Monday, April 15, 2013

Justice League #11



Writer Geoff Johns
Penciller Jim Lee
Inker Scott Williams with Jonathan Glapion
Colorist Alex Sinclair with Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor Katie Kubert
Editor Brian Cunningham

This is still part of the Villain's Journey storyline, but for some reason, Johns decided not to title it "The Villain's Journey Chapter Three." Anyway, the cover is by Lee, Williams and Sinclair, and it ... wait, do my eyes deceive me? Is that the Flash? Front and center on a Justice League cover?

It is! The Scarlet Speedster is finally getting some love! I'm so happy I won't even complain about Barry's eyebrows. This is another symbolic cover, but it looks great colored and in black-and-white. But my favorite is this half-and-half version:

You get the best of both worlds with this version, which is currently my iPad's wallpaper. I wish DC would do this more often — it just looks so great.

The variant cover is by Bryan Hitch and Paul Mounts. It's a pretty exciting image and everyone looks pretty good, but I have one problem with it: Why is the Flash smiling so broadly? Everyone here is fighting for their lives, but the Flash is happy as can be, just running around, oblivious to everyone's problems. Don't get me wrong — I like a happy Flash, but only when it's appropriate.

The story picks right up where issue #10 left off, with the Justice League all withered and dying and trapped in ice after the fight with Graves on the Watchtower. Batman is the first to get up, fighting off visions of his parents dying. He frees Superman, who says he saw his dad have a heart attack again. The rest of the League wakes up and Green Lantern says he saw his dad's plane crash again. Flash asks Batman what he saw, but he says it doesn't matter. Cyborg then discovers that Graves used the teleporters to go to the house of Tracy Trevor, Steve's sister.

In Tracy's house, Graves implies that Steve is dead, but it's for the greater good because it will save the world from relying on false gods. He shows her his ghost family and says that his young son lost his mind to disease and even now doesn't recognize his father.

Just then, the Justice League shows up via boom tube, but Graves was able to disappear before they could confront him. Tracy, though, is able to confront the League and yells at Wonder Woman for putting Steve in danger. Outside Tracy's house, Flash tries to console Wonder Woman, but she takes responsibility for Steve. Cyborg finds David Graves' last known address, his cabin in Maine, and Wonder Woman decides to go there alone.

Batman tries to stop her, but she brushes him off. Green Lantern then steps in and puts a bubble around Wonder Woman. She doesn't like this and punches Lantern, sending him flying down the street and into a car. Flash makes sure he's OK, but Lantern immediately goes after Wonder Woman again. She slices his chest with her sword and Superman then steps in, but gets kicked down the street by the Amazon. Batman sends Flash and Aquaman on crowd control and Cyborg discovers that Graves is somehow broadcasting this fight on every TV and computer in the world.

Finally, Cyborg is able to boom the whole team away to Graves' cabin. Flash tries to get GL and WW to stop fighting and Aquaman tells them they'll find Steve faster if they work as a team. Superman is ultimately able to calm down Wonder Woman by telling her that they know she's worried, but they only want to help. Lantern asks Flash why she listened to Superman and Flash says its because Superman's better with words, more charismatic, smarter and taller, too.

Batman then finds Graves' journal and reads how Graves and his family were on vacation in Metropolis when Darkseid attacked. Although they survived that day, they were all exposed to something that made them sick a few months later. Graves' children and wife died of a mysterious illness and then he traveled to Mount Sumeru.

So the League follows in Graves' footsteps and arrives at the mystical mountain. Only Cyborg can see the entrance to the temple with his human eye, and he worries that this means he's partly dead. Once inside, the League is greeted by a lot of the ghost-things that take the forms of their lost loved ones. Batman sees his parents; Green Lantern sees his dad; Superman sees Jor-El and Lara; Flash sees his mom; Aquaman sees his dad; Cyborg sees himself; and Wonder Woman sees Steve Trevor.

The backup is Shazam! Chapter 5, where young Billy Batson is taken to a mysterious, magical temple.

The Good:

The art. After last issue's average performance, we're back to the high quality we're accustomed to with Jim Lee. Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair still did need help, but they only needed one additional artist instead of the two or three like last time. The special effects with the ghosts turned out really well, especially with Graves' ghost family on the couch. It also helped to have some good, old-fashioned inter-League fighting.

The Bad:

Flash is kind of a jerk. Graves' ghosts made the League see the most tragic thing that happened in their lives. Only a couple of them chose to share their visions with the team. The Flash didn't tell anyone what he saw, but he still felt compelled to ask Batman what his vision was. Batman correctly said it doesn't matter. Come on, Flash! How rude are you? This is personal stuff! Later, Flash also is rather rude to Green Lantern after the Wonder Woman fight. He could have been supportive toward his oldest friend on the League, but instead he chose to go on and on about why Superman's better than him. I don't think Johns intentionally made the Flash a jerk in this issue (he was probably just trying to be funny), but that's how it turned out, which is not the Flash I'm accustomed to. Actually, now that I think about it, Johns did make Flash rather jerkish in Rebirth, but I figured that was because Barry was older and having a hard time adjust to life after being dead for so long. In any case, I prefer the Flash written by Francis Manapul, who is young, happy and nice.

I also was a bit disappointed with the story for the whole Villain's Journey so far. I thought it was supposed to be a great, psychological attack on the League, where they each confront their own fears and where we, the audience, get to learn more about each of them through poignant flashbacks. That really hasn't happened. We've seen the most with Batman, and we already know everything about Batman. I guess you could say Johns was limited by the lack of concrete New 52 origins (this came out before the Zero issues), but I say that shouldn't have been an issue. DC editorial should have known the origins of the main characters and allowed one of their biggest books to show parts of these stories. Of course, I guess I should refrain from judging this whole story arc until I finish it, but still ...

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: The Villain's Journey concludes in Justice League #12.

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