Monday, October 8, 2018

Review: Justice League #9

Justice League #9 came out last week and this was another fine issue in what has been a very exciting title so far. If you have been reading my reviews, you know that one of the things that I have very much liked about the book is the absolute breakneck speed it has been going at. Huge concepts are just thrown at the reader and before you can digest it, the next huge thing is on its way. I have talked about needing to pause to take a breath intra-issue to get my bearings.

This issue is a that deep breath unto itself. While we get a smidge of plot progression, this is really about characterization. We see the Leaguers interacting with each other. We get a glimpse into how writer Scott Snyder sees these personalities. It really elevates the team dynamics here. After seeing them scurry for 8 issues, we see them rest. And, in what feels like the classic Silver Age trope of the team 'splitting up', we get a bunch of two hero vignettes. I loved it.

I have complimented Jorge Jimenez on art before. But I love his stuff. Here, we really get to see his range. From cafeteria scenes to outer space fist fights to literal world (or moon) building, Jimenez brings style and power to the images.

So if you are looking for an issue of this issue as a jumping on point, or an issue to recommend to a friend so they can sample what the book is like, use this one.

Onto the book.

The book opens with Superman literally rebuilding the moon. He is talking to his bestie Batman. From a hospital bed as he undergoes orthopedic surgery, Batman suggests that the moon could be augmented in some way, making it more of a defensive station. But Superman wants no part of it.

Even a brief skirmish with Coronovores (aliens which eat sun energy) doesn't sway Superman. He tells Batman to relax.

This opening conversation with Superman preaching relaxation felt like something Snyder was saying to the readers. Kick back and enjoy this issue.

And can I say, Jimenez draws a fantastic Superman. I love the red trunks being back!

We then cut to the Hall of Justice, both a JL HQ and public museum/tourist attraction. While citizens walk through looking at trophies and posters, they are advised to follow Batman's instructions and not touch anything.

But behind the scenes, the extended League are all in the commissary enjoying company and conversation. How neat to see Canary eating with M'Gann! And Wonder Woman minotaur chef Ferdinand is there, cooking up some chow!

Our next vignette is the Flash and Green Lantern.

Jon is a bit worried about all of the big changes that have been going on. New Forces, Ultra-Violet Corpsmen, and all the other insanity the League has been facing.

Flash says the important thing to do in times like these are hold on to the certainties in life. For example, Jon can always count on the delicious burger at his favorite place in Detroit.

I am a bad fan but I still have to remind myself it is Barry and not Wally. When I read this I thought this was a bit mature of Wally but then I remembered it isn't him.

In fact, he's dead.

Still, very nice characterization here. I like the heroes having a little down time to just catch up.

Next we see Aquaman and Wonder Woman who are actually building the inner Hall chapel.

Their conversation turns to the fact that each Leaguer has been able to build their own 'domain', a room where they can relax. Diana hasn't made hers yet.

So we get this great tour of rooms, a peek into the inner workings of the Leaguers' minds.

Aquaman includes his father's fishing ship underwater. Superman's is like a neat apartment. Flash's is filled with treadmills. Hawkwoman's is a trophy room. Green Lantern has a spartan room, more like a military tent. And so on ...

I love the silliness of Batman's.

But this was a great look into the characters. A person's home says a lot about who they are.

Much like I did in Morrison's run on JLA, I like Diana and Aquaman having a close relationship. It makes sense.

But this scene is great. Diana decided to build the chapel first because she has faith in the team. That room was more important than her single room.

I also like her insight on Aquaman who is having some self-doubt. He is there to lead the team forward into new horizons.

I have loved Jimenez take on Diana since his Smallville story arc.

The final pairing is Hawkgirl and J'onn. They are sparring when Kendra gets a bit more feisty.

She really lays into the Manhunter. The experience with the Totality impacted her, changed her. She has some connection to it. She wonders if J'onn knew it.

Of course, he was also effected by the Totality, giving scenes of Mars' past. These two are linked to the bigger story. The best thing for both of them is to head to Thanagar Prime, see the keeper of Martian memories, and investigate together.

I like how Snyder is giving these two, perhaps the least 'well known' Leaguers, a big role to play.

Throughout the book, Batman keeps trying to convince Superman to make the moon into something more. And he uses an impending threat of another Coronavore, a bull version, to show that there is always danger around the corner.

But Superman remains unbowed. He won't change the moon into anything. Let it be what it is. We don't need to change something in the face of uncertainty. And certainly we don't need it to be transformed into something coarser or more dangerous.

In a nice little character bit in the conversation, Superman reminds Batman that he never uses magic or other tricks to heal. He always remains the most a human can be. And that is enough to inspire. We see people on Earth looking up to the night sky and seeing the moon again and smiling, awed by it.

I like that bit about Batman.

And Superman knows more. The Coronavore was lured to the moon by Batman but in a depowered form. It couldn't hurt Superman. This was Batman trying to trick Superman into being afraid, into recognizing danger, and making the moon a fortress.

But Superman still won't.

Everything is changing. But like the stability of Jon's burger, the heroes have to be solid citizens, inspirations for who they are. They shouldn't change out of fear.

That wry smile by Superman is perfect.

Although I do think Batman gets off easy for trying to trick his friend.

But I love how somehow seeing the moon in the sky again, another certainty returned, another thing to make people feel like life is 'normal' again, brings out a wow. Even from other Leaguers.

And then this last panel with Superman taking in his work. I am used to seeing this scene with Superman floating over the Earth. Having him staring at the moon is a cool riff on the usual fare.

This was just the pause I needed. There was so much action in the opening arc that I felt owed some characterization. It isn't that we didn't get a feel for our Leaguers in the earlier issues. But so much happened, it were fleeting moments. Now we get a whole issue devoted to meeting or re-meeting our team.

This book continues to shine. Buy this book and give it to people.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Great review. I do like a Day in the Life issue, we used to get them so often back in the Eighties, but rarely now.

It's good to see Dinah in the cafe, but it's weird not having her on the official team... I don't even know who this Kendra is, I know she was Lady Blackhawk in Metal, but who could follow that?

Superman should slap Batman for his nonsense. I'm glad the moon is back, though it's absence here never seemed to hurt earth - how different from that spectacular issue of the 5YL LSH way back when.

'Domains' - how pretentious!

Anonymous said...

Superman rebuilding the Moon... the League battling sunlight-eater aliens... the break room and team interaction... how Pre-Crisis-style delightful.

It was nice to see everybody's room. And, hey, Superman has an anti-gravity bed for Krypto! But seriously, he has Lois and Jon pictures but not Kara's? Hmph! Although, let's think of ot, the woman hugging him in the left picture doesn't look quite like Lois. She actually looks a brunette with long, wavy hair. Hmm...

I think I'll never get used to bearded Aquaman. I didn't like during the 90's and I don't like now.

Anonymous said...

Terrific review, I enjoyed this issue the most out of Snyder's run so far. Superman rebuilding the moon and being inspiring, more slice of life interactions between the League and a cavalcade of cameos in the Justice League canteen makes for a solid read. And Jorge Jiminez's art is gorgeous, I love his sense of motion in his lines and the humanity in his faces. I hope he stays on Justice League as he's half the reason I'm still buying it.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I do agree that Batman shouldn’t get a pass.