Friday, June 19, 2015

Justice League #34

Injustice League: Epilogue Unlikely Allies

Geoff Johns Writer
Scott Kolins Artist
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
Special thanks to Sterling Gates

The cover shows the Justice League's new 10-man roster, including Captain Cold, who has done very little with the League so far, and the surprise addition of Jessica Cruz, aka Power Ring. It's a very boring pose, but Reis' work is solid as always. But once again, we get a completely different artist working on the inside pages — just one of my pet peeves with comic book covers.

Our story begins with the Flash hunting down Captain Cold. Flash scolds him for returning to a life of crime so quickly after being given a second chance. Cold tries to explain that he was stopping a bank robber, but when Flash asks him why Cold's holding the money and the security guards are frozen, Captain Cold can't explain himself. As Flash beats up Cold, he transforms into Leonard Snart's father, telling his son he'll never amount to anything. The Flash/father then asks Snart what he wants for breakfast.

Yep. Turns out it was all a dream, ended by Lex Luthor's assistant, Mercy, asking Snart what he'd like for breakfast. Mercy tells Snart he has a full day ahead of him, needing to take more tests for insurance purposes, then meet with his new security team to analysis the latest threats against Luthor. She's had Snart's uniform cleaned, and offers to clean his gun, but Snart refuses to let anyone else touch it. Snart heads to the bathroom and while shaving (with his blue goggles/glasses still on for some reason), he's visited by the Mirror Master. Sam Scudder asks Snart when he's returning to the Rogues and why he's even working for Luthor in the first place. After a quick glance to make sure he's alone, Snart says he's there to pull the biggest job of their lives.

Meanwhile, in downtown Metropolis, Superman and Lex Luthor are battling Gorilla Grodd, who has somehow escaped the Mirror World after being imprisoned there in Rogues Rebellion. Also, Grodd is naked and not using any super speed, although he is attacking Superman telepathically. Luthor blames Superman for attracting threats like Grodd to Metropolis. Superman brushes him off, and quickly knocks out Grodd with one punch. So Luthor changes the subject, asking why Batman needs to be on the Justice League. Luthor says he's paying all the team's bills now, so Batman's bank account is now unnecessary. Superman says Batman brings several intangible qualities to the team and quotes Albert Einstein: "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." But Luthor only laughs at that greeting card response.

At S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit, Shazam is hanging out with Cyborg, who's being repaired by his dad, Dr. Stone, after nearly being killed by Power Ring. Shazam gets real impatient when he sees reports of the Grodd fight on TV, so Cyborg tells him it's OK if he leaves to help Superman and Luthor. Once Shazam is gone, Cyborg tells his dad about the vision Power Ring gave him, and says he wants to interface with it again to get a better glimpse of it. But Dr. Stone warns his son that if he reconnects with the ring, he could become trapped inside it.

On the Justice League Watchtower, Flash is using the satellite's equipment to examine the ring on Jessica Cruz's finger. Flash confirms that she's wearing one of the most dangerous weapons in the universe, and admits he doesn't have any good news for her right now. Jessica worries what would have happened had the Justice League not stopped her from burning down all of Portland. Flash tells her to stay calm, and begins to instruct her on how Green Lantern rings channel the bearer's willpower to help them overcome fear. But this ring is from a parallel dimension and has a will of its own, amplifying Jessica's fear and feeding off it. Jessica asks if she's stuck to an evil ring that can take control of her anytime it wants, but Flash says it only gains control when she's most afraid. The Power Ring then begins talking to Jessica, telling her she's always afraid. This naturally makes her very afraid, and she's soon engulfed in green flames. Flash tells her to stay strong like she was before, and that ring can't do anything she won't allow it to. But Jessica only continues to lose control.

We then cut to Luthor and Wonder Woman delivering Lexcorp supplies to a third-world country. But Luthor suspects Wonder Woman only wanted him to accompany her so she could interrogate him with her lasso of truth. Wonder Woman does want to talk, but she chooses not to use her lasso. She asks him why he does the good he does, and Luthor says it's usually to improve his public image and acquire more money and power. Wonder Woman points out that these people don't care how much money or power Luthor has — they're just grateful for the help. A small girl then surprises Luthor by presenting him with a flower and hug. And Wonder Woman tells him to just say thank you.

Back on the Watchtower, Flash is racing around Jessica, containing all the monsters Power Ring is creating. Flash tells Jessica that all his experience with these rings has taught him that all will be well.  The ring tells Jessica that Flash doesn't understand what she's been through, and Flash answers by saying he would understand if she'd talk about it. He adds that he doesn't need to know any specifics, and that it's not up to him to help her. Green Lantern taught Flash that how much you let fear consume you is up to you. This finally gives Jessica the confidence to take control. All the fire and monsters disappear, but Jessica remains in a green outfit. Flash congratulates her, and suggests they visit S.T.A.R. Labs to see if their scientists can figure out how to remove the ring. However, Jessica says she doesn't want to take it off, but learn how to use it.

We then return to Lex Luthor toward the end of his very busy day. He signs off on the partnership between Lexcorp and Wayne Enterprises, and he gloats just a bit about how he got Bruce Wayne to finally change his mind. Bruce tells Luthor he's no different from the inmates at Arkham Asylum, only he's more dangerous since he can hide in the open. Bruce tells Luthor they'll catch him sooner or later, but Luthor only smiles and says Superman told him the same thing years ago. Luthor then leaves for a press conference, and Bruce discreetly tells Superman that Luthor took the bait and they'll be able to arrest him tomorrow.

Luthor's press conference was brief. He announced his official inclusion with the Justice League and said he'll have more exciting news at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Afterword, late at night, Luthor meets in secret with Owlman, whom he's promised Superwoman's child to.

The Good:

Flash actually does something. It's been forever since Geoff Johns gave the Flash something good to do in this series. And this task of working with Power Ring is very fitting. By default, Flash does know the most about Green Lantern rings, and his emotional temperament makes him ideally suited to provide the necessary encouragement. Plus, he's more than fast enough to handle the situation when things get out of hand. I liked watching the Flash do this a lot more than watching him take Wally West to a baseball game. However, I felt it a little odd to have Flash say "All is well," a quote from his days as a Blue Lantern in the pre-New 52 universe.

The Bad:

What the Grodd? When we last saw Grodd, he was a near-unstoppable being in Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion. He had been rescued from the Speed Force by Johnny Quick, and added psychic powers to his super speed. The Rogues then worked together to banish him and a bunch of other dangerous villains into the Mirror World. But we were given no explanation as to how they escaped. But even worse than that, the Grodd we are given in this issue is very clearly the pre-New 52 version of Grodd. He's treated exactly the same way he was during Johns' and Kolins' run on The Flash, where Grodd never wore clothes and only had telepathic abilities, represented by a pink gorilla biting the person's head. I suspect Johns needed some random villain for Superman and Luthor to fight, and he gave Kolins free reign to draw whoever he wanted. And neither of them, nor the editors, bothered to make sure this Grodd was consistent with the New 52 version of the character. Also, it is downright criminal to have Grodd appear in a comic and not have any connection to the Flash.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: The Amazo Virus!

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