Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Justice League 3001 #8

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.

Overall grade: A


Unknown said...

Love the new outfit, especially that cape.

Martin Gray said...

Top review, sir, and congratulations on spotting the shadowy person. I veer towards a 31st Century Shadow Thief, to go with the 31st Century Lady Styx.

That six months Guy disparity struck (NPI) me too, I snipped the panel... and forgot to mention it in the review. I think it's a simple mistake, let's check JM DeMatteis is getting it fixed for the trade, and maybe have the Comixology files updated.

I'd be disappointed if the Lois business and Beetle/Booster were abandoned. I can't see that happening, I think the all-woman team is a temporary deal. Heck, the shadow could even be someone we think is dead.

I love your idea that this version of Lady is connected to Mysa and/or Nura. That could make the shadowy person a particularly
Dark Opal.

I really hope the gathered minions of Lady Styx aren't dark LSH members, I was jolted enough when there seemed to be the odd member in a crowd of dead bodies a few issues back... But I did wonder about the hairy guy and the window-head chap in particular.

I can't remember, has the thought of time travel under her own steam hit Kara?

The business about Lady Styx having had sleeper agents everywhere, it strikes me that she could just be lying to big herself up.

Unknown said...

They actually tried to put an evil Legion in Superboy before it got cancelled.

God please the last thing I need is Giffen doing an evil Legion it will be a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

When the solicits for this cover came out, I was like "PLEASE do not do this as Supergirl's costume!!" Guess I'm the only one
that it doesn't do it for me... but so long as they continue to put out this title, it's something I can overlook. To TPTB,
keep putting out this title!!


Anonymous said...

I wish I could share your enthusiasm for this title, especially since comic book Supergirl pickings are criminally slim these days, but Giffen's I'm-so-clever writing style is like fingernails on the chalkboard of my brain.

Uncle Screensaver said...

"Fists clenched, she is determined, showing that fierceness of character I love in her." *Sigh* I love that about her too. <3

I was hoping the reverse S-shield colours were incorrect, but it might grow on me. I like that a new costume echoes the growth that original Pre-Crisis Kara had when she first donned her new look in Adventure Comics (too) many years ago. Her hairstyle is evocative of Power Girl.

It is wonderful that finally Kara is a leader of a team, and a version of the Justice League. Granted, she was leader of a/ the LSH Pre-Flashpoint but here she comes off as just so capable and determined.

I find Giffen's writing of Kara to reflect a writer who has long "gotten" the character and wants to give her the respect she hasn't received in decades. I feel much closer to actually reading the same character that died 30 years ago, and it almost feels like the character herself is aware of how many times she's been abused by writers since then.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.!

Mart, I don't think Kara ha talked about leaving under her own power, something a Silver Age Kara could do. Of course, we're assuming it's a Pre-Crisis Kara (pretty sure it is given costume, strength, etc)

As for the costume, I wonder if it'll change, like it did in Adventure a comics.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the new costume or the shredded hairdo, I could live with both if the s-symbol wasn't cartoonishly huge and garishly yellow.
On the other hand you count on the fingers of one hand all the leadership opportunities Supergirl has had since 1959 so I am very much still a partisan of this title and hope it does not get canceled...


Wondering said...

Styx looks very familiar to me...I can't put my finger on it but something about her reminds me of the '94 legion run....

jimmythejiver said...

Sorry for the late comment. Your review has perked my interest back up. I love Supergirl's new shredded hairstyle. Short or not, Powergirl never had it this wild so I didn't think of the parallel. It's odd short hair is her defining feature so Supergirl generally has to have long hair even though she debuted with a short cut.

I'm still a bit wary of a Legion as bad-guys or gad-guys who think they're good or whatever the reveal.

By Terrence being brain-damaged, do you mean it literally or that he has warped morals?

jimmythejiver said...

Okay re-reading the panel it is obvious neutered means lobotomized. Odd choice of words there.

Anj said...

Thanks for more comments!

Jasae, if you remember who Styx is please let me know!

Jimmy, I used 'brain damaged' because that is how Saturn Girl describes him in an earlier panel. Yes, he has been lobotomized.

As for her hair, I think it mirrors her realization that this is a hard new world. I like it!

Martin Gray said...

This Lady Styx doesn't look much like the previous one Giffen and co created for 52, but maybe the horns are bringing Blaze to mind?