Monday, February 4, 2013

Justice League #7

"The Villain's Journey: Prologue"


Geoff Johns Writer
Gene Ha Guest Artist
Art Lyon Guest Colorist
Patrick Brosseau Letterer
Darren Shan Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Editor

It's perfectly understandable for Jim Lee to take a break after cranking out six issue of Justice League plus tons of promotional material and variant covers for other titles. Luckily, though, Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair did do this month's cover.

I think it's a really awesome cover. It shows the entire Justice League fighting a large, bizarre monster. What more could you want? I also love the fun, wild colors here. The green background works nicely with the blue monster. I also like how they put Wonder Woman in front of the Justice League title. I do, as always, wish Scott Williams would have inked the black-and-white version. It just becomes real easy to lose our heroes in the gooey monster. As much as I like this cover, I do feel that it cheats just a little bit. I think most readers have a natural assumption that whoever draws the cover also draws the inside pages, so they (and I) became a bit disappointed to open it up and see non-Jim Lee art. Not that Gene Ha is terrible — he's just no Jim Lee.

The variant cover is by Gary Frank with Brad Anderson. I am a big fan of Frank's work — he draws the Shazam backup, and is incredible with it. For this cover, I think he drew everybody very well, but Superman's face feels a bit off. I'm also not a fan of having the Justice League stand around menacingly like that. Why does everybody like to draw them angry looking? They're the good guys!

Our story begins five years after Darkseid was defeated. The Justice League is fully-formed and organized, teaming up on occasion to stop powerful, strange threats like the one presently in Baltimore, Maryland, where a bunch of little gray, purple monsters are attacking everybody.

First on the scene is Colonel Steven Trevor and several other members of A.R.G.U.S. (Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans). They're having some trouble with the monsters and reporters on the scene ask Trevor where the real heroes are. Right on cue, a boom tube opens above them and out comes Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg. The Justice League quickly fights back the monsters, but before they pursue them, Batman makes them all pause so Cyborg can brief them on the details.

Cyborg says their target is an Army biological warfare specialist named Dr. Samuel Street, who was delivering the "spore" virus to ARGUS for safekeeping when he crossed paths with an unknown intruder. The intruder attacked, broke into the Black Room, and stole an artifact called the Orb of Ra. The attack left Street exposed to the virus, and he became Spore, gaining super strength and the ability to create mindless flesh-eating creature every ten seconds. Cyborg tracked Spore to his ex-wife's house. Apparently they got divorced because he was abusive.

Batman tries to form a battle plan, but Green Lantern takes off, saying, "We're the Justice League. We got this." Flash says sorry, and takes off after Lantern, and arrives at the address before him. Flash asks Green Lantern why he likes to poke the bear (Batman) so much, to which Lantern says, "Because he's so cuddly." The two are then attacked by Spore, who has his ex-wife in his hand. The rest of the league shows up and Spore shouts, "I won't go down easy!!" Superman says, "Maybe not. But you will go down."

One hour later, Steve Trevor is at a press conference, explaining the Justice League's battle with Spore. However, all the reporters want to talk about is how the Justice League should take over the government. Trevor leaves angrily and goes right into his debriefing with Congress, but there the senators only want to talk about the Watchtower satellite and why nobody's been able to visit it. Trevor kind of threatens them and leaves angrily again.

Later, Trevor starts a video chat with Wonder Woman on the Watchtower. They're interrupted by Batman and Green Lantern arguing about how they could have stopped Spore better. Flash tries to help, but only makes things worse. Once Green Lantern sees Trevor on the screen, he asks him for more food for the Watchtower. Batman tells him to have the U.N. shut down the Justice League International, and Cyborg wants him to tell his dad to stop trying to tap into their computer systems. Finally, Trevor gets to talk to Wonder Woman, who asks him why he's still acting as the league's liaison. He says, "Someone needs to cover your asses." He hangs up and admits to his assistant that he is still in love with Wonder Woman, and he told her so, but she didn't return his love.

We then cut to the library of David Graves, author of Justice League: Gods Among Men. Graves is writing a note, where he says he's found the key to destroying the Justice League. It's Colonel Steve Trevor.

The backup story begins the Shazam storyline. It introduces us to a 15-year-old orphan named Billy Batson, who, like many 15-year-olds, is kind of a punk. However, there's no Flash here, so I won't go into it.

The Good:

The humor. Geoff Johns can really be a funny writer, and while there were a few funny moments in the first six issues of Justice League, most of that story was a very serious fight against Darkseid with few moments to laugh. But here, the league is a bit more laid-back with a very standard monster-of-the-month, which opened up plenty of opportunities for us to chuckle at the antics of Green Lantern. He forms a pretty fun comedy team with the Flash, and his arguing with Batman was fun, as was having him give Aquaman an umbrella when he didn't need it, and Green Lantern being saved by Wonder Woman and saying, under the lasso's magic, "I hate being saved by Wonder Woman." The humor in this issue made an otherwise dull story fun and at least semi-interesting.

The Bad:

General letdown. This was supposed to be a big moment for the Justice League — their first mission in the current day. You'd think DC would have made a big deal out of this and would have had the JL jump into an epic adventure here. But instead, Jim Lee needed the month off so they gave us what was basically a filler episode. It's not as bad as some anime filler episodes are that often threaten to be out of continuity, but this monster-of-the-month thing was pretty lame. They spent more time explaining the monster's origin and powers than they spent fighting him, and then they defeated him OFF PAGE! Instead of getting a satisfying conclusion to that fight, we got page after page of Steve Trevor acting all emo. We get it! He's in love with Wonder Woman and is growing weary of the league! As nice as it was to see more of the general public's perception of the Justice League, I think they could have easily taken away one of those Trevor pages and put in a page where they actually defeat Spore. I also felt like they completely dropped the ball on the mysterious intruder stealing the Orb of Ra. That sounds like a pretty big deal, but nobody seems to care. I've now read through Justice League #16, and I have yet to see anything about the Orb of Ra.

The Ugly:

Disappearing Batman. The ongoing joke with Batman is he'll be talking to Commissioner Gordon, then once Gordon turns his head, Batman is gone. But usually, Batman stays around while he's talking to you. But here, he actually turned invisible to talk to Steve Trevor (or Gene Ha just forgot to draw him). Here's what happened. On Trevor's computer screen, we see Batman and Green Lantern yelling at Flash in the background.

Green Lantern then turns to talk to Trevor, but Batman isn't there anymore.

We then see GL start to leave, but now speech bubbles are coming from nowhere and Trevor addresses them as Batman.

Then the next panel shows the tail end of Batman's cape, as if he were walking away.

This issue had a penciller, a colorer, a letterer, and two editors working on it, and not one of them noticed that Batman was completely absent in a panel that had him talking. You'd think one of them would have said, "Hey, wait! Where'd Batman go? Gene, you forgot to draw Batman!"

So overall, this was a rather disappointing issue. It did slowly start to set things up for the next big Justice League event, "Villain's Journey," but it really was mostly filler. We can't do anything big while Jim Lee is on vacation. Also, there was hardly any Flash in this story, so as a Flash fan, I cannot recommend this issue.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Green Arrow vs. The Justice League

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