Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review: Justice League 3001 #7

With the end of year reviews behind me, it is time to roll up my sleeves and get back to work, catching up on reviews from 12/20. As I am catching up, these may (or may not) be briefer than usual.

Justice League 3001 #7, written by JM DeMatteis and Keith Giffen with art by Chris Batista, Ray Faucher, and Andy Owens, sets the stage for the next phase of this title. I have always been impressed with the scope of this title. Giffen and DeMatteis have made this a complicated word with multiple power structures in play, and the League more often reacting than acting. Between the embedded evil Lois, to the 'Five', to the odd 'Earth as Takron Galtos' prison world, things have been moving along so wildly that at times I feel like I don't quite know all the players on the board.

Last issue we saw Scullions, incredibly powerful regenerating robots, attack the League as the vanguard of another threat, something trying to rule the universe. Regardless of all the minor regimes trying to gain some control in the 3001 universe, this new threat is major. It is demolishing everything in its path. Suddenly the League is composed of new members and on the run.

As someone who follows such things, I wonder if sales have something to do with this shift in the book. Was this plot going to happen but farther down the road? Was it rushed to now to get it done? Was the all female team always planned? Or an effort to bring in new readers?

 No matter the reason, there is a lot to like about this issue, something I seem to say in every review of this book.

The book is told after the initial battle with the Scullions in a series of flashbacks from various members of the team. After Clark's death last issue, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Flash do their best to hold off the arriving androids.

I have loved the Supergirl that is in this book, a sort of mid-70s confident Kara who is ready to be a leader and an inspiration. Here, as she trashes the Scullions, she spurs a frightened Teri to action.

But I think that there is something else going on with this Supergirl. More and more I think she is aware of what she ran from 1000 years earlier. I wonder if she is aware of her Crisis destiny, given that this feels like the Supergirl from that timeline. When she says 'I am not going to die here today' she may be just screaming a battle cry or she may be commenting that she knows that is happening somewhere else.

Teri has been trying create a log of the battle so that others may read and remember what happened but Supergirl wants no part of it. Teri is openly grieving, crying and shaken. Kara is all business, stomping about the safehouse/planet that Batman sent them to. Everyone grieves differently.

But Kara's comment about 'survival' again makes me think that she is well aware of some aspects of her life and history. Did she survive this only to die young somewhere else? Something is hidden here, maybe about how she came to this time?

Other people were on Takron Galtos at the time of the Scullion attack. Fire and Ice are with the League after we learn that Kara saved them, throwing them through a transversal gate. Unfortunately, in that battle, the Hal Jordan GL and Barry Allen Flash, part of the original JL3001, are killed. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold scattered and may or may not be alive.

In the aftermath, Ice says that the Scullions seemed confused by her and Fire's presence. It is something Kara noted as well. What do these characters have in common? They are from prior DC continuities that have since been erased. This is a pre-Crisis Kara and a post-Crisis Fire and Ice. Giffen and DeMatteis have always played loose with continuity in this book. Maybe this is some acknowledgment of that.

Guy shows up and is initially in a standard blustery mood. Guy seems to be grieving by joking and avoiding the issues at hand. But when Guy is called on it, the tough exterior cracks. Guy talks about Superman's blood is on her costume, how Batman seemed scared and that has shaken her resolve. Finally, pushed to the edge, Guy slaps Tora ... something I would never expect to see.

We know that Guy is struggling with the genetic rewrite of the original GL and the woman host DNA trying to regain control. So this unhinged and unsteady Guy makes sense.

We finally learn how the League got here.
Batman had set up an unknown safehouse for the League, a place only he knew about. He had set the transversal gate to the headquarters. But someone has to stay behind and destroy the gate so it can't simply be reopened. Batman sacrifices himself while everyone flies through. He even uses Kryptonite to weaken Kara and toss her in, knowing she wouldn't leave on her own.

Of all the 3001ers, Batman felt the most like the original. So having a failsafe plan and being willing to sacrifice himself is fantastic.

I also love how Diana speaks of him and his sacrifice. There is almost a loving expression on her face as she talkes of knowing him better than Teri. I wonder if Giffen and DeMatteis think Bruce and Diana should be a couple. But she talks of how Bruce would want a good death. She imagines him smiling as he battles the Scullions one last time.

But Batman has been replaced by Batman, the descendant of the Wayne name in the precocious Tina. Tina has made her Bat-Mecha into a mobile transversal. The League can now teleport in and out of any place. While Tina pesters and irritates Kara, Supergirl knows not to ignore or rebuke such formidable intelligence.

This Batman is now on the League.

Because Supergirl is now in charge.
The League has a new mission. And a new makeup. Now it needs a new leader, someone who will do the right thing. And Supergirl seems more than ready to take on that mantle.

But there is more. I might be over-reading this. But these two panels of a pensive Supergirl looking out into the night sky, initially draped in shadows, seemed heavy with meaning. There is something almost funereal about that first panel. Looking out into the darkness, it might just mean that Kara knows she is in a dark place. But it also might again mean she knows about a dark destiny.

And that second panel, a steely Supergirl now in the light I think shows that she has now stepping into the role of the leader. She has to be the beacon. But even that expression seems to have a slight sense of sadness in it.

I haven't spoken about the art yet. Chris Batista and the inkers do a nice job veering close to the styles of Porter and Kolins, adding scratches and wear-and-tear on everything. The fight sequences are nicely rendered. But the big win is the expressions, adding much emotional overlay to the dialogue.

So this seems like a 'bold new direction' issue, a new path for a new team. And I am loving it. This book, like REBELS a few years ago, is the book I am championing, hoping DC will continue to print.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

I could easily theorize that JL 3000 is some sort of new continuity just based on Supergirl's emancipated take charge 1970's attitude cunningly garbed in her demure 1966 style costume. Sans conclusive evidence I'm gonna go with that interpretation since it allows us to completely skirt any homages, riffs or foreshadowing of COIE # 7....something that I'm thoroughly sick of anyway. If Supergirl revolves around one heroic end for a given writer thats a dead tip off said writer ISN'T doing right by the character "in the now".




Martin Gray said...

Thank you for being my partner in pushing this excellent book. I wonder if something did happen to pull the Scullions storyline forward, or perhaps shorten it - the pacing did seem really odd is issue, with so much told in flashback.

At one point I suspected Supergirl would prove to be a robot, but no, Kryptonite effects her. I do wonder if this version knew/remembers the Legion. And what about her mission for Superman? I'd love to see a scene in which she has the chance to move on - return to the past or continue with her mission - but chooses to stay and help her new friends.

Having Booster and Beetle missing is better than having them also killed in order to motivate the all-female JL team. And there's extra jeopardy now members can't be easily replaced - one consequence is that finally we have a Silver Age Supergirl who can do what she always expected to do - replace a Superman.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Anj: I may not be buying most of the books you review, I still enjoy the reviews. I buy DC BOMBSHELLS and will never stop buying any SUPERGIRL comic,and I might just stary BUYING JL3001, I stopped JL3000 a few issues in because all the characters did was bicker.

Best to you in 2016.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Great thought Mart about 'replacing Superman' being this Supergirl's expected destiny.

And thanks for kind words Wayne!

Happy New Year everyone!