Sunday, June 7, 2015

Justice League #32

Injustice League Chapter 3 Birth

Geoff Johns Writer
Doug Mahnke Penciller
Keith Champagne Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Nick J. Napolitano Letterer
Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis Cover
Jim Fletcher Bombshell Variant Cover
Amedeo Turturro Asst. Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

It feels like it's been forever since we've talked about Lex Luthor and the Justice League, and that's mainly because every other appearance of the League failed to include or mention Luthor. So, I guess it's good to be reminded by this cover that Luthor has figured Batman's secret identity. But most of that happened last issue, and this issue doesn't even talk about that shocking development. And I'm kind of sad that Ivan Reis didn't also draw the inside pages, since I like his art more than Doug Mahnke's.

Since I've added Justice League to my pull list (at Captain Comics in Boise, Idaho), I've randomly received the variant cover for the title, which is all right by me. I'll never understand why this Bombshell craze is so popular right now, but this cover looks nice enough. I would've chosen Element Woman instead, since Platinum has had so little to do with the Justice League. But actually, maybe Platinum was the better choice after all. According to Wikipedia, the first time the word "bombshell" was used to describe a pretty woman was about Jean Harlow in the 1931 film Platinum Blonde.

Our story begins with a very quick peek at Superwoman of the Crime Syndicate, mainly to remind us that she's still in prison and is still pregnant. We then get a flashback to one week ago, where Element Woman was rescued by Dr. Niles Caulder. During Forever Evil, Element Woman was injured to the point where she couldn't control her molecules and was temporarily stuck as a gas. As Dr. Caulder, who prefers to be called Chief, helped her become stable, he convinced her that the Justice League doesn't care about her anymore, and she needs to join his Doom Patrol, along with Robotman, Negative Man and Elasti-Girl.

Now, in Portland, Oregon, we see the Power Ring has taken over Jessica Cruz and is causing quite the commotion, basically setting the whole city on fire. And the first group to respond is the Doom Patrol. Jessica tells them the ring's in control and it can't come off her finger. So the Chief tries to shoot her, but Element Woman blocks the bullets. Elasti-Girl notices a nearby apartment building is on fire with lots of people still trapped inside. Robotman wants to save them, but the Chief tells them their priority is stopping the Power Ring before it kills more people. Suddenly, the Justice League arrives via Cyborg's boom tube, and promptly rescues everyone in the building.

Meanwhile, Captain Cold is called in to Lex Luthor's office. Luthor asks Leonard Snart to work as head of security for Lexcorp, promising to pay him more in a week than he's earned in a year. Snart seems excited by the promise of so much money, but their conversation is soon interrupted by Lex's assistant, Mercy, reporting that the Justice League is battling Power Ring in Portland.

Back to the battle, Cyborg convinces Shazam it's OK to attack a girl in this instance, and Shazam's lightning blast creates an opening for Cyborg to interface with the ring. The ring talks to Cyborg, introducing itself as Volthoom, the first bearer of the ring who was imprisoned within in thousands of years ago. Volthoom shows Cyborg how his world was destroyed and how he's drawn to the weak and fearful, like Jessica Cruz. Jessica and her friends accidentally witnessed some bad men secretly burying a body. The men killed her friends, but Jessica got away and spent the rest of her life in hiding. The Power Ring then tells Cyborg it wants to create a fire large enough to be seen across the Multiverse so the one who destroyed Earth 3 will be able to find Superwoman's child.

The ring then expels Cyborg, and Jessica is momentarily knocked down. Niles Caulder rushes to her side, ordering the Doom Patrol to hold the Justice League back until he retrieves the Power Ring. But Lex Luthor suddenly appears behind Caulder and tells him to call his freaks off or he'll blow a hole in his spine.

The Good:

Well, I guess it was kind of neat to see the New 52 version of the Doom Patrol, even if the Chief was a bit over-the-top. But ultimately, I'm more interested in the new Justice League that was promised us after Forever Evil. I want to see Lex Luthor, Captain Cold and Shazam. And while all three were present, they took a backseat to Jessica Cruz, who I don't care for, and the Doom Patrol, which only mildly interests me.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. Once again, the Flash is only a backup character in this book. He could have easily saved all the people in that apartment by himself, or get closer to Power Ring before anybody else. Hey, that would have been neat — to see Flash try to vibrate the ring of Jessica's finger! But we got none of that. All we saw was Flash saving a cat and a dog and that was it.

Startlingly slow storytelling. Geoff Johns has often been accused of "writing for the trade" and unnecessarily padding things out. That was especially true in this issue, in which he spent two whole pages to tell us Superwoman is still in prison and still pregnant. And then another two whole pages to tell us Luthor wants to hire Captain Cold. And lets not forget the many panels and speech bubbles telling us stuff we already knew, or repeating something that was said two pages or one issue ago. This comic book has 20 pages in it, about half of which could have been trimmed down, and the whole thing cost $3.99. Weren't these higher-priced comics supposed to have more content?

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next: Lex Luthor vs. The Chief

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