Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Justice League #36

The Amazo Virus Chapter One: Quarantined

Geoff Johns Writer
Jason Fabok Artist
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Fabok & Anderson 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

Our cover is a bit hyperbolic with the blood dripping off Superman's shield and the undead, zombie versions of Aquaman, Shazam, Cyborg and Flash. But it was kind of neat to frame everything inside the international symbol for biological hazards. And the best part of this cover is it does something this series hasn't had in quite a while — the artist who drew the cover also drew the inside pages. That's just a very basic comic book rule that I wish would be followed more often.

Our story begins 24 hours after last issue ended. A big chunk of Metropolis has been quarantined, but some looters have stayed behind to take advantage of the open banks. Superman and Batman (wearing a hazmat, or haz-bat suit) quickly find the three men and inform them that they're very sick. But the men say they feel better than ever, and even believe they can take on the heroes themselves. One of them shoots flames from his mouth and eyes, but Superman easily takes him down with his super-breath, while Batman tasers the second man before he can attack.

The third man poses a slightly bigger problem, as he creates a small black hole. But it doesn't last too long. Superman notes the man is going into Stage Three, and he begins vomits violently and loses control of his powers before his heart stops. Batman is able to revive him with his defibrillators, but his visor was cracked during the man's meltdown. Batman insists that the seal hasn't broken yet and he's fine, but Superman worries about him risking his life like this to find Patient Zero.

We then see that only Superman and Wonder Woman are immune to the virus. Even though he's an Atlantean, Aquaman is sick, and Shazam's magic also failed to protect him. They're in a private hospital room along with Power Ring, Cyborg, Flash and Lex Luthor's would-be assassin, Neutron. Luthor is caring for the infected heroes, and he is most perplexed by the Flash. Even though the speedster can normally burn through any virus in a matter of minutes, this one has him laid up. And Luthor isn't sure what to make of his vital signs, not having a prior reading of what is normal for him.

Wonder Woman pays Luthor a visit and asks how long her friends have to live, and Luthor says they'll die within 24 hours if he doesn't find a cure. They then meet with Steve Trevor to give him a status update. More than 520 people have been infected and most have been taken to the makeshift base camp and put into induced comas to await treatment. Luthor explains he created the virus to mimic Professor Anthony Ivo's Amazo android, which could mimic the abilities of any metahuman it encountered. Luthor says he intended to have his virus suppress violent metahumans' abilities, but ultimately shelved the project when it proved too controversial to the White House.

Luthor reminds everyone that the virus was only released after Neutron attacked him. He explains that he was able to get into his suit and get Bruce Wayne and his sister, Lena, to safety before any of them were infected. And the rest of the Justice League became infected while evacuating Metropolis. Luthor explains that the virus essentially affects metahumans the way it was intended to, but it's effect on normal humans was a surprise. Luthor suspects the virus must have mutated after infecting the first human, Patient Zero, who has yet to be located. Luthor explains that the virus breaks down into three stages: First, the patient experiences flu-like symptoms; in Stage Two, they develop a metahuman ability; and in Stage Three, their bodies begin to break down, and die. Luthor says he can save the infected and the Justice League, but he needs to find Patient Zero first.

Captain Cold reports to Luthor that Lena still hasn't been infected. Cold asks how the Flash is doing, and has a hard time containing his glee at the news. Cold then gets down to his job as Luthor's head of security, asking his boss who he thinks would have hired Neutron to kill to him. But Luthor can only say the list of people who want him dead is a long one. We then see a shadowy figure named Bullet accept an offer from an unknown individual to kill Luthor.

Steve Trevor reports that all airports across the nation have been closed, and the outbreak has been reported as far west as Central City. Trevor argues with Superman about Luthor's role in this disaster, saying he is their best chance of solving the problem. Batman and Superman then find Patient Zero, a very large and intimidating man, who seems quite pleased to have found the two heroes.

The Good:

This is the official start of a story, which is kind of nice in this series that is often weighed down by stalling, filler issues. But just because something is happening, that doesn't mean I necessarily enjoy what's happening. Luckily, it wasn't all bad. I enjoyed Luthor's bewilderment at the Flash's inability to beat the virus, even if that was a brief scene. I just wish we could have had a similar explanation for the other members of Justice League.

The Bad:

Inconsistent virus. This issue very clearly explains that Superman and Wonder Woman are immune because they're not human. But Aquaman's not human, either, so why is he infected? And, technically speaking, isn't the Flash the only true metahuman on the roster? Cyborg is a human enhanced by technology, same with Jessica Cruz and her power ring. And Shazam's powers are based in magic. So what's going on with all of them? Also, I find it highly convenient that Luthor and Batman avoided the virus when they were the closest ones to it at the time of the outbreak. Overall, I think the concept of the Amazo Virus is a good one, but its setup was faulty.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Target: Lex Lex Luthor

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