Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bullet Review: Justice League #14

Justice League was supposed to be the tentpole book for the New 52, a return of the 'Big 7' (I call it the 'Big 6 plus 1' because Cyborg is not and never will be The Martian Manhunter) written by DC bigwigs Geoff Johns and drawn by comic legend Jim Lee. I had high hopes that it would be fantastic.

I have been disappointed. It has never grabbed me. Never. The interaction between the members has felt stiff and stilted. Some of the characterization has felt down right wrong. And despite having been a team for years, all the heroes .... gasp .... don't trust each other. I suppose I should be used to that in the DCnU.

Perhaps worst of all has been the awful representation of Superman in the book. Here he is always floating, always above the others physically, always 'observing like a reporter'. It is wrong. And it is shocking given how great Johns wrote Superman when he was writing Action Comics.

As a result, the book has been on a sort of pull list suicide watch for the last few issues. When will I drop it?

Last week, Justice League #14 came out and the first half was on par with the earlier issues. I was pretty disappointed at how easily the Cheetah could almost outmaneuver the entire League. I thought for a second 'this is it, I am dropping this book'.

And then the second half happened. For once, Superman wasn't a smug floating jerk. He sounded like Superman. He acted like Superman.

It turns out that Barbara 'The Cheetah' Minerva has always been an evil doer, a criminal. And this seems to stun Wonder Woman who thought Barbara was good, that she became evil when possessed by the Cheetah spirit.

With that reveal, Diana wonders who she is, how she can move forward when she can't trust anyone, including herself.

And then Superman shows up.

I like how he calls her his inspiration because she always looks for the good in people. It humanizes Superman. He thinks he can do better when he thinks of humanity.

And then he brings her to Smallville, for a sort of palate cleanser of the worst of humanity. They have a slice of pie at a diner. They visit the Kent farmhouse. And Superman talks about how it is this bucolic, idyllic, quiet slice of the world represents what he is fighting for. That most people are good and deserve to be defended.

And then Superman says the things I think Superman should say.

"Sometimes good is what it appears to be ... good." "Sometimes it's still that simple."

Hurrah. Superman believes there is good in the world. He wants to defend it. He thinks of his upbringing when he needs to be inspired.

It is a nice moment.

This being the 'power couple of the DCU' that nice moments leads to yet another perfectly choreographed super-kiss.

And this being the DCnU, it has to end on a down note. The chip on Superman's cape allows Batman to creepily watch the two smooch. Holy voyeur Batman!!

It's a shame that the Batman piece is there because it did dim the light of the nice speech Superman gave here.

Anyways, that speech saved the book from being dropped by me ... at least for now.

Overall grade: C (D - first half, B+ second half, dropped due to Peeping Batman)


Dave Mullen said...

I'm a big big Geoff Johns fan but even I've been forced to admit a serious deterioration in his work since the September relaunch. Only his Aquaman has consistently been excellent for me.
I've detested this particular (JL) book for its utter shallowness and lack of any storytelling effort but It's evident that it has been trying these last three or four issues to pick it's feet off the floor and respond to these criticisms. Wonder Woman most notably has been given some real attention and there are references to what's happened in her own book to try and make her coherent and anchor the book into the DCUs goings on.
This issue it's Superman's turn.
If I were aa guessing man I could swear it's the absence of Jim Lee that's making all the difference, not that Justice League is suddenly a terrific book now, but I've noticed the issues where Lee is not involved show a very substantial improvement in characterisation, scripting and plotting - look at the Gene Ha filler in #7 for the first example of this... more substance in that one issue than in the entire previous six.

Anonymous said...

its sounds like batman comic atmosphere that no on is trusting anyone more of a batman theme then team justice league.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comment.

I also like Johns. I have loved his GL stuff. And enjoyed his Superman and Titans stuff.

Good thoughts that the Cheetah story was sort of secondary to the character bits. I wonder if Johns wanted to help bolster WW and SM and wrote the story around that.

Anonymous said...

It's funny the speech saved the book for you. It was what made me finally drop it.

Watching what DC is doing to Lois Lane to push this power couple is just do uncomfortable to watch. The scene here in Smallvilke felt....stolen. It felt like something that belongs to Lois and Clark except on a much deeper level because Lois being of humanity is part of that goodness that Clark speaks if. Clark still feels "above" us here as opposed to with us. I don't feel any romantic chemistry between these two at all. They read like very good friends and nothing else. I also don't like Diana's continued need to be emotionally propped up by Superman.

I tried but this relationship just does not work for me. It feels like a stolen moment that belonged to Lois Lane and would have been more meaningful with her. This book got dropped this month and this relationship is the reason why.