comics The New 52 Justice League title, mainly because I enjoyed it and wanted to write about it.  I had done some similar annotations before for 52, Countdown and Blackest Night, so I figured that this would just be more of the same.  No big deal.

And then came Earth-2, a title spotlighting new versions of some classic Golden Age characters, and I wanted to write about that too.  And I kept up a somewhat steady pace, falling behind here and there, but it was all good.

The clincher was Justice League of America, the newest New 52 team title, which got me bogged down in all sorts of continuity and notes, but I was still okay...

And then I got a promotion at wok and the bottom fell out.

See, for years I've been working nights and weekend, with my days free, but now I'm working weekdays, 7:00 a.m. until around 5:00 p.m., and my schedule is all screwed up.  So is my regular comic book reading, as well as my writing.  And while I am adjusting, the books are piling up, and stuff isn't getting done, so something's gotta give...

So, sad as I am to say, for the foreseeable future, I will only be doing annotations for Justice League.  I will still do monthly updates for other titles -- brief notes about new versions of old characters and how so-and-so plots and scenes relate to the greater DCU as a whole -- but no full-scale annotations.  I mean, come on, Trinity War is coming up and I need to get ready for that...

Also, I need to start working on some other projects that are near and dear to my heart and actually get published sometime before I do, you know?

Thanks for your support.  See you soon...