Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Convergence Justice League #2

Convergence Justice League #2 came out this week, the second part of this brief 2 part story linking the pre-Flashpoint League with the Flashpoint Aquaman.

I'll start off this review by saying, in general, I have enjoyed the second issues of the Convergence mini-series more than the first issues. It seems like the need to establish the story and include the 'dome coming down' scene may have stifled things. Because so far this week, every second issue has been better. Not perfect! Better. And Justice League fits that bill as well.

Writer Frank Tieri ramps up the action in this issue, having the League go and try to rescue the kidnapped Mera. Some of the problems of the first issue, especially the seeming lack of powers and presence in Mera, persist. But this issue is a smoother story, a punch-em-up finale to a quick arc.

Artist Vicente Cifuentes adds a very polished look to the proceedings. The overt cheesecake from the last issue is subdued here, maybe because the characters are in their costumes as opposed to the teeny tiny evening wear they were in last issue as they were out hitting the clubs.

The violence runs a bit extreme here, a staple in DC comics these days. That said, this is the Flashpoint universe we are dealing with. Things are supposed to be dark.

Last issue, the Mera of the pre-Flashpoint universe was snatched by the Atlanteans from the Flashpoint world. That universe's Aquaman is obsessed with getting any version of his queen back.

The League isn't going to stand for that and so invade the waters of the nearby and recently domes Atlantis to find and free their friend. I don't know if these Earths were pitted against each other by Telos (the whole rules of the tournament are extremely loose in all the books) but a brawl will be happening regardless.

I thought this was a nice opening splash page showing the League members underwater and engaged in fighting the Atlantean army and their leader Aquaman.

Now why Mera, with all her strength and water-controlling powers and pride, isn't trying to free herself? I can't answer that.

I do like that she recognizes that Vulko is an upstanding person no matter the universe. She wonders why he would go along with this.

He issues the dreaded 'I am following orders' defense for his actions. You sense he doesn't agree with this kidnapping. But he must obey his King.

In a nice twist, we learn that the 'Aquaman' leading the Atlantean army and summoning monstrous Krakens from a mystical rift is Ocean Master.

Now you would think that a Green Lantern, Flash, and Superman team would not be deterred by infantry and sea monsters. Add Zatanna and this should be a walk in the park. But it isn't so. This is a pretty even fight in the beginning.

Now here is some of that over the top violence of the issue.

You may have noticed that Vixen was not part of the ocean force fighting the army. She, using absorbed abilities from the aquatic animals around her, slips into Atlantis undercover to try to free Mera via espionage and duplicity.

She confronts Aquaman in his throne room and actually holds her own for a short time. However, in a bit of 'comic book science', Aquaman is able to control Vixen since she is tied into the undersea animal web. And he commands her to kill herself ... which she does.

That is simply brutal and gratuitous. Now I know that the Flashpoint world is a dark, bitter, evil world. But we didn't need to see this. And Vixen fans, happy to see her again in this story, must be pretty sad to see her go out this way.

I will say that I love Supergirl in this issue. She definitely plays the muscle in this group. There isn't much space for characterization or subtlety. She basically is the tank here.

But she is a glorious tank.

The rest of the League is defeated by a huge kaiju and ultimately captured. So Kara comes streaking in for the rescue. She bashes her way into the throne room and we get several pages of her kicking the snot out of Aquaman.

I mean it looks like this is going to be a short fight.

But take a close look at this Supergirl.

I am a huge advocate of the red skirt for the Supergirl costume. So even though the skirt color is wrong continuity-wise, I love it.

And look closer!

There they are!

Bike shorts under the skirt!!!

It is hard to believe that we are going back 6 years when bike shorts was the hot topic for some corners of Supergirl fandom.

I love the bike shorts!

Somewhere Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle are smiling and nodding slowly like Mr. Miyagi at the end of Karate Kid.

Of course, nothing is that easy.

Aquaman has been studying this League and noticed Supergirl had attributes similar to some rocks on the ocean floor. He has fashioned a Kryptonite trident for just such an occasion!

This is the one part of the plot that stymies me. When did Aquaman have time to do all this research? The dome was impenetrable prior to being dropped. That was just a couple days ago at most. So he has somehow, from a distance, linked Kara to Kryptonite, forged for it and found enough in the limited water from the dome to find enough and make a trident?

I suppose if I can buy undersea kingdoms, flying aliens, green women, and even the concept of the city of planets, I have to just accept this part.

Just as Aquaman is poised to kill Supergirl, Mera decides to use her feminine wiles to get close to him. She lures him in with words of love and a kiss. But once in close, she guts him like a fish, stabbing him in the abdomen. She leaves him to die, bleeding to death on his throne.

So the portrayal of Mera in this book is the weak link. She should have her powers back and should be using them. I doubt she would be docile with her abductors. And this use of fake romance to move in for the kill feels pretty cliched.

Add to that the relatively ease with which Zatanna, Jade, and Jessie are caught as well as the humiliating death of Vixen and this book isn't without its warts.

But I love the Supergirl in this book. She was the red skirted, bike short wearing, muscle of the team! That alone lifts this book up a couple of notches.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

Those bike shorts are atrocious. I will definitely leave this book on the shelf.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

The only problem was, the artist seemed to drawn them too long for the skirt. And in the panel where Vixen shoots herself, why would he put those blotches of black to make it look like Vixen suddenly wore her hair in a bun that way? The cover art was terrible.

That all said, I liked the issue, though it seems as if the Kingdom and Flashpoint universes are being used in far too many books.

Anonymous said...

Will have to pick this up, just because of the "glorious tank" comment of yours, Anj. I kinda have issue with the inconsistent
art though -- on the conver it looks like she's wearing her Golden Age costume, while in the actual pages she has her pre-New 52
costume, but the skirt is red; IIRC it was normally colored blue.

Minor niggling points, but yeah, I can't remember the last time I saw Supergirl in this much action! :)


Anonymous said...

The next page said vixen wasnt dead, that she had turned her head and messed up her face alittle?

Anonymous said...

One thing, I don't think Vixen actually dies. In the next panel, IIRC it's stated that she was able somehow to turn her head so that she was only shot in the face, but not killed. The villain then gloats about her being disfigured.

Still over the top violent, but not as bad (?) as it could have been if she had actually died.

Gerry Beritela

Starsaber said...

Wayne, it seems like they're doing a specific set of universes each week. This week was primarily the pre-New 52 and Flashpoint ones. And it kind of makes sense to have the Flashpoint characters be villains in that situation.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments. Just glossed over the 'Vixen surviving' stuff. I thought Aquaman was being sarcastic/morbid.

You are right that the costume is never perfectly correct. The cover has a whole shirt. The inside has the red skirt. But as a 'red skirt' guy, I didn't mind the mistake.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Starsaber: if you happen to see this comment, thanks for the info. I haven't been reading many of the CONVERGENCE tie-ins, and if I was, I would probably have noticed if, say Lord Havok or Hex appeared in more than one book.

Martin Gray said...

Hate the Flashpoint guys, so great to see the JLA giving them a right kicking - and this really made me miss seeing Jade regularly. I do like Kara being able to strike without holding back. And I loved the comic book science.

Fun to see the bike shorts again. Did you see Jamal Igle drawing this week's Sensation Comics? Actually, you're a buyer of the comic so you'll see it there, if it's not already appeared!

Anonymous said...

So is Vixen alive or dead, the book left me completely confused on that point?


Martin Gray said...

Alive, as explained in above comments