Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Justice League #3 review

Wonder Woman joins Superman, Batman, Flash and Green Lantern as winged beasts wreak havoc in Metropolis, destroying property and kidnapping citizens. Meanwhile in Detroit, another attack by the aliens sees STAR Labs scientist Professor Ivo carried away as colleague Silas Stone bids to save son Victor from succumbing to burns received as the monsters arrived in a tunnel of energy. Filled with advanced nanobots, Victor's mind links to that of the massive creature rising from the Metropolis ocean. And another hero enters the fray ...

I think it's fair to say this book is firing on all cylinders now, delivering a solid mix of story advancement, characterisation and action. The introduction of Wonder Woman in this five-years-ago serial shows us that she's new to the United States and being babysat by the military. Leaving via the wall is apparently her way of reminding her minders that she's not their prisoner. There is one minder whom Diana doesn't seem to mind, though - liaison Steve Trevor. He follows her onto the streets of Washington DC as she searches for a winged creature news reports say is assaulting citizens, and frets needlessly about her safety.

Diana's interaction with a little girl and a street vendor are delightful, demonstrating that while she's fierce when there's a monster to be stopped, she's all about enjoying life. And her introduction to her future League colleagues, and their reaction to her, hits some entertaining notes.

The heroes don't yet know they're facing para-demons from Apokolips, and that the thing rising from Hobbs Bay is Darkseid, but they do know they're up against an evil too powerful for a single hero.

Geoff Johns jollies the story along nicely with a well-paced narrative, and offers some gems of dialogue ('Has anyone seen a harpy?') while penciler Jim Lee and inker Scott Williams produce their best artwork yet on this series. The pages blaze with incident without looking cluttered and the struggle between heroes and villains makes for an entertaining ride. We see the power of Superman, GL's concentration issues, Flash's multi-tasking and Batman's ability to hold his own without powers. There are a few splashes and spreads, all used well in the pursuit of impact.

The only thing I'm not happy about is Diana slicing and dicing with an (apparently extendable) sword. It's been said many times, but she's not Xena, Warrior Princess. The creators of Xena copied her - she's Wonder Woman, and the only weapon she needs to defeat any opponent is her magic lasso. Yes, it restrains, but it can certainly lash a beastie if necessary, and can put a foe down without killing them. You know, like a hero should. Using a sword makes Diana look less impressive, not more.

It's interesting to finally see how the new costume designed by Lee for Wonder Woman works when he draws it; I'd not previously noticed that the tiny chest eagle head is part of a star design, which is clever, but if there's one thing this outfit doesn't need, it's more stars. Sure, Diana has far fewer on her shorts than in previous times, but they've migrated to her bustier, a choker, an armband ... and there are so many jagged edges it seems Wonder Woman likes a bit of pain as she moves. But then, Lee really does go for bits of costuming that get in the way of free movement, such as Superman's long sleeves that cover the back of his hands, and his and Green Lantern's high mandarin collars that would give any normal person a crick in the neck. Fussy fussy fussy.

Still, I can stand a bit of bad superhero fashion if the comic is good, and it's not like it'll last. Meanwhile, you won't find a bigger, noisier superhero story for your $2.99 (US) this week.

Sadly, this book is $3.99, and after the 22 pages of fun we have another look at Jim Lee's sketchbook, showing us how he's made GL's costume needlessly complicated with all kinds of noodling that will be ignored by other pencillers, inkers and colourists the minute his back's turned.

Worse, we have a five-page 'extract' from an in-universe book, The Secret History of Atlantis, by one David Graves. Sounds interesting? It isn't. This is pure Amazon.com 'Look Inside' space-wasting, with a bare cover, library card page, About the Author, dedication and foreword. Don't waste your time looking for interest, here's the meat: 'Atlantis may exist'. Oh, and Sea Devils leader Dane Dorrance is mentioned, whoop-de-doo.

DC really is stealing money with this filler material. We need a Justice League to stop them.

13 comments:

  1. I completely agree regarding Wonder Woman and swords. She doesn't need such an aggressive and lethal weapon. A sword is used to maim and kill, and be phallic ...

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  2. Greek hero's tended to kill things. Perseus Killed Medusa, Theseus Killed the Minotaur, Heracles KIlled... everything he encountered, Hell even Percy Jackson kills Monsters. So her actions are well within the Rules.

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  3. I'm just reading Wonder Woman, Danny - there's this one image ... talk about 'phallic' and 'swords'.

    Hi Fenris, if you want to compare Diana to the heroes of myth, well, she has thousands of stories compared to their handful and she's never turned to the sword as first recourse. I don't see why the shared Greek link means she should have the same MO. By the same token, you could say Percy Jackson should don a tiara and panties.

    Maybe he does. I've not read the books.

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  4. On the one hand, I don't terribly mind Wonder Woman slaying monsters. She *is* a mythic hero(ine), as someone pointed out. Slaying monsters sort of goes with the territory. George Perez had her do that. It would bother me more if she were out killing people or intelligent beings. That's not the Wonder Woman who's been inspiring people for generations. She's supposed to be one of those characters who speak to the better things in us. Nice review, Mart.

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  5. Really, really dug the main story. Just frothy superhero fun. But I'm not sure I'll ever do more than glance at the backup.

    When does Shazam start? It really can't be soon enough.

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  6. My first impression was that the Lady Sif had somehow crossed over from Marvel. All this girl wants to do is fight, and apparently she always gets what she wants in that regard. Where I hoped Diana would be the mature one, the woman in this issue is actually the most violent. I dont know who she is, but she isnt any Wonder Woman I know.

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  7. This is DC's version of Hercules, it seems, which to me would have been a better fit with Cassie Sandsmark. (Or at least I've said such in the past.)

    This character is quite different from the one appearing in (choke) "Wonder Woman." Yes, it's five years ago. (Is it? Why?) People can change.

    Superman says something like "You're strong," which to me epitomized the uneven dialogue and made Supes look, well, stupid.

    Wonder Woman should NEVER handle a sword. There. I said it. (Not that I haven't said such many times before.) People who carry swords, carry swords to KILL and MAIM.

    Wondie is not about killing or maiming. She's about growing and healing and empowering. And also punching a foe into submission when they won't listen to reason. But not slicing them into ribbons of gore.

    Ah, the nuDC.

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  8. Hey Martin,
    I know it's been awhile since I commented. Just wanted to let you know that I continue to appreciate your well-written reviews, as they tend to save me money; well that and the current lack of enthusiasm about the comics that the big 2 are pumping out. They aren't doing anything worth the 4 bucks fans have to spend, and with the current "throw the baby out with the bathwater" effect that Didio and DC have inacted, it's really hard to even want to enjoy comics again. Well, at least on my part anyways.

    Have a good weekend, and to many more solid reviews.

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  9. Thanks Joe, but George didn't have her picking up the sword as a matter of course and it looks like that's where we're headed with the new version.

    I'm not sure when Shazam starts Rob, probably when Geoff Johns can plot how to kill Tawky Tawny and make Uncle Dudley a jailbird.

    I really hope this Diana isn't all about the fight, or it's going to be letter-writing time. Surely the talent can sell Diana without getting too blade-happy?

    Thanks for saying it, Carol. We may need a Campaign For Real Wonder Woman - that wouldn't mean a Golden or Silver Age throwback except in the sense of personality and practices.

    Cheers Dale. Hopefully DC will grow more to your liking before too long. Meanwhile, there are some great blogs with links here.

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  10. I'm inclined to agree with you, Mart, Diana is supposed to be about compassion and forgiveness. You can't show compassion or forgiveness if your opponent is dead. To change Diana's character so dramatically, and call this a "soft reboot?" I just don't get it. I'd hate to see what they call a hard reboot.

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  11. I know I keep harping on, but I'm so looking forward to seeing what Grant Morrison does with Wondy in his upcoming mini-series. I want to see some of the old Diana magic back.

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  12. In total agreement, the comic is starting off quite appealingly but the whole Wonder Woman "Warrior Princess" thing doesn't seem quite right. But then again her character has always seemed to ping back and forth between an advocate for peace who just happens to be super-powered, and a woman raised within a warrior culture. Though I have never really followed her series, unlike Batman and Superman, I feel DC struggles with the character of this pivotal member of the "Trinity".

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  13. I'd love to see DC commit to a retro, fun Wonder Woman, somewhere between the Darwyn Cooke and Brave and Bold vesions. Unashamed superhero and secret agent fun.

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