Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: Justice League #10

Justice League #10 came out this week, the opening chapter of the upcoming 'Drowned Earth' storyline. Written by Scott Snyder with art by Francis Manapul, it is a crackling issue, an excellent opening chapter which gives us the skeleton of the story while continuing to nudge forward the subplots which are the underpinning of this title.

Scott Snyder has been keeping his foot on the gas pedal in this title and this issue continues that pace. But while giving us a decent amount of exposition about the main plot, he also peeks in on the other members of the League, all of them busy with the current Legion of Doom threat. And, as if that wasn't enough, he also injects a lot of DC history into the issue. We get guest stars and mentions that deepen the continuity of the universe. For an old timer like me, I love seeing and hearing about these corners of the DCU.

Artist Francis Manapul really brings his A game here. As has been typical of the book, we are given crazy scenarios and locales, larger than life stuff, and Manapul is up to the challenge. But there is also small touches, little flourishes, which elevate even that heady stuff.

My one complaint? That there is a side mini-series about this. If I want to read the whole story I need to go outside this book. And I don't know if I am ...

On to the details.

We start out with a flashback of young Aquaman out fishing with his father. They know all the local waters so well that Arthur wonders if there are any new oceans out there to explore. While he wonders, his father notices how the sea life all seem to congregate around the boat, circling. This shot, panning down to show it, works very well.

But that sentiment, of new oceans and waters to dive into, is a nice foreshadow of this whole storyline, of interplanetary waters and a flooded Earth.

Last issue we saw Black Manta kill Poseidon. The Sea God was holding a ship in a bottle at the time.

Here we learn that the model is actually some sort of homing device for an ancient ship with the mark of Arion which supposedly houses the Key to the Graveyard of the Gods. This crude sensor leads Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Firestorm (hooray) to the north pole. I'll have to go back and look at Poseidon's death scene. I don't remember him giving the heroes that mission.

It is great to see Firestorm here. While the League proper can be the 'big eight', I think they should be able to call in pinch hitters with specific powers they need on an ad hoc basis. Heck, the cafeteria scene last issue shows their reach.

I also love the outfits Manapul gives our heroes in the cold of the Arctic. The scales cloak of Aquaman is awesome.And Wonder Woman with her legs wrapped and fur collar is also a nice touch. Nice touch.

 Meanwhile, Superman and Flash are joined by auxiliary member Adam Strange to investigate a volcano god. It seems that the Legion of Doom headquarters was housed ... sort of ... in its body. Their headquarters utilizes something like Zeta radiation to both exist and not exist in physical space. We have seen the villains look outside their window and see sea creatures when it is in a swamp. We have seen the Batman who laughs trapped in a lava room. Perhaps the HQ exists in multiple places at multiple times?

But like Firestorm, I like the League proper calling in an expert like Strange.

The plot thickens though. A beacon of some sort was fired into space from that site. And Batman traces its course to an interstellar 'coral reef'. Hmmm ...

 Batman remains laid up in a body cast as he heals but he isn't resting. He has been using a baby Starro in a jar ... a Jarro ... to probe Starman's mind.

Remember, the main plot is the universe ending because of the Totality incursion. That has to be explored.

How will Starman fit in? Who knows.

But I loooovvve Jarro. I want a plush version of it!

 While J'onn, Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern head to Thanagar Prme to explore their side plot, Poseidon's model finally pings the Arion ship.

Raised to the surface, Aquaman gives us a little primer on Arion, lord and defender of the realm of Atlantis. We hear how he used something called the Clarion to call aquatic heroes from around the universe to fend off an Invasion of the planet.

Some points here.

I am so happy ... thrilled really ... that Snyder sets up Arion as a hero, protecting people. After Arion's original series (a wonderful little book by Paul Kupperberg and Jan Duuresma), creators seemed compelled to make him a bad guy. I like my Arion as a good guy!

And this was a clever way for Snyder to slip in some much needed exposition.

A portion of the boat seems to be of Amazonian design. When investigating that spot, Aquaman uncovers what he thinks is the Key to the Graveyard of the Gods. It sort of looks like the Cosmic Key from the Masters of the Universe movie!

That said, I thought that Black Manta was already wielding the key. Is this something else? Why would Poseidon send the heroes here? Is it to stop others from finding it?

I guess we have a lot more to learn.

I have said before, I like this sort of side camaraderie between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. They have an interesting and similar regal background.

 Grabbing the key triggers a 'space kraken' to manifest and it swallows the ship through a 'cosmic whirlpool' portal.

The very fact that the sentence includes 'space kraken' and 'cosmic whirlpool' is just fantastic and fits the universe-shaking tone of this book. So cool!!

So I still don't know if this is the Key to the Graveyard of the Gods.

Aquaman awakens in the portal on the 'Blood Reef', I assume the space coral that Batman had noted before.

Now sporting some fluorescent markings, he stands before the Triumverate of Sea Gods. They represent water deities around the universe. They have gathered followers from other water-based worlds. The beacon the Legion of Doom fired is what brought them there. And they were the group involved in that incursion with Arion earlier.

I couldn't help but think of the Parliament of Trees when I saw this. Is this a benign and wise sea pantheon?

The answer is no.

Turns out they didn't help Arion. They were the invaders Arion fought!

Without much fuss, a huge space fleet forms a barricade around the Earth. One of the gods floods the East Coast and the waters are mutagenic, turning those it touches into odd mer-people.

I guess we have a lot to learn about these beings and their goals.
I am surprised a whole space fleet could just blip around the planet without being noticed by someone beforehand. I love that a Hykraaian, like the Legionnaire Tellus, is in the crowd on the reef.

So a lot to like here. Plots, subplots, main plots, and guest stars! And, as is typical of this book, a lot happens rather quickly. Buckle up your chin straps when you read this! If only I didn't need to read 4 books to get the whole tale.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

"I am so happy ... thrilled really ... that Snyder sets up Arion as a hero, protecting people. After Arion's original series (a wonderful little book by Paul Kupperberg and Jan Duuresma), creators seemed compelled to make him a bad guy. I like my Arion as a good guy!"

If I remember correctly, some writers made some real nutty stuff with Arion during the Atlantean Power Girl era... I don't get why they need to turn every father figure into evil, crazy, dumb or morally defective at best. Arion, Zor-El, now Jor-El... ugh!

I never knew I needed a Jarro pet. But I do...

An interesting opening for this arc. Snyder clearly likes going nuts with world-breaking threats.

Off-topic. I have heard the news about Lex Luthor. To be honest, I don't care much because I'm tired of Supergirl showmakers borrowing Superman's rogues, but you do think it is a good time to review Action Comics #286 featuring Supergirl/Luthor's first meeting?

Martin Gray said...

Terrific review of a splendid comic, I love that we’re passed the immediate business of the Totality, I prefer it as a maguffin. And I really liked having the LoD being involved in the business of the issue but not on the scene, I’m pretty tired of them. I’d rather have traditional JLA villains than these Seventies cartoon types.

Anyway, sign me me for a fluffy Jarro too!

Did you get the shiny cover, was it great?

I’d love to get proper, traditional Arion before the end of this, along with Lady China, Wyynde and Mara.