Thursday, May 16, 2013
Script by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Pencils by Marcus To
Inks by Ray McCarthy
Colors Brian Buccelato (pages 1-10) and Ian Herring (pages 11-20)
Letters Wes Abbott
Associate Editor Chris Conroy
Editor Matt Idelson
It finally happened! I finally got back to The Flash! But what's been several months in real-time, it's probably only been a week or two in comic-time. Sadly, my return to the title is not on a Manapul-Buccellato masterpiece, but at least they did write the script and do the cover.
The cover is beautifully drawn and contains more than enough action and excitement. However, I am a little upset with it because it looks like Iris West and James Forrest are on the cover, but they're not — it's just two people in the bar who happen to look a lot like them. I guess that's Manapul's fault — having so many background characters look so similar.
Our story starts in Keystone City, where a mysterious man in a trench coat and baseball cap enters a cheap, filthy hotel. He hates the place, but feels it's a good spot to help him disappear until he can control the fire inside him. While he checks in, somebody accidentally bumps into him and knocks off his hat, revealing a very badly burned and very angry Heatwave. He opens up his coat and starts spewing flames from his chest.
Nearby, Barry Allen is adjusting to his new life after his adventures in the Speed Force and elsewhere. While he was gone, his old friend Dr. Elias began to turn the public against the Flash. Even Barry's girlfriend, Patty Spivot, is against the Scarlet Speedster, so he's decided to leave her behind by keeping Barry Allen officially dead and starting a new life in Keystone City's roughest neighborhood, "The Keys." He hopes that no one will recognize him here and being in close proximity to the criminal world will help him discover who or what is behind the recent arsons plaguing the city.
Barry feels a bit like Batman doing all this detective work, but unlike Batman, he has to worry about finding a place to stay and a job to pay for it. To expedite this search, Barry uses his speed mind trick, which he hasn't tried since using it almost got him killed by Mob Rule. He thinks about Patty, Darryl Frye, Batman, his own grave and even considers working for the police department. Ultimately, he settles on a "Help Wanted" sign in front of a rough-looking bar. However, using his speed mind put Barry into kind of a trance that was only broken when someone bumped into him.
Barry enters the Keystone Saloon and asks for the job, but the bartender is skeptical. Barry orders a drink, but then realizes the guy who bumped into him on the street stole his wallet. He offers to work for the drink and the bartender hires him. Barry then realizes that he's sitting next to Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold, who is surprisingly out of Iron Heights. (There's no editor's note here, but I'm going to assume that Cold was broken out by David Graves in Justice League #10.)
We then cut to the Downtown Division of the Central City Police Department, where Director Singh is lecturing Patty for putting herself at such great risk in South America. She points out that she was able to close an open case, but Singh says she should leave that work to the detectives. While he's yelling at her, he mentions Barry's death, but then quickly apologizes. After Patty leaves, we see the real reason behind Singh's anger: a Central Citizen headline, reading "Pied Piper Back."
Meanwhile, Dr. Darwin Elias is on a talk show. He takes full credit for restoring power to the Gem Cities after the blackout and he announces the opening of a new monorail. He makes it a point to say they are much better off without the Flash, and he predicts the demise of superheroes and super villains within six months.
The talk show is playing at the bar, and Snart gets mad enough at Elias to throw his beer mug into the TV. The bartender, Charles, chews him, but Snart brushes him off. He claims that Elias is no different from the Rogues and he laments over the old days when good guys were good guys and bad guys were bad guys. He concludes his rant by complaining that he can't even drink beer without freezing it. Barry helps him out by mixing a rather girly drink that is able to withstand extremely low temperatures. This helps him bond with Snart and Barry introduces himself as Allen.
Suddenly, Heatwave bursts through the door, yelling at Captain Cold. Barry tries to talk some sense into him, but Heatwave tosses him out the window. So "Al" the bartender clocks out and the Flash clocks in. He runs into the bar and tries to talk down Heatwave and Cold, but they naturally ignore him. Flash then asks Heatwave if he's responsible for the arsons, but he says it's Captain Cold's fault. He then yells at Cold for ruining the Rogues' lives, but he says he was only trying to help. Flash has decided he's had enough at this point, so he runs around the two villains to suck away their oxygen. They're quickly knocked out and Flash is happy he was able to prevent them from hurting anyone, all thanks to him being Al the bartender at a notorious villain hang-out.
Captain Cold and Heatwave regain consciousness in a police van headed to Iron Heights. The two quickly resume their argument, and Heatwave says the Rogues are better off without Cold. Suddenly, Lisa Snart, aka Glider, phases through the truck and joins the conversation.
The story. It is so good to be back to reviewing Manapul-Buccellato stories. They are so full of detail and references to past issues and teasers for future issues. This title features an intricate level of connectedness that I see more common in Japanese manga like Naruto, but rarely in American comics. It's just so great to have it here! As long as Manapul and Buccellato keep writing the Flash, I'll keep buying it.
The death of Barry Allen. When Action Comics "killed" Clark Kent, they made a really big deal of it and then it only lasted two issues. But Manapul and Buccellato handled Barry's apparent death in a much more subtle way and stretched it out over a much longer period of time. And I've really enjoyed it. They haven't beat us over the head with "Barry Allen is dead!" signs in every issue, but every now and then we see how his death is affecting him, his girlfriend and his work. It's just been really interesting for me.
Heatwave. We're again introduced to another classic Rogue, and like the others, he's been given a double-edged upgrade. I really like his new design, and I kinda feel bad for him. He has a perpetual fire in his chest that is very difficult to contain. That's got to suck. This issue also reminded us that it sucks to be Captain Cold. I mean, the poor guy can't even drink anything without freezing it! Yes, I would have liked a little more Heatwave-Captain Cold fight, but this issue's primary purpose was to set up bigger things down the road, which we will be getting to quickly.
Nothing huge. Marcus To is no Francis Manapul, but his art is very solid and serves the story well. However, whenever Manapul doesn't pencil an issue, it feels like they're purposefully holding back some bigger moments. I guess that is to be expected, though, and I can't complain because these issues did advance the story, unlike some other filler issues out there.
Final score: 8 out of 10
Next: The secrets of Glider!
Monday, May 13, 2013
Peter J. Tomasi Story and Words
Fernando Pasarin Penciller
Scott Hanna Inker
Gabe Eltaeb Colorist
Dave Sharpe Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor
The cover is by Scott Clark and Peter Steigerwald. It is a pretty gripping and exciting image that gives you a good idea of what happens in the book. I'm also glad there isn't any extra text (a rarity these days) that might say something dumb like "Guy Gardner's Last Stand!" At first I thought the black-and-white version had too much black, but now it's grown on me. Very solid cover.
The story starts near Saturn, where Guy Gardner is leading a group of Green Lanterns in a fight against the Third Army.
However, the zombie-soldiers prove too powerful for the Lanterns and are able to penetrate their shields, rip off their rings (usually by ripping off their finger or entire hand) and convert them into more Third Army soldiers. Soon, Gardner is the only one left. He makes a hasty retreat back to Earth and takes his family to the Justice League Watchtower and leaves them in the care of Cyborg and the Flash.
And ... that's all we see of the Flash in this issue. There a couple of other story lines going on here that I don't fully understand and don't directly involve the Flash, but it does seem like a couple of Lanterns were able to start unraveling the Guardians' plot. However, this issue ends with Gardner resigning from the Corps at the behest of the Guardians.
I don't think anything really stood out as particularly amazing for me. The art was satisfactory and the story was OK, but there was a lot of stuff going on that confused me. Unlike Geoff Johns' writing on Green Lantern, Tomasi's writing pushes me farther away from the Green Lantern mythology, reminding me of how much I don't know. For Green Lantern fans, this is probably a great issue, but for Flash fans like me ... well, not so much.
Basically no Flash. Yes, he is physically there, and he even does say something, but it's only in one panel and we don't get to see his face. I know Tomasi had a lot to do in this issue and space is limited, but I think he missed out on a great opportunity here by not having the Flash interact directly with Guy Gardner, especially after the Flash just barely wish he was dead. Alas!
Final score: 4 out of 10
Next time: Let's quickly review Barry Allen's life from the past couple of months. While he was fighting Captain Cold, Iris West and three others got sucked into the Speed Force. Flash went there to save them, but instead found Turbine. He eventually escaped the Speed Force, but wound up in Gorilla City. Meanwhile, everybody assumes Barry Allen is dead and they even hold a service for him. He finally escapes from Gorilla Grodd and then saves his girlfriend Patty Spivot from the Weather Wizard. Turns out, Patty blames the Flash for Barry's death, so he decides to keep Barry dead for her sake. Until he decides what to do, he goes on a couple of adventures with the Justice League, taking down David Graves, the Cheetah and briefly encountering the new Green Lantern, Simon Baz. Now that that's all done with, it's finally time for Barry to return to the Gem Cities and begin his new life.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Geoff Johns Writer
Doug Mahnke Penciller
Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne and Tom Nguyen Inkers
Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina Colorists
Dave Sharpe Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor
The cover is by Mahnke, Irwin and Sinclair. The characters look good and the action is dynamic and well within the acceptable limits of exaggeration (yeah, their fight wasn't quite this extreme, but the cover isn't showing someone with a sword sticking through their chest or anything like that). I do have two problems with this cover. One, why did Alex Sinclair make the background orange? It's really a nasty color, which I guess is why I like the black-and-white better. Problem number two: Where is the Flash? He actually played a pretty big role in this issue and Mahnke was able to squeeze in everybody but the Flash. This seems to happen more often than not. Sigh ...
The story begins on Oa, the central precinct to the Green Lantern Corps. The Guardians are discussing the progress of their Third Army, which converts all it encounters and eliminates free will by linking sentient beings to a single mind. The Guardians estimate that the army will fill the universe in three months.
We then return to the action in Dearborn, Michigan, where the Justice League has caught up with the newest Green Lantern, suspected terrorist Simon Baz.
Baz readily admits that there's no way he can fight the Justice League, but he does feel he could take Batman, to which the Flash says, "He's a Green Lantern all right!" Batman asks Baz where he got the ring, and he basically pleads ignorance. The League explains to him that the rings choose recruits for their courage and they only choose a new recruit after a previous Green Lantern has died. The Flash makes another joke here, saying he hopes Guy Gardner was the one who died, then quickly asks, "I'm going to hell for that, aren't I?"
Wonder Woman prepares her lasso of truth, which Baz agrees to, but Batman first asks him to take off the ring. Baz tries to, but once he touches the ring, a big green Sinestro blog erupts from it and attacks the League. Panicking, Baz creates a car and races away. Superman and Flash take after him and try to talk some sense into him. Flash tells Baz that by running, he'll make more people think he's guilty.
Baz refuses his advice and says he wants to find whoever was responsible for the bomb he was accused of planting. Baz then escapes Flash and Superman by creating a whole bunch of decoy cars. Free of the Justice League, Baz meets back up with his sister, who helps him on his quest to find the real bomber.
The last few pages of the comic are a bit over my head, involving characters, places and concepts I'm unfamiliar with. But from what I can gather, it seems like when the Guardians first came to be, they imprisoned the First Lantern in a black hole. Now they've taken him from that prison to use his power to create the Third Army. Hal Jordan and Sinestro possibly learned this truth and as a result were sent to the Dead Zone. I could be completely wrong on this — I haven't read very much Green Lantern.
Intriguing story. I really like the idea of the Guardians creating the Third Army. To save the universe from itself, to end all war and pain, they will eliminate free will. And all the extra stuff with the First Lantern and the Dead Zone did confuse me, but was interesting. One of these days, I'm going to need to read all this stuff. All in all, this is a solid comic book with a good story and great art.
Disappointing Justice League. It made perfect sense for the President of the United States to call in the Justice League for this mission. A suspected terrorist being interrogated at Guantanamo Bay was freed by the most powerful weapon in the universe. Yes, that is definitely the time to call in the Justice League. But once they arrived, they really didn't do anything. They sat around and talked for a little bit then two of them went to chase Baz, but were quickly eluded. Doesn't Superman have X-ray vision? Isn't the Flash the fastest man in the world? Why couldn't they find Baz? And why did they stop looking so quickly? If you're going to go to all the trouble of bringing the Justice League in, then you need to give them something to do. But here, they didn't answer any questions or advance the plot in anyway. Ironically, the most interesting pages in this issue were the ones without the Justice League. Maybe that was intentional and this is Johns showing us that the Green Lantern world is too big and strange for the Justice League to handle. I, however, do not agree with that logic.
Also, someone really needs to have a sit-down with Johns and help him decide what kind of Flash he wants to be writing. He brought Barry Allen back to life and every now and then he'll have a good Barry moment. Like here, having Barry try to reason with Baz and have him turn himself in to the proper authorities. That's true to Barry's character. But too often, Johns will write Barry as if he were Wally. Like at the start of this issue, with him cracking a couple of jokes (one of which was kind of inappropriate). I felt like Barry and Hal made a good comedic team, but now that Hal's off the League, all the comedic responsibilities falls on the Flash, which I feel is contrary to the Barry Allen written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. If Johns wants a funny Flash, then he should bring back Wally West. Then he would be praised as the man for reviving two Flashes.
Final score: 5 out of 10
Next time: Unable to find Simon Baz, the Flash and the Justice League head back to the Watchtower to plan their next move, where the events of the Rise of the Third Army will bring them into contact with another Green Lantern — Guy Gardner.
Monday, May 6, 2013
"Actions and Reactions"
Geoff Johns Writer
Doug Mahnke Penciller
Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen, Keith Champagne and Marc Deering Inkers
Alex Sinclair with Tony Avina Colorists
Steve Wanos Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor
Before I begin this review, I need to make a full disclaimer: I have never read Green Lantern. I tried to read some of Blackest Night way back when, but it really confused me, so I basically just left the character alone. But just because I don't know what's going on doesn't mean that it's a bad comic — it just means that in order to fully enjoy it, I'd need to do a lot of back reading, which I am unfortunately unable to do at the moment. (Maybe one day I'll have enough time and money to read everything I'd like. If only ...) So basically, what I'm saying is that I'm coming into this story much like the Flash is — with little to no clue of what's going on.
The cover is by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Rod Reis. It's actually just a part of a much larger image with all the Green Lantern titles, which looks pretty good altogether. But individually, it feels really crowded and empty at the same time. The black-and-white version doesn't work for me here, mainly because one of the Guardians looks too much like a baby for me to take seriously. Surprisingly, there is no variant cover.
The story begins in Washington, D.C., at 4:33 a.m., where Amanda Waller is briefing President Obama on the status of the Green Lanterns. Apparently all four known Earth Lanterns have been missing for a while and a suspected terrorist named Simon Baz has recently come into possession of a Green Lantern ring. Apparently this Baz, who is an Arab and a Muslim, stole a car that happened to have a bomb in it. He was taken to Guantanamo Bay and interrogated until the ring broke him out. Obama orders Waller to call in the Justice League to investigate.
We then cut to Baz in the Florida Keys, who is trying to figure out his new ring. It plays a message from Hal Jordan and Sinestro, who both tell him to stay away from Oa and to not trust the Guardians. Baz then flies to Dearborn, Michigan, to talk to his sister, who has been asked to take a leave of absence from her work because everyone is scared of her brother.
Meanwhile, a trucker is attacked by a member of the Third Army — a zombie-like entity that turns people into other zombies just like it.
Later that night, Baz is knocked off a roof by a red-and-blue blur. A voice says, "You're in a lot of trouble, Mr. Baz." He looks up to see the Justice League.
Solid comic book. The story was good, the art was good, overall this is well-done comic book. Although I only know the basics of Green Lantern, I didn't feel completely lost here. I also found Simon Baz to be an interesting character, and I commend Geoff Johns for introducing him without it feeling like a desperate ploy to demonstrate diversity. Baz's inclusion in this story felt natural and logical. I really would like to read Johns' full Green Lantern run, but the constraints of time and money have required me to stick with just one character, and I chose the Flash.
Little to no Flash. The only page you see him on is the last page, and as you can see, he's just kinda standing there. Because he is physically present, I consider this an active appearance, but just barely. Flash fans can easily skip this issue and not miss the Flash really doing anything. But if Flash fans do pick up this issue, they might find some enjoyment in the story of Simon Baz.
Final score: 5 out of 10
Next time: Find out what the League has in store for Baz in Green Lantern #14.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
It feels weird to make a post without a picture, so I decided to share this shot of my Lightning McQueen remote control car, which I just realized looks exactly like my favorite superhero. Kinda neat, huh?
Anyway, on to the business. While I was preparing my review for Green Lantern #14, I got the impression that Flash may have appeared in Green Lantern #13 as well. Some research confirmed this suspicion, which led me to investigate whether Barry Allen has shown up in more New 52 titles that I've missed. I eventually found dc.wikia.com, which has a convenient list of every character's appearance in every major comic. I thoroughly combed through the Flash's list and found 11 comics I missed, most notably a cameo in Batman: The Dark Knight where he helps Batman fight Bane. But most of the other issues I missed had very small, brief pseudo-appearances, where the Justice League is shown in a vision or something like that.
I initially had some difficulty placing these new issues into my timeline, but then I realized that every superhero appearance can be classified into one of two groups: active and passive. An active appearance is where the character is psychically present in the issue and says/does something tangible. A passive appearance is where the character or a form of the character is only shown in a dream, vision, photograph, etc. Taking this into mind, I have created two overlapping timelines.
Origin: Flash #0
Darkseid Invasion: Justice League #2–#6
Early JL Meeting: Action Comics #10
Fight with Bane: Batman: The Dark Knight #3, #4, #6, #7
Libyan War: Captain Atom #3
Mob Rule: Flash #1–#5
JL Adventures: Justice League #7, #8
Trip to the Speed Force: Flash #6–#10
Superman Sees Krypton: Action Comics #14
Villain's Journey/Cheetah: Justice League #9–#14
Third Army: Green Lantern #13, #14, Green Lantern Corps #14
Rogues/Gorilla Warfare: Flash #11–#17
H'El on Earth: Superman, Superboy, Supergirl #16, #17
Expanding JL: Justice League #18
Trickster's Arrest: Flash #18, #19
Fight with Swamp Thing: Justice League Dark #19, #20
Cover Only: Justice League #1
Darkseid Invasion: DC Universe Presents #0
Superman's Dream: Action Comics #12
Virtual Reality: Resurrection Man #12
Magical Vision: Stormwatch #0
Variant Covers Only: Justice League #15, #16
Rotworld: Animal Man #12, #13, #16, #17
Formation of JLA: Justice League of America #1, Vibe #1–#3
Powers Stolen: Dial H #11
Impersonated by Shape-Shifter: DC Universe Presents #19
So here's what I'm going to do: I'll focus mainly on the active appearances, but I'll still try to cover the passive ones when I can because some of them are kind of significant. For the sake of the timeline, I'd like to immediately backtrack and review those Dark Knight issues, but I'm so close to the battle with the Rogues and Gorilla Warfare I can't stop now. So I'll keep going where I was at with the Flash's three appearances in the Third Army story. After I've finished Gorilla Warfare, I'll go back and do some passive appearances and the Dark Knight issues. Then I'll go back to H'El on Earth and I should be caught up by then. Unless, of course, I find more back issues I missed and/or DC publishes more stories that happened in the past. In which case, I'll just joyfully rework my timeline and keep moving forward!
And by the way, thank you for reading this blog. I started this blog because I felt there wasn't enough love for the Flash online, and now I feel like I've started to fill that need just a little bit. Currently, my most-read post is Captain Atom #3, which I attribute to a lot of Flash fans being curious about that issue, but still a little hesitant to purchase it. In addition to being a place where Flash fans can share their love of the character, I hope my blog can inspire people to buy some more Flash stories, because the more Flash stories we buy, the more Flash stories DC will make. And I think we can all agree having a little more Flash is a good thing.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
"The Secret of the Cheetah Chapter Two"
Geoff Johns • Writer
Tony S. Daniel • Penciller
Matt Banning and Sandu Florea • Inkers
Tomeu Morey • Colorist
Dave Sharpe • Letterer
Katie Kubert • Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham • Editor
So once again Geoff Johns forgot what he titled this story. The previous issue was "The Secret of the Cheetah Part One." But now this one is Chapter Two. It's a minor annoyance, I know, and it has no effect on the story.
The cover is by Tony S. Daniel, Richard Friend and Tomeu Morey. It's an exciting image that works well both in color and black-and-white, and I'm glad they didn't forget the Flash this time. However, this cover implies a big fight with the Super-cheetah-man, which we really don't get that much of unfortunately.
The variant cover is by Jason Fabok and Alex Sinclair. This isn't the best Superman I've seen, but together with Wonder Woman, this cover works as a whole. It also helps to have Sinclair on the colors — he really is one of the best in the business.
The story picks up right where issue #13 left off, with the Justice League hidden in the Congo, battling the Super-cheetah-man. The fight doesn't last too long, though, as it is interrupted by the lost tribe the League was searching for.
The tribe's priestess, Hara, blows on a mystical horn that scares away the Cheetah and causes Superman and Aquaman a great deal of pain. Cyborg figures out how to synthesize that sound and uses it to keep Superman at bay, while Batman sends Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Flash to track down the Cheetah. Cyborg acts as a translator for Batman and the tribe, and Hara is able to heal Superman with some mystical blood.
Meanwhile, Flash finds Cheetah, but she slashes his calf, almost tearing clean to the bone. Wonder Woman tells Flash to sit the fight out, but he refuses, saying a doctor can fix him later. Wonder Woman says she doesn't want more people getting hurt because of her, but Flash reminds her that Cheetah is the one causing the damage. They then form a plan with Aquaman to draw Cheetah east. Flash finds Cheetah again, but is subdued when she slashes his chest this time. Wonder Woman then steps in and begins to fight her old friend, Barbara Minerva.
While they fight, Hara tells Batman the true story of the Cheetah. The Cheetah was the San tribe's goddess and protector, until she was killed by a hunter with a mystical knife called the Godslayer. The Cheetah possessed the knife when she died, so when Minerva later stole it, she became the Cheetah. Now for the tribe to get its goddess back, Minerva has to die.
Back to the fight, Wonder Woman is finally able to best Cheetah and kicks her over a cliff and into the river, where Aquaman is waiting for her with a school of piranhas.
Later, Wonder Woman visits Cheetah at Belle Reve. Minerva tells Wonder Woman that the Cheetah isn't the bad one, but she is. She also says she belongs behind bars and that not everyone can be "saved." Once Wonder Woman leaves, Cheetah communicates with an unseen and unknown person. She says she got locked up as requested and asks to be informed when Black Manta arrives.
On the Watchtower, Batman tells Wonder Woman that Barbara Minerva is actually a notorious criminal who has gone by Priscilla Rich, Deborah Domaine and Sabrina Ballesteros. Wonder Woman is quite upset to learn that her first friend was always secretly evil, and she begins to lose faith in her instincts. To help show her that the world isn't completely full of bad guys, Superman takes her to Smallville Diner and shows her the farm he grew up on. They then kiss again, but this time, Batman is watching, using the tracker he put on Superman's cape way back in Action Comics #12.
The backup is Shazam! Chapter 7. Billy, who turned into the hero formerly known as Captain Marvel in Justice League #0, is now goofing off with his new powers and his foster-brother Freddy. Meanwhile, Black Adam and Dr. Sivana start gathering the Seven Deadly Sins of Man.
The art. Tony S. Daniel is worth the price of admission. For a Wonder Woman-centric story, he draws a pretty good Wonder Woman. Also for a story that takes place in the jungle, he is willing and able to draw a pretty good jungle. His two issues on Justice League were quite good, and I wouldn't be upset at all if he started drawing the book full-time.
Too little Flash. Having him courageously choose to keep fighting after his calf got torn up was amazing. I think even Batman would have to take a breather if he got cut that bad (who am I kidding, the Batgod wouldn't even flinch). Anyway, Flash gave a nice heroic speech, and then what? He immediately got slashed in the chest and was literally absent the rest of the issue. I understand that Cheetah is Wonder Woman's enemy and she has to beat her, but couldn't the Flash have done something — anything — after his heroic moment? Now that I think about it, the only time Flash has used his powers in a cool, interesting way in Justice League was in issue #5, when he fazed through a parademon. Other than that, he has been used as comic relief, occasionally in a kind, sympathetic role, and mostly, largely ignored. And this will be Flash's last appearance in Justice League until issue #18. Are people accurate when they say Geoff Johns loves this character?
Missed opportunities and general annoyances. Turning Superman into a cheetah-man was an exciting idea. It was last issue's cliff-hanger and this issue's cover. So why did we only get one page of them fighting him? I almost think we could have had a whole extra issue in here with the League fighting Superman, and maybe have the Cheetah bite someone else, too. An extra issue would have at least given the Flash a chance to do something. Also, in case you were wondering, piranhas are not native to Africa, which is ironic, because Steve Trevor initially said the lost tribe was in the Amazon. But cheetahs aren't in the Amazon, so they went to the Congo instead. Minor details, I know, but they add up like, if Superman's cape is invulnerable, how has Batman's tracker stayed on it this long? Wouldn't it be impossible for anything to stick to that cape? But more importantly, who cares that Batman's spying on them kiss? And for my final complaint, who is Cheetah working with? The end of Justice League #12 had a lot of teasers for the upcoming year on the book and one of them had Wonder Woman saying, "It's not just the Cheetah. It's who she's working with." So ... who is she working with? How long do we have to wait for that to be revealed?
Final score: 4 out of 10
Next time: Yes, yes, I know Barry has to go back to Central City, but first he has to go on one more quick Justice League adventure — investigate the new Green Lantern!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
"The Secret of the Cheetah Part One"
Writer Geoff Johns
Penciller Tony S. Daniel
Inkers Richard Friend and Batt
Colors Tomeu Morey
Letters Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor Katie Kubert
Editor Brian Cunningham
For better and worse, Jim Lee is off Justice League and before Ivan Reis takes over, we get a couple of issues by Tony S. Daniel, who is a very solid artist in his own right. In fact, I wouldn't be upset at all if Daniel became the regular artist for Justice League.
This is a very nice cover by Daniel, Friend and Morey. Although the action might be slightly exaggerated, I wouldn't call it misleading by any means. It serves the main purpose of showing us that Cheetah is taking on the entire Justice League, and it looks really good in color and black-and-white.
The variant cover is by Alex Garner, and I am a big fan of it. It's a unique realistic style you don't see that much and everybody looks great, even if it looks like Aquaman is peeing his pants and Superman and Flash are yelling just a bit too loudly. The main drawback with drawing the Cheetah in this realistic style is it becomes more apparent that she is naked, which is a rather uncomfortable thought. But seriously, though, I do love this cover and I need to find some more Garner artwork.
The story picks right up where issue #12 ended, with the much-publicized Superman-Wonder Woman kiss. It's very sweet and romantic, but as soon as Superman tries to talk to her, Wonder Woman awkwardly and quickly flies away.
Five days later, Wonder Woman gets into a fight with the Cheetah in Central Park.
The two argue about the nature of humanity, with Cheetah maintaining that all humans are truly savage beasts that merely wear a mask of civilization. Ultimately, Cheetah knocks Wonder Woman out. She's later found by Flash and Cyborg, who are both surprised to see the Amazonian knocked down for the first time.
They take her up to the Watchtower to talk to Superman, while Batman and Aquaman visit Steve Trevor in the Medical Care Unit of ARGUS. From the two conversations, we learn the story of the Cheetah, who once was Wonder Woman's first friend, Barbara Minerva. Minerva oversaw the Black Room at ARGUS, which secures mystical and dangerous artifacts. One day, she cut herself on a ritual dagger and was possessed by the goddess of the hunt — the bloodthirsty Cheetah.
Wonder Woman says this is her personal matter and doesn't need the League's help. Superman asks Flash and Cyborg to step into the hall so he can talk to her alone. He tells her they want to help because they care about her, and then he talks about their kiss and they both admit it was nice.
Flash and Cyborg meanwhile are worrying about the future of the Justice League. Green Lantern has left, Batman and Aquaman are caught in a power struggle, and now there's some tension between Superman and Wonder Woman. Cyborg says he doesn't know what he'd do without the League — whenever he's not on missions, he just hangs around the Watchtower and watches movies. He admits to the Flash that sometimes he feels like a machine that only thinks it's a kid named Victor Stone. Flash is able to comfort him by pointing out that robots don't laugh at jokes, talk about favorite TV shows or even worry that they're robots. He then cheers up Cyborg by asking him if he's ever fantasized making out with a toaster. Cyborg thanks him and Flash tells him to call him Barry.
They then rejoin Superman and Wonder Woman, who has finally agreed to accept their help tracking down Cheetah. She says they need to find the ritual dagger's lost tribe, so Cyborg starts pulling up maps and Flash volunteers to comb the area. For the first time in about four issues, Wonder Woman smiles.
Batman and Aquaman thank Trevor for the information and leave him. Trevor would like to talk to Wonder Woman again, but the two heroes deny him, effectively cutting him off from the Justice League.
The entire League then goes to the Congo, where Flash is having a hard time finding this lost tribe that Wonder Woman admits she doesn't even know the name of. Superman thinks he can hear them, but suddenly they're attacked from behind by the Cheetah. She slashes Batman's chest, surprisingly lands a blow on the Flash, then bites Superman's neck, turning him into a cheetah-man.
In the backup story, Trevor is officially replaced by Amanda Waller as the Justice League's liaison. But he meets up with Green Arrow and they putting together the Justice League of America.
The art. I will always place Jim Lee ahead of Tony S. Daniel, but this artwork was a breath of fresh air after the inconsistent small army of inkers and colorists struggling with Lee's pencils. Daniel's characters look great, the action is exciting, but what really impressed me was the backgrounds. Central Park looked nice and the Congo was downright breathtaking. That to me shows someone going above and beyond. Knowing he only had two issues, Daniel easily could have mailed it in, but he didn't, which makes this issue so good.
Great Flash moment. In the past few issues, Geoff Johns has made the Flash ineffective and obsolete, kind of a jerk, and merely a comic relief. Here, he finally started to tap into some of those qualities that make the Flash such a great character. I loved how Cyborg felt comfortable enough around the Flash to admit to him his greatest fears, and I thought Flash's response was completely appropriate. He demonstrated sympathy, kindness, understanding, and topped it all off with just a touch of humor. It was a very natural and heartwarming scene and it makes me crave some Flash-Cyborg team-ups in the future.
Nothing really. Geoff Johns did fall into one of his more curious techniques — having two separate simultaneous conversations that essentially say the same thing — which really felt unnecessary here. But that's not too big of a complaint. Surprisingly, I'm not at all bothered by the Cheetah's power being amped up or the supernatural aspects of her character. I guess I'm just growing more accepting of magic in comic books. Ultimately, though, I can't complain about anything in this issue, because I was so glad to see that it followed directly out of The Villain's Journey, when this could have easily been a frustrating filler like issue 7 or 8.
Final score: 7 out of 10
Next: The truth behind the Cheetah!