Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Justice League #14

"The Secret of the Cheetah Chapter Two"


Geoff Johns • Writer
Tony S. Daniel • Penciller
Matt Banning and Sandu Florea • Inkers
Tomeu Morey • Colorist
Dave Sharpe • Letterer
Katie Kubert • Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham • Editor

So once again Geoff Johns forgot what he titled this story. The previous issue was "The Secret of the Cheetah Part One." But now this one is Chapter Two. It's a minor annoyance, I know, and it has no effect on the story.

The cover is by Tony S. Daniel, Richard Friend and Tomeu Morey. It's an exciting image that works well both in color and black-and-white, and I'm glad they didn't forget the Flash this time. However, this cover implies a big fight with the Super-cheetah-man, which we really don't get that much of unfortunately.

The variant cover is by Jason Fabok and Alex Sinclair. This isn't the best Superman I've seen, but together with Wonder Woman, this cover works as a whole. It also helps to have Sinclair on the colors — he really is one of the best in the business.

The story picks up right where issue #13 left off, with the Justice League hidden in the Congo, battling the Super-cheetah-man. The fight doesn't last too long, though, as it is interrupted by the lost tribe the League was searching for.

The tribe's priestess, Hara, blows on a mystical horn that scares away the Cheetah and causes Superman and Aquaman a great deal of pain. Cyborg figures out how to synthesize that sound and uses it to keep Superman at bay, while Batman sends Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Flash to track down the Cheetah. Cyborg acts as a translator for Batman and the tribe, and Hara is able to heal Superman with some mystical blood.

Meanwhile, Flash finds Cheetah, but she slashes his calf, almost tearing clean to the bone. Wonder Woman tells Flash to sit the fight out, but he refuses, saying a doctor can fix him later. Wonder Woman says she doesn't want more people getting hurt because of her, but Flash reminds her that Cheetah is the one causing the damage. They then form a plan with Aquaman to draw Cheetah east. Flash finds Cheetah again, but is subdued when she slashes his chest this time. Wonder Woman then steps in and begins to fight her old friend, Barbara Minerva.

While they fight, Hara tells Batman the true story of the Cheetah. The Cheetah was the San tribe's goddess and protector, until she was killed by a hunter with a mystical knife called the Godslayer. The Cheetah possessed the knife when she died, so when Minerva later stole it, she became the Cheetah. Now for the tribe to get its goddess back, Minerva has to die.

Back to the fight, Wonder Woman is finally able to best Cheetah and kicks her over a cliff and into the river, where Aquaman is waiting for her with a school of piranhas.

Later, Wonder Woman visits Cheetah at Belle Reve. Minerva tells Wonder Woman that the Cheetah isn't the bad one, but she is. She also says she belongs behind bars and that not everyone can be "saved." Once Wonder Woman leaves, Cheetah communicates with an unseen and unknown person. She says she got locked up as requested and asks to be informed when Black Manta arrives.

On the Watchtower, Batman tells Wonder Woman that Barbara Minerva is actually a notorious criminal who has gone by Priscilla Rich, Deborah Domaine and Sabrina Ballesteros. Wonder Woman is quite upset to learn that her first friend was always secretly evil, and she begins to lose faith in her instincts. To help show her that the world isn't completely full of bad guys, Superman takes her to Smallville Diner and shows her the farm he grew up on. They then kiss again, but this time, Batman is watching, using the tracker he put on Superman's cape way back in Action Comics #12.

The backup is Shazam! Chapter 7.  Billy, who turned into the hero formerly known as Captain Marvel in Justice League #0, is now goofing off with his new powers and his foster-brother Freddy. Meanwhile, Black Adam and Dr. Sivana start gathering the Seven Deadly Sins of Man.

The Good:

The art. Tony S. Daniel is worth the price of admission. For a Wonder Woman-centric story, he draws a pretty good Wonder Woman. Also for a story that takes place in the jungle, he is willing and able to draw a pretty good jungle. His two issues on Justice League were quite good, and I wouldn't be upset at all if he started drawing the book full-time.

The Bad:

Too little Flash. Having him courageously choose to keep fighting after his calf got torn up was amazing. I think even Batman would have to take a breather if he got cut that bad (who am I kidding, the Batgod wouldn't even flinch). Anyway, Flash gave a nice heroic speech, and then what? He immediately got slashed in the chest and was literally absent the rest of the issue. I understand that Cheetah is Wonder Woman's enemy and she has to beat her, but couldn't the Flash have done something — anything — after his heroic moment? Now that I think about it, the only time Flash has used his powers in a cool, interesting way in Justice League was in issue #5, when he fazed through a parademon. Other than that, he has been used as comic relief, occasionally in a kind, sympathetic role, and mostly, largely ignored. And this will be Flash's last appearance in Justice League until issue #18. Are people accurate when they say Geoff Johns loves this character?

Missed opportunities and general annoyances. Turning Superman into a cheetah-man was an exciting idea. It was last issue's cliff-hanger and this issue's cover. So why did we only get one page of them fighting him? I almost think we could have had a whole extra issue in here with the League fighting Superman, and maybe have the Cheetah bite someone else, too. An extra issue would have at least given the Flash a chance to do something. Also, in case you were wondering, piranhas are not native to Africa, which is ironic, because Steve Trevor initially said the lost tribe was in the Amazon. But cheetahs aren't in the Amazon, so they went to the Congo instead. Minor details, I know, but they add up like, if Superman's cape is invulnerable, how has Batman's tracker stayed on it this long? Wouldn't it be impossible for anything to stick to that cape? But more importantly, who cares that Batman's spying on them kiss? And for my final complaint, who is Cheetah working with? The end of Justice League #12 had a lot of teasers for the upcoming year on the book and one of them had Wonder Woman saying, "It's not just the Cheetah. It's who she's working with." So ... who is she working with? How long do we have to wait for that to be revealed?

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Yes, yes, I know Barry has to go back to Central City, but first he has to go on one more quick Justice League adventure — investigate the new Green Lantern!

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