Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Justice League #5 review

Darkseid has landed in Metropolis and has his eyes on Flash and Superman. More specifically, his omega beams, the deadly force blasts that can lock on to a person, making evasion almost impossible.

'Almost'. The fastest man alive finds a way to escape being blasted to atoms, and while Superman isn't so lucky, he is tougher so survives the painful burst of energy. Mind, he's stunned enough for Darkseid's flying monkeys - sorry, parademons - to whisk him away.

Flash shares the bad news with pal Green Lantern and new acquaintances Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg and Wonder Woman, who are pulling themselves together after being downed by Darkseid debris last issue. GL fires himself at the silent alien dictator but is beaten down while his colleagues flail around like an Enterprise crew on the command deck. All but GL - with one arm broken - and Batman wind up blasted streets away, bringing the issue's big emotional scene as Batman bids to persuade GL they should find their colleagues - GL is fighting mad and raring to go up against Darkseid again, even if it gets him killed.

Batman unmasks in front of Hal, to prove he's just an ordinary guy like him, trying to right wrongs. After giving GL a pep talk cum lecture, Batman leaves the mask off, peels away his chest symbol and gives himself up to the parademons, figuring that's the quickest way to find Superman. A becalmed GL finds the other heroes, passes on Batman's pep talk and they shuffle off to find Darkseid. Batman, meanwhile, finds himself on the other side of a Boom Tube and staring at the hellish heart of Armaghetto on the planet Apokolips.

This doesn't yet feel like a Justice League comic, but it's getting there. The heroes have stopped bickering in favour of addressing the big picture - the threat of Darkseid to all life on Earth. Hal Jordan's oafish behaviour comes to a head, bringing the promise of a calmer Green Lantern, while Flash impresses with his super-speed tactics. Batman intrigues with his very odd undressing on the battlefield, and an understandably scared Cyborg steps up into a literal baptism of fire. GL's reaction to Batman's reveal is priceless.

It's not all great, though. Aquaman gets something like four words, while Wonder Woman, in her dozen or so, comes across as a slash-happy dimwit. Hopefully writer Geoff Johns will up his game with regard to Diana, in particular, sharpish.
And if artist Jim Lee could perhaps draw her not looking like a blow-up doll, so much the better (click on image to enlarge).

Everyone else looks fine, but his Diana, in that scrappy tiara-effort, is rubbish - maybe I should blame one or more of the four inkers, but I seriously doubt any of them are tinkering with the boss' breakdowns. Darkseid is imposing but Lee's redesign isn't a patch on Jack Kirby's original, just as none of the New 52 costumes better previous versions ... they're all just fuss and faff, tweaking for the sake of it.

The best scenes are those involving Green Lantern: whether he's tickling Darkseid, bemusing Batman or playing big brother to Cyborg, GL is imbued with a rare intensity by Lee that matches Johns' script.

Next issue brings the origin of the new JLA to a conclusion, and after that, in #7, a Shazam back-up, signalling an end to filler nonsense such as this issue's sketchbooks showing the new designs for Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg. Maybe then this book will feel like $3.99 well spent.

8 comments:

  1. I thought the unmasking/peeling scene was a bit ridiculous personally.
    Enjoyed the issue otherwise, but Geoff Johns should avoid Bendis-style storytelling...

    Five issues in and we're still not very far in the story.

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  2. Which it was. OK, I could just about believe Batman would take the mask off for a sec, sure that no eyes were on him, but then leave it off and run through the streets? And who knew his Bat-symbol was designed for animation in various media?

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  3. I read it under 5 minutes, so that was lame, but I can't deny I'm enjoying this series immensely. I agree, Wonder Woman may be a foreigner, but an idiot, even for comic relief, just falls flat.

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  4. This sounds bad. I forgot it was $3.99!!

    I'm going on another cull - I've already dropped the more 'grown up' launches (Animal Man, Swamp Thing) to get a more satisfactory reading experience - and stuff like this which you can read in 2 minutes doesn't seem worth the wait or price tag.

    Totally agree with you about Wonder Woman. I understand these new characters are supposed to be 'younger' but she comes across as a bimbo idiot or Xena / She-Hulk with a sword which is really not a good move.

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  5. Glad you're enjoying it, Mr W!

    I'm not getting your logic as regards dropping Animal Man and Swamp Thing, And-Ru ... they're not satisfying cos they're too grown up? Well, you know how I like Tiny Titans!

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  6. I missed the end off - it was supposed to say 'a more satisfactory reading experience in the trades.'

    Although even stuff like this seems to be written for the trades since you can read the entire issue in 30 seconds.

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  7. I just can't figure out why Batman is so willing to take off the cowl and explain his backstory to, what amounts to, a complete stranger. That's easily the most out-of-character thing I've seen in a comic book in a long time. Ridiculous.

    I'm fired up for Shazam BTW. I hope he's featured in the nDCU. There's so many ways they can work him in. I've never understood DCs failure to use him correctly.

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  8. Yeah, I can see him de-Batting to fool the Parademons (assuming they actually recognise superheroes) but in front of Hal? No way.

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