Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Justice League #18

"The Grid"

Geoff Johns Writer
Jesus Saiz Artist
Jeromy Cox Colorist
Nick J. Napolitano Letterer
Kate Stewart Assistant Editor
Katie Kubert Associate Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor

At this point in Justice League, Ivan Reis had replaced Jim Lee as the main artist. He sat this issue out, but he did do the cover with Joe Prado and Rod Reis. I think it's nice to see Cyborg get some attention (this is his only book, after all), but what exactly is he doing? Concentrating real hard? Like how he defeated Darkseid? Lame. And of course, the Flash is nowhere to be found on the cover, even though we do get several heroes who do not appear in this issue, like Hawkman, Shazam and Green Arrow.

The variant cover is by Kenneth Rocafort and Blond, and it is a nice, colorful cover that actually has some action and shows us what's going on inside. And the Flash is here — although his face is covered. I seriously think that Rocafort messed up Flash's face, grew frustrated, and just decided to cover it. How else can you explain that odd artistic choice?

Since we've been away from Justice League for a while, here's a quick reminder of what's been happening the past few months. Flash last teamed up with the whole League to help take down Cheetah. Then Flash was preoccupied with his own Rogues and Gorilla Grodd, while the League had to battle the armies of Atlantis, which required Cyborg to recruit a few extra superheroes. Flash then helped Superman battle H'el, and now all that is finally over, so the entire Justice League can meet together again. And their main topic of discussion today is League expansion.

Our story begins with Cyborg contacting several heroes across America — Firestorm in Pittsburgh, Black Canary in Baltimore, and Zatanna in San Francisco. We then cut to the League on the Watchtower, where Flash is cracking jokes.

Batman explains that he and Cyborg initially began discussing expanding the League when Cyborg started having trouble paying attention. Flash says he can relate, and he jokes that it seems like Batman is always talking in slow motion. But Cyborg says his problem is due to him being connected to every electronic on Earth and having a constant stream of information bombarding his brain. This connectivity has helped him, though, especially when he needed to find more superheroes to battle the Atlanteans. Flash apologizes for missing that fight, and he implies that Grodd's gorilla army was stronger than the army of Atlantis. Aquaman then excuses himself to call Atlantis about an important mission, and Flash jokes about Atlantis having phones.

Superman then gets the conversation back on track by asking which heroes should join the team. Flash says that people can always look innocent or guilty on paper, but you don't really know until you look in their eyes, so they should invite a few heroes up to the satellite to meet them face-to-face. When Batman questions this plan, Flash simply says, "It'll be fun."

Soon the Watchtower is filled with the heroes we saw earlier, plus Black Lightning, Blue Devil, Element Woman, Goldrush, Nightwing, Platinum and Vixen. Zatanna, Black Lightning, Blue Devil and Nightwing all quickly turn down the League's offer. Goldrush demonstrates her strength by picking up the Flash's chair, and she begins to flirt with him. This creeps Flash out, and he literally hides behind Superman and asks that "Golddigger" not be on the team, even after Wonder Woman praised her heroism.

Suddenly, the robot Platinum goes out of control and begins attacking everybody. Goldrush is knocked out, but Flash does help her. Element Woman succeeds in keeping Platinum at bay, and Firestorm eliminates the threat by turning the robot's platinum into water. And a female Atom suddenly appears to catch Platinum's fragile "brain" or responsometer.

When all the fighting is done and sorted out, the Justice League decides to offer full-time status to Atom, Element Woman and Firestorm. But then Cyborg realizes that during the chaos of the fight, somebody hacked into their computers and stole the League's data from its entire five-year history.

The backup story is Shazam! Chapter 10, and Billy decides he doesn't want to be a hero anymore and tries to find the wizard to give him his powers back.

The Good:

Well ... it feels good to be back in Justice League, especially since Flash hasn't been here since issue #14. And I liked the League realizing it's time to expand their membership, despite whatever happened with Martian Manhunter so long ago. I can't say, though, that I find any of these new characters interesting, nor did I feel any threat with the computers being hacked. Basically this was a placeholder issue to prepare for Trinity War and introduce us to a feel expendable characters that could easily be killed, injured or turn evil in the bigger event.

The Bad:

Flash is back ... or is he? Is this even Barry Allen? Or is it Wally West or Bart Allen? Because this Flash sure doesn't act like the Barry we know and love from The Flash. Almost everything he says in this issue is a joke. In the past Justice League issues, the Flash and Green Lantern made a good comedy team with Barry playing the straight man. But now that Hal's gone, Geoff Johns had to put all his comedy on the Flash, and it really didn't work, not to mention being completely out of character. You could argue that maybe Barry was missing Hal and trying really hard to lighten the mood, especially considering the super-serious stuff going on in his own life, with Grodd and Patty and him not having a job, etc. But it would've been great to have somebody call him out for being too jokey, and he could have mentioned Hal, reminding us all that Green Lantern really should be there, but isn't. But I guess a line like that would have cut short Johns' "hilarious" scene with Goldrush.

But seriously, has Johns even read the New 52 Flash? One of Barry Allen's greatest beliefs in life is that people lie, but the evidence tells the truth. He won't even believe his own father, choosing instead to try to find evidence to confirm the truth. But here, Flash suggested the exact opposite — telling Cyborg that he can't trust official records and documents. It should have been Wonder Woman or Superman suggesting they need to meet these heroes in person. Flash should have been probing Cyborg to dig up as much information as possible on all of them.

I know I'm harping on this a lot, but Johns' misrepresentation of the Flash really hurts this issue and the Flash's own book, as well. Isn't the main point of the Justice League to inspire readers to look up these heroes in other books? Who'd want to read more Flash after reading this issue? He's insulting, trying too hard to be funny, and does not do anything heroic. So as a Flash fan, I cannot recommend this issue, which is a huge shame because Flash was a founding member of the Justice League.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next time: Well, that was a depressing return to the active Flash appearances. I think it's time to do a few more passive appearances, starting with Justice League of America's Vibe #1.

No comments:

Post a Comment