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…