Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Justice League 3001 #2

Justice League 3001 #2 came out this week and sported a very Silver Age looking Supergirl on the cover. There was little doubt that I would be there. In fact, the addition of Supergirl has been known for so long that I had already added JL3001 to my pull list and have grabbed most of the JL3K title which preceded this. I reviewed the first issue and the title premise here . But just in case, the basic premise is that in a somewhat dystopian future, the DNA of the Justice Leaguers from the past have been overwritten onto 'volunteers' creating somewhat skewed versions of classic heroes. The book, written by Keith Giffen and JM Dematteis with art by Howard Porter, is something of a farce, poking fun at superhero tropes and character stereotypes.

Now I don't like mainstream Superman being dragged through the mud or warped to the point of being unrecognizable. But a genetic rewrite on a flawed human in the far flung future? That I can deal with more easily. So seeing elements of the original versions of these characters peek out of these future counterparts while dealing with their human base ... well ... it's interesting. In fact, it is sort of engaging to be thrown into this completely weird world and try to wrap my head around it.

As for the art, I have liked Howard Porter's art since the Morrison JLA. He seems to have a bit of free reign here, inking his own work, and bringing a sort of scratchy sensibility to the pages.

The League seems to have established themselves as a force of good in the galaxy and are sent out on missions by a their handler, brilliant genetic scientist Ariel Masters.

The wrinkle here is that, unknown to the heroes, the consciousness of Lois Lane is inside Masters. And Lois is not happy. She hates the heroes. She hates Clark Kent. And she is sending them out on missions hoping they will all die. They are suicide missions ... that the team keep surviving.

Now I only have some of the JL3K run. I don't know if this is a new revelation, or if we know why Lois is so upset. But frankly, given her current treatment in the main DCU, I am not surprised that she is angry.

Nice work by Porter here in the last panel with the reflection of Lois looking back at Ariel.

We see Lois' anger and plans play out on Wodin 12. She sent the League there to try to free the populace from being enslaved by Starro. Initially they try to free them with legal maneuvering and diplomacy. And since they League isn't being attacked by the hordes of Starro drones, Ariel tells the Starro drones that the League is there to destroy the main form of Starro.

The League doesn't even know that Starro Prime is there. This is a threat to escalate the proceedings. And it works, the citizens enslaved by Starro begin swarming.

Of all the Leaguers, Batman is the most  like the original, maybe because he is a human rewritten on a human? He knows to question this turn of events. He is going to figure this Ariel thing out.

Superman isn't like the original. He is a narcissitic, bloviating, jerk.

And the most intriguing twist is Guy Gardner's DNA being rewritten onto female 'volunteer'. There is some of Guy's brashness and some of his sexism in his dialogue. But we also hear him speak more like a feminist, chastising sexism and talking about how women don't need to be protected or coddled.

I know we live in a world where gender politics and ideas are being rewritten almost daily. I don't know if we can define this Guy (some male DNA rewritten onto a female genome) with any of the words we use now. So I am willing to cut the writers a little bit of slack as they figure out what direction they are going with the character. There certainly was no bumps in the road for the Flash of this book, with Barry's DNA written over a woman.

On a separate note, this page's top panels are essentially shaped like a GL symbol. I like that.

Meanwhile, the Flash decides to investigate if the actual Starro is on the planet. In that investigation, she comes across the crashed rocket we saw at the end of last issue. Out comes Supergirl!

First off, great semi-homage to the famous cover of Action #252. It is Supergirl springing from the crashed rocket in the same pose. But drawn from a slightly different perspective, it feels new.

Next, this seems like a Silver Age Kara, from dress, to rocket, to personality. So we may get some timey-wimey hijinks here.

Her opening dialogue is fascinating. If I am reading this right, she was sent by Superman in a rocket to check out a threat. The rocket was programmed to return to Superman's biomatrix. But something went wrong leading to the 1000 year lag.

Now I am getting a bit sick of this recurring theme of Supergirl's rocket being delayed, waylaid, trans-dimensionally paused, etc. We have seen it in the Loeb, the New 52, and even the show. That said, how else can we get Supergirl here?

And what was the threat that is 'COMING'!! And since this was 1000 years earlier is it taken care of? Is it the Crisis? Will we see it in this title?

And there is more for a Supergirl fan to love and mull over.

The Flash tells Kara that there is no historical record of Supergirl or any of the Legion of Super-Pets. This makes me think that this is an post-Crisis universe built on immediate post-Crisis continuity. Remember, post-Crisis Supergirl (and the pets) never existed. They were myths!

So that makes this all the more likely that this is a Silver Age Supergirl.

And in a short period of time we get a Silver Age-y sense of this Supergirl. She had a good relationship with Kal. She is fierce when faced with 'bad guys' (see above). She has a 'can do' attitude, leaping into action. And she is smart, figuring out the time lapse quickly and rolling with it for the time being.

Five seconds into being awake she boots a bad guy! Yay!!

She is also, by definition, the purest of the heroes in this world. She is not genetically diluted, written onto a human. She is pure Kryptonian. That probably makes her easily the most powerful being on this team if not in this universe.

Yay bike shorts!

And even though she is 1000 years displaced in an odd place, Supergirl knows that Starro is a threat that can't be ignored.

She speeds off using all her super-senses to find Starro Prime.

It should be obvious that I love this portrayal of a pro-active heroic Supergirl. Unlike the ditzy, subservient Matrix that Giffen wrote in Convergence, this is a Supergirl I can cheer for immediately!

But I also love how this is going to set up some friction between her and 'Superman'. The 'Superman' of this League doesn't have all the powers of your standard Kryptonian. Still, he crows about how great he is. He is going to pale in comparison to this Kara. This should lead to some interesting interactions.

I mean, she defeats Starro off-panel in less than a page.

I love this panel!!!

That's Supergirl.

And her rattling off all the vision powers she has which Superman doesn' have (and has lamented not having) makes me think she is going to be the new muscle of the team. And that isn't going to sit well with this Clark.

But seriously, how great is this!

Kara even is in charge of the Starro negotiations, meaning they will be on the straight and narrow.

Of course, a quick and bloodless end to this struggle is the opposite of what Lois/Ariel wants.

This continues to be a sort of irreverent super-hero book. It goes along at a fast pace. It has character moments and high action. And it is a weird book with semi-likable heroes and subterfuge and deceit. Add some pretty dynamic art from Howard Porter and this book crackled.

I like this book! I can only hope that Supergirl continues to be portrayed like this. She should be a great foil to the current Leaguers, a call back to a simpler and brighter world.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Hmm, is this only the second time a Supergirl found herself on a future team by accident - remember Mark Waid's 'Am I dreaming?' Kara in Legion? Such fun! Gosh, Karas have now done Legion, the Titans, several JLAs, the Red Lanterns, the Crucible ... what am I missing?

Anyway, as you know, I loved this issue too. I do hope some super-pets follow Kara through time...

Anonymous said...

I think the description "a farce" is putting it mildly. After multiple attempts at reading #1, I'm
still quite thoroughly confused about the setup. From your review of this issue though Anj, my main
reason for picking this up -- Kara / Supergirl being in it-- won't be a bust.

Flash's crack that there was "no Supergirl, no Superdog, no Superhorse, no Supermonkey" is quite the
crackup... and yeah, I'm with you in that it likely references post-COIE mythology. The following
snippets you provide of Kara in action... BEAUTIFUL! JUST BEAUTIFUL!

...and in line with Martin Gray's comment of Mark Waid and Legion... in addition to being the muscle
of the group, I'd love it if Kara became the defacto leader of this motley crew as well; LOVED
Supergirl's time in Mark Waid's run, but one thing that bugged me about it was that Supergirl was never
really given a chance to show her leadership skills just after her election and right before she goes
back to her own timeframe. Forget who said it, but someone made a crack during the first group meeting
postelection that "there would be alot of 'umms' and 'I don't knows' under her leadership" and it irks
me to this day that Supergirl never got a chance to prove that person/statement wrong.


Anonymous said...

Yeah Supergirl will have to make good in this JLA Variant since she bolted her previous team, it's either this or The Doom Patrol, the Metal Men or the Inferior Five. Girlfriend is running out of Super Teams at at Faster-than-a-Speeding-Bullet Clip. Which is why I originally thought she won't be on this team long, cuz she is NEVER on any team long it seems....
I am all for it, especially since she schooled Starro in what looks like five minutes flat....gimme more of that!!!


Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

I think this book is an interesting take on these hero archetypes and is not a brooding dark tale.

And glad you came here John. I am telling you that if you have wanted Supergirl to give Superman a comeuppance, this will be the title to go to.