Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Justice League #13

"The Secret of the Cheetah Part One"


Writer Geoff Johns
Penciller Tony S. Daniel
Inkers Richard Friend and Batt
Colors Tomeu Morey
Letters Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor Katie Kubert
Editor Brian Cunningham

For better and worse, Jim Lee is off Justice League and before Ivan Reis takes over, we get a couple of issues by Tony S. Daniel, who is a very solid artist in his own right. In fact, I wouldn't be upset at all if Daniel became the regular artist for Justice League.

This is a very nice cover by Daniel, Friend and Morey. Although the action might be slightly exaggerated, I wouldn't call it misleading by any means. It serves the main purpose of showing us that Cheetah is taking on the entire Justice League, and it looks really good in color and black-and-white.

The variant cover is by Alex Garner, and I am a big fan of it. It's a unique realistic style you don't see that much and everybody looks great, even if it looks like Aquaman is peeing his pants and Superman and Flash are yelling just a bit too loudly. The main drawback with drawing the Cheetah in this realistic style is it becomes more apparent that she is naked, which is a rather uncomfortable thought. But seriously, though, I do love this cover and I need to find some more Garner artwork.

The story picks right up where issue #12 ended, with the much-publicized Superman-Wonder Woman kiss. It's very sweet and romantic, but as soon as Superman tries to talk to her, Wonder Woman awkwardly and quickly flies away.

Five days later, Wonder Woman gets into a fight with the Cheetah in Central Park.

The two argue about the nature of humanity, with Cheetah maintaining that all humans are truly savage beasts that merely wear a mask of civilization. Ultimately, Cheetah knocks Wonder Woman out. She's later found by Flash and Cyborg, who are both surprised to see the Amazonian knocked down for the first time.

They take her up to the Watchtower to talk to Superman, while Batman and Aquaman visit Steve Trevor in the Medical Care Unit of ARGUS. From the two conversations, we learn the story of the Cheetah, who once was Wonder Woman's first friend, Barbara Minerva. Minerva oversaw the Black Room at ARGUS, which secures mystical and dangerous artifacts. One day, she cut herself on a ritual dagger and was possessed by the goddess of the hunt — the bloodthirsty Cheetah.

Wonder Woman says this is her personal matter and doesn't need the League's help. Superman asks Flash and Cyborg to step into the hall so he can talk to her alone. He tells her they want to help because they care about her, and then he talks about their kiss and they both admit it was nice.

Flash and Cyborg meanwhile are worrying about the future of the Justice League. Green Lantern has left, Batman and Aquaman are caught in a power struggle, and now there's some tension between Superman and Wonder Woman. Cyborg says he doesn't know what he'd do without the League — whenever he's not on missions, he just hangs around the Watchtower and watches movies. He admits to the Flash that sometimes he feels like a machine that only thinks it's a kid named Victor Stone. Flash is able to comfort him by pointing out that robots don't laugh at jokes, talk about favorite TV shows or even worry that they're robots. He then cheers up Cyborg by asking him if he's ever fantasized making out with a toaster. Cyborg thanks him and Flash tells him to call him Barry.

They then rejoin Superman and Wonder Woman, who has finally agreed to accept their help tracking down Cheetah. She says they need to find the ritual dagger's lost tribe, so Cyborg starts pulling up maps and Flash volunteers to comb the area. For the first time in about four issues, Wonder Woman smiles.

Batman and Aquaman thank Trevor for the information and leave him. Trevor would like to talk to Wonder Woman again, but the two heroes deny him, effectively cutting him off from the Justice League.

The entire League then goes to the Congo, where Flash is having a hard time finding this lost tribe that Wonder Woman admits she doesn't even know the name of. Superman thinks he can hear them, but suddenly they're attacked from behind by the Cheetah. She slashes Batman's chest, surprisingly lands a blow on the Flash, then bites Superman's neck, turning him into a cheetah-man.

In the backup story, Trevor is officially replaced by Amanda Waller as the Justice League's liaison. But he meets up with Green Arrow and they putting together the Justice League of America.

The Good:

The art. I will always place Jim Lee ahead of Tony S. Daniel, but this artwork was a breath of fresh air after the inconsistent small army of inkers and colorists struggling with Lee's pencils. Daniel's characters look great, the action is exciting, but what really impressed me was the backgrounds. Central Park looked nice and the Congo was downright breathtaking. That to me shows someone going above and beyond. Knowing he only had two issues, Daniel easily could have mailed it in, but he didn't, which makes this issue so good.

Great Flash moment. In the past few issues, Geoff Johns has made the Flash ineffective and obsolete, kind of a jerk, and merely a comic relief. Here, he finally started to tap into some of those qualities that make the Flash such a great character. I loved how Cyborg felt comfortable enough around the Flash to admit to him his greatest fears, and I thought Flash's response was completely appropriate. He demonstrated sympathy, kindness, understanding, and topped it all off with just a touch of humor. It was a very natural and heartwarming scene and it makes me crave some Flash-Cyborg team-ups in the future.

The Bad:

Nothing really. Geoff Johns did fall into one of his more curious techniques — having two separate simultaneous conversations that essentially say the same thing — which really felt unnecessary here. But that's not too big of a complaint. Surprisingly, I'm not at all bothered by the Cheetah's power being amped up or the supernatural aspects of her character. I guess I'm just growing more accepting of magic in comic books. Ultimately, though, I can't complain about anything in this issue, because I was so glad to see that it followed directly out of The Villain's Journey, when this could have easily been a frustrating filler like issue 7 or 8.

Final score: 7 out of 10

Next: The truth behind the Cheetah!

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