So, this is the new Justice League, huh?
First reaction: I don’t love the art. Mark Bagley’s DC work has been solid. And I applaud any artist who can meet deadlines these days. But I haven’t loved his work at DC and this image is no exception. The characters always seem a little “off” to me. And what’s up with the weird size discrepancies?
Honestly, I don’t much care who is on the JLA. It’s all about execution to me. I’d rather have a good book filled with 3rd stringers than a crap book starring the Big 7. But, the line-up is more important to the JLA than it is to almost any other team in comics. People have certain expectations of the JLA that they don’t have for the Titans for example.
With that in mind, I thought I’d run through the new line-up and share my thoughts. In alphabetical order we have:
The Atom:Ray Palmer is the first of Robinson’s “pet characters” to make the list. Ray’s been on the League plenty of times before. Even when he wasn’t a member, he was one of the first reserves to get the call to action. No doubt that he has a place on the team. Unfortunately, Robinson has written him really poorly in “Cry for Justice”. I really don’t want to see more of the same here. Also, a part of me really wishes DC would have given Ryan Choi more of a chance.
Batman:Sure, Batman belongs on the League. Okay, so this is not Bruce Wayne. Doesn’t really matter. Dick’s lead the JLA before (in the Obsidian Age storyline). Being Batman means being in the JLA. This one is a no-brainer.
Congorilla:If any new member is going to raise eyebrows, it’s Congo Bill. When people heard he was going to be featured in “Cry for Justice”, they scratched their heads. Most people took a wait-and-see attitude. Robinson swears he’s going to make all of us love Congorilla. I’m still waiting for that to happen. Based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s no way I think he belongs on the Justice League. But as Robinson’s pet character, he makes the cut.
Cyborg: Really? Cyborg? Okay. I mean, if Steel isn’t available, sure. I guess. I’m not sure why Cyborg needs to make the step up from Titans to the League. But I have no problem with it… except… well, more on that later.
Donna Troy: Hey, what do you know? Another Titan. I really don’t have a problem with Donna on the League. I’m not sure why Wonder Woman is unavailable. But I guess we’ll find out in due time. The problem is that this line-up has 4 Titans on it (5 if you count Ray Palmer who was a Teen Titan in the 90s). It just seems like over-kill. It’s okay to have a Titan or two on the roster, but they shouldn’t be the dominant force.
Dr. Light:First of all, the name is most commonly associated with a villain. One of the most hated villains in the DCU to be specific. On the other hand, she’s got the power level to be on the League. And as an Asian woman, she adds some diversity to a mostly white team. I’ve never been a fan of the character, but I’ve got nothing against her.
Green Arrow: Much was made of Roy Harper taking on the name Red Arrow and taking Ollie’s place on the League. So in a way it feels like a step backward to bring Ollie back this soon. Then again, with so many Titans on the roster, something had to give. There’s no doubt that Ollie belongs on the League. But there may be a few reasons why he doesn’t belong on this League.
Green Lantern:See point 3 under Green Arrow. Also, Hal Jordan is dangerously close to being over-exposed in the DCU these days. It would have been nice to see another GL featured here. With Hal getting the main book, Kyle and Guy in GL Corps, I would really like to see John Stewart on the League.
The Guardian:Like Congorilla, the Guardian is anything but a household name. In and of itself, that’s not a problem. But this team is sorely lacking heavy hitters. The only reason the Guardian is getting the nod is that Robinson likes him. And I’ve enjoyed Robinson’s take on the character in Superman. But Superman already stars Mon-el and the Guardian. Did we really need to have both characters here too?
Mon-el:The Superman family’s pretty darn big. I’d rather have Supergirl or Steel fill in for Superman while he’s off planet. For story reasons, I understand why Supergirl wouldn’t make a good fit. Kryptonians aren’t real popular these days. And Steel may not be in fighting shape after the ass-whooping he got from Atlas a couple months ago. So, I guess Mon-el makes the most sense. But I really don’t care for that “S” they added to his costume.
Starfire:Another Titan. I’m not sure I understand what Starfire is brining to the table. Sure, she’s powerful. But so are a lot of other characters who could have brought a little more of a “JLA” feel to the book. On her own, I can see it. But with all the other Titans floating around, will this book still feel like the JLA?
Which brings me to my next point. What’s going to happen to Titans? Surely these four characters’ aren’t all going to be pulling double duty on both teams. Rumor has it Beast Boy is also leaving the Titans for Teen Titans. So, it seems likely that book may be headed for cancellation.
If Titans does get cancelled, it’s no big loss. The book has stunk from day one. (Honestly, Billy’s blasting of Titans 1 is the most read article on this blog of all times. And not just because he included screenshots of all the naked pictures of Starfire!) But I thought Wally West fans were being told they could read about their favorite character in Titans. Now I have to wonder if Wally still has a home.
Which brings up another point: the team is lacking a Speedster. With both Wally and Barry running around, it seems like at least one of them should be on the League. With Barry getting the main book, it would have been nice to see Wally here – as long as he wasn’t one more Titan.
There’s a few other surprising omissions. Vixen was confirmed as being on the team at one point. Maybe she’ll show up later on. Who knows? also, after all the hub-bub around McDuffie not getting to pick his League, you have to wonder why DC was so quick to throw aside the members of that version of the team. Zatanna, Firestorm, the recently returned Plastic Man… what happened to those guys?
There’s still some story left to tell. And maybe it will all make more sense when we see how Cry for Justice leads into the main title. I’ll be interested to see why Starman, Supergirl, Captain Marvel, etc didn’t make the cut.
I’m a huge fan of the Justice League. It’s my favorite team in comics. And I really want the book to be good. This line-up could work, but it doesn’t really excite me. My main reservation about the book is the creative team.
I like Robinson’s work on Superman. But man-oh-man do I hate Cry for Justice. There’s no reason to think his take on the main JLA book will be any better than his mini-series. So, my expectations have been lowered to zero for that reason alone.
Couple Robinson with the capable but “off” artwork of Mark Bagley in the DCU and a line-up I just don’t care about and you’ve got a recipe for another lack luster Justice League.
This is one case where I would definitely like to be proven wrong.
It’s been a little while since the last issue of Flash: Rebirth. Late books happen, but sometimes the delay is more disruptive than others. In this case, the tardiness of the book was significant enough to comment on. The events in this issue have already been reflected in other books including Blackest Night. As a result, those stories had scenes that read awkwardly and this book has lost some of its relevance and momentum.
Late books are bad, mmmkay?
If you’ve read my previous Flash: Rebirth reviews, then you know I haven’t been a fan of this mini-series. In my eyes, Johns has taken the formula of the commercially successful (though criminally over-rated) Green Lantern: Rebirth mini and duplicated it here. But it all feels so forced and tired.
(On the upside, the book didn’t have a lot of momentum to lose in the two months since the last issue.)
I liked this issue less than any of the previous issues. As a long-time reader of Geoff Johns, I’ve gotten tired of some of his story-telling crutches. And this issue is filled with the Johnsisms that I hate.
Professor Zoom gets talky. He “monologues” long enough for Fro-zone to shut him down. There’s just no reason for it other than for Johns to shove his point-of-view down the reader’s throat. These aren’t things the character would say. He’s just Johns’ mouth piece. (See also: Sinestro in this month’s issue of Green Lantern.)
The story itself is pretty pointless. This isn’t a story at all. It’s an exercise in house cleaning. Geoff Johns is reshaping the Flash mythos to suit his needs. And of course that means he retconned the shit out of everything until Barry Allen became the center of the universe. Yep, Barry created the Speed Force now.
Honestly, these kinds of stories annoy me. I don’t need a 6-part story to justify continuity “fixes”. Johns’ retcons don’t feel any more natural just because he wrote a story where Professor Zoom “explained” it all.
There are some good moments in the issue. I was glad to finally see Wally, Bart and Max Mercury each get a moment to shine. (Granted, each of them only got a moment.) And Ethan Van Sciver’s art was definitely worth the wait.
I mentioned before that I thought Green Lantern: Rebirth was criminally over-rated. Both min-series consistently mostly of retcons to ser-up Geoff Johns’ run on the ongoing series. In the case of Hal Jordan, the retcons were needed to make him a viable leading man. But all you needed to do with Barry was bring him back and that already happened in last year’s Final Crisis.
Fortunately, Green Lantern turned out to be a pretty good book once Johns got all the house cleaning out of the way. Hopefully, that will be the case with the Flash as well. So, let’s get on with it guys! Pick up the pace! No more late issues!
Flash: Rebirth #3 (by Bruce Castle)
Warning: This is not for the easily offended. That James Robinson is quite the perv. Anyway, here’s the original script in it’s entirity:
(Scene: Gotham City – the city of corruption and carnival treats.)
Ollie: Damn, Hal! You sure told those bitches off!
Hal: Fuck yeah! I rule.
Ollie: I could sure go for a funnel cake right now.
Hal: Gotham City - Land of corruption and fried dough. I have a confession to make.
Ollie: If it involves you getting Huntress and Lady Blackhawk drunk and taking advantage of them, I’m all ears.
Hal: You know I shagged them!
Ollie: I know. All the boys at the Hall of Justice were talking about it. Those Birds of Prey are easy once you get a few drinks in ‘em. Even Metamorpho got freaky with the one in a wheelchair.
Hal: Mmmmm. She’s a red head. You know what they say about red heads…
Ollie: So, who was the best lay?
Hal: Let me think. There have been so many. You’d think it would be Power Girl. But she just kind of lays there.
Ollie: The chesty ones always do. And then they expect you to be all grateful cause they let you squeeze their boobs.
Hal: But what a rack, am I right?
Ollie: High five, bro!
Hal: I think the best had to be Big Barda. Once you’ve gone New God, you can never go back.
Hal: And then there was Misfit. Sure, she’s young. But if there’s grass on the field!
Ollie: You old horndog! Are there any Birds of Prey you haven’t fucked?
Hal: Hell to the no! I’ve fucked ‘em all. Sometimes two at a time. One time the blonde in fishnets went down on me while Manhunter watched. Let me tell you something, she was the freakiest one of all.
Ollie: The blonde in fishnets?!?
Hal: Yeah, what was her name? It’s on the tip of my toungue…
Ollie: You mean Black Canary?!?
Hal: Yeah, that’s it! That girl’s a screamer, let me tell you.
Ollie: You fucked my wife?!?
Hal: Shit, you married that bitch?
Ollie: I know! What was I thinking?
Hal: Still bros?
Ollie: Forever and for always.
Hal: God, I hated Bruce Wayne.
Ollie: I know. What a prick!
Hal: I’m glad he’s dead. I mean, I respected him and all.
Ollie: Sure. I hear he screwed Catwoman.
Hal: Catwoman’s no big deal. You know they’re fake, right?
Hal: How can you not know Catwoman’s boobs are fake? Bruce bought her those so he wouldn’t feel like he was stuffing Robin.
(Scene: Two characters no one cares about are fighting on an island for no good reason.)
Congorilla: I hate you.
Starman: I’m totally going to kill you!
Congorilla: Not if I kill you first.
Starman: I’m tired. Wanna take a nap?
Congorilla: Sounds lovely. Let’s be friends.
Starman: But, our scene isn’t over.
Congorilla: I guess we could kill time talking about drinks.
Starman: Odds are nobody’s reading our scene anyway. Who the fuck are we and what are we doing on the Justice League?
(Scene: Back on the rooftop.)
Hal: Wah! I’m cold.
Ollie: Hal, you have a power ring. You fly in space. How can your ass possibly be cold?
Hal: Oh, I forgot.
Ollie: I think someone’s on this rooftop with us.
Hal: Is it Jason Bard, Batman’s private detective?
(Wonder Woman steps from the shadows.)
Wonder Woman: Hello, boys. I heard what you were saying earlier about some of my friends. So I thought I’d drop in an see what all the fuss was about.
Hal: Hell yeah. I always wanted to bag me an Amazon princess.
(Wonder Woman reaches for her lasso.)
Ollie: Ooooo. Kinky.
(Wonder Woman wraps the lasso around Hal.)
Hal: Hey lady, I’m not into sausage parties!
Wonder Woman: Now that you are bound in my lasso, you will be compelled to tell the truth.
Hal: Oh shit!
Wonder Woman: Have you ever had sex with any of the women you were talking about?
Wonder Woman: Have you ever had sex with a woman?
Ollie: Fight it, Hal!
Hal: (sobbing) N-n-n-never!
Wonder Woman: Have you ever had sexual relations with anyone?
Ollie: Don’t answer, Hal!
Hal: “Green Arrow” and I are lovers! Black Canary is just a beard. Ollie pays her to keep up appearances. Every now and then, she lets him rescue her so he can look good.
Wonder Woman: I thought so. I’ll see you at the next League briefing.
(Wonder Woman puts away her lasso and flies away.)
Hal: Are you mad, pretty bird?
Ollie: You know I can’t quit you, Hal.
(Scene: Ray Palmer feels sorry for himself at the Flash Museum.)
Jay Garrick: What the fuck am I doing in this book. I’m so out of here?
(Jay runs off to appear in a far better title.)
Ray Palmer: The universe hates Ray Palmer.
Ryan Choi: Hey, Ray Palnmer. I just dropped by to make sure everyone knows you’re still the Atom. Not me.
Ray Palmer: You’re a hero, Ryan. I’m just Ray Palmer.
Ryan Choi: Well, I’ve said all I’m allowed to say. I’m leaving never to be seen in a comic again until Geoff Johns needs someone to kill off in a crossover. Remember, Ray Palmer is the Atom now.
Ray Palmer: Ray Palmer is sad.
(Freddy Freeman shpows up.)
Freddy: Hi, Ray Palmer.
Ray Palmer: Ray Palmer knows you from a long-forgotten attempt to reboot the Teen Titans. Ray Palmer explains continuity only to dismiss it as unimportant.
Freddy: You’re a hell of a guy, Ray Palmer.
Ray Palmer: Why does flying boy come to see Ray Palmer?
Freddy: Well, Ray Palmer, I just realized I’m in this freaking book. So I figured I’d better show up eventually. I beat Supergirl, didn’t I?
Ray Palmer: Ray Plamer wishes flying boy would not give away last page.
Ryan Choi: Look, Ray Palmer, if everyone is just going to go on calling you “Ray Palmer” do you think maybe I could keep the name, the Atom!
Freddy: Look behind you, Ryan.
Ryan: Oh good god it’s Geoff Johns!
(Geoff Johns rips Ryan Choi to pieces and makes a hat out of his bloody caracass,
Geoff Johns: Read Green Lantern!
Ray Palmer: Ray Palmer miss rare ethnic character in comics already.
(Scene: Hal and Ollie are blocking traffic with a pile of knocked-out bad guys.)
Hal: I didn’t even break a sweat.
Ollie: That’s because we’re so awesome and they are so lame.
Hal: Kiss me, you fool!
(Ray Palmer and Freddy Freeman arrive.)
Ollie: What are you guys doing here?
Freddy: It’s almost the last page of the second issue. Eventually, we have to be in the same place so we can all cry for justice or something.
Ollie: When you say “justice” I get moist.
Hal: You stay away. He’s mine!
(The Javelin awakens and throws a javelin at the jealous lovers.)
(Close-up of Supergirl’s heaving bosom as the javelin shatters on her boobs. Make sure you get a close-up of those teen boobs or I swear to god I will kill someone at DC! I demand teenage boobies!)
Supergirl: Who throws a javelin? Really!
Freddy: This must be the last page…
Supergirl (striking a pose) No, THIS is the last page.
(Make sure that on that last page we are looking up Supergirl’s skirt as much as possible.)
I’m a Justice League fan. My user ID over at the DC forums has been “JLAmember” since the early days of Grant Morrison’s run. I’ve stuck with the League through some pretty awful times. I even read that Claremont/Byrne story from a few years back! (Those of you who read it understand what a sacrifice that was).
For a long while now, I’ve bemoaned the state of the regular Justice League title. Brad Metzler got free reign on the book and turned it into his own personal playground. He squeezed in everything he wanted to see changed in the DCU before dumping the book on Dwayne McDuffie. By now, we all know how things played out from there.
When Cry for Justice was announced, I was jazzed. The art looked great and I was excited to see what Robinson could do to revitalize the team. Granted, the line-up was… quirky. But I can live with any line-up if the stories are good. And Robinson’s Superman run has only raised my expectations.
But then came that 6-page preview of Hal Jordan bitching. I could not believe how bad it was. Surely, this wasn’t the future of the League. But it was no joke. When Cry for Justice #1 hit the stands, the entire issue read like that 6-page preview. I couldn’t even bring myself to write-up a review.
If you read the title of this article, it’s labeled as a “rant” and not a “review”. That’s because once again I can’t find the inner fortitude to write up a proper review of this issue. It’s better than the first issue simply because Hel Jordan doesn’t get on his high horse and lecture the Justice League for 6 pages. But, that’s true of just about every Justice League comic book I’ve ever read (including that Claremont/Byrne vampire story from a few years back!)
What you get with this issue is another 20 or so pages of “the team coming together”. Unfortunately, it’s filled with more of the laughably bad dialogue from last issue. How do you even begin to review stuff like this:
Hal: Ah yes, Gotham. The sweet smell of corruption and cotton candy.
Seriously, WTF?!? Cotton Candy? After decades of seeing Gotham City in comics, movies and TV, never once did I imagine it smelled like cotton candy. Next panel:
Hal: I have a confession to make.
(Me: Oh boy! Here we go again!)
Ollie: If it involves you, the Huntress, Lady Blackhawk and a bottle of grappa, Dinah already told me. And all I have to say is “well played, sir.”
Seriously, WTF. But they don’t stop there.
Ollie: Everybody heard about it — from Man-Bat to Metamorpho. And Rex Mason was quite the lothario before he turned all weird looking. So for him to be impressed took some doing.
Hal: I’d rather be known for the plans I flew.
Robinson manages to make Hal look like a bigger pig than Ollie in one panel. Amazing!
Hal and Ollie go on to talk about Gotham for a few more pages. Somehow, they manage not to bring up the smell of cotton candy. But the weird dialogue continues. Next, we get Starman and Congorilla battling to the death. No explanation is given as to why, but both characters make their bloodlust known.
Then they get tired and stop fighting. They both decide to put their battle to the death on hold for a few seconds while they catch their breath and talk about… cocktails. A few pages later and Congorilla is quoting “Casablanca”. Soon, the two are best buds and flying off to who knpws where.
Back on the rooftops of Gotham, Batman’s private detective Jason Bard shows up and points Hal and Ollie at a collection of bad guys who are working for Prometheus. Hal and Ollie refer to each other as “Green Lantern” and “Green Arrow” in quotation marks. Cute, huh?
Next up is Ray Palmer and Jay Garrick (what is he doing in this book anyway?). They both say “Ray Palmer” a lot because Robinson seems to love it when people say “Ray Palmer.” And Ray Palmer throws himself another pity party because the universe hates Ray Palmer.
Then Freddy Freeman shows up because he’s on the team and he hasn’t shown up yet.
Freddy Freeman and Ray Palmer actually discuss the breif time they were on the Teen Tians together. Ray Palmer comments that it feels like that almost never happened. That’s because DC has been ignoring any comic book from the 90s in which Superman didn’t die.
Back in Gotham, Hal and Ollie are literally standing on the bodies of the second-string villains they defeated and gloating about how easy it was. Then Freddy Freeman and Ray Palmer show up. Surprisingly, no one says “Ray Palmer” for two whole pages. Instead, they say “Justice” a lot and Ollie confesses a man-crush for Freddy.
Then, the Javelin (who?) gets up and throws a spear (or javelin I suppose) just in time to poke Supergirl in the boob. Supergirl knocks him out and poses for the final page because she is also on the team.
The story is over, but you still get several pages of text in which Robinson talks about Ray Palmer. There’s also a two-page origin story just like the ones we got in the back of 52.
Please, don’t let this be the future of the Justice League!
This book is bad. Seriously, you should all thank me for reading it so you don’t have to.
How bad is it?
Well, this issue steals its premise from one of the most celebrated Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes of all time, Hush. Hush was amazing because of the way the characters were able to communicate silently. In television, a medium that typically includes sound, the effect was sometimes creepy, sometimes touching and often hysterical. In a comic book, it just means the horrible dialogue appears in thought captions instead.
How bad is the internal monologue? Check out the opening spread from Black Canary:
On the next page is the single word “Silence” Ooooo. So, the leader of the JLA is afraid of the sounds of silence. Don’t take her to a Simon and Garfunkle concert!
In the Buffy episode, people were weirded out by the fact no one could make any noise vocally. People started buying dry erase boards so they could communicate. They were freaked out, but they went about their daily lives. In this book, people start acting like it’s the end of the world. Riots break out immediately. And when Black Canary saves a girl from a street gang (she stops the last one by throwing a knife in his leg, btw) the girl asks why she let them live.
Because if someone turns off the sound for five minutes, everyone’s going to go all Lord of the Flies all the sudden.
By page 6, we are treated to the team of Green Arrow and Cupid. (Seriously, why don’t they just rename the book? Get Dinah the hell out of this book, please!)
Cupid’s idea of heroics is to put a family out of their misery rather than letting them burn to death. Ollie stops her and rescues the family rather easily. Which leads to this marvelous exchange:
I don’t know, Ollie. Maybe you could lock the psycho up before she actually executes someone! Just a thought!
Dinah visits some scientists who give her a way to track the source of the problem through, you know, science. Or comic book science at least. Of course, Black Canary doesn’t knock on the office door. No, she breaks in their window and shrugs for no apparent reason.
Because the window was dirty and you didn’t want to clean it?
Through a flash-back, we learn that Dinah was not good in science (presumably because she’s a girl, right?) And that this whole thing is her fault. But we already more or less knew that from the first issue of Kreisberg’s run. Now we just find out this isn’t the first time she’s blown out someone’s ear drums.
Silly, girl. Always blowing out people’s eardrums, knifing thugs and being saved by Green Arrow.
Oh, and we also find out where BC got her ideas about how to enter a room:
I guess Wildcat didn’t get the memo about the JSA’s mission to make better heroes, huh.
Hopefully by reading this comic, I saved someone else from having to waste $3.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #33
It’s a sad time to be a fan of the Justice League. The book just hasn’t been worth reading for a long time. After reading Dwane McDuffie’s on-line comments about some of the bizarre editorial mandates inflicted on the books, I’m kind of amazed that the book has been readable at all.
Having said that, this issue was actually more readable than most. It feels like a lot of the outside pressures and influences eased up a little this issue and the story actually got a little room to breathe. It probably helped that a lot of second and third tier characters took center-stage. (Black Canary and Superman may be on the cover, but don’t expect to find them in the book.)
A lot of the plot threads that McDuffie has been working with come together in this issue. Starbreaker has kidnapped Dr. Light and the Justice League enlists the aid of Hardware to track her down. Meanwhile, Anasi contacts Vixen and charges her with an important mission. To aid her, he provides a partner last scene in a previous JLA arc.
If you haven’t been reading Justice League, this is hardly new-reader friendly. Having been a less-than-devout follower of McDuffie’s run, I know little to nothing about the Shadow Cabinet. And if I hadn’t read the Anasi arc, I think I would have been utterly baffled by the entire issue. But, if you have been keeping up with McDuffie’s run, this issue starts to pay things off.
The art by Rags Morales is good. I would prefer him as a regular artist on this book over Ed Benes. Having said that, the art in this issue kind of lacked some of the “wow” factor I expect from Rags. I don’t know if it was rushed or poorly inked. It just fell a little short of what I have seem from Morales in the past. But it was still better than the usual art on the book.
I also credit McDuffie with doing a couple of things I would not have thought possible. One, he makes Starbreaker feel like a legitimate threat. I can’t remember the last time the JLA faced a worthy adversary. And two, he’s actually making me care about Dr. Light.
I also couldn’t help noticing that this JLA is the most ethnic JLA I’ve ever seen. There was not a white man to be seen aside from the guest star Anasi whipped up. I couldn’t help thinking that was kind of cool. First a black president and now a racially diverse Justice League!
I also liked a lot of the smaller moments in the book. For example, Zatanna is unable to simply teleport the League to Dr. Light. She goes on to explain that she has a set number of spells prepared and this isn’t one of them. I like Zatanna, but I always thought her power-level was poorly defined. Sometimes she seems all-powerful and sometimes she’s useless. I liked this explanation.
I am not recommending Justice League. Not yet. But if you’ve been reading McDuffie’s run, things look to be getting better. Hopefully he will be allowed to continue that momentum and rebuild this once-great book.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #27
Last issue was the end of the Geoff Johns era of Justice Society. And the new writers haven’t gotten here yet. So that obviously means it’s time for a Jerry Ordway fill-in arc. It’s hard to get too excited about a fill-in story like this. You know going in that nothing of any significance is likely to happen. But I decided to give it a shot anyway.
Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised. Ordway does an admirable job with the large cast of the JSA. and his old-school style suits the book. Despite being a fill-in story, the issue actually feels relevant. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ordway is allowed to make some roster changes before the new team arrives.
Although several members of the cast get their moments in the spotlight, the issue focuses on two former members of Infinity Inc. Both Atom Smasher and Obsidian have betrayed the JSA in the past. And neither one of them is fully trusted by the team. So, when they start behaving oddly in the name of protecting the team, not everyone is willing to take them at their word.
Doing a fill-in after Johns’ long run on the book has to be a daunting task. But to his credit, Ordway seems up to it. If you’re not currently reading JSA, this isn’t the issue to start. But if you’re already a JSA reader, this issue is a good enough place holder until the new creative team arrives. And that’s all you can ask of a fill-in.
TEEN TITANS #71
I’ve been a vocal critic of the Titans books. The entire franchise has been a complete disaster for a long time now. And I have hated Sean McKeever’s run on the book. It started off mediocre and then completely crossed the line with this issue.
I could never get invested in the book again after that. It didn’t help matters that this book was tied up in the garbage that was Deathtrap. It made both Titans books more skipable than ever.
This issue marks the end of McKeever’s run on the Teen Titans. But he’ll be sticking around the book writing back-up stories for his Mary Sue, Ravager. With Deathtrap over, I decided to give the book another look. And I shouldn’t be too surprised by what I got.
Ravager was front and center. In fact, this issue was less of a Titans story than it was a set-up for McKeever’s Ravager co-feature. After her escapades with the Terror Titans, Ravager returns to Titans Tower to decide whether or not she should rejoin the team. Meanwhile, Wonder Girl and the rest of the Titans have to decide whether or not they want Ravager back.
It’s all false drama. Bombshell, who was depicted as an out-an-out villain during Johns’ run on the book, has been accepted by the Titans. How could they refuse membership to Ravager? Even Wonder Girl just seems to give up when arguing her point.
Of course, Ravager doesn’t make the decision any easier. In a truly astonishing lapse of judgement, she decides to betray the Titans’ trust in order to force a confrontation with Bombshell. Why? Because she wants to test Bombshell’s loyalties. Huh?!?
I wish McKeever well, but I am glad to see both him and Ravager leave the book. I only wish the back-up feature were going somewhere else. I plan to give the book another chance when Bryan Miller takes over next issue. It’s just a shame I’ll still be getting 10 pages of the same crap from McKeever.
Oh well, 10 issues of crap is better than a full issue.
Let me be up front with my biases. I’m a Wally fan. For me, Barry was the guy who showed up when Wally really needed a push in the right direction and then he went back into the Speed Force until the next time he was needed. He was kind of like Ben Kenobi in Empire Strikes Back. So, to have Barry back pushing Wally out of the spotlight is kind of like if Ben was the lead character of Return of the Jedi.
This book is entertaining. You probably won’t be bored. But I kind of wonder who it’s aimed at. The story requires you to know quite a bit of Flash back story if you want to have any chance of following it. But people who have read a lot of these stories may not take kindly to the trade-mark Geoff Johns retcons in this issue.
I don’t think this book is being written for Barry Allen fans. (Which is probably a good thing, because I think they are a dying breed.) I imagine some Barry fans are thrilled just to have Barry back. But I also have to think there are some that are wondering why DC bothered to bring him back if they are going to change the character so completely. This new spin on Barry isn’t grim and gritty, but he’s not the Silver Age Barry Allen I read about in JLA: Year One and Brave and the Bold.
Johns goes to lengths to get Barry dirty. He goes so far as to have Barry run through a list of his sins and failures. He also has Barry act like a bit of a jerk sometimes. Oh, and there’s an entertaining retcon regarding Barry’s fashion sense. But after all the tweaks, the guy I’m reading about just doesn’t feel like Barry.
The main plot deals with Barry’s investigation into Savitar’s death. If you don’t know who Savitar was, I suppose it’s okay. Johns used him as cannon fodder last issue. You may scratch your head a few times wondering where he came from or how he got trapped in the Speed Force. But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter much. Savitar’s death is just a plot device.
We also get some flashbacks (no pun intended) to Barry’s early days as a forensic scientist and how he met his future wife, Iris West. A subplot is introduced regarding the death of Barry’s mother. Apparently, Barry was trying to clear his father of the crime. I’m not a big enough Barry fan to know if this is an established part of Barry’s history or another retcon. But it felt like something Johns was adding on to deliver a more angsty Barry.
The issue ends with a shocking revelation regarding Barry’s new status quo. Presumably, this explains why Barry has remained in our world rather than returning to the Speed Force. I guess I’d be a little more shocked if I believed this change would remain in place after the conclusion of this mini-series.
If you like what Johns has been doing with Hal Jordan in Green Lantern, odds are you’ll like this Rebirth too. I admit, I enjoyed the book too. I just wish it was a little less heavy-handed in the reinvention of the title character.
I’ve been planning a rant about the current state of the Justice League. (It’s coming!) But, in the meanwhile, I saw this article at Newsarama about the Grant Morrison’s run on JLA. This is wasily one of my favorite runs on any book. And since the JLA is my favorite team, it’s my favorite run on any team book. (In spite of the weak Howard Porter art.)
Anyway, here’s a link to the article. Read it and remember when the JLA was great:
If you read my review of last issue (which can be read here: http://readrant.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/review-green-arrow-and-black-canary-14) then you know I have been looking forward to this issue and the new writer for quite some time.
Well, the new writer is here. So, how’d he do? Well, to paraphrase The Who, “Meet the new writer. Same as the old writer.”
It’s not that this issue is bad, per se. It’s just that new writer Andrew Kreisberg hits a lot of wrong notes that have been overplayed by previous writers already.
I my last review, I spent a fair amount of time looking back at Judd Winnick’s run. Since GA/BC 14 dealt primarily with creating a new status quo for Connor Hawke, I concentrated a lot of my attention on how Connor has been handled.
This issue deals primarily with Oliver Queen. Let’s face it, despite the shared headliner status, Green Arrow is the star of this book. Black Canary is just along for the ride. It’s sad, but true. I am reluctant to launch into another rant so soon after my last GA/BC review. But the name of this blog is read/RANT, so rant I shall.
When Ollie Queen came back from the dead, I was concerned about two of my favorite characters. One was Connor Hawke. You can read all about how that went in my last review. The other was Black Canary.
Historically, Black Canary has never lived up to her full potential whenever Green Arrow was around. However, after years of being portrayed as little more than a damsel in distress or a sex object in fishnets, Black Canary had finally gained some respect courtesy of Chuck Dixon in Birds of Prey.
Against all odds, Dixon (and later Gail Simone) rehabbed Black Canary into one of the most respected super heroines in the DCU. They were so successful, that Black Canary eventually became the chairperson of the JLA!
But still, Oliver Queen was sniffing around. And he was still the same dirty, rotten scoundrel he was before he died. I, for one, cheered when Dinah caught Ollie cheating and kicked him to the curb. I like both characters just fine on their own. But when you put them together, Black Canary invariably becomes less than she is on her own.
Unfortunately, the powers-that-be eventually forced Black Canary and Green Arrow back together. And generally speaking, Winnick lived down to my expectations when it came to his handling of Black Canary. In spite of being more powerful and arguably more skilled than Green Arrow, she almost invariably came across as less effective.
Perhaps worse still, Winnick had two ways of presenting Black Canary. On the one hand, she was a maternal wet blanket. She was the one who rolled her eyes when Ollie went off half-cocked. But she didn’t get to do much more than respond to the escapades of the lead character.
The only other thing Black Canary was allowed to do was to exist as a sex object. Any time we saw Green Arrow and Black Canary in between adventures, it was always the same scene. Black Canary in some state of undress being flirtatious with Green Arrow in the bedroom.
Hey, I know this is what married coules do (well, newlyweds anyway). But it was painful to see the Black Canary of Birds of Prey reduced to a second-fiddle, damsel in distress and/or sex object issue after issue.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what Kreisberg serves up here. Somehow a no-rate mook got the drop on Black Canary and Green Arrow has to come to her rescue. After which, he is rewarded with super hero sex. Mr. Kreisberg, I sure hope you got this out of your system. Because it was old before you got here.
What else did we get? Well, Connor and Mia fly off from the nest. I actually respected this move. I’d rather have them around. But if the new writer doesn’t want to use them, it’s better that he write them offstage in a believable fashion rather than revamping or killing them (see every other book DC publishes.)
And, inexplicably, the bulk of this issue is actually a retelling of Green Arrow’s origin and the events the last 14 issues. I’m sure this was intended to be a jumping on point. But there wasn’t anything in that recap that new readers needed to know. It would have been better to ditch the recap and tell a compelling story in your first new issue.
As a first issue for a new writer, Green Arrow/Black Canary got off to a rocky start. Everything about the writing in this issue was just lazy. I sure hope things get better next issue. After the first 14 issues, I didn’t think we had anywhere to go but up.
I’ve noticed a pattern in Dwayne McDuffie’s work on Justice League. He does a very good job at the things he does well. But he never seems to be aiming very high. This issue, like most of the issues in McDuffie’s run, is a standard super-hero/super-villain showdown. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen a thousand times before. In fact, we’ve seen this team square off against this same villain recently. However, the execution is good enough that it was still a fun read.
On a certain level, you have to be impressed with the way McDuffie handles the gigantic cast. In addition to the large roster Brad Metzler left him, McDuffie has added guest stars and semi-regulars like Zatanna, Steel and Firestorm. And yet, no one gets lost. All the characterizations feel genuine.
The issue is essentially a smackdown as Amazo rips apart the Justice League. As these things go, the fight is handled well. With the powers of the entire League at his disposal, Amazo should be a massive threat. And that comes across here. Although, as often happens in Amazo stories, he starts shooting arrows just because Roy Harper is there. If you had already copied Superman, Green Lantern and the Flash would you really waste your time shooting red arrows?
There is a larger story going on as well. McDuffie has been slowly building up the mystery of Vixen’s powers that Metzler introduced in his run on Justice League. And while not much is revealed here, the issue definitely sets up revelations to come.
The art is by the series regular, Ed Benes. So, it’s no surprise that it’s just thise side of cheesecake. By this point, you know what to expect from Benes and you either like him or you don’t. Personally, I can overlook the occasional gratuitous butt shot. He’s not my favorite artist, but he’s far from my least favorite.
On the whole, the book is enjoyable for its big cast and strong characterizations. I just keep waiting for stories with a little more complexity than the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.
Instead of doing the usual coverage of my twice-monthly DCBS shipment, I thought I’d split my remaining reviews into separate Roundups divided by overall quality: The Groaners, The Mediocres and The Gooders. This, obviously, is The Groaners. For those that have read the following books, yes, I feel your pain. For those that have not, yes, you dodged a bullet and your wallet thanks you.
• Anna Mercury #2 (**): OH MY GOD. This one is awful. Forget every nice thing I said about the first issue. This series reads likes it’s based on an idea that’s 10 years old. You got me, Ellis. Oh, you bastard.
• Dreamwar #3 (**1/2): Things are not looking up. Finally, we get some kind of explanation… well, no. We get Superman crying after Batman is killed, “Hal… Ollie’s dead. Why didn’t it matter to us? What are we doing?” Yeah, I’d love the answer to that one too. Please? Thanks. Oh, wait… Zealot killed Batman:
• Justice League of America #22 (*): One. I hate the Amazo story from the opening arc. Two. I still hate it. Three. Why does every woman that Benes draws look like a total whore? Four. Black Canary serves it up fresh. Wait, that was awesome! Five. Red Tornado… don’t care!!!
• The Programme #12 (-): To be honest, I skimmed it and then read the end. Of what I read, I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about and I don’t really care to ever know.
• Runaways #30 (*1/2): It could have been worse. If you skip the first 15 or 16 pages, the wrap-up is kind of nice. My favorite/best part of this travesty? Finding out just how fucked up Nico has become.
• Amazing Spider-Man #563 (**1/2): Note to Bob Gale – Stop telling cheesy jokes. This has been a message from your readership.
• Superman #677 (*): Um, is this supposed to be in continuity? Superman talks like a fucking idiot! Misogyny? Check. Naiveté? Check. I mean, shit. The guy talks about his dog like a 7-year old would. How lame is this? I thought Robinson was this huge talent? And who the heck is this lame-ass Atlas character? GAH! I didn’t think it could get worse than the Busiek Superman run, but this one has shown me the error of my ways.
• Superman/Batman #49 (**1/2): I’m surprised how bad this was as compared to the other 5 parts of this story. The end just didn’t work for me. I don’t buy Lana Lang trying to poison the earth with Kryptonite in order to force Supes to leave, never mind the fact that she has been behind this plot the whole time. This is just ludicrous to me. This story is definitely out of continuity. I don’t see Johns or Robinson paying much attention to this particular change in the Clark/Lana dynamic. Oh, but I did like that final page (with Batman inside that vault filled with all types of Kryptonite): Yep, Bats is a douchebag.
• Trinity #3-4 (**): This book is boring. And ugly. Bagley doing DC characters just doesn’t look right. As much as I hate doing it, I’m dropping this book. Maybe if the plot picks up later, I’ll jump back in. For now, I’m just gonna ignore it. Sit it out like my pal, Superman.
• The Ultimates #4 (*): I don’t know what bugs me more? The awful plot or the “ripped straight from cheesy movie” dialogue? “Come with me if you want to live.” Really? REALLY?!?!
• Uncanny X-Men #499 (**1/2): I loved the first 4 parts… this was a jumbled mess. The A and B plot did not sync up well, every cutaway was painful, and the revelation that the mysterious hippie woman was Mastermind’s daughter was actually a non-event. Meanwhile, back in Russia… their faces: priceless.
• Wolverine #66 (*): MOST OVER-RATED BOOK OF THE YEAR. Everyone is literally jacking off into each other’s mouths over this one… I just don’t see it. This book is atrocious. So atrocious, someone needs to give it a red power ring. DING. I mean, BIG DEAL, Millar is adapting “Unforgiven” and using Wolverine to play the role of William Muny. I don’t care! Why!?!? Why is this a good idea? (And I like westerns…)
• X-Men: Legacy #213 (**): Are we ready for some super-retcons? So, let me break this one down: Mr. Sinister has a machine that in the event of his death will transfer his essence into the body of Professor X?
And on that note… I’ll post The Mediocres tomorrow, maybe. Hey, it’s the Fourth of July, I may be busy. Like, drinking and stuff.
5 Stars: WARNING: The Killing Joke
4 Stars: Dark Knight Returns
3 Stars: The Long Halloween
2 Stars: Knightfall
1 Star: Batman/Spawn
Batman and the Outsiders #5 (****1/2)