Friday, February 26, 2016

Review: Justice League 3001 #9

Justice League 3001 #9 was released this week and this book continues to be wonderfully creative and entertaining. It is somewhat depressing that I am looking ahead already at #12, the last issue.

Because JL 3001 is sort of an omelet of a book and I love omelets. The best omelet have a number of wonderful ingredients which together brings a fantastic and flavorful taste. But an omelet needs eggs to hold all those ingredients together. And you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

This title has brought together some of the best ingredients ... ummm, elements ... from DC continuity. We have Bwa-Ha-Ha era Leaguers. We have a Silver Age Supergirl. We have had Etrigan, Camelot 3000, and now a twisted Legion of Super-Heroes. We have seen some broken eggs ... umm, some reimagined big name characters , warped to fit them into this dingy future. The big 6 have been brought back as flawed copies, allowing the creators to look at these characters fondly, comedically, and critically. And I guess in this analogy, the eggs that hold all these disparate elements together are the creative team of Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Howard Porter, Scott Kolins, and Colleen Doran.

This issue pushes the latest (I guess last) arc forward. It feels a little like a classic League story with the team splitting up to fight on multiple fronts. But we also have some strong character moments as well. We have seen the members of this team evolve over time.

The art on the issue is split between Scott Kolins and Colleen Doran. Kolins section is wonderfully gritty, showing how the universe is a grimy crumbling place now. His villains are monstrous. Whether it is Eclipso's hand-feet or the faceless Saturn Girl, these guys are frightening. Doran's section has a great conversation between enemies turned friends. Doran still is able to infuse action and emotion into what is effectively just pages of people talking.

This is a long introduction so I apologize. But I only have a few more of these intros to write.

The issue opens in Lady Styx's stronghold where she has mutated Terrance Magnus into a futuristic Eclipso. And so another character and element of DC's history is tossed into the mix. Eclipso is quite thrilled with his role in this dark army and can't wait to dive in and kill off the League. After all, Captain Ardeen (Saturn Girl) has been unsuccessful in eliminating the heroes.

I have to say as a Legion fan, it is sort of sad to see Saturn Girl turned into this servant of evil.

That said, this felt just a tad forced. We have seen the indestructible and immensely powerful Scullions overrun the galaxy. The League has been in hiding for months. So to hear Styx talk about how she fears their symbolism, the hope they bring, seemed off. Does the average person think of the League as a rebel force working to free them?

This is the only proper DC comic that has a Supergirl and I love her characterization here.

While I do put this Kara in the Silver Age, I sort of put her in the 'early Adventure Comics' time period, a time when Supergirl was becoming a hero in her own right but still nursing some of those early insecurities she had.

Here she has taken up the mantle of League leader. That is impressive. A Wonder Woman clone is on this team. A Green Lantern is on this team and it's Guy Gardner. Ice and Fire are basically immortal. And yet they all are looking to Supergirl to lead them. And she wants to.

Despite that she still has some doubts about herself. And that makes sense too.

Here she has sent Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Flash to the demolished Cadmus labs to try to find some information about Styx. That is dangerous. Anytime a leader sends someone into the field, they are putting that person's life in jeopardy. That has to weigh heavy.

Remember though, this is a Giffen/DeMatteis book. There is going to be humor as the members interact.

The away team finds Cadmusworld capital unexpectedly in ruins. Styx usually likes a pristine and working environment that worships here. The rubble makes Diana question Batgirl's teleportation device.

When Batgirl threatens to bite off Diana's ass, Wonder Woman has heard enough. Too funny.

The team's cloak isn't activated however meaning that the nearby  Scullions begin to swarm. Diana and Batgirl are thrilled to finally have something to punch but the Flash is still a bit out of sorts. She has been suffering from PTSD from prior battles.

She sits out the battle instead observing the Scullions at high speed. And she notices something which she thinks will allow the League to stop them at the hivemind level. It has to have something to do with that 't' on their head? Some sort of receiver that can be jammed?

With that information, Teri grabs Tina and Diana and heads back to Takron-Galtos.

Meanwhile, Kara has taken Fire and Ice to the planet Bodhi on another reconnaissance mission.

Bodhi, similar to Cadmus, is leveled. Some bug-like creatures have demolished the place. My guess is that these things will end up being allies.

But what I love here is Fire questioning Supergirl's orders. This is a cautious Supergirl, not willing to do something foolish. And Fire being ... well ... fiery, questions her. This makes sense for the book. Fire was the queen of Hell. Supergirl might be leader but she isn't dictator. I love this natural character progression for this team.

Meanwhile, Eclipso has formed his attack squad. As feared, they are an evil version of the Legion. We see what must be analogs for Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Timber Wolf, Cosmic Boy, and Night Girl. But perhaps best is the one legged Lightning Lad. That has to be some riff on the time Lightning Lad only had one arm.

I miss the Legion.

But we get the added treat of a back story by Colleen Doran starring Supergirl's ex-Girlfriend Lois Lane and League genius Ariel Masters.

You might recall that Lois had taken over Ariel's body and was actively trying to kill Superman. So how did we get here?

That subplot has been pushed aside for a couple of months. So it is a shame that we are dropped into this story. It has to be a side effect of their being limited time left in this book.

Doran's art is so beautiful.

We learn that somewhere off screen, Lois has raised Ariel from cryogenic sleep and switched their minds back to their appropriate bodies. I am pretty sure we didn't see this or hear of this before this story. I would have liked to see Lois decide to do this instead of having it simply happen.

The bulk of this story is Lois and Ariel reviewing the sins that the other has committed. Lois tried to kill Superman and the League. Ariel used 'volunteers' to clone the League, erasing the donors memories and personas.

Neither are lily white. It shows the shades of gray in this murky future.

Still, they realize that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.' Styx is the greater threat and she'll need Ariel's abilities. These two will fight Styx. After all, Lois has killed Superman before. And Ariel is brilliant.

I fear these two more that I do the League in some ways.

I've gushed enough I think. This book is a wonderful mix of all the things I like about comics. Kudos to all involved!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Top review, sir, I'm going to miss this book hugely.

I'm good with the back-up, it's better to my mind than the evil Lois plot being tossed out altogether.

Jay said...

I wonder if this is the same evil legion from the end of the last Superbly run?

Chris said...

Such a fun book. Will sorely be missed come the summer.

Great review.

Anonymous said...

Wow "brooding Supergirl" done "right" who da thunk it?
Yeah I'm gonna miss this one as well, someone finally took the best of the silver-bronze age Supergirl and followed her thru not to death and sacrifice but leadership and recognition.