Monday, June 8, 2015

Justice League #33

Injustice League Chapter 4 Puppet Strings

Geoff Johns Writer
Dough Mahnke Penciller
Keith Champagne Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis 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.

The cover is pretty simple, but effective. Everybody's reaching for the Power Ring, well, everybody except for the Flash. But we've already established that the Flash is little more than a background character in this series. Regardless, I still like this image. It still is a shame that Reis is only on cover duty. But I guess Mahnke's art isn't completely unbearable.

Our story picks right up where last issue left off. Jessica Cruz is momentarily stunned, Cyborg is knocked out, and Lex Luthor is threatening to destroy Niles Caulder's spine if he doesn't call off his Doom Patrol, which is locked in an epic battle with the Justice League.

Well, I guess epic battle isn't quite the best description. Elasti-Girl literally begins to fall apart when Batman fails to immediately recognize her, and Negative Man basically refuses to fight. Luthor tells Caulder he knows about all his dirty secrets, including several failed experiments who faked their deaths to get away. Robotman takes on Aquaman, and Flash and Wonder Woman confront Element Woman. Flash tells her the League was looking for her, but she doesn't believe him. Luthor and Caulder then start going round in circles with their accusations, as Caulder insists Luthor set him up several times.

Jessica then wakes up and before Shazam can do anything, the Power Ring creates a large green flash that is seen by an unknown person addressing the Anti-Monitor. Power Ring's big light show also knocked everybody down, ending the Luthor-Caulder standoff. Once everybody regroups, Batman asks Luthor what he's doing here, and Luthor tells him he's learned the Power Ring is controlled by fear. So Luthor has come up with a plan to disrupt Jessica's emotional connection with the ring, and he asks Batman to have the Justice League keep the Doom Patrol away long enough for him to do his work.

Luthor then hits Jessica with an electrical shock, but Caulder throws a bomb at him, saying Luthor's methods aren't strong enough. The Chief points out that the Power Ring is already rooted in Jessica's veins, and the only way to take it off is through psycho-surgery. Luthor retaliates against Caulder, but Batman saves him, and calmly approaches Jessica. He gives her a heart-warming pep talk about controlling her fear, and it works because he's Batman. With Jessica calm, the Power Ring powers down and she returns to normal. Batman tells Luthor the League held the Doom Patrol back for him, and they didn't Luthor's help.

But later, on the new Watchtower, which Luthor provided, Batman seems to change his tune. He tells Superman and Wonder Woman that asking Luthor to join the Justice League is the smartest thing they can do right now. Both Superman and Wonder Woman protest, but Batman convinces them it's the best way to keep an eye on Luthor and Lexcorp. So, with the full League present, Superman officially welcomes Lex Luthor into their ranks. He does, however, say they have a few rules to go over.

The Good:

Well ... I'm happy Lex Luthor finally, officially joined the Justice League. I would have liked a bit more discussion on the topic, though. I mean, what does Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg think? But who cares about them, right? Sadly, that was the only small positive I was able to glean from this too short and too expensive issue.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. Once again, time after time, Geoff Johns relegates the Flash to the background. I know he's had a hand in the Flash TV show, and he constantly talks about how he loves the character, but it never feels that way in this Justice League series. Luckily, Flash was given one quick line to Element Woman, but what came of that? Did Element Woman just slink away into the shadows with the Doom Patrol, never to be seen again?

I'm not really mad at this series anymore — just disappointed. I subscribed to this series to see Lex Luthor, Captain Cold and Shazam. Not the Doom Patrol and certainly not Jessica Cruz. They just bore me to tears.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we'll take a quick detour with a brief Flash cameo in Secret Origins #10.

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