It’s just another day in the life of the Justice League as they battle an army of monsters while Steve Trevor, the team’s liaison with the government, makes sure they are allowed to do their job without interference. In the back-up feature, Billy Batson comes one step closer to possessing the powers of Shazam, in Justice League #7.
Justice League #7
After Argus, the government task force assigned to fight super villains and led by Steve Trevor, fails to stop a scientist who was accidentally transformed into a monster with the ability to generate an army of monsters, the Justice League is called in to clean up. Once the situation is under control and the heroes return to their satellite Watchtower, Steve Trevor is left behind to deal with the day-to-day work of keeping the Justice League running smoothly, which involves dodging reporters at press conferences, keeping the Government out of the League’s hair, and dealing with his unresolved feelings for Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, David Graves, a writer whose books about the unexplained have made him famous, begins a mysterious mission to destroy the Justice League, vowing to use Trevor as his weapon.
The first issue of the Justice League’s “modern” adventures gives us a more street level or outsider’s view of the team, dealing with how they are seen by the people they protect, and the one man who has made it his job to protect them.
This new JL stands somewhere between the original maverick superhero team concept and the more modern-day Ultimates style team, complete with their own S.H.I.E.L.D. The set-up appears to be that the JL is government funded (which does make more sense than Batman paying for everything), but is only called in when the more conventional army guys are overwhelmed. Despite this, they appear to be far from government stooges, keeping their Watchtower a “heroes only” structure that not even Trevor has been to.
The idea of government funded heroes is nothing new, and I do wonder about the timing of a JL organization that looks not-unlike what the Avengers film promises to feature. But still, so far it works, and the promise of tension between the heroes and the government has made for some great stories in the past, such as the C.A.D.M.U.S. arc in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.
This issue calls itself a Prologue to the upcoming “Villain’s Journey” story-arc, and as such we don’t get a whole lot in the way of JL character development. But since the whole story was told from Trevor’s perspective, it was forgivable, and I did enjoy the little peak of what life inside the Watchtower looks like to an outsider.
Geoff Johns keeps writing his “Geoff Johns’ presents Hal Jordan” take on Green Lantern, almost like Hal possesses Johns’ body when on-panel and insists he have something to say, which gets a little annoying at times. Other members like Superman and Aquaman just kind of float in the background. But again, this issue wasn’t about them, so hopefully they’ll be given more personality in later issues.
Trevor himself promises to be an interesting character, a man caught between two worlds, not quite a superhero and no longer strictly government, he’s in a unique position in superhero team books. He’s kind of like Nick Fury without all the power and bad-assness. And his, apparently one-sided, love for Wonder Woman gives him a tragic edge and a glimpse into how Graves might use him against the League.
Geoff Johns has a flare for these short-story comics that deal with one person’s view of the wider world. He wisely makes this month’s “adventure” just a run of the mill invasion, although I do have to question his use of yet another generic army of mindless drones, since we just had 6 issues of the team clobbering Parademons. But seeing as the next arc has something to do with “the birth of the villain” maybe the JL HAVE only been fighting monsters and alien invasions these last five years, and have never come up against a truly singular foe. It’ll be interesting to find out.
Gene Ha’s art is certainly a change from Jim Lee, but overall I think that was a good thing for this story, which was all about how Superheroes look from the human scale. His use of shadows and more street-level angles help keep the story grounded, and his facial features definitely enhance the story, especially Wonder Woman’s various faces as Batman and GL argue behind her.
For a stand-alone issue meant to take a deep breath between major arcs, this was a fun little story about Steve Trevor that thankfully still had some classic JL throw-downs. I’m especially pleased that Cyborg has been folded into the League so easily, being their Info-Man, and also accessing Boom Tubes to get the team where they need to be. I can’t wait to get back inside the team, and see the world from their perspective.
The Shazam back-up was what really drove me to buy this book. Right now, I’m still a little undecided on the take Johns’ has chosen to use here. The back-up features Dr. Sivana, now all ripped on steroids for some reason, investigating cases of magical abductions, as people all over the world are being tested by the Wizard Shazam. Meanwhile, Billy Batson is adopted by a loving couple, only for us to discover that he’s really a total @$$-hole. Again, I’m kind of bewildered by these changes Johns is making, and I fully expect SHAZAM-fans to lose their minds over this. But again, this was just a short intro, and totally reversing things from expectations is a way to keep people coming back.
I’m sure that eventually, everything will be more lined up with the classic depiction of these characters, with Billy being a decent person again. I hope. I would hate for him to be an unlikable brat forever.
The art by Gary Frank was enjoyable, although he only really gets the chance to cut loose on the last page, giving us his take on Captain Marvel.
Overall, this was a solid comic book, even if it was only almost entirely set-up for later stuff. The artists did a good job, and Johns kept his annoying writing tendencies to a minimum, even if he did give us a WTF take on Billy Batson. But I’m reserving judgment on that until I see this play out more.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|A fun little story that shows the day to day effects of the JL on the world||Hal Jordan needs to stop talking|
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