Thursday, July 2, 2015

Justice League #39

The Amazo Virus Chapter Four: The Infected

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

The cover is pretty much your stock pose of the new Justice League roster, minus Captain Cold. But he really hasn't done that much with the League as a whole — mostly just hung out with Lex Luthor. All in all, this cover is rather boring, but looks nice enough. I'm glad the Flash wasn't pushed far into the background like Aquaman. (If it weren't for Throne of Atlantis, I'd say Aquaman was the most neglected Justice League member. But I give that dubious honor to the Flash.) I don't like how Superman's eyes are glowing red for no reason on this cover, and I kind of have to laugh at the skull imagery — a common motif for this storyline. But here's the thing: we haven't actually seen a single person killed by the Amazo Virus in the past four issues. There have been implied deaths, but every victim we've come across has saved at the last second.

Our story picks right up where last issue left off. The Amazo Virus has become sentient, and is controlling all the infected members of the Justice League to battle Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and Captain Cold.

Too make matters even worse, Luthor discovers that virus is no longer suppressing the League's powers, but seems to be allowing them. Wonder Woman temporarily knocks all them down, but the infected heroes are soon back on their feet. Luthor fends off Aquaman, but then Flash hits him hard and fast, cracking his glass helmet. Superman begins talking to the virus, asking what it wants. Through the infected heroes, the virus says it wants to spread and kill, just like humans do. Somehow, Luthor is able to get Flash off him, and he opens fire on Patient Zero. But Ikarus mimics Luthor's blast by growing gun-like appendages on his wrist and returns fire.

Wonder Woman reminds Luthor and Superman that they need to be analyzing Superman's blood to create an antidote. Superman complains once again about not being able to trust Luthor, so Wonder Woman convinces him to give Luthor one more chance. She then sends the two of them away, promising to keep the League busy as long as she can. So Luthor and Superman get to work. Since Luthor's fresh out of kryptonite, Superman slices open his hand with his heat vision to give Luthor his blood. Superman then notes that the Amazo Virus is also controlling all the other infected people who have developed superpowers.

Wonder Woman actually does a pretty good job of taking on the entire League — until the Flash gets on top of her. Flash begins pummeling the Amazon warrior, but luckily, Captain Cold arrives in the nick of time to freeze his arch nemesis. Unlike with Bullet, Flash is clearly not killed, since Cold left his face exposed. Cold notes that the virus isn't very good at controlling the heroes' powers, saying he's never been able to hit the Flash straight on like that. Captain Cold then gleefully fights alongside Wonder Woman, especially liking it when she calls him Leonard.

As Luthor analyzes Superman's blood, he gives a long, boring speech about the history of disease in the world. He then criticizes Superman for never using his powers to cure disease, and Superman blames him for causing this pandemic. Luthor then discovers the cure, saying he can develop it in a few minutes, but it will take days to create enough to cure the hundreds of infected people. The infected then break through Wonder Woman's and Captain Cold's line, but Cold is able to freeze Patient Zero's arm. Everyone realizes that Patient Zero is unable to replicate the power of cold. Superman, who had been holding back his freeze breath so it wouldn't be mimicked, helps Captain Cold freeze Patient Zero.

Apparently Patient Zero was more important than I thought last issue, because once he's frozen, all the infected people just collapse harmlessly. Captain Cold is quite thrilled to have worked with Wonder Woman and Superman in the same day, and he makes sure to take a picture of the frozen Flash with his phone before he thaws out.

Some time later, the Justice League are all up on their feet, distributing the vaccine across the world, which Flash and Power Ring are producing. But as the world is cured, about three percent of the previously infected people manage to retain their metahuman abilities. And we see the shadowy figure of Amos Fortune, presumably the man who hired Neutron and Bullet to kill Luthor.

Luthor and Superman visit Patient Zero, who is immune to Luthor's cure. Since Dr. Armen Ikarus is basically brain dead, Luthor has informed his family that he's died, and has properly compensated them for their loss. In the meantime, Patient Zero is kept in low temperatures to subdue his powers, while Luthor continues to study him at the president's request. Patient Zero then promises to one day infect Luthor, and he mutates to resemble the original Amazo robot.

Neutron's powers have returned, but his many forms of cancer have not gone away. He is still very sick, but once again rather dangerous, so he's still in custody. Neutron proposes a deal with Steve Trevor, saying if Luthor grants him one request, he'll reveal who hired him to kill Luthor. At these words, a shadowy hand reaches for a gun, saying, "If you want something done right ... you have to do it yourself."

Up on the Watchtower, Power Ring tells Flash how she's tired of being controlled by outside forces such as her ring and the virus. Recognizing his limitations in the field of willpower-controlled rings, Flash has brought in an expert on the matter — Hal Jordan.

The Good:

It's over! I have scored each installment in this story one point lower than the preceding chapter. That trend will stop with this issue, but that doesn't mean it's particularly good. The idea of Wonder Woman taking on the entire Justice League is an exciting one. Unfortunately, nothing really happened. And as Geoff John carefully explained, this was not the League as their full abilities. Which is exactly what happened when the Joker took over the League in Batman; and many other countless examples of the League being possessed. I also feel like I should have liked the scenes with Captain Cold more than I did. But the fact that he was able to freeze people without killing them in this issue only makes the sin he committed last issue even greater.

The Bad:

Weak conclusion. So in the end, the only thing we needed for the cure was Superman's blood. And the only thing we needed to stop the fighting was have Superman use his freeze breath. Two things that could have and should have been addressed in the first part of this story. This four/five-parter really could have been a two-parter. There was so much stalling going on — so many repeated lines, recapping the previous issue in excoriating detail. Add to the fact that each issue was only about 22 pages long for the price of $3.99, and I become one frustrated reader. What was the point of this whole storyline? To introduce a new, organic Amazo? To create the flimsiest of excuses to bring back Hal Jordan?

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we'll cover one of our final passive Flash appearances with Green Lantern Corps #37.

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