It’s team member vs. team member in Justice League #11.
Justice League #11
After Batman manages to snap everyone out of Graves’ spell, the team follows their new villain to the house of Steve Trevor’s sister. Tempers flare after Graves eludes the group once again, and Wonder Woman decides to deal with things on her own, vowing to find Steve before it’s too late. Green Lantern tries to stop her and the two get into a massive brawl, which Graves somehow manages to broadcast around the world, before being broken up. A search of Graves’ home leads them to the temple he discovered where the spirits of the dead await judgment. There everyone sees their own loved ones; Jor-El and Lara, Thomas and Martha Wayne, and, tragically—Steve Trevor!
Having read Geoff Johns’ Batman Earth One last week, and after noticing a parallel between it and the Shazam series he’s writing, I feel like I finally have a handle on what Johns is doing with the League.
In both those stories, the hero starts off very different than we’ve ever seen him before, almost to the point of being the exact opposite. Billy Batson is a total jerk, while Bruce Wayne is hilariously out of his depth as Batman. But by the end of Earth One, Bruce was well on his way to becoming the Batman of legend, while Billy Batson has shown quite a bit of growth in his own series.
With this issue, featuring GL and Wonder Woman at each other’s throats, and especially after Aquaman’s rebuke “We need to work as a team. A crazy idea, I know,” I finally get that the Johns has been doing the same thing to the League that he’s been doing with his other characters. He’s making them unlikable jerks on purpose, presumably for them to “grow into” our mainstream conception of the JLA. This isn’t some new, edgier League that doesn’t get along, in the mold of the Avengers. Like Batman Earth One, this is almost a parody of the League, one that will eventually turn into the real thing.
Now, that said, just because I get it, doesn’t mean I like it. First off, I feel like these inter-team issues would have been addressed sometime in the last five years. If this was still Year One or even Year Two, okay. But by Year Five, I have to ask, what has the League been doing this whole time? Secondly, the problem with this type of writing is that you have to read the entire story before you can appreciate the growth, because when you start out, you have no idea that there will even be any growth to come. Earth One works because it is a self-contained story. You get to the end, with Bruce vowing to get it together, before you have a chance to get annoyed at his ineptitude. Or basically, before you can log onto the internet and shout “THAT’S NOT BATMAN!”
Not so with either Justice League or Shazam.
Like I said last issue, I get that the League members aren’t supposed to like each other at this point in their careers. But I still maintain that WE, the reader, are supposed to like THEM and find them worthwhile characters even before Johns has them grow up into real heroes and a real team.
Overall, though, I did enjoy this issue much more than I have any to date. Maybe it was the fact that this felt like a full comic story, and not just 5 pages of story spread out to 20. The League visits several places, and each one has not only an impact on the plot, but also their character arcs as well.
Hal Jordan managed to not bug the crap out of me this month, even saying some cool stuff, like how his time with the League is actually his down-time when compared to all the craziness going on in his own books. And the notion that Cyborg might actually be more machine than man after seeing his own soul in the Temple was chilling, and added a ton more layers to his story.
Meanwhile, other characters just continued to float in the background. I almost feel like Superman and Aquaman might as well not even be in this comic, both of them just standing around, not doing or saying much and worst of all, not really affecting the story in any way.
Graves’ motivation is a tad clearer now. But I still call B.S. on his blaming the League for the illness his family contracted during Darkseid’s invasion. Someone needs to point out to Graves that the person he should be mad at for Darkseid invading Earth is, oh I don’t know, Darkseid maybe? Perhaps that’ll be the twist ending, someone points that out and Cyborg teleports Graves to Apokolyps and just leaves him there to mess up Darkseid’s day.
The issue’s ending, with the revelation that Steve Trevor has already died, and that the team was too late, was amazing, and truly bold if it sticks. I have to say, I didn’t see it coming, although with all the “pointless” build-up Geoff gave a secondary character, now it seems obvious.
The SHAZAM story also made appreciable progress, and focused almost entirely on the magic aspect of the story. Billy FINALLY makes his way to the Rock of Eternity, just as Black Adam cuts loose. Love it, even if it did go by way too fast, even for a ten pager.
Now that I think I’ve got the blueprint for John’s story, I’m interested in rereading the earlier issues through this filter, and see if I like them any better. I’ll let you know next month.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Finally feels like we’re getting into the actual story, and not just the set-up for the set-up of the story.||Graves is still frustratingly two dimensional and cliché.|
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