Saturday, March 22, 2014

Justice League of America #8

"Paradise Lost"

Matt Kindt Writer
Doug Mahnke Pencils
Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen, Keith Champagne, and Marc Deering Inks
Gabe Eltaeb and Hi-Fi Colors
DC Lettering Letters
Rickey Purdin Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by Ken Lashley with Gabe Eltaeb, and I think it is a really neat cover. It's the iconic symbols of these characters left behind in the Forever Evil disaster. It really portrays the seem of gloom and despair created by this event. I do have a complaint, though, and that's Superman's cape. Didn't anyone at DC read Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics? He repeatedly established that the cape is indestructible, so it should never be in tatters like this. And this problem has been carried through all Forever Evil. Don't you think somebody would have stood up and said, "Wait, you can't draw his cape like that"?

Our story begins with Stargirl recounting the arrival of the Crime Syndicate and asking Martian Manhunter if the Justice League was really defeated.

J'onn J'onnzz wakes up to find himself in a field with Stargirl. He realizes they're in a prison, and Jason Rusch — one half of Firestorm — meets them and says he's been there a long time, but thinks they can escape. Jason leads J'onn down to the other levels of the prison, while J'onn tells Stargirl to stay up top.

The first prison they visit is Wonder Woman's. The Amazon is locked in an endless battle, believing Steve Trevor and Superman will be killed if she stops fighting. Jason rushes J'onn out of there, and they enter Shazam's prison, where the man-child gets to fight robots and smash whatever he wants without any repercussions.

Jason and J'onn then enter the Flash's prison, where Barry Allen is just sitting on a couch in a messy apartment, talking about all the things he's done today. He saved an old woman from being hit by a semi, rescued a man lost at sea, went on three dates with three different women around the world, decided to get his doctorate, saved a race car driver, stopped a robbery, looked up secret JFK files, looked up secret KGB files (which required learning Russian), battled Captain Cold, then compared coffee around the world. Flash says he did all those things just this morning, and he doesn't see why he should ever slow down. Since he has the ability to do everything, then why shouldn't he? But Martian Manhunter realizes that Flash hasn't actually left the room. He's caught in his own Speed Mind, just thinking about doing all those things.

Jason and J'onn then go to Superman's prison, where the Man of Steel is so guilty about killing Dr. Light, he's decided to fly fast enough around the world to travel back in time. J'onn then goes to Green Lantern's prison, where Simon Baz has grown tired of being called a terrorist, so he's become just that, and destroyed a city.

Meanwhile, Stargirl figures out how to escape the prison, but she finds the real world in complete chaos.

The Good:

Great prisons. I really like this concept of trapping the Justice League in prisons of their own making. They are the most powerful people on the planet, and the only ones who could defeat them is themselves. And combining this aspect with them being trapped in Firestorm's head really makes sense to me ... in a weird comic book way. I also thought each prison perfectly suited each character. Wonder Woman's warrior spirit won't let her rest, Superman's need to set everything right will send him on an insane, fruitless mission, and the child in Shazam will get too caught up in goofing around and having fun. Everything just worked here.

The Flash's prison. And of course, my favorite prison was the Flash's. I think the Speed Mind is the greatest contribution of the New 52. It's such a powerful tool for him, but a very dangerous one, as well. It nearly got him killed by Mob Rule, and he was only able to use it effectively when he was lying in a bed. I don't know if Matt Kindt came up with this concept, but he sure handled it well. The only nitpick I could think of would be Flash dating different people when he's already in a relationship with Patty Spivot. But I justify that as the Flash breaking free of all normal social and moral restrictions, and believing he has the ability to date as many women as he wants simultaneously. In normal circumstances, I think the Flash would also have misgivings about combing through secret government files just for the heck of it. But under this mindset, Flash believes he can do everything without any regard for the consequences. It's a pretty scary thought, turned sad and creepy when you realize the fastest man alive is spending all day sitting on a couch, just thinking about doing everything.

The Bad:

Looking at the credits to this issue, I was really worried about the art. It seems Doug Mahnke was rushed on his art, since he needed four inkers, and a couple of teams to color and letter the issue. Usually that severely negatively impacts the quality of the issue, but to my surprise, these guys pulled it off. No, it's not the best art it could have been, but it was solid. I think part of that helps because there were so many different prisons/environments in this issue that it made sense if things were a bit disjointed. And maybe it's because I liked the story so much I was willing to overlook some art problems. And maybe I only liked the story so much because I've gone quite a while without having the Flash actually do anything. Whatever the case may be, I quite enjoyed this issue, and have nothing to complain about.

Final score: 7 out of 10

Next time: Jailbreak!

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