Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Justice League #8
"Team-Up: Green Arrow"
Geoff Johns Writer
Carlos D'Anda with Ivan Reis and Joe Prado Guest Artists
Gabe Eltaeb with Alex Sinclair Colorists
Patrick Brosseau Letterer
Darren Shan Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Editor
For the second-straight month, Jim Lee has handed off the book to some guest artists. Luckily, though, Lee, Sinclair and Scott Williams still did the cover, which was pretty cool. The hero caught in a spotlight thing is a classic cover design for DC (and Marvel, too, I guess) and I kind of like the nostalgic feel of this, especially when it's done well. Green Arrow looks like an angry fugitive, which is good, and I especially like the Justice League poster. It's heroic, yet also slightly cheesy, which I think was intentional. There are also nice details here like giving Green Arrow a spray paint can and seamlessly working the cover text into the Justice League banner title.
I actually like the black-and-white version this time because I'm able to see the characters more clearly without the spray paint covering them. There also isn't an inordinate amount of rubble covering them up.
The variant cover is by Mike Choi with Marcelo Maiolo. Even though the Flash isn't here, I absolutely love this cover. I like the more realistic take, I love the coloring, and I appreciate how it shows an actual scene from inside the book. All the characters look great, but Superman's expression is my favorite.
Our story begins with Steve Trevor having another hearing with Congress. This time, they want him to convince the Justice League to add a new member to the team, but he doesn't think they'll be able to find anybody who can keep up with them.
We then cut to Green Arrow, who is caught in the middle of a Justice League-Amazo fight.
Amazo is defeated, but Batman warns them that nanites are already rebuilding its nervous system. Superman is surprised he knows this without x-ray vision, but Flash reminds him, "He's Batman." Cyborg prepares to boom them and Amazo back to the Red Room so they can dismantle it, but Flash warns him that with Amazo being so large, the boom would put a strain on Cyborg's system and they might accidentally end up on Apokolips, like they already have done twice.
While the League discusses this dilemma, Green Arrow shows up, boasting about he helped them defeat Amazo. He flips over the giant robot to show them an arrow stuck in its butt. Wonder Woman kindly calls it a valiant effort, and Arrow offers his services to the team. Green Lantern says they already have one guy who can't do anything (Batman), but Superman says they shouldn't underestimate him so quickly. Aquaman, however, strongly disagrees. Cyborg then opens a boom tube and the Justice League takes off, leaving an angry Green Arrow behind.
One week later, Cyborg is hitching a ride on an ARGUS plane, where Talons from the Court of Owls are attacking the agents within. An editor's note tells us the Night of Owls storyline starts in Batman #8, where Bruce Wayne is attacked by Talons in Wayne Manor. Wayne's attack was part of a massive, coordinated plan to take out all of Gotham's richest and most powerful people, including the government agents trying to leave the city.
Cyborg breaks into the plane and teleports the Justice League in there to fight the Talons. Batman tells them not to worry because they're the Justice League. Aquaman and Green Lantern joke about how Batman is starting to sound like Lantern, and Flash admonishes them to act professional around the agents while he puts out a fire and beats up some bad guys at the same time. Suddenly, Green Arrow shows up, much to the surprise of the Flash and to the disdain of Aquaman. A Talon then sets off a grenade and Green Lantern protects everybody in bubbles while Wonder Woman catches the plane. Again, Green Arrow asks to join the team, but they just leave him on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.
One week later, the Justice League are fighting a bunch of cultists in purple robes. An editor's note tells us these cultists are from Justice League Dark #9, where we learn they work for the evil wizard Felix Faust, who is collecting enchanted artifacts to create an invincible army. The Justice League defeats these cultists when Green Arrow sets off some smoke arrows. By now, even Flash seems weary of him following them. Green Lantern tells reporters that Arrow is not a member of their team, and Aquaman warns him to stop following them or he'll pick up where they left off.
The League booms away again, and an upset Arrow returns to his base, where he meets Steve Trevor, who offers him a spot on a new team he's creating. Green Arrow eagerly accepts.
On the Watchtower, the League debates letting Arrow join the team. Superman and Wonder Woman want to give him a chance, but Aquaman, Green Lantern and Batman are strongly opposed. Batman explains that as a team, they have an image to protect. Flash reminds him that their priority is to protect the world. But Batman insists they can't take any risks, referring to the last time they let someone else onto the satellite. We then see a quick flashback of Martian Manhunter fighting the entire League, and winning.
In some desert far away, the Martian is listening to the League discuss how he knows all their secrets. He then concludes that they are not prepared.
The backup is the next part of the Shazam story, where Billy Batson meets his new foster family.
The humor. Once again, Geoff Johns lightens up an otherwise dull story with some funny moments. We had the usual Green Lantern-Batman joking plus some funny awkward pauses whenever Green Arrow asked to join the team. The best part was when he proudly pointed to the arrow in Amazo's butt. Childish humor? Sure. But it made me chuckle, so there.
Greater continuity. I have always believed that Justice League should be the flagship title for DC. It should be the one book that is so good that everyone is compelled to pick it up. And from this one book, it should inspire readers to pick up other titles. This issue did a good job of sending us into other books with the editor's notes. Even though the two referenced books didn't have the Flash in them, I was curious enough to pick them both up.
I really didn't learn anything new from Batman #8. Although it was the official kicking off point for the large Batman crossover, Night of Owls, the Court of Owls was introduced in an earlier issue. Also, I could not find any logical reason for the Justice League to become involved with this threat, or to only help that ARGUS plane, but not save anybody else threatened by the Talons. Batman #8 was a pretty good issue, watching Bruce defend himself in his pajamas, but the whole Batman universe is too complex and convoluted for me to want to consistently read Batman. Which is a shame because I love Batman.
Justice League Dark #9, however, was an unexpected surprise for me. I tend to avoid stories that dwell too much in magic and include the word "dark" in the title; but this issue was a really fun read. It was the perfect jumping on point — it explained everything I needed to know and even told me the cultists were working for Faust (although it didn't necessarily tell me why they were in America fighting the JL). The writing was good, the art was fantastic, and if I had the time and money, I'd totally read this title.
A filler issue. This is what I think happened. Jim Lee needed a month off to get things ready for the next big arc, The Villain's Journey, so they threw together a filler prologue for issue #7. But then Lee realized he needed even more time, so they had to very quickly throw this story together. Since DC was rolling out it's new Arrow show, they felt compelled to give him as much love as possible, especially since he has been struggling so much in the comics. However, Green Arrow couldn't join the League because the next few issues had already been written without him. Instead, it felt like they really couldn't decide what to do with him, so they threw together some quick little fights that tied in to other comics and then slowly start pointing things toward Justice League of America, which still hasn't come out yet. I could be completely wrong, but this is how it felt to me what happened. Regardless, when an issue has basically nothing to do with the issue that preceded it or the one that follows it, then I call it filler and I am disappointed.
Inconsistent art. Another reason I believe this story was hastily put together is that it required three guest artists, which I think contributed to some inconsistencies. One particularly troubling scene was the fight with the Talons on the plane. I assumed that Cyborg opened up a boom tube inside the plane, but they didn't show that happening or explain why he couldn't do that in the first place, instead of clinging to the outside of the plane. Once they're inside, we don't see Batman with them, but we hear his voice through the radio. I figured Batman was busy fighting the Talons in Gotham and needed the League to stop these guys he couldn't get to. But once the plane blows up, we see Batman there with the rest of the League like he was there the whole time. Also, nobody seemed able to decide what Green Arrow was supposed to look like. Is he wearing a mask or high-tech goggles? How long is his hair? How much scruff does he have? How big are the gauntlet things on his arms supposed to be? Really picky details, I know, but it would be nice to have some consistency from the cover through the book.
Missed fights. I was pretty upset when Spore was defeated off-page last issue, but here, they completely skipped over an entire fight with Amazo! He's not some random monster-of-the-month, he's an established villain with the ability to mimic the powers of the Justice League. We deserve to have an entire issue focusing on him, but all we got was the scenes of destruction caused by the fight and a shot of an arrow sticking out of his butt. To make matters worse, we never really got in a single proper fight in the whole issue. Why couldn't the Justice League have spent a whole issue devoted to a Night of Owls tie-in? Or why couldn't they flesh out the Justice League Dark crossover? And why'd we only get one page of this Martian Manhunter fight? There were a lot of good ideas going on here, but they just didn't have time to fully develop any of them. Including references to some big backstory with Aquaman and Green Arrow. I haven't read either of their books, but I haven't heard anything about this. They mentioned an island — is that the island he was stranded on in the Arrow TV show? I don't know. I feel like these are questions that should have been answered by now.
My final verdict: This is not a recommended Flash title. There are some good things going on in this book, but very little of it has to do with the Flash.
Final score: 4 out of 10
Next time: This story took place over a couple of weeks, so it's time now for the Flash to turn his attention back on Central City, where the power is still out, many rouges from Iron Heights are still loose, and Barry is looking to take his relationship with Patty to the next level. See it happen in The Flash #6!