Thursday, July 2, 2015

Justice League #39


The Amazo Virus Chapter Four: The Infected

Geoff Johns Writer
Jason Fabok Artist
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Fabok and Anderson Cover
Amedeo Turturro Asst. Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is pretty much your stock pose of the new Justice League roster, minus Captain Cold. But he really hasn't done that much with the League as a whole — mostly just hung out with Lex Luthor. All in all, this cover is rather boring, but looks nice enough. I'm glad the Flash wasn't pushed far into the background like Aquaman. (If it weren't for Throne of Atlantis, I'd say Aquaman was the most neglected Justice League member. But I give that dubious honor to the Flash.) I don't like how Superman's eyes are glowing red for no reason on this cover, and I kind of have to laugh at the skull imagery — a common motif for this storyline. But here's the thing: we haven't actually seen a single person killed by the Amazo Virus in the past four issues. There have been implied deaths, but every victim we've come across has saved at the last second.

Our story picks right up where last issue left off. The Amazo Virus has become sentient, and is controlling all the infected members of the Justice League to battle Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and Captain Cold.


Too make matters even worse, Luthor discovers that virus is no longer suppressing the League's powers, but seems to be allowing them. Wonder Woman temporarily knocks all them down, but the infected heroes are soon back on their feet. Luthor fends off Aquaman, but then Flash hits him hard and fast, cracking his glass helmet. Superman begins talking to the virus, asking what it wants. Through the infected heroes, the virus says it wants to spread and kill, just like humans do. Somehow, Luthor is able to get Flash off him, and he opens fire on Patient Zero. But Ikarus mimics Luthor's blast by growing gun-like appendages on his wrist and returns fire.

Wonder Woman reminds Luthor and Superman that they need to be analyzing Superman's blood to create an antidote. Superman complains once again about not being able to trust Luthor, so Wonder Woman convinces him to give Luthor one more chance. She then sends the two of them away, promising to keep the League busy as long as she can. So Luthor and Superman get to work. Since Luthor's fresh out of kryptonite, Superman slices open his hand with his heat vision to give Luthor his blood. Superman then notes that the Amazo Virus is also controlling all the other infected people who have developed superpowers.

Wonder Woman actually does a pretty good job of taking on the entire League — until the Flash gets on top of her. Flash begins pummeling the Amazon warrior, but luckily, Captain Cold arrives in the nick of time to freeze his arch nemesis. Unlike with Bullet, Flash is clearly not killed, since Cold left his face exposed. Cold notes that the virus isn't very good at controlling the heroes' powers, saying he's never been able to hit the Flash straight on like that. Captain Cold then gleefully fights alongside Wonder Woman, especially liking it when she calls him Leonard.

As Luthor analyzes Superman's blood, he gives a long, boring speech about the history of disease in the world. He then criticizes Superman for never using his powers to cure disease, and Superman blames him for causing this pandemic. Luthor then discovers the cure, saying he can develop it in a few minutes, but it will take days to create enough to cure the hundreds of infected people. The infected then break through Wonder Woman's and Captain Cold's line, but Cold is able to freeze Patient Zero's arm. Everyone realizes that Patient Zero is unable to replicate the power of cold. Superman, who had been holding back his freeze breath so it wouldn't be mimicked, helps Captain Cold freeze Patient Zero.

Apparently Patient Zero was more important than I thought last issue, because once he's frozen, all the infected people just collapse harmlessly. Captain Cold is quite thrilled to have worked with Wonder Woman and Superman in the same day, and he makes sure to take a picture of the frozen Flash with his phone before he thaws out.

Some time later, the Justice League are all up on their feet, distributing the vaccine across the world, which Flash and Power Ring are producing. But as the world is cured, about three percent of the previously infected people manage to retain their metahuman abilities. And we see the shadowy figure of Amos Fortune, presumably the man who hired Neutron and Bullet to kill Luthor.

Luthor and Superman visit Patient Zero, who is immune to Luthor's cure. Since Dr. Armen Ikarus is basically brain dead, Luthor has informed his family that he's died, and has properly compensated them for their loss. In the meantime, Patient Zero is kept in low temperatures to subdue his powers, while Luthor continues to study him at the president's request. Patient Zero then promises to one day infect Luthor, and he mutates to resemble the original Amazo robot.

Neutron's powers have returned, but his many forms of cancer have not gone away. He is still very sick, but once again rather dangerous, so he's still in custody. Neutron proposes a deal with Steve Trevor, saying if Luthor grants him one request, he'll reveal who hired him to kill Luthor. At these words, a shadowy hand reaches for a gun, saying, "If you want something done right ... you have to do it yourself."

Up on the Watchtower, Power Ring tells Flash how she's tired of being controlled by outside forces such as her ring and the virus. Recognizing his limitations in the field of willpower-controlled rings, Flash has brought in an expert on the matter — Hal Jordan.

The Good:

It's over! I have scored each installment in this story one point lower than the preceding chapter. That trend will stop with this issue, but that doesn't mean it's particularly good. The idea of Wonder Woman taking on the entire Justice League is an exciting one. Unfortunately, nothing really happened. And as Geoff John carefully explained, this was not the League as their full abilities. Which is exactly what happened when the Joker took over the League in Batman; and many other countless examples of the League being possessed. I also feel like I should have liked the scenes with Captain Cold more than I did. But the fact that he was able to freeze people without killing them in this issue only makes the sin he committed last issue even greater.

The Bad:

Weak conclusion. So in the end, the only thing we needed for the cure was Superman's blood. And the only thing we needed to stop the fighting was have Superman use his freeze breath. Two things that could have and should have been addressed in the first part of this story. This four/five-parter really could have been a two-parter. There was so much stalling going on — so many repeated lines, recapping the previous issue in excoriating detail. Add to the fact that each issue was only about 22 pages long for the price of $3.99, and I become one frustrated reader. What was the point of this whole storyline? To introduce a new, organic Amazo? To create the flimsiest of excuses to bring back Hal Jordan?

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we'll cover one of our final passive Flash appearances with Green Lantern Corps #37.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Justice League #38


The Amazo Virus Chapter Three: The Secret

Geoff Johns Writer
Jason Fabok Artist
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Tony Harris, after Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson Flash 75th Anniversary Variant Cover
Amedeo Turturro Asst. Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

For some reason, Jim Lee returned to Justice League to draw this one, random cover. And it may have been a last-minute decision, since the comic still credits Fabok and Anderson. The cover is nice enough, although nothing particularly spectacular. Everything is kept as vague as possible, yet slightly contradictory if you really break down Batman's "strange new powers." Lee's artwork is always welcome — I just think it's really odd that he spent so much time away from this series and returned for a cover that I think Fabok could have and should have done himself.


In January 2015, DC celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Flash with a series of variant covers. Of course, this anniversary marked the debut of the original Flash, Jay Garrick. But that didn't stop DC from almost exclusively featuring Barry Allen in these covers. My comic shop gave me this variant, and I kind of wish they hadn't. It's just awful. The pencils, the coloring, everything. I like the idea behind paying homage to the classic The Brave and the Bold #28 from 1960. But the execution is simply awful. Flash looks demented, for lack of a better word. I guess the buildings look pretty cool, but what's the point when all the characters look awful?

Our story begins with Steve Trevor informing the unseen President Obama on the current situation. This is helpful if you haven't read the past couple of issues, but if you have, then it's rather repetitive and tedious. I don't know why DC refused to show Obama's face in this issue, when he has clearly been shown several other times in the New 52.

Anyway, our story really begins with the fight between Superman, Wonder Woman and Patient Zero. Batman, who's been infected, holds back a bit, as black blood and ooze starts pouring out of his eyes and mouth. But suddenly, Batman re-enters the fight by emitting a powerful sonic blast that knocks out Patient Zero. Batman tells Superman that he's blind, but can still "see" through echolocation. He says that Luthor's been withholding the true nature of the virus, and Batman says he hears a voice before passing out. As Superman and Wonder Woman gather up Patient Zero and Batman, a group of infected individuals roam the streets, chanting, "Us."

Five miles outside of Metropolis, at the basecamp for the infected, Bullet gloats about how he killed Lex Luthor, only to see that he was protected by a wall of ice. Captain Cold gives a rather boring speech about the power of glaciers, and points his cold-gun at Bullet. The would-be assassin quickly turns and opens fire on Cold, but his cold-field slows all the bullets down, rendering them harmless. Cold then freezes Bullet, presumably killing him.

Luthor then awakes Neutron from his medically induced coma to interrogate him. Lena protests her brother's action, but he shouts at her, saying his whole crisis was Neutron's fault. Luthor reveals that Neutron used to be Metropolis power plant security guard Nathaniel Tryon. He was transformed during a meltdown, and sought revenge on those responsible until Superman stopped him. Now, the Amazo Virus has robbed his ability to control radiation, and he's developed every kind of cancer Luthor can see. Luthor tells Neutron he can save him, but first he wants to know who hired him. But before Neutron answers him, Superman and Wonder Woman arrive with Batman and Patient Zero. So Luthor ends his interrogation to get to work.

After analyzing Patient Zero's blood, Luthor sadly discovers that Ikarus is just as sick as everybody else. His ability just happens to be able to mimic other powers, but Luthor won't be able to make a cure from his blood. So Luthor asks for some of Superman's blood, saying he exposed him to the virus four years ago. When the virus failed, Luthor put it in cold storage. Superman is furious to learn that Luthor knew he had the necessary antibodies in his blood the whole time, and waited until now to say something. Wonder Woman calms Superman down, saying Luthor is still their only hope at curing the virus. And Luthor now demands immunity for all potential charges before he develops an antidote.

Batman then interrupts their conversation with another sonic blast. He and the rest of the infected Justice League members rise up together and speak with one voice, saying that they are the dominant species.

The Good:

I guess the big takeaway from this issue is the Justice League being infected/possessed. But we've seen this before, and recently, too. The Joker just showed that it's pretty easy to take control of the Justice League, so I'm not really worked up about this. I'm also completely indifferent about Batman's new bat powers. We all know they're temporary, so why worry?

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. Well, Flash did say, "We," and he did stand up at the very end, but that's hardly enough Flash for my liking or the purposes of this blog. Hopefully the infected Flash will do something interesting next issue.

Captain Cold does not kill. They didn't explicitly say that Cold killed Bullet, but they didn't say he survived the attack, either. From the art, it pretty much looks like Bullet won't be able to come out of that. And since Luthor was so intent on learning who's trying to kill him, you'd think he would have wanted to interrogate both Neutron and Bullet. He should have either told Cold to defrost Bullet, or shouted at him for killing a valuable source. But more importantly, Cold never should have killed Bullet in the first place. That's a complete betrayal of his character. Leonard Snart is a criminal with a high moral code, who often goes out of his way to not kill people. He easily could have, and should have, only frozen Bullet's arms and legs.

Patient Zero is no worthless. Why did we waste all that time tracking down Patient Zero if he ultimately has no bearing on the story? His blood won't cure, and he doesn't seem to be causing all the infected to rise up and speak in one voice — he just seems to be part of it. And why didn't anyone suggest looking at Superman's blood? Or even Wonder Woman's? I know she's a god and he's an alien, but they're also immune to the virus that knocked out Aquaman, Shazam and Flash. Someone should have thought about finding out exactly what is protecting them.

Final score: 2 out of 10

Next: The Infected

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Justice League #37


The Amazo Virus Chapter Two: Patient Zero

Geoff Johns Writer
Jason Fabok Artist
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Fabok & Anderson Cover
Darwyn Cooke Variant Cover
Amedeo Turturro Asst. Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman create by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover shows Batman and Wonder Woman trying to prevent Superman from killing Lex Luthor, which is an interesting enough concept. However, nothing even remotely similar to this scene happens in this issue. Superman doesn't even appear on the same page as Luthor, and there's only a passing, obligatory conversation about how Luthor might have caused this on purpose. The cover tells one story; the inside pages tell another. Luckily, my comic shop was able to give me the variant cover for this issue.


I love Darwyn Cooke's art, and I love this cover. It hearkens back to the bright, optimistic roots of these characters. The lineup is an odd hodgepodge of the old and new rosters, but it still works. Mainly, I'm happy just to see these characters smiling again. Superheroes can and should be happy from time to time. My only small nitpick with this cover is that it's sideways. It is slightly awkward, but not at all a deal breaker.

Our story begins with a quick glimpse at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. All the flights have been canceled, and everyone is evacuating the place as fast as possible. A woman had a brief manifestation of telepathy before dying. As Lexcorp employees in hazmat suits attend to her, one of them requests Firestorm, but is told that he, too, is infected. So we don't see Firestorm, and I still wouldn't call him a member of the Justice League, but a reference to him was kind of nice.

In Metropolis, Superman and Batman have located Patient Zero, whom Superman has identified as a Lexcorp research pathologist named Doctor Armen Ikarus. Batman observes Ikarus' vitals with his haz-bat suit, and Superman makes fun of him for the name. Batman claims it was Robin's idea. The comedic aside is soon interrupted as Ikarus' eyes mutate to mimic Superman's heat vision. After knocking down both heroes with a big blast, he sprouts a pair of gigantic wings and flies away.

We then check in on Lex Luthor, who is visiting his sister, Lena, and trying to explain to her why someone would want to kill him. Lena asks where the would-be assassin, Neutron, is, and Luthor explains that he's with the other infected members of the Justice League. The Amazo Virus took away Neutron's ability to create and control radiation, but it did not take away the radiation already in his blood, which has made him very, very sick. Luthor explains to Lena how the virus affects normal people, and she asks him how he could create something so awful. Luthor talks of how many people meta-human criminals kill each year, and how no prison can hold them. But Lena calls her brother out for lying.

Superman and Batman follow Patient Zero's trail, and Superman talks about his distrust for Luthor, even proposing that Luthor intentionally released the virus to set himself up to be the hero. But Batman doesn't agree with that theory. They finally find Patient Zero, and Wonder Woman comes out of nowhere to join the fight. She wraps her lasso of truth around his neck and asks how he became sick. But Patient Zero answers by saying, "I am not sick. We are not."

Captain Cold tells Luthor that Patient Zero has been found, but Luthor still seems worried about the health of the Justice League. Cold makes a sarcastic remark about Luthor never intended this, which makes his boss quite upset. Luthor says there are things the League doesn't know, and this is far worse than anyone could believe. Suddenly, Luthor is attacked by the man named Bullet we saw last issue.

Back to the main fight, Superman finally subdues Patient Zero, and Batman tries to collect a sample of his blood. But Patient Zero retaliates with another blast of heat vision, spilling the vial of blood and shattering the haz-bat's visor.

The Good:

Patient Zero is a slightly intriguing villain, in that he mimics superpowers organically. But he's a really flat character. Superman tells us he has a wife and kids, but we don't see them, so why should we care. I also found it odd that Geoff Johns named him Ikarus, right after Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato had a big run in Detective Comics involving a man who produced a drug called Icarus. In Detective Comics, the reference to the boy who flew too close to the sun is more fitting than it is here.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. It's interesting how Johns works valiantly between story arcs to update and expand the Justice League roster. But when he actually dives into his five- or six-part stories, he almost always finds the roster to be too big, and has to do something to cut it down. And without fail, the Flash is one of the unlucky ones to be left out.

Tedious storytelling. Johns wasted so much time reiterating everything we already knew. Just in case we missed the first two issues of Amazo Virus, we're given lengthy, detailed explanations from Batman and Luthor. I guess this series requires so many reminders because it is frequently delayed and interrupted. Ironically, though, this issue that seemed most weighed down by repeated information actually came out right on time. Also, Superman displayed a severe lack of urgency. He casually cracked jokes with Batman, then took his dear sweet time tracking down Patient Zero, just so he could remind Batman that he doesn't trust Luthor. Yeah, we get it! You, and the entire Justice League, were moments away from arresting Luthor just 24 hours ago. And my last storytelling complaint is of the empty cliffhangers. Are we really to believe that a complete nobody is going to kill Luthor? Or that anything bad is going to happen to Batman? Come on, Johns! We're smarter than this!

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next: The power of ... Batman!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Justice League #36


The Amazo Virus Chapter One: Quarantined

Geoff Johns Writer
Jason Fabok Artist
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Fabok & Anderson Cover
Amedeo Turturro Asst. Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

Our cover is a bit hyperbolic with the blood dripping off Superman's shield and the undead, zombie versions of Aquaman, Shazam, Cyborg and Flash. But it was kind of neat to frame everything inside the international symbol for biological hazards. And the best part of this cover is it does something this series hasn't had in quite a while — the artist who drew the cover also drew the inside pages. That's just a very basic comic book rule that I wish would be followed more often.

Our story begins 24 hours after last issue ended. A big chunk of Metropolis has been quarantined, but some looters have stayed behind to take advantage of the open banks. Superman and Batman (wearing a hazmat, or haz-bat suit) quickly find the three men and inform them that they're very sick. But the men say they feel better than ever, and even believe they can take on the heroes themselves. One of them shoots flames from his mouth and eyes, but Superman easily takes him down with his super-breath, while Batman tasers the second man before he can attack.

The third man poses a slightly bigger problem, as he creates a small black hole. But it doesn't last too long. Superman notes the man is going into Stage Three, and he begins vomits violently and loses control of his powers before his heart stops. Batman is able to revive him with his defibrillators, but his visor was cracked during the man's meltdown. Batman insists that the seal hasn't broken yet and he's fine, but Superman worries about him risking his life like this to find Patient Zero.

We then see that only Superman and Wonder Woman are immune to the virus. Even though he's an Atlantean, Aquaman is sick, and Shazam's magic also failed to protect him. They're in a private hospital room along with Power Ring, Cyborg, Flash and Lex Luthor's would-be assassin, Neutron. Luthor is caring for the infected heroes, and he is most perplexed by the Flash. Even though the speedster can normally burn through any virus in a matter of minutes, this one has him laid up. And Luthor isn't sure what to make of his vital signs, not having a prior reading of what is normal for him.

Wonder Woman pays Luthor a visit and asks how long her friends have to live, and Luthor says they'll die within 24 hours if he doesn't find a cure. They then meet with Steve Trevor to give him a status update. More than 520 people have been infected and most have been taken to the makeshift base camp and put into induced comas to await treatment. Luthor explains he created the virus to mimic Professor Anthony Ivo's Amazo android, which could mimic the abilities of any metahuman it encountered. Luthor says he intended to have his virus suppress violent metahumans' abilities, but ultimately shelved the project when it proved too controversial to the White House.

Luthor reminds everyone that the virus was only released after Neutron attacked him. He explains that he was able to get into his suit and get Bruce Wayne and his sister, Lena, to safety before any of them were infected. And the rest of the Justice League became infected while evacuating Metropolis. Luthor explains that the virus essentially affects metahumans the way it was intended to, but it's effect on normal humans was a surprise. Luthor suspects the virus must have mutated after infecting the first human, Patient Zero, who has yet to be located. Luthor explains that the virus breaks down into three stages: First, the patient experiences flu-like symptoms; in Stage Two, they develop a metahuman ability; and in Stage Three, their bodies begin to break down, and die. Luthor says he can save the infected and the Justice League, but he needs to find Patient Zero first.

Captain Cold reports to Luthor that Lena still hasn't been infected. Cold asks how the Flash is doing, and has a hard time containing his glee at the news. Cold then gets down to his job as Luthor's head of security, asking his boss who he thinks would have hired Neutron to kill to him. But Luthor can only say the list of people who want him dead is a long one. We then see a shadowy figure named Bullet accept an offer from an unknown individual to kill Luthor.

Steve Trevor reports that all airports across the nation have been closed, and the outbreak has been reported as far west as Central City. Trevor argues with Superman about Luthor's role in this disaster, saying he is their best chance of solving the problem. Batman and Superman then find Patient Zero, a very large and intimidating man, who seems quite pleased to have found the two heroes.

The Good:

This is the official start of a story, which is kind of nice in this series that is often weighed down by stalling, filler issues. But just because something is happening, that doesn't mean I necessarily enjoy what's happening. Luckily, it wasn't all bad. I enjoyed Luthor's bewilderment at the Flash's inability to beat the virus, even if that was a brief scene. I just wish we could have had a similar explanation for the other members of Justice League.

The Bad:

Inconsistent virus. This issue very clearly explains that Superman and Wonder Woman are immune because they're not human. But Aquaman's not human, either, so why is he infected? And, technically speaking, isn't the Flash the only true metahuman on the roster? Cyborg is a human enhanced by technology, same with Jessica Cruz and her power ring. And Shazam's powers are based in magic. So what's going on with all of them? Also, I find it highly convenient that Luthor and Batman avoided the virus when they were the closest ones to it at the time of the outbreak. Overall, I think the concept of the Amazo Virus is a good one, but its setup was faulty.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Target: Lex Lex Luthor

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Justice League #35


The Amazo Virus Prologue: The Outbreak

Geoff Johns Writer
Doug Mahnke & Ivan Reis Pencillers
Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Christian Alamy, Ray McCarthy & Joe Prado Inkers
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis Cover
Amedeo Turturro Asst. Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

Hey, look at that! We have a Justice League cover that actually features the Flash! True, nothing like this happens in this issue, but it is still a pretty neat image — the moon is an especially nice touch. And, lucky us, we Ivan Reis actually drew a few of the inside pages this time. However, he wasn't the only penciller, and we had five inkers to make the art quite inconsistent.

Our story begins with Lex Luthor's 8 a.m. press conference, which he begins by mentioning three separate disasters the Justice League recently responded to, presumably that very morning. Cyborg, Shazam and Wonder Woman saved a bunch of girls from some lunatics in Bialya; Luthor, Aquaman and Batman rescued a capsized boat in Indonesia; and Superman, Flash and Power Ring responded to an earthquake in the South Pacific. Jessica thought it was odd of Flash to bring ice cream to the children, but he points out they could use something nice and happy right now, and he even gets some ice cream for Jessica. Naturally, her favorite flavor is pistachio.


In short, Luthor says the Justice League has taught him the value of unity, which is why he's pleased to announce Lexcorp's partnership with Wayne Enterprises to make the world a better place. The rest of the Justice League members are incognito in the crowd, and Diana asks Clark Kent how long he thinks this partnership will last. Clark says it'll last long enough for Bruce to learn all of Lex's secrets, and Clark's confident that nobody can hide anything from Batman.

Not to be outdone by Lex, Bruce gives a passionate speech himself about his parents, and even sheds a tear or two to win over the crowd. With the press conference over, Lex invites Bruce inside his building, while Bruce quietly makes sure the Justice League is in position. Shazam is hanging out with the hoodied Cyborg and wanting a hot dog, while Barry Allen is joking with Jessica Cruz about how he could have pantsed Captain Cold on the stage. But Jessica is worried about being surrounded by such a large crowd, and even Aquaman, stationed on a rooftop, agrees that it's too soon to bring her out in the field.

Lex sends everybody away and takes Bruce deep into his most secret, secure facilities. Bruce asks to see where he made the clone of Superman, and Lex gladly takes him to the tank where he's growing a new Bizarro. He says he misses the Bizarro that was killed by the Crime Syndicate and wants to have another sidekick, just like Batman has all his Robins. Bruce then asks to see Lex's private lab. Lex wonders how he knew about it, and Bruce says he guessed. So Lex takes Bruce into an even more secret and secure lab, where they're met by Lex's paralyzed sister, Lena.

Lex proudly shows off his work studying the various forms of kryptonite and the weapons he developed to take down an army of Kryptonians should the Phantom Zone ever be breached again. Bruce asks how he can trust someone who abandoned his own sister, saying he knows how Lex tried to heal Lena but failed. Lex says he'll be able to cure her this time, and that he'll be there when Bruce fails someone he loves.

Meanwhile, Aquaman spots someone else wearing armor on another nearby rooftop. The man suddenly jumps off the building and is engulfed in flames. Superman tries to catch him, but he's thrown back by a large explosion that works its way clear down to Lex's private lab. An unseen voice calls the man Neutron, and says he'll have his life back once he kills Lex Luthor. Cyborg and Flash start evacuating the building, and Lex tells Bruce to help his unconscious sister while he puts his power suit on.

Aquaman dives down into the lab and battles Neutron directly, who tells his boss that killing Aquaman will cost extra. Neutron creates another fiery blast, and this time it shatters Storage Unit X, which horrifies Lex. Bruce asks what's in that container, and the computer answers, saying "Exposure to the Amazo Virus imminent. Infection begins now."

The Good:

Well, there's not really anything that stands out to me in this issue. It's purely a setup for the next multipart trade collection, and nothing particularly interesting happens here. The issue is mostly comprised of long-winded and repetitive speeches by Lex and Bruce. And ultimately, I really have to question Batman's logic here. Did he really think he'd acquire enough evidence to arrest Luthor on his first visit to Lexcorp?

The Bad:

Again, I really don't have much to say here. This was just a very lukewarm issue. Flash's joke about pulling down Captain Cold's pants bordered on the stupid, uncharacteristic humor Johns often gives Barry, but I'll excuse it in this case, as I believe Barry was just trying to help Jessica feel at ease. The art was inconsistent, but not terribly so. Everything was just sort of ... meh. Wait until next issue for something to actually happen.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next: America quarantined!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Justice League #34


Injustice League: Epilogue Unlikely Allies

Geoff Johns Writer
Scott Kolins Artist
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis Cover
Amedeo Turturro Asst. Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family
Special thanks to Sterling Gates

The cover shows the Justice League's new 10-man roster, including Captain Cold, who has done very little with the League so far, and the surprise addition of Jessica Cruz, aka Power Ring. It's a very boring pose, but Reis' work is solid as always. But once again, we get a completely different artist working on the inside pages — just one of my pet peeves with comic book covers.

Our story begins with the Flash hunting down Captain Cold. Flash scolds him for returning to a life of crime so quickly after being given a second chance. Cold tries to explain that he was stopping a bank robber, but when Flash asks him why Cold's holding the money and the security guards are frozen, Captain Cold can't explain himself. As Flash beats up Cold, he transforms into Leonard Snart's father, telling his son he'll never amount to anything. The Flash/father then asks Snart what he wants for breakfast.


Yep. Turns out it was all a dream, ended by Lex Luthor's assistant, Mercy, asking Snart what he'd like for breakfast. Mercy tells Snart he has a full day ahead of him, needing to take more tests for insurance purposes, then meet with his new security team to analysis the latest threats against Luthor. She's had Snart's uniform cleaned, and offers to clean his gun, but Snart refuses to let anyone else touch it. Snart heads to the bathroom and while shaving (with his blue goggles/glasses still on for some reason), he's visited by the Mirror Master. Sam Scudder asks Snart when he's returning to the Rogues and why he's even working for Luthor in the first place. After a quick glance to make sure he's alone, Snart says he's there to pull the biggest job of their lives.

Meanwhile, in downtown Metropolis, Superman and Lex Luthor are battling Gorilla Grodd, who has somehow escaped the Mirror World after being imprisoned there in Rogues Rebellion. Also, Grodd is naked and not using any super speed, although he is attacking Superman telepathically. Luthor blames Superman for attracting threats like Grodd to Metropolis. Superman brushes him off, and quickly knocks out Grodd with one punch. So Luthor changes the subject, asking why Batman needs to be on the Justice League. Luthor says he's paying all the team's bills now, so Batman's bank account is now unnecessary. Superman says Batman brings several intangible qualities to the team and quotes Albert Einstein: "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." But Luthor only laughs at that greeting card response.

At S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit, Shazam is hanging out with Cyborg, who's being repaired by his dad, Dr. Stone, after nearly being killed by Power Ring. Shazam gets real impatient when he sees reports of the Grodd fight on TV, so Cyborg tells him it's OK if he leaves to help Superman and Luthor. Once Shazam is gone, Cyborg tells his dad about the vision Power Ring gave him, and says he wants to interface with it again to get a better glimpse of it. But Dr. Stone warns his son that if he reconnects with the ring, he could become trapped inside it.

On the Justice League Watchtower, Flash is using the satellite's equipment to examine the ring on Jessica Cruz's finger. Flash confirms that she's wearing one of the most dangerous weapons in the universe, and admits he doesn't have any good news for her right now. Jessica worries what would have happened had the Justice League not stopped her from burning down all of Portland. Flash tells her to stay calm, and begins to instruct her on how Green Lantern rings channel the bearer's willpower to help them overcome fear. But this ring is from a parallel dimension and has a will of its own, amplifying Jessica's fear and feeding off it. Jessica asks if she's stuck to an evil ring that can take control of her anytime it wants, but Flash says it only gains control when she's most afraid. The Power Ring then begins talking to Jessica, telling her she's always afraid. This naturally makes her very afraid, and she's soon engulfed in green flames. Flash tells her to stay strong like she was before, and that ring can't do anything she won't allow it to. But Jessica only continues to lose control.

We then cut to Luthor and Wonder Woman delivering Lexcorp supplies to a third-world country. But Luthor suspects Wonder Woman only wanted him to accompany her so she could interrogate him with her lasso of truth. Wonder Woman does want to talk, but she chooses not to use her lasso. She asks him why he does the good he does, and Luthor says it's usually to improve his public image and acquire more money and power. Wonder Woman points out that these people don't care how much money or power Luthor has — they're just grateful for the help. A small girl then surprises Luthor by presenting him with a flower and hug. And Wonder Woman tells him to just say thank you.

Back on the Watchtower, Flash is racing around Jessica, containing all the monsters Power Ring is creating. Flash tells Jessica that all his experience with these rings has taught him that all will be well.  The ring tells Jessica that Flash doesn't understand what she's been through, and Flash answers by saying he would understand if she'd talk about it. He adds that he doesn't need to know any specifics, and that it's not up to him to help her. Green Lantern taught Flash that how much you let fear consume you is up to you. This finally gives Jessica the confidence to take control. All the fire and monsters disappear, but Jessica remains in a green outfit. Flash congratulates her, and suggests they visit S.T.A.R. Labs to see if their scientists can figure out how to remove the ring. However, Jessica says she doesn't want to take it off, but learn how to use it.

We then return to Lex Luthor toward the end of his very busy day. He signs off on the partnership between Lexcorp and Wayne Enterprises, and he gloats just a bit about how he got Bruce Wayne to finally change his mind. Bruce tells Luthor he's no different from the inmates at Arkham Asylum, only he's more dangerous since he can hide in the open. Bruce tells Luthor they'll catch him sooner or later, but Luthor only smiles and says Superman told him the same thing years ago. Luthor then leaves for a press conference, and Bruce discreetly tells Superman that Luthor took the bait and they'll be able to arrest him tomorrow.

Luthor's press conference was brief. He announced his official inclusion with the Justice League and said he'll have more exciting news at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Afterword, late at night, Luthor meets in secret with Owlman, whom he's promised Superwoman's child to.

The Good:

Flash actually does something. It's been forever since Geoff Johns gave the Flash something good to do in this series. And this task of working with Power Ring is very fitting. By default, Flash does know the most about Green Lantern rings, and his emotional temperament makes him ideally suited to provide the necessary encouragement. Plus, he's more than fast enough to handle the situation when things get out of hand. I liked watching the Flash do this a lot more than watching him take Wally West to a baseball game. However, I felt it a little odd to have Flash say "All is well," a quote from his days as a Blue Lantern in the pre-New 52 universe.

The Bad:

What the Grodd? When we last saw Grodd, he was a near-unstoppable being in Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion. He had been rescued from the Speed Force by Johnny Quick, and added psychic powers to his super speed. The Rogues then worked together to banish him and a bunch of other dangerous villains into the Mirror World. But we were given no explanation as to how they escaped. But even worse than that, the Grodd we are given in this issue is very clearly the pre-New 52 version of Grodd. He's treated exactly the same way he was during Johns' and Kolins' run on The Flash, where Grodd never wore clothes and only had telepathic abilities, represented by a pink gorilla biting the person's head. I suspect Johns needed some random villain for Superman and Luthor to fight, and he gave Kolins free reign to draw whoever he wanted. And neither of them, nor the editors, bothered to make sure this Grodd was consistent with the New 52 version of the character. Also, it is downright criminal to have Grodd appear in a comic and not have any connection to the Flash.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: The Amazo Virus!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Batman and Robin #33



Robin Rises Cold Justice

Peter J. Tomasi Writer
Patrick Gleason Penciller
Mick Gray Inker
John Kalisz Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Gleason, Gary, Kalisz Cover
Matt Humphreys Asst. Editor
Rachel Gluckstern Editor
Mark Doyle Group Editor
Batman created by Bob Kane

The cover shows us a scene that's becoming quite common these days — Batman taking on the Justice League. However, I am glad to see it's an updated roster with Shazam, Lex Luthor and Captain Cold. Notably absent are Superman and the Flash. And the Robin Rises Part One title is misleading, as this issue actually takes place after the standalone Robin Rises: Omega. As for the art? It's pretty lackluster. But at least we know what the inside pages are going to look like.

I'm a bit lost on the story, but apparently Batman's dead son, Damian, has ended up on Apokolips somehow. Batman wants to go there to save him, and the Justice League, well most of them, are trying to talk Batman out of it. And Frankenstein is there for some reason, but he doesn't say or do anything and walks away first chance he gets.

Anyway, Aquaman makes a fairly compelling argument, telling Batman that their responsibility is to Earth and they can't go off planet for personal missions. Batman says they need to stop Apokolips before it attacks again, but Luthor says this is really about Robin. Cyborg says they're not prepared to take down Apokolips, and he puts his hand on Batman's shoulder to try to reason with him. But Batman uses some gadget to shock him, teleport away to the Watchtower and fry everyone's transporter tech.

Captain Cold asks if Batman always plays by his own rules, and Luthor responds in the affirmative, calling it invigorating. Shazam says he can fly up to the Watchtower to stop Batman, but Wonder Woman holds him back, saying they need to do this together. And Luthor gets to work on fixing their transporters.

At Justice League Headquarters, Batman opens up the chamber containing a special suit for him called the Hellbat. But before he can pull the suit down, the rest of the Justice League shows up and Cyborg shuts Batman away from his armor. Batman kind of throws a fit, and says that there's a chance to bring Robin back to life. Batman says the Hellbat suit was specifically designed to handle situations just like this, and Wonder Woman reminds him how all the original members of Justice League worked together on that suit to help the one human member of the team. Superman forged it in the sun, Green Lantern added his power, Cyborg some technology, Wonder Woman some magic, and Flash did ... something to it.


But Batman is still determined to go to Apokolips. He tells Cyborg to allow him access to the suit, but he refuses. Captain Cold then points his gun at Batman's head, and the Dark Knight retaliates by starting a bit of a fight on the satellite. However, Batman is quickly subdued by Aquaman and Wonder Woman, and he surrenders.

Bruce goes back home and throws another fit, destroying Damian's grave. Superman pays him a quick visit, apologizing for the loss of Damian. He knows Bruce will turn him down, but he offers to help anyway. Once Superman leaves, Batman head to the Batcave to plot his next move with Alfred, Batgirl, Red Robin and Red Hood.

The Good:

The big takeaway from this issue was that the Justice League worked together to create a suit of armor for Batman. Unfortunately, we are told nothing about this amazing suit. What exactly did each hero add to the suit? What can it do? I wish that Tomasi could have described this suit in as much detail as Scott Snyder described Batman's anti-Justice League suit.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. I guess Flash was too busy helping Wally with his algebra homework to help stop Batman from going on a suicide mission. It really is odd how many stories show the entire Justice League except for the Flash. If anybody can find the time to take part in every little adventure, it's got to be the Flash, right? How can 15-year-old Billy Batson spend so much time hanging out with the Justice League?

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we'll see the Flash actually hang out with his teammates in Justice League #34.