Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Review: Justice League 3001 #5

Justice League 3001 #5 came out this week and I continue to be impressed with the intricate and complex future universe that Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis are creating here. I have been completely impressed with the breadth of their vision as they continue to expand this universe and what is going on within it.

More interesting to me has been the non-team feel of this team book. We have the core members of the team but we haven't seen many 'missions' for them this book. We opened with the Starro incident but since then we have been looking more at these characters individually rather than having them together to fight a threat. It reminds me of the Legion in the late 80s under Levitz and Giffen, a book where a large cast was handled expertly, everyone getting their time on stage, everyone three-dimensional, every plot intriguing. I can't give a book higher praise.

This is universe building. We could concentrate on the Lois/Injustice League plot line exclusively. But part of the fun is seeing all these threads and waiting for them to come together.

Art is done by Howard Porter with colors by Hi-Fi and there is something about the style that perfectly fits this book. There is a sort of raw, rough quality to Porter's work which complements this overcrowded, dingy future wonderfully. Porter also draws Supergirl beautifully. I know Porter is heading to Superman. But I hope he returns because his art fits here.

Alas, my biggest concern here is that the ax might soon drop. I even wonder if a plot was truncated in this issue because there won't be time to cover it fully. Sales are low. Anyone who loves this book should shout it from the mountaintops.

The book starts with a sort of identity crisis in Guy Gardner. He has been having blackout episodes. And it appears that during those times, his donor's DNA is gaining control of his body. He is doing things his host Shiryalla Tome would do when she was controlling that body. Guy misses kids he doesn't have. He is doing things classically matronly like setting tables and cooking meals.

It turns out that Firestorm has been cutting corners in the new cloning efforts. Guy's DNA rewrite wasn't complete. Eventually Shiryalla will regain control of this body. And Guy can't deal with it.

This struggle is going to be interesting to watch. Could it be that Guy's Alpha Male persona can't co-exist with Tome's life? Could it be that the best thing to for Guy to do is change his personality, accept some sort of melding of their lifestyles? Or does he look for some way to completely eradicate Tome's influence?

Regardless, seeing someone dealing with gender issues in their own body is timely. I think the key thing is how Giffen and DeMatteis cover this moving forward.

Now last issue, Fire and Ice defeated a Jimmy Olsen Turtle Boy monster. I thought for sure this was going to be a new and interesting plotline for this book. With a egotistical Superman and a classic Supergirl, adding a Jimmy might provide some decent grist for the story mill.

Unfortunately, this plot seems to be closed as soon as it was opened. This isn't Jimmy but one of his descendants. And the Leaguers quickly bring him back to the super-prison block he escaped from. Was this thread snipped because the book will end before it can be covered?

That said, this page alone seems to open up new avenues to explore. Hat tip to Mart Gray for noticing an Atom standing outside the tubes on the right. But peeking inside the tubes I think I see some version of The Hulk, Moon Knight, Dawnstar, and Steel. Anyone else I am missing?

But there is a lot more going on here. The Fire and Ice relationship is a great one. They clearly love each other. I love that Ice talks about how the presence of Fire saved her.

But they are working with other heroes outside of the main League. While they can trust Booster and Beetle, they don't know how reliable those two are. And they aren't sure if they can trust Hal and Barry, the Flash and GL formerly in the League.

It is almost like this book stars two teams.

Fascinating. And impressive.

Last month, Batman saw that a rogue version of himself has been policing Takron-Galtos. Except this new Batman is a killer.  So Bruce/Batman recruits Supergirl to help him track down this person besmirching the symbol of the Bat.

I absolutely love this pairing. For one, Bruce is probably the sanest and most classic Leaguer in comparison the 21st century original. Diana is a barbarian. Flash is immature. Superman is a narcissist. Only Batman carries the ideals of heroism of the first Batman.

And this Supergirl is Kara Classic. She is from the pre-Crisis universe and is a model of optimism and good.

So seeing these two interact is like listening to the adults talk in a book full of kids. And I love Supergirl's matter of fact handling of Batman. She isn't in awe of the Bat. She calls it like she sees it. The original Batman was crazy and driven.

When the 'new' Batman arrives and tries to kill Bruce, a fight breaks out.

This giant robot Batman has the upper hand for a short period of time. Then the classic Kryptonian powerset kicks in. Supergirl beheads this battlesuit ... off screen no less!

But what I loved about this was Supergirl and saying outright she has a code against killing. That is a serious part of the pre-Crisis Superman creed. Just fantastic. I love that Supergirl is probably going to be a great glistening foil to the cynical grimy world around her. I hope that she inspires the world rather than the world tarnishing her brightness.

And Howard Porter just draws a stunning Supergirl. This is becoming her signature panel in this book,  effortlessly hoisting a defeated foe above her head.

But the main plot of this is the Injustice League's efforts to defeat the League and rule the universe. Lois Lane, the leader of the Injustice League, has been trying to kill them off from the inside, controlling the body of the JL's handler Ariel Masters.

Batman has had some suspicions about Ariel. But here her duplicity is revealed. L-Ron let's it slip that Ariel is actually working out an attack plan.

With so much else happening, I am glad this plot seems to be moving forward.

We then cut to the Injustice League facility where Bane is carrying around the limp body of Lois. Without a consciousness, her body has become something of a ragdoll. Such a bizarre idea.

But not as bizarre as this angry Lois claiming that she will kill Superman ... again!

It's funny how I can be accepting of this jerk Superman and this murderous Lois in this book. These aren't the 'real' Lois and Clark. These are copies or corruptions. I don't have the same sense of history or need for inspiration in this set.

As for Supergirl, she peels the Bat-armor apart to pull out a young woman who calls herself Bruce Wayne. She truly thinks that she is Bruce Wayne (despite name tags saying Tina Sung).

The crazy thing is that in this book that might be possible. For all we know, someone wrote Bruce Wayne's DNA onto this girl. I mean, if you were a police force, wouldn't you clone/replicate as many Batmans as you could to keep order?

Another new plot. And given the news a while back that we are headed for an all-woman JL3001, an ominous one for the Batman we know.

I am a bit confused how so many people from the 21st century have survived into 3001. And given the odd continuity history of the cast, I am starting to wonder if this is comic book limbo or some sort of DC purgatory. Wouldn't that be some sort of Twilight Zone insanity!

Because it seems that someone else is kicking around ... Harley Quinn!

Well nothing sells books these days like Harley. Why not add her here! See if she bumps up sales!

I am pretty amazed at this book which consistently gives me something to think about and always entertains. It is as if Giffen and DeMatteis took all of their favorite toys in the DCU, regardless of continuity or time period, and put them in a completely chaotic environment. It's like the best playground ever.

And I get pre-Crisis Supergirl! There is a DC book with Supergirl in it!

Now if only Howard Porter could have stayed on the book!

Overall grade: A

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's also some kind of meta-commentary going on in this issue. A youth reads about the myths and legends of Batman, somehow comes up with a distorted version of Batman, and goes about doling out disproportionate retribution against petty criminals. Myths ARE important... which ones will we perpetuate and pass on to future generations?

Giffen and DeMatteis seem to really get Bronze Age Kara. You're right in that this does have the same structure as the Levitz/Giffen-era Legion of Super-Heroes book. That's also probably where Giffen's idea of "THE Kryptonian Supergirl" came from, which is totally awesome.