Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bullet Review: Justice League #11

 I feel like it is a little bit of a cheat for me to review Justice League #11 because I am not getting the entirety of the Drowned Earth storyline. I am not getting the stand alone issues. I am only getting the main title books. So I don't know if it is fair of me to review interval chapters rather than the whole arc.

That said, I have been reviewing and lauding this book since it's premiere and I didn't think it felt right not to review the book.

So ultimately I decided that I would include a review of the issue, at least showcasing the elements that I liked as well as hitting on moments that impact plot points brought up in the earlier issues.

Scott Snyder continues the keep things moving forward at warp speed. A lot of ideas and plot progression happens here. But what I loved about this issue is the sneaky character moments that if you blink or gloss over, you'll miss.

Francis Manapul is on art and really shines here. There is a thicker, harder edge to his stuff. I usually think of breathier, more pencil-y work with Manapul. But the style works here with this world-threatening incident unfolding.

So I won't go too in depth here. But there are moments that are too good to not share.

One thing I love about Drowned Earth is how central the aquatic characters are the entire storyline.

Despite the pace of the action, Snyder gives us an opening scene flashing back to Mera as a child with her father looking at Atlantis from the outside.

Remember, she and her people weren't welcome in Atlantis. Here, her father the king talks to her about needing to evaluate things on his own, needing to see things as they are, and telling her what Atlantis purportedly can do.

Also, FORESHADOW. Those spires are being fired into the sky by the end of this, mark my

Now I clearly have missed stuff in that first stand-alone issue. The Earth is being flooded by the Aquatic space gods. People are being mutated into sea-like creatures, even our heroes. We see New Super-Man looking rather fishy. And even Barry is succumbing slowly.

For some reason Superman is sporting an eye patch.

And even mystical creatures like Swamp Thing are under the thrall of the waters.

I have to say that Snyder writes a great Mera. Here we see her as warrior queen, slashing away at Swamp Thing to free the other heroes. She is one a mission and she needs their help.

Meanwhile, Aquaman is still with the Aquatic Gods at the cosmic Blood Reef.

The gods remind Aquaman that at one point Arion condemned them to the graveyard of the gods. If Aquaman won't join them he will literally 'walk the plank' and be condemned there himself.

Despite being underpowered and outmatched, he decides to fight the gods, hoping to use combat skills to do what's right. It doesn't work. He is pitched off the side.

Now I will say this internal voice of Aquaman about how fish think as a collective (think schools of fish) seems off. Here, for the first time, Aquaman feels alone. I will freely admit I only really know Aquaman from Justice League stories, only reading his solo title here and there and seldomly. But he seems like more of a brooder and a loner. It is really his first time feeling alone?

And then we get this moment, my favorite comic moment of last week. She has a talisman which will lead our heroes to the Tomb of Arion.

But she is clearly shaken by what is happening. She hasn't defended Atlantis. That was her job. When Superman tries to give her a 'the role of a leader is to inspire' speech, she won't have any part of it. Hey Superman, now isn't the time for this speech. Now is the time for action.

The fact that she literally turns away from him is fantastic. It show how she isn't in awe of him.

Aquaman meanwhile had been saved by Wonder Woman when he fell into the void.

He says they need to get to the Graveyard of the Gods to try to grasp the power to repel the sea gods. Perhaps the recently dead Poseidon can grant them.

Similar to the Mera/Superman speech, Wonder Woman wonders if this trip is really necessary. Shouldn't Aquaman and her head to Earth where he can rally his people.

Much like Mera, he rebuffs her. He values her opinion. It's just she is wrong this time.

I have to say, these two conversations as two different teams search for two different power sources were brief. But they were powerful, my favorite exchanges of the week.

Mera's team makes it to Arion's tomb to get the Tear of Extinction, an anti-life water, an elixir of death.

We heard of this back in an earlier JL issue when Cheetah and Black Manta were given these totems of power.

And yes indeed, when the heroes enter the Tomb, Black Manta is there waiting for them. He has the tear and he is going to use it.

Armed with the Tear of Extinction, Manta and the sea god begin to flood the rest of the world.

What I love here is that Manta says Mera and the heroes are the overlords of the world. He won't let them rule. It reminds me of that old statement that no one thinks they are a villain in their own story. Manta thinks he is the hero, freeing the world from the order the League is providing.

Again, a small moment, a line easily missed. But just perfect.

And in the Graveyard of the Gods, Aquaman comes upon an emaciated Poseidon is trapped in the Graveyard, chained there by Cheetah's death blow.

When Aquaman begs for his powers back, Poseidon decides to give something a little extra ... a trident through the chest!

Not a bad cliffhanger. I like how this issue had a Silver Age JLA story feel since two teams are heading to recover two sources of power. And I especially like how the squad leaders are Aquaman and Mera. That seems fitting for Drowned Earth.

And, of course, the Key to the Graveyard of the Gods and the Tear of Extinction were both mentioned by Lex Luthor as totems of universal power. So this probably plays into Luthor's plans.

Overall a good middle chapter to this long arc as well as an issue which felt thematically similar to those of this title which preceded it.

I doubt I'll buy the non-JL issues (at least not until they hit the buck box) but I enjoyed this book on its own.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

An entertaining arc, although I must say I think the "humans battling gods" trope is getting stale.

I can't say whether Aquaman and Mera cutting Superman and Wonder Woman off is funny or rude.

Aaaah... Arion. It's been fifteen years since he was linked to Power Girl, but somehow it feels longer (although PG's retcon retconned out causes her 80's mini make zero sense).

Martin Gray said...

I've been reading the tie-ins and have no memory of why Superman would be sporting an eye patch. Because it looks piratey?

Anyway, nice review, sir, this is good fun. You're right, as usual with Snyder JLA, it's best not think of such things as the world population becoming sea monsters (hey, Grant Morrison gave everyone super powers) or smashed moons, and just enjoy the ride.