Thursday, 18 October 2012

Justice League #13 review

What a difference a few months makes. It's not that long ago that Wonder Woman was attacking her Justice League teammates for the very suggestion that they might help with what she considered private business. But here she is, persuaded that the rest of the League should assist her in finding a lost tribe connected to longtime foe the Cheetah.

Partly, Diana's acceptance is due to persuasive words from Superman, colleague turned potential boyfriend. But I'm choosing to believe that she's growing, further evidence being that she doesn't loose her sword on the Cheetah during the scrap that kicks off this issue. Instead, she's a Wonder Woman I recognise, appealing to the friendship she once shared with Barbara Minerva, antiquities expert turned host to 'the goddess of the hunt'. It seems that in the DC New 52 universe, the big cat goddess shares - or fights for - territory with Diana's namesake, adding a new layer to the Cheetah and Wonder Woman's traditional enmity.

We learn the Cheetah's origin via back and forth scenes: Steve Trevor tells it to Batman and Aquaman from his hospital room, while Diana fills in the other JL members at the Watchtower. All the superheroes finally converge on the Amazon jungle, where a nasty surprise awaits.

Other business sees Wonder Woman and Superman ponder what last issue's kiss - which has been going on for two months, given they're still super-snogging as we join them this time - means for them; and Cyborg and Flash bond some over the former's enigmatic existence. This second scene is my favourite part of the issue, showing that the Leaguers can be more than the suspicious frat boys they've seemed to date.

For whatever reason, writer Geoff Johns gives us his best JL script in awhile, with a satisfying blend of villainous antics and deepening character. Another thing in the book's favour is the absence of regular penciller Jim Lee and his inflatable Diana doll. Instead we have Tony S Daniel, who's equally adept at the big moments, but stronger than Lee when it come to the acting. For example, he really sells the attraction between the League's heaviest hitters (click on image to enlarge).
The only thing I don't like with Daniel's pencils - which are inked by the very able Batt and Richard Friend - is Superman's constant floating around his team-mates, a distancing tic inherited from Lee. Tomeu Morey's colours are fine throughout, and add an extra lushness to the Amazon scenes.

There's no Shazam back-up this time, instead, there's a prelude to the upcoming Justice League of America series. Amanda Waller tells Steve Trevor she's replacing him as JL liaison, and Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, shows up with a mysterious object. It's six pages of fun foreboding courtesy of Johns, Jeff Lemire, Brad Walker and Drew Hennessy. The artists do well in distinguishing between Steve and Oliver - they're both lantern-jawed blonds but it's easy to tell then apart, and the composition throughout is first class.
One question. Who's Waller referring to here? Justice League Dark member Black Orchid, who's known to use disguises, or someone we've not seen yet? Would it be too much to hope that chameleon girl Gypsy is an as-yet-unannounced member of the upcoming JLA team?

I guess we'll find out once January, and the JLA's debut issue, rolls around. Meanwhile, I'll be watching this Cheetah serial with interest, hoping for yet more improvements.

40 comments:

  1. I enjoyed Cheetah's backstory and I do like seeing Diana have a villain directly related to her journey. However, I am starting to feel that this book could easily become oversaturated with Wonder Woman and Superman.

    The "attraction" between Diana and Superman still feels forced to me. Both characters are so isolated in ways that are so contrived. We know Diana loved Steve yet now she likes Clark? It feels very forced.

    The major problem, to me, is that Superman and Wonder Woman do genuinely care about each other but it feels like a really good FRIENDSHIP. There is no push and pull here. Compare this to what Clark feels for Lois and it feels so safe and platonic. Yes, they are both beautiful, good people and I have little trouble believing that they have genuine care for each other. But this feels like the set up for a lifelong friendship....not love.

    They aren't yin and yang. They are both ying.

    Not sure if that makes sense. It just feels so forced and wrong for these characters. Maybe that's the point? I'm not sure. Cheetah was great though.

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    1. I understand your worry about the Wonder Woman/Superman fling, but this issue - and the JLI Annual - reassured me that DC aren't diving right in, they're playing with an obvious, boring idea to stir up drama, publicity and maybe even sales.

      Thanks for the excellent points about Superman/Diana vs Superman/Lois. You're dead on.

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    2. That's exactly how I feel about Superman/Wonder Woman. It's a story element that they're milking of all it's publicity potential. It's not intended to last, it's just intended to be explored for a while, before the relationship comes to a head in whatever story it's needed for down the line. And judging by the JLI Annual, it'll be an event the relationship itself sets in motion.

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    3. Oh, I totally agree that it's a story element that the will milk for a while (because it doesn't have staying power long term--it's too predictable and dull) and then used for drama down the line as a source of conflict for all involved.

      I just think they have to tread carefully or the long term damage is going to be severe.

      Unfortunately, they are going to make it going forward so that the friendship between these two is changed forever. Anyone with half a brain (sorry but if you don't know you are clueless) knows that these two belong as best friends and not lovers. They aren't really in love. They admire each other. They adore each other. But their hearts both lie elsewhere more. That's the name of the game here.

      But you've got to tread carefully because these two are supposed to be heroes. They aren't supposed to be selfish, needy people who are desperate for contact. You know?

      If the Superman writers intend to continue to write the Superbooks (as they claim they will) with Clark still harboring love for Lois Lane....you have to tread carefully there. Because what message you are sending about your Superman. And what kind of position are you putting Wonder Woman (of all people) in as the woman that is what...his back up plan? It's the same with Steve Trevor. What kind of message are you sending about Wonder Woman if she'd rather turn her back on the guy she clearly loves and fall into the arms of Superman.

      This story could come off making them both look really sympathetic because they are both so worried about hurting the people they care about or it could make them both look like cowardly jerks. Issue #12 was bordering on the jerk for me. This issue...jury is out. It's hard not to feel like Diana, however sympathetic, is being really cruel to STeve Trevor and it's hard not to remember that a few weeks ago in ACtion Comics Superman was dreaming of marrying Lois Lane.

      So they have to tread carefully. Problem is I think they are thinking SHORT TERM with this. I don't think they are thinking, "What will this do to our icons down the road?"

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  2. I liked Daniels's art better than any of his earlier work I'd seen -- I was very pleasantly surprised by this issue in that regard.

    As for the character watching Steve, Gypsy was my first thought, too. Another (less likely) notion is a female Atom: a few people had looked at the Atom on the FCBD spread and thought the character looked female. Tough to say for sure, though, since the character was tiny and facing three-quarters away. Personally, I'd rather get Gypsy back (under whatever less offensive codename they give her) and have Ryan Choi back as the Atom. I miss that guy.

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    1. Ah, a female Atom, good idea Rob. But I'd also prefer Ryan (I'm sure he's had a New 52 mention somewhere) or Gypsy. I've never had a problem with the latter name, it's just a superhero thing. OK, she may have been a bit of a pickpocket as a runaway, but DC never said all Gypsies were pickpockets. And anyway, if Cindy is to be taken as representative of Romanies, Travellers, whoever, well, she's proven a heck of a heroine over the years.

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    2. Agreed. I'm not personally offended by the name, either... but it's not my ethnicity, so whatever sting it has doesn't affect me. But if there were another ethnic slur used as a superhero name, it would stand out like a sore thumb and no one would stand for it. But this one, for whatever reasons, persists. (Most likely because most of us has never really heard it used as a slur, but more as a description of a lifestyle.)

      Regardless, I'm betting DC is aware that at least a fraction of their audience would find her name offensive, and would probably take the opportunity to change it on the relaunch. I can even imagine how they'd convey the notion that it's the same character as before, since it's not like her secret ID will ring bells for anyone but diehards: one of her co-agents uses the term to refer to her, and Cindy takes offense and lets him know it... and that's that.

      As for Ryan, there might have been a mention in an issue of Frankenstein, but probably not. I like the notion that Ryan is the first Atom -- that he was a star student adapted his professor's shrinking technology and decided to use it to fight crime. We still get a mentor/student relationship between Palmer and Choi they just no longer dress the same.

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  3. The exchanges between the Flash and Cyborg was nice and I loved the art, though the Cheetah origin story not so much…so far. I prefer Perez’ version---blood, gore, and all.

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    1. Cheers Arnold - I was never a fan of Barbara Minerva, so whether it's old BM or new BM, for me she's just a placeholder until Priscilla Rich shows up.

      I can dream ...

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  4. Looking forward to this. Am excited to see how the Wonder Woman superman romance builds from here. Hope they take their time and hope it spills over into the other titles soon lol

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    1. Stop that crazy talk, Unoaranya! :)

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    2. The people who like SM/WW really don't want this spilling over into the other books. They think they do but the problem is when it spills into the Superbooks....Lois is there. And Clark loves Lois. And his Clark Kent identity and life as a human and not just as a superhero in tights all of a sudden becomes a driving force. This isn't going to be the honeymoon people think it's going to be if it spills over into the other titles. But it will be funny watching the SM/WW shippers have a fit when it's clear that Superman still loves Lois Lane. I might buy popcorn for that one.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. I think the two biggest surprises for me from this comic was:

    1. The backup was co-written by Jeff Lemire. Where's his top billing?
    2. This actually felt like a team comic for once. I enjoy this comic as is, but it's just so refreshing to read a team comic and be actually reward with a team in it for once.

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  6. Steve who? Lois? What's that? Batman? Hahahahaha suck on it bats.

    I loved this issue. The very few wordless tension that was build up with SM and WW was far far better than the 20 years of pretentious marriage he ever had with Lois. Supes and Wonder is going to make it big. My best wishes to them.

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    1. Steve Trevor continue to comes off as a good and honorable man and I think it will be more than clear going forward that Diana still loves him. That was very clear in the last issue.

      Your comment about the marriage being "pretentious" is sad. The marriage was beautiful. It's very easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and to bash the old in favor of the new. But there is a reason the Superman/Lois relationship lasted as long as it did. It survived alot of things. It survived good books and bad books. Great writers and horrible writers. Great artists and horrible artists.

      Alot of energy and effort has been put into trying to build up Superman and Wonder Woman. The effort had to be put into it, in part, because the marriage was beloved by alot of people and nothing is going to change that.

      What this comes down to is staying power. Relationships in these narratives aren't always epic moments and they can't be. That's why very few of the relationships have staying power. Lois and Clark had staying power because it was never just gorgeous art or publicity or anything of the sort.

      Superman and Wonder Woman are going to make it big and then they are going to crash and burn. These characters do not have the staying power to sustain this for years to come. All of the energy being put into it is being done so that it will crash.

      Eventually, Clark will return to Lois because like it or not, at the end of the day, she is the person that he really loves. That is still canon despite DC doing so much to muck it up.

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    2. Why are you so incredibly nasty? You don't even know your history.

      The marriage was planned as early as 1990 and had been something that many people within the company had been pushing for since the 70's. Siegel himself had wanted Lois in on the secret as early as 1940--he saw the triangle as having an end point for Lois and Clark.

      The Earth-2 marriage (that became Golden Age canon) back in the 70's happened, in part, because there was a significant movement within the Bronze Age to start treating these characters with respect and allowing their love story to play out naturally without forced impediments.

      I didn't love many of the changes that Bryne made to Krypton but the changes made with Lois in the 90's were a direct result of a cultural climate that no longer supported sexism and discrimination against women as a norm as they did in the Silver Age.

      The engagement took place in 1990. Dan Jurgens and others planned to marry Lois and Clark early on but were delayed by the TV show. It wasn't the other way around. The marriage would have been even earlier.

      There is no need to be nasty.

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    3. YellowSunsRule, I've deleted your comments? Welcome to the internet? Welcome to my blog. Impassioned discussion? Great. Swearing and rudeness? Nope. I want people to be able to post here without fear of abuse.

      A little respect goes a long way.

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    4. Oh jee, that's going to disappoint me I suppose? Your blog is cool and I even liked your review. But sorry I'm not going listen to festering jargon and play nice.

      Good day.

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  7. It's not the swearing that's nasty, it's all the ignorant condescension around it.

    Hunz.

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    1. Rob, thanks so much for stepping in while I was asleep here in the UK.

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    2. Happy to help. I'm glad I wasn't out of line.

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  8. I think your blog will do much better if you didn't have trolls coming in and spamming their walls of texts, trying to impose their belief on anyone that actually likes the SMWW pair. The blog includes a comment section so that they can voice their opinion. They don't need a troll policing every comment and beating drums about how they don't like this pair.

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    1. What's a troll? Anonymous came in with their opinions, Yellowsun could have argued against them without getting nasty about it. They're welcome back here anytime if they dial it down.

      And the blog does fine, ta - it's not like I have any ambitions for it beyond amusing myself and getting some chat going. Good-natured chat. If it's not for you, fair enough ... there's a whole list of recommended blogs down the side of the page.

      Now, can we please get back to discussing the JL issue?

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    2. Now Martin, no need to get defensive. I never suggested I didn't like your blog. But do go through every comment yourself. How many fans of the SMWW pair were commenting on every posters opinion? And how many comments were there against the pair?

      Perhaps, you aren't aware of it but this is a very common scenario in every blogs, forums and discussion boards. A very minority of a very LOUD bunch infests blogs and forums with their long walls of text that repeats indefinitely and derails the topic at hand. And the topic is 99% of the time about Clark and Diana.

      Sorry, don't want to derail the topic. But thought you should know, if you didn't already.

      Cheers

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    3. I always liked Clark and Lana myself ...

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  9. I think Superman, as an essentially chaste childhood hero, works best in doomed romances with mermaids.

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    1. Or struggling to get home without powers, in a Metropolis a million years from now.

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    2. Oh, yes! And come to think of it, the one part of the Green Lantern mythos I really miss is that occasionally Hal would get kidnapped into the future to become *their* hero.

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  10. Gypsy as the "Bureau's top spy"? Hmmm, hadn't thought of that.

    Have to admit, with Waller telling Trevor "she" was in the room and Waller's previous association, my first thought was Nightshade.

    Guess we wait and see.

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    1. Ohhh, Nightshade is good too - another character I miss.

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  11. Nightshade would be a great choice, too! Even better, really, considering her espionage roots.

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  12. I like Cheetah, but I don't see her fighting the entire JL. What's next, the team takes on Captain Cold?

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    1. Fair point - I'll be surprised if she proves a big threat next issue all by her lonesome.

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  13. This was easily my favorite issue of this title yet. I like the new amped-up Cheetah. The art was really nice (save Flash's face in one panel), and the writing was much better as well.

    As for the "top intelligence agent", I think Gypsy and Nightshade are both good guesses, as well as Fire. Fire was a spy, I do believe.

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    1. Aha, Bea, yup, could be Bea too - not sure how she'd do the hiding, mind ... that girl begs to be seen.

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  14. You know i've been a long time fan of Superman and Wonder woman and their past love interests since the late 60's!! But, I've always wondered why Superman and Woman woman never got together!! Even those i have always accepted the relationship between Lois and Superman, i never really got it!! I always thought Lois was loud and very rude!! She would walk over anybody to get her story, foe, friends and her love, it wouldn't matter just as long as she got her story!! Which is so different from what Superman or his alter ego would do. Clark was always soft spoken and kind person,so different from Lois!! Even to this day i never saw what Superman sees in her! I may be one of the few long term fans that is excited about the change in their relationship from friends too lovers!!

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  15. I'm so old that I've seen the Wonder Woman/Superman thing a few times and I'm always delighted when it fails - I like Clark with a well-characterised (not loud and shrewish) Lois and Diana with a well-characterised (courageous and supportive) Steve. Still, let's see what DC does with the storyline this time.

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