Monday, June 29, 2015

Justice League #38

The Amazo Virus Chapter Three: The Secret

Geoff Johns Writer
Jason Fabok Artist
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Tony Harris, after Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson Flash 75th Anniversary 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

For some reason, Jim Lee returned to Justice League to draw this one, random cover. And it may have been a last-minute decision, since the comic still credits Fabok and Anderson. The cover is nice enough, although nothing particularly spectacular. Everything is kept as vague as possible, yet slightly contradictory if you really break down Batman's "strange new powers." Lee's artwork is always welcome — I just think it's really odd that he spent so much time away from this series and returned for a cover that I think Fabok could have and should have done himself.

In January 2015, DC celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Flash with a series of variant covers. Of course, this anniversary marked the debut of the original Flash, Jay Garrick. But that didn't stop DC from almost exclusively featuring Barry Allen in these covers. My comic shop gave me this variant, and I kind of wish they hadn't. It's just awful. The pencils, the coloring, everything. I like the idea behind paying homage to the classic The Brave and the Bold #28 from 1960. But the execution is simply awful. Flash looks demented, for lack of a better word. I guess the buildings look pretty cool, but what's the point when all the characters look awful?

Our story begins with Steve Trevor informing the unseen President Obama on the current situation. This is helpful if you haven't read the past couple of issues, but if you have, then it's rather repetitive and tedious. I don't know why DC refused to show Obama's face in this issue, when he has clearly been shown several other times in the New 52.

Anyway, our story really begins with the fight between Superman, Wonder Woman and Patient Zero. Batman, who's been infected, holds back a bit, as black blood and ooze starts pouring out of his eyes and mouth. But suddenly, Batman re-enters the fight by emitting a powerful sonic blast that knocks out Patient Zero. Batman tells Superman that he's blind, but can still "see" through echolocation. He says that Luthor's been withholding the true nature of the virus, and Batman says he hears a voice before passing out. As Superman and Wonder Woman gather up Patient Zero and Batman, a group of infected individuals roam the streets, chanting, "Us."

Five miles outside of Metropolis, at the basecamp for the infected, Bullet gloats about how he killed Lex Luthor, only to see that he was protected by a wall of ice. Captain Cold gives a rather boring speech about the power of glaciers, and points his cold-gun at Bullet. The would-be assassin quickly turns and opens fire on Cold, but his cold-field slows all the bullets down, rendering them harmless. Cold then freezes Bullet, presumably killing him.

Luthor then awakes Neutron from his medically induced coma to interrogate him. Lena protests her brother's action, but he shouts at her, saying his whole crisis was Neutron's fault. Luthor reveals that Neutron used to be Metropolis power plant security guard Nathaniel Tryon. He was transformed during a meltdown, and sought revenge on those responsible until Superman stopped him. Now, the Amazo Virus has robbed his ability to control radiation, and he's developed every kind of cancer Luthor can see. Luthor tells Neutron he can save him, but first he wants to know who hired him. But before Neutron answers him, Superman and Wonder Woman arrive with Batman and Patient Zero. So Luthor ends his interrogation to get to work.

After analyzing Patient Zero's blood, Luthor sadly discovers that Ikarus is just as sick as everybody else. His ability just happens to be able to mimic other powers, but Luthor won't be able to make a cure from his blood. So Luthor asks for some of Superman's blood, saying he exposed him to the virus four years ago. When the virus failed, Luthor put it in cold storage. Superman is furious to learn that Luthor knew he had the necessary antibodies in his blood the whole time, and waited until now to say something. Wonder Woman calms Superman down, saying Luthor is still their only hope at curing the virus. And Luthor now demands immunity for all potential charges before he develops an antidote.

Batman then interrupts their conversation with another sonic blast. He and the rest of the infected Justice League members rise up together and speak with one voice, saying that they are the dominant species.

The Good:

I guess the big takeaway from this issue is the Justice League being infected/possessed. But we've seen this before, and recently, too. The Joker just showed that it's pretty easy to take control of the Justice League, so I'm not really worked up about this. I'm also completely indifferent about Batman's new bat powers. We all know they're temporary, so why worry?

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. Well, Flash did say, "We," and he did stand up at the very end, but that's hardly enough Flash for my liking or the purposes of this blog. Hopefully the infected Flash will do something interesting next issue.

Captain Cold does not kill. They didn't explicitly say that Cold killed Bullet, but they didn't say he survived the attack, either. From the art, it pretty much looks like Bullet won't be able to come out of that. And since Luthor was so intent on learning who's trying to kill him, you'd think he would have wanted to interrogate both Neutron and Bullet. He should have either told Cold to defrost Bullet, or shouted at him for killing a valuable source. But more importantly, Cold never should have killed Bullet in the first place. That's a complete betrayal of his character. Leonard Snart is a criminal with a high moral code, who often goes out of his way to not kill people. He easily could have, and should have, only frozen Bullet's arms and legs.

Patient Zero is no worthless. Why did we waste all that time tracking down Patient Zero if he ultimately has no bearing on the story? His blood won't cure, and he doesn't seem to be causing all the infected to rise up and speak in one voice — he just seems to be part of it. And why didn't anyone suggest looking at Superman's blood? Or even Wonder Woman's? I know she's a god and he's an alien, but they're also immune to the virus that knocked out Aquaman, Shazam and Flash. Someone should have thought about finding out exactly what is protecting them.

Final score: 2 out of 10

Next: The Infected

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