Justice League 3001 #8 came out this week with an issue titled 'A New Beginning'. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that I am a sucker for 'bold new directions' and will most likely pick up a book where that is splashed on the cover.
This issue is a new beginning for this book. The team is different. Suddenly we have an all female team, united against a new threat. I almost feel, for better or for worse, that we will be putting a bunch of the mysteries of the early issues behind us, maybe never to address again. I am going to miss Beetle, Booster, and Turtle Jimmy Olsen. Will we see the vengeful Lois Lane/Ariel plot finished? Will we see her Injustice League with Bane and the others?
But this is book where I am introduced to Lady Styx, a new villain who is mysterious and intriguing. And Giffen and DeMatteis are sliding some Legion of Super-Heroes into the book! As one of their fandom, I have been clamoring for any sight of them.
For me, most importantly, I get to see Supergirl leading an incognito League against a universal threat is great. And since her introduction in the book, Giffen and DeMatteis have thrust her into a role of leader, even if she is still a youngish Kara. Seeing her come to terms with this, seeing her 'replacing' Superman (a theme which has been part of her character since 1959) is wonderful.
Scott Kolins is on art and brings a sort of grungy dystopian sensibility to the book. He also redesigned some of the costumes the heroes are now wearing. I love Supergirl's new look which has a feel of the 70s Adventure Comics look, but includes red shoulders like the Crisis-era Kara. And the cape, a giant S-shield, is pretty cool.
On to the story.
Last issue the Scullions swarmed throughout the universe, taking over the universe in the name of Lady Styx. Only some of the heroes escaped. And now the League is basically on the run.
Six months have passed since that last issue and we see how the members of the League are all living incognito on Takron Galtos, biding their time until they can strike. Diana is a welder on a construction crew (shades of the Bombshell 'Rosie the Riveter'?). The Flash is still suffering from PTSD. Ice and Fire are living together, using passwords to ensure safety.
And Kara is living alone, wondering how it all happened. Styx had been infiltrating planets all along and simply took over. That second panel, a small Kara, small, alone, framed in a box in a box. You just get the sense of how imprisoned she feels, how claustrophobic this life must be.
Each member does have a transversal which allows them to head to their 'headquarters', a demolished Paradise island, the temples and columns in ruins and overgrown.
In this sequence, Giffen and DeMatteis give us a quick rundown of how all the members feel. It is like a rapid fire character check to set the stage for how they all feel 6 months into this secrecy. It is clear this team is still a bit in disarray and hardly a Justice League united.
Diana is impatient and wants to rush in and fight. Fire agrees. Ice wants to do what's smart. And Guy, whose personality is slowly being erased by his host body's DNA/personality, thinks planning is important. Is that Guy or Shirylalla that is the voice of reason?
But there is Kara at the end, arms folded, taking charge and saying that they need to wait. Even in this sequence, it is clear Supergirl is the leader here. She is the last to talk. Her panel is bigger, implying she is bigger. So much information given in the page layout.
There is one other member, Batman, who is the most impetuous of the group. She is off trying to destroy the indestructible Scullions. Supergirl needs to teleport in and get Batman out before things go south. I like the mecha-look here.
But what I like is that, of all characters, it is the Batman character who is the most hot-headed, the most like to rush in blindly, the one who doesn't want to plan. It is the concept of Batman flipped on its head, a nice addition to a book like this.
Remember Batman is actually Tina, a school age girl and descendant of Bruce Wayne. She's brilliant and hot-headed. I guess it makes her more of a Damian character which is reinforced in my mind when we see her dressed in Robin garb.
Diana and Teri have to tell Tina to slow down. That rushing into battle is foolish. Diana has to begrudgingly agree that Kara is right.
I do feel bad for Teri who is still suffering from PTSD, decompensating whenever she sees Scullions or is reminded of Clark's death.
We do see that the headquarters isn't completely safe. Someone is skulking in the shadows, watching the team. Who could that be? Guesses at the end.
The team is splintered even further. Fire and Ice feel like a separate faction within the team. They feel like outsiders and Ice wonders if they should just leave. These two were part of the 'Bwa-ha-ha' League as was Guy.
So it made sense to me that Guy approaches the two and says he needs them and will be part of their subgroup. It is only the memory of Ice which seems to be stemming the personality re-write, reminding him that he is Guy. I think that is a nice touch. This isn't the headstrong Guy. He is scared of disappearing.
One quibble here. Fire talks about Guy striking Tora a few days earlier. Now we did see Guy slap Tora last issue but isn't that 6 months ago? Unless Guy is a serial slapper, it shouldn't be so recent.
I have commented how it was implied that Supergirl is the leader here. We are told she is the leader later in the issue. And I love the characterization here.
First off, I like the fact she keeps the pictures of the dead Leaguers on the wall, a reminder of what she has lost.
She also is worried that she isn't ready for this leadership role. She can see that the team is looking to her for guidance and she worries she won't be up for the challenge. This feels like a classic Kara who is striving to be the best she can be, is ready to step in for Superman, but is still growing and maybe a little unsure of herself.
But she won't back down from this responsibility. Fists clenched, she is determined, showing that fierceness of character I love in her.
Love this new Supergirl costume. The red shoulders harken back to her Crisis-era costume. But the reversed yellow/red of the s-shield with the high collar and knee-high boots is groovy. As is this cape.
Kudos to Scott Kolins for the design.
We finally get to meet the lead villain, Lady Styx.
In flashbacks, we see her simply announce that she is taking over the galaxy. Her army has been in place for some time. Her ascension to power is simply 'the period at the end of a sentence'. Love that line.
Styx is on Naltor (Dream Girl's home planet) and has a drone version of Saturn Girl go and fetch Terrance, Teri's brain damaged brother who was a key character in JL3000. There are odd acolytes in front of her. One could be Wildfire or Timber Wolf. Are Giffen and DeMatteis slipping the actual Legion into this book? Why not? So many continuities have been woven into this book. I miss the Legion. I really don't want them to be evil.
So that makes me wonder if the shadowy figure could be a 'good' Legionnaire. Shadow Lass? Cham? In the end, I think my guess is that it is Ariel/Lois. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
As for Styx, she is a wild character. There is some Kirby Thor elements here. My first thoughts were she reminded me of Karnilla or Hela. But then I wondered if there was some Gemworld in here. And given the Legion element and this being Naltor, could she be an evil White Witch??
Styx needs Terrance to help find and defeat the League because the presence of Supergirl and Tina/Batman wasn't anticipated. I still think this is some nexus of intersecting realities given the multiple continuities seen. Maybe a pre-Crisis Silver Age Supergirl wasn't anticipated in this future?
Whew! This is what a bold new direction is supposed to be, keeping the foundation of a book but shaking it up. We have a new universal threat, infused with Legion of Super-heroes elements (hurrah!). We have an unsteady team, hiding away, and being led by a young Supergirl. And we have versions of classic characters tossed into the mix of a dystopia. It all works.
So if you are looking for a jumping on point, a place to swim in the deep end of DC mythology, this is the issue for you.