Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Justice League #10

"The Villain's Journey Chapter Two: The Belly of the Beast"


Geoff Johns Writer
Jim Lee Penciller
Scott Williams, Mark Irwin and Jonathan Glapion Inkers
Alex Sinclair, Gabe Eltaeb, Tony Avina and Hi-Fi Colors
Pat Brosseau Letters
Katie Kubert Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Editor

So Katie Kubert has replaced Darren Shan, but I haven't noticed any perceptible difference. While this issue isn't any better than other Justice League issues, it's not any worse. I do notice, however, whenever Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair need help on the art, but I'll get more into that at the end.

The cover is by Lee, Williams and Sinclair. It is a rather haunting image, even if it is symbolic in nature. I was pretty sad to see the Flash so small and far away, but at least he wasn't covered up by a Shazam promo like Cyborg. The absence of a background helps Jim Lee's pencils, but it still is kind of hard to tells what is bone and what is costume, and what is the ghosty-energy stuff coming from Graves.

The variant cover is by Cully Hamner and I can't stand it. It does remind me of some very old images of the Injustice Society gathering around a table and plotting the demise of the heroes, but the quality of this image looks like it'll fit in better in 1952 than 2012. Graves looks like he's wearing a rubber Halloween mask and I can't tell if he's actually at a table or sitting cross-legged on the floor with some large disc-thing in his lap. Oh well, you win some with variant covers and you lose some.

The story starts three years ago, deep in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia. David Graves, still sickly and withered, journeys to a place he wrote about in one of his books, Mount Sumeru. According to Graves, it is a nexus to the worlds of the afterlife that can only be found by those walking the line of death. When he arrives, he is greeted by the giant Asuras, who were apparently cast aside by the other gods.

Today, Steve Trevor is finally able to escape from Graves' trap. But as soon as he opens the door, he's attacked by ghosts who hunger for his pain.

Meanwhile, Aquaman is saving a sinking cruise ship. A lot of people thank him, but some make fun of him. He gets a flashback of having a conversation with a former Atlantean advisor named Vulko, who encourages Aquaman to take his place as king of Atlantis. He's then summoned to the Watchtower by the Justice League.

On the Watchtower satellite, Batman tells the others that several more villains have been attacked and interrogated by Graves, including Captain Cold, Cheetah and Scarecrow. Cyborg explains that this is a big problem because Graves now knows virtually everything about the League, including the Flash being a police officer and having a relationship with Patty Spivot. Green Lantern asks why he's never heard of Patty, and Flash says, "Because you hit on my last date five minutes after we sat down for dinner."

Cyborg then mentions that Superman is a reporter, which surprises everybody except for Batman. Flash and Green Lantern are especially worried he might be writing stories about them, but Cyborg assures them he isn't. Aquaman, however, wonders how they're supposed to be a team when their enemies know more about them than they do.

Just then, the temperature drops and the lights go out. A silent alarm goes off that tells Cyborg somebody is trying to use Steve Trevor's access code. But the alarm fails to prevent Graves from suddenly appearing on the Watchtower. He looks out the window at Earth and says, "It's no wonder you're oblivious to the tragedies that befall us. You can't see anything bad happening from way up here."

Wonder Woman demands to know where Trevor is, and she charges at Graves. But he turns around and unleashes several ghost-like things at her. As they fly through Wonder Woman, she thinks she sees her mom, then collapses and starts to wither away. The rest of the League attacks, but the ghosts hit them all and they collapse to the ground just like Wonder Woman.

While this is happening, we're given images of Graves entering the temple at Mount Sumeru. He saw lots of these ghost-things flying around and three of them took the forms of his dead wife, son and daughter. He begged the Asuras to have his family back, and the three ghosts flew into him, creating his current armor with his wife's face on his chest and his children's faces on his arms.

Grave's then leaves the Watchtower with the Justice League unconscious and rather skeletal-looking with chains of ice surrounding them.

In the Shazam backup, Dr. Sivana accidentally releases Black Adam.

The Good:

Umm ... nothing. Normally I'd give a point for the art when Jim Lee's involved, but there were too many inconsistencies with this issue to do that. When I see entire teams handling the inks and colors, it makes me feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and it really harms the issue. Lee's pencils are quite intricate and rather difficult to work with (look at the black-and-white cover again) and only Williams and Sinclair should be allowed to handle them. I'll never understand why some people struggle so much to turn out 20 pages each month, while others (like Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato) have no problem.

The Bad:

Again, nothing. It really felt like nothing happened in the story, but it wasn't bad by any means. Yes, there was rather limited fighting, a notable absence of humor, and a little more supernatural elements than I care for, but it was an OK story overall. Not good, but not bad either.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next: The unknown becomes the known.

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