Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Justice League 3001 #3

Justice League 3001 #3 came out last week and continues to be a very solid comic. I will admit that I was wrong for initially avoiding this book (and the first series JL3K) based on my impression that it was another look at a grim and gritty, dismal dystopian future. For a Legion fan who likes my future bright and Bgztl-y, I thought this book was truly a future's end.

Lured to he book by new cast member Silver Age Supergirl, I went got this title since the beginning and then went back and bought the whole run of the first title. This isn't a shiny Legion future and it is a bit grimy. But it is smart and layered and fun. And put those words together and you get an entertaining book which I fear isn't recognized by the mass market.

After a two issue story where the League fights Starro, this issue really sets up the future of this book, showing us the number of plots that are weaving their way through the book. There is a lot happening in this book, riffing on super-heroics, politics, and gender. Writers Giffen and DeMatteis are firing on all cylinders. As I said before, this is a smart book. Occasionally I have read these two veer a bit too much into slapstick 'humor' and fail. Not here.

And artist Howard Porter's art is as dense as the story, bringing in detail and background material that takes a while to drink in. I love his Supergirl (which makes me think I need to find all his panels of her in Morrison's JLA). And the use of splash pages worked well also.

We thought that Supergirl brought a quick end to the Starro enslavement of Wodin. But that victory is snatched away. Without Starro's hive mind, we learn that the Wodinians are primitive brutal people bent on killing each other.

The Office of Fathomless Bureaucracy (O.O.F.B.) approved the enslavement to save the planet. Save the planet by enslaving it. That sounds relatively loathsome. You would think that maybe these people could have come to some peace on their own, or with help.

I'm glad that the Teri Flash even realizes that slavery is never the answer.

Of course, I love the fact that Supergirl is part of the team. And this is a classic Supergirl. She is proactive. She wants to do good. She doesn't suffer fools lightly.

So this weird new universe is hard for her to swallow. Earth is a prison planet. Superman is a jackass. The Headquarters is a castle, the League treated like royalty.

That last panel speaks volumes to me. Kara looks vexed, her arms crossed. This might be a 'Silver Age' Kara but this isn't the super-naive, super-sweet, super-innocent Supergirl. This feels like a 'middle of the Adventure Comics run' Supergirl, a bit settled and confident.

And as I guessed, Superman is jealous of Kara's power set.

Remember that Guy forged the papers that made the Starro enslavement seem illegal. But with that turning out to be wrong, the O.O.F.B. decides that someone needs to keep a closer eye on this league and so sends a Starro drone to be part of the team.

I have been following the gender politics of this Guy with some interest. Guy's DNA was put on a woman's body. So this becomes something of an internal conflict. The volunteer's biology and underlying DNA might be female but Guy's essence is of a man.

Meanwhile, Ariel Masters body has actually been possessed by Lois who is trying her best to kill the League. Each issue she becomes more and more exasperated at the League's survival. But L-Ron wonders if Lois protests too much. Maybe she likes the game too much to have it end. Lois' savvy should have ended the League by now. That is interesting ...

But I thought this nugget was too interesting to pass. Supergirl has been floating in space for 1000 years after she was engaged in a covert mission to Apokolips. Could that end up as another plot in this book? Hope so.

One thing missing in the New 52 was a feeling of World's Finest, of Superman and Batman being best of friends. It is hard for me to wrap my head around which is the 'past' for this League. This Batman and this Superman talk like they are imprinted as best friends in a more classic sense. I mean, we have Silver Age Supergirl, Bwa-ha-ha JLA, and this friendship. Continuity be damned ... I love it.

Here the two leave Camelot 9 to go to Takron-Galtos (Earth) for a secret meeting. Bruce can sense that Ariel isn't herself. I like this Batman who is as much a detective as he is a bruiser.

But the League isn't the only League operating in this universe. The original Hal from JL3K, one of the Flashes from JL3K, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Ice, and Fire are all operating here as well. It is only a matter of time before these two leagues square off.

And look who they battle here. Initially a giant turtle smashing the city, the monster devolves into Jimmy Olsen.

Jimmy Olsen!!!

I think we are up to about 6 plot threads.

On Takron-Galtos, Bruce and Clark run into Sheriff Tariq. Turns out that Tariq is actually one of the Convert's many bodies. He has been kept alive and hidden by Lois to keep an eye on things there. But Lois is a stern leader. She has kept a body of the Convert's in stasis, one she can kill and therefore kill the Convert if he doesn't obey.

This is a conniving and diabolical Lois. After the way she has been treated in the main universe, I can see how she would become bitter and want to become the queen of the universe.

On Takron-Galtos, which is a sort of free prison world, a place where prisoners can wander around, a prisoner-on-prisoner mugging is thwarted. And when Bruce goes to investigate we get this splash page. There is another Batman, one operating here.

We see it's hand, which looks mechanical. So my money is on a Bat-robot like in Kingdom Come. Remember this is Earth so the Bat-cave is here somewhere. Imagine if this Bruce stumbles upon his past!

I told you that the Guy gender issue is an interesting side plot. I like that Diana finally calls him on his blase attitude about his situation. This isn't something he can simply blow off as 'not a problem'. This isn't something he can find a cure for.

So does Guy say she accept/want/know she's a woman? Or does he live his life as a man?

Whatever he decides, in these times, this isn't something that can't be ignored and needs to be addressed.

There isn't much Supergirl in this issue. But I love this end scene. Kara will bunk with Teri in the castle. And while Teri is super-excited, running around like an excited school girl and cleaning their room, Kara seems exhausted.

I don't think this is an irritable Supergirl, a dark, nasty bad girl. I think she expects better from heroes. Her role model is the classic Supergirl. She probably has heard about the Legion. I would probably be irked if the future was this cesspool with these warped caricatures of the heroes. I love that last panel! Perfect.

So let's see.
Lois in Ariel.
Supergirl in future, maybe with an old Apokolips plot.
Two Leagues working in same time.
New Batman on Takron Galtos.
Jimmy Olsen.
Guy's gender.

And also Starro drone in the League, Lois' possible conflicted motivations, Tariq as Convert, etc.

I mean this is a complex book which has a lot of balls in the air. But it pulls it off so well, mixing the plots in and out, adding in humor in places, and keeping me engaged as a reader. And it has a Supergirl I recognize and love.

Please try this book if you haven't!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

' I can see how she would become bitter and want to become Queen of the Universe '

Now that's taking empathy too far! Anyway, great review, thank you for pushing this title, we need it to find a decent audience, for selfish reasons, and because people will enjoy it if they try it.

Anonymous said...

I'm liking this book simply because so far it's clearly "The Silver Age Supergirl With Verve & Nerve..." how long they stick with this agreeable version of the character I cannot say...


Uncle Screensaver said...

I just got my copy today so I didn't read this review until now. Just to let you know, at least prior to Convergence, this was said to be in another universe, not New52. Also, is it just me or does the reflection of Lois shows her in a costume similar to Superman save for the "L" on her chest.