Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Justice League #12 review

The Villain's Journey ends as the Justice League takes down David Graves. Green Lantern is the only hero not fooled for a second by the demons pretending to be the ghosts of their loved ones, and he leads an attack on the bad guy. The other MVP here is League liaison Steve Trevor, far from dead and able to surprise Graves with his sharpshooting. Other heroes get blows in too, but it's Hal and Steve who are the heroes of the hour.

What a shame, then, that once Graves has been sent to Belle Reve prison, these two aren't thrown a parade. Au contraire. Hal quits the League, feeling that the public needs a scapegoat after his stupid scrap with Wonder Woman last month. And Steve is sacked as League liaison by Wonder Woman, because she hates the idea that he's in constant danger because of her.

Aquaman feels the League needs better leadership, and volunteers, but current chief Batman isn't having it. Suicide Squad boss Amanda Waller asks Graves to write a book that will destroy the League, as his previous one made their reputation. And Superman and Wonder Woman have a pathetic, needy kiss.

This isn't a brilliant issue. Graves's master plan - to make the League better heroes by forcing them to understand loss - was whacko last time writer Geoff Johns used the idea, with Zoom in Flash. Even more whacko is the League deciding that, yes, they were responsible for the death of Graves' family because they didn't consider every possible source of civilian casualties in the aftermath of the Apokolips war. The idea that they saved the world, but because people still died they're not fit to be called heroes, is just stupid. And Diana's logic is weird - she pushes Steve away but seems OK with some new League liaison having a target painted on their back. Plus, the recap at the start is a headscratcher, with the media apparently knowing more about Graves than the League.

But I like that Graves is despatched pretty quickly once the League members begin working together. And the new information we're given about Wonder Woman's past, and beliefs, fills in some needed detail, while Steve is a compelling, admirable fellow. Aquaman calling for a more committed, better League is a nice callback to his forming the Detroit League back in the day. And I love that Hal is the one who sees through the spirit illusions, and is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the League (even though he's wrong to take the blame for last issue's shameful spat). And who knew that Doris Lessing is such a big seller in the New 52 DC Universe?

This issue is one of the better Justice League scripts since the series began, though that's not saying an enormous amount. Jim Lee's artwork looks pretty good, even with numerous inkers on board. While we still get lots of splash pages, they're offset by loads of tiny panels which jolly the story along- suddenly it feels as if we're getting value for money. The action is big and daft and enjoyable, while the quietest scene - Superman and Wonder Woman 'finding' one another - plays out sweetly. I'm not thrilled by the prospect of a Diana/Clark fling, but it's something DC has to get out of the way whenever they reboot, so bring it on, and kick it to the kerb.
Wonder Woman also features in the other standout scene, a visit to the recovering Steve. Diana's not demonstrating the wisdom she's meant to have, but at least Johns and Lee power the encounter with convincing emotion, something this series has lacked overall.

The issue closes with previews of what's to come in the next year and a bit - the new Justice League of America, a traitor, Captain Marvel (bah to Shazam!) joining up. Let's hope it's better than the first year of this series, which has been uneven, with a leaning towards the bad.

17 comments:

  1. All the talk about "being the League the world needs" would have played a lot better if Johns had spent even one issue showing what the League actually does...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, true - I suppose Aquaman has had a crazy notion. Maybe when he sleeps, he dreams of Earth 1.

      Mind if I post a link to your piece on the Justice League, one year on?

      http://slaymonstrobot.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/one-year-later-stuck-on-earth-q.html

      Delete
  2. Overall, the Graves plot hasn't thrilled me, and I felt like the wheels really came off it this issue, revealing him as a Zoom retread (I liked Zoom, probably because there was plenty of buildup before Zolomon went off the edge) and a villain that could be defeated pretty much by thinking really hard. Steve's critical shot reminded me of a similar encounter in All-Star Squadron #16, but that's probably because I just reread that issue. Loved it then, love it now.

    I think Justice League really suffers from not having a companion book out, telling done-in-one adventures about past cases. They've been around for years, but they still feel like such an immature group -- I'd like to see some of the other adventures they have behind them that explain why the world holds them in such high regard, because we, as readers, have only seen them defeat a handful of threats. (These would also be perfectly fine as all-ages material, and would cover a lot of storytelling ground in a year.)

    As for Superman/Wonder Woman... it's a sales gimmick, and a storytelling opportunity. I'm not crazy about it as a status quo, but I'm under no illusions (despite DC's protestations) that it's anything permanent. Heck, we're already being told (in the pages of the JLI Annual) that this relationship is A Very Bad Thing. So if they get a compelling storyline out of it, I'm all for it. Otherwise, feh.

    Looking forward to Reis taking over the art chores! His characters are better "actors" than Lee's, IMO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers for the feedback, Rob. I'm scratching my head now, trying to remember ASS #16 from, er, a couple of years back.

      I love the idea of an all-ages JL book to fill in the blanks - if only someone at DC were reading!

      I'm looking forward to seeing Reis on JL too, I've missed his work since I dropped Aquaman.

      Delete
  3. It's a Wonder Woman-centric story, done-in-one, where they faced off against a bargain-basement Magneto named (for some reason) Nuclear. Just in the nick of time, Trevor shot the guy and he fell into a big fire pit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! 'For some reason' probably equates to 'some 1942 story in which Wonder Woman's tiara was the wrong way round for a single panel'.

      Delete
    2. Ha -- I don't think Roy was correcting any golden age mistakes -- though he did offer an explanation for a character's unusual surname, Percy Playboy -- but it was based in part on an old Wonder Woman story.

      Man, I loved that book. And I adore the long-dead notion that the events in the very beginnings of these characters' careers were still relevant to current stories. (Even though I'm more anti-continuity than pro-, I appreciate the experience.)

      Delete
    3. Percy Playboy! Oh, I wish my collection wasn't in England - hmm, didn't a Showcase come out?

      Delete
    4. That it did... and it's an early enough issue that it should be included in the first volume. (Sadly, the JLA chapters of the team's first crossover aren't.)

      Delete
  4. Damn you Johns! Where's my Shazam backup?! I was so looking forward to that!

    Regardless, not too bad for a wrap up to the arc. Didn't end as good as it started, but I feel the title is now moving in a good direction that the heroes finally are working together a bit better.

    I'm more neutral on this whole Wonder Woman and Superman hookup thing. Could be good, could be bad. I'm going to let this play out and see how I feel after a while. I'm just glad it didn't turn out that they have been dating all this time and now we know. Here's to the future and the upcoming Shazam issue and Cheetah arc!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't miss the Shazam back-up at all. I like it when it's there, but the pace so sedate that I'm not itching for the next episode to show up. It'll turn up soon enough!

      Delete
  5. Is the Wonder Woman book even set on the same Earth as the JL book? Azzarello is writing a supremely confident and strong person who is not in the least bit lonesome. Here we have the whiny neurotic who gives it up to the first serious super powered come on. And with her and Clark, I know opposites attract but it's what you have in common that keeps you together. Aside from 'punching things hard' what is that? And Steve? Walk away, dude. This version of Diana doesn't respect you, your abilities, or your choices. Go call Extrano or Obsidian. They'll treat you right...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The weird thing is that I don't even read Clark and Diana as "opposites attract." Because they are both so similar to each other and yet the things that ARE different are the wrong things to have in common.

      The great thing about Lois and Clark/Superman (and I don't think it really matters which identity you are talking about with Lois because it works either way) is that Lois and Clark are so different in so many ways and yet they are the SAME where it matters.


      Lois and Clark were the literal embodiment of opposites attract. He's more reserved and quiet. She's more aggressive. He's the farmboy. She's the city girl. He's the romantic. She...is also a romantic but she won't ADMIT it.

      But despite all the differences...there were some CORE similarities between Lois and Superman particularly in how they view justice.

      Both Lois and Superman have a pretty firm view ow how they view justice. For all her badass ways, Lois Lane, like Superman, really has no tolerance for people taking a life. She doesn't justify that kind of stuff. They also both tend to reach out to people in the same way---talk people down---they have a similar way of attacking a problem. It's why they make a good team.

      Clark and Diana are actually MORE similar in terms of personality which never reads as a sexy thing to me. It reads a bit incestuous. Like brother and sister.

      It's never hard for me to buy that Lois Lane just flat out turns Clark Kent on. Not because she's the hottest woman in the world but because she's like a wildfire plowing through life with a very specific human energy. Diana, when written correctly, is really much more like Clark. She's not the driving flame--she's a more calm force of wisdom. It's not the same pull.

      The things that kept Lois and Clark TOGETHER though were that despite being from such different backgrounds---despite him literally being from the stars and she from Earth---they were the same where it counted. That sense of soulfulness kept them together.

      Truthfully, the hook-up in this issue didn't read as anything more to me than...pathetic, lonely people. I know DC has been building it up as this great "romance" and I have to be honest...I found it kind of cringe worthy and forced.

      I guess maybe there is a point to all of this and maybe the whole point will be that we learn that they aren't right for each other and we can finally put this relationship to rest once and for all? Maybe?

      But then I read some of the (frankly nasty and uncalled for) things that DC leadership says about Lois and Clark and I really wonder if they truly don't see the flaw in their vision.

      Who knows. All I know is that I don't feel emotionally connected to Superman in a relationship with Wonder Woman at all. The heart of the story just seems to be lost. And I think the reason it's lost is because Lois isn't part of this equation. She's Superman's soul. And without her...he seems directionless and pathetic.

      Delete
    2. And I have nothing incisive to add - you've said it all. Once the stunt fling is over, I can see DC writers admitting many of these points are spot on. For now, though, they have to pretend that a WW/S pairing is a feasible proposition.

      Delete
  6. I'm going to read jla cause j'onn is on the team and i have grown to love Steve Trevor and his agency ARGUS, and David Finch's art helps

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. plus johns says the secret society of supervillains will be the first enemy the jla faces and possibly the main bad guys, just think mart you may see the hall of doom.

      Delete
    2. It all sounds rather hopeful. But they had me at Vibe.

      Delete