Saturday, 24 December 2011

Justice League #4 review

Aquaman is the star of the cover, and the show, as the Justice League finally comes together. This being comics, the actual scene - future sea king standing over a beaten Green Lantern - isn't to be seen in the story, though there is a thematic match; Arthur wipes the smile off Hal's doubting face when he demonstrates just what a man who 'talks to fishes' can do.

The scene with Aquaman summoning giant sharks to a tasty meal of parademons is probably my favourite of this series to date, pure superhero fun. That's not to say it's the only attention grabber this issue - there's lots going on.

Aquaman, on meeting GL, Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, quite reasonably asks who's leading this tyro team. He then suggests that the super-shiny GL acts as a lure to the parademons while the rest of them thin out the endangered crowds. He lays out his own qualifications to manage strategy - raised to be future ruler of much of the planet, that sort of thing. Where he might agree to at least give Aquaman's plan a go, GL gets right up in his face, waving his massive green ring about. Rather than skewer GL with his trident, Arthur sends out a quick mental push, bringing the sharks out to feed.

After four issues of GL's asinine ways, we finally get some insight into why he's acting like the worst kind of high school jock, courtesy of a brush with Wonder Woman's magic lasso. Its truth-compelling abilities make for an amusing moment, and hint that he'll become more bearable soon.

Cyborg makes his debut this time out, as the advanced technology used to save Victor Stone's life after he was caught in an explosion kicks in. After discovering that one hand can morph into a white noise cannon and blast monsters to high Heaven, he finds himself transported by boom tube from STAR Labs in Detroit to Metropolis waterfront, and the side of the superheroes. Just in time for the arrival on Earth of the parademons' lord, Darkseid.

Batman, Superman and Flash don't have much to say or do, though Wonder Woman gets to show her prowess with Bullets and Bracelets - it's good to see that she won't be simply slicing and dicing every issue. The bullets come courtesy of the Army as we learn that 'the entire US Military is under strict orders to engage with any non-humans, demons, super-people, whatever'. Nice. Only Wonder Woman's liaison, Captain Steve Trevor, seems to dislike the order - expect him to throw an iron or two into the fire before long.

Writer Geoff Johns runs a well-plotted show, doling out the big moments with pleasing regularity. The dialogue is fine, bar one seriously naff line which has GL exclaim that 'I thought Aquaman was a joke on Conan O'Brien'. Can't Aquaman just be presented as the proverbial 'bad ass' without pandering to the real-life pillocks who wouldn't know one side of an Aquaman comic from another? It makes zero sense that people in the DC Universe would make fun of Aquaman.

I do, though, like Diana's remark, 'Greetings Aquaman. What a day for a fight!' Could be she knows him of old.

The art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams is as big and flashy as ever, with the highlights being Aquaman's muscle flexing, Diana's beating off the bullets and Darkseid's two-page display of power on reaching Earth. The only moan I have is the previous splash of Darkseid, which is one of those unmotivated sideways displays - why? It breaks the flow, having to turn the comic around.

The strip is 22pp, the rest of this $3.99 book being taken up with STAR Labs personnel files on Provessor Ivo, TO Morrow, Silas Stone and Sarah Charles ... interesting enough, but hardly earth-shattering, and anything relevant really should show up in actual stories. Then there are two pages breaking down Flash's new costume, letting us see the faffy boot lines and 'electric seams' close up. Exciting stuff.

Back matter apart, JLA #4 is a good read, though the six-weekly schedule is a drag. Hopefully when Lee leaves, as DC's busy co-publisher is bound to before long, we'll get the monthly read a splashy team like the JLA deserves.

6 comments:

  1. I can live with the 6-weekly thing, providing Lee keeps turning in the pages on time. the second they start dropping in fill-in artists, the book's getting dumped. as to the story, I've been ( kinda ) enjoying it - my one gripe is the same gripe I have with almost all modern comics, and that's that it takes so bleeding long for anything to happen. straight up, they could've covered all the ground they've covered so far comfortably in two issues, let alone four. that said, it's one of the ( very ) few new52 titles I'm picking up.

    & I second your opinion with the whole "Aquaman is lame" schtick. it worked in the first issue of his own title, but it's starting to wear a bit thin now. treat him right, and Aquaman's a cracking good superhero.

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  2. I have serious problems with this comic and I think it comes down to Lee's approach to comics in general. I feel like Johns is writing for his style, and so we get 3-4 pages of Darkseid splashing in. It's terribly padded.

    But some of it definitely fall at the writer's feet. Johns put so much time and effort into Green Lantern, but since the reboot hit, it's like he's trying to kill the character's appeal by making him an idiot and a douchebag.

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  3. Six-weekly schedule? Has that been announced for the future? Because so far, it's been monthly. The first issue shipped early to launch the new 52, so there was a lag between issues 1 and 2 -- but issues 2, 3, and 4 have come out on the third week of their respective months. (There were 5 weeks between 3 and 4, true, but that's because November was a 5-week month, so there was a 5-week lag behind everything.)

    Oh, and my problem with the Aquaman line is: he's a joke on Craig Ferguson! (Maybe he was on O'Brien's show, too.. I don't watch him...)

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  4. I definitely liked this comic, despite it's "I'm better than you are are" montage the guys threw back and forth at each other.

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  5. God help me, but Martin, I'm actually gonna go buy this issue based on your review. Urgh.

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  6. I agree Joe, the gathering of the team is taking forever. I think back to when, say, Steve Englehart and Dick Dillin gave us a JLA origin with cameos by all the heroes of the Silver Age in 34 pages, and sigh.

    Hopefully douchey Hal is on the way out after this issue, Siskoid - please God!

    Thanks for the clarification, Rob. And if anyone should be making gags about Aquaman, it's Johnny Nevada!

    May the team settle soon, Jimmy.

    I'm very sorry, Novelty.

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