Tag Archives: Justice League of America

Review: Justice League United #3

Review: Justice League United #3

Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Mike McKone, Cam Smith, and Guillermo Ortego

The team has been transported to Ranagar just in time, but they aren’t the only ones. Now they have to battle Byth and Lobo before they can use that crazy baby to take over the world, or whatever their plan is… This all sounds like crazy gibberish, and it is, but it is amazingly fun crazy gibberish. Isn’t that what comics are supposed to be?

The Good

I really enjoy the art in this book. Usually there is a disconnect in the art when there is more than one inker on a book, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in the inks. McKone’s exaggerated pencils are complimented by the inks incredibly well. I especially enjoy it when the panels turn to red and white when they want to emphasize a certain action. The story is pretty interesting as well. Its just fast and fun for the most part, and that is rare in the New 52. Where the story does fall, the excellent dialogue keeps the fun up. The interplay between Green Arrow and Animal Man is hilarious and I can’t wait to read more.

The Bad

I’ve never really been a big fan of Lobo, biker or male model version, so his inclusion here in this book really does nothing for me. Also, the Canadian girl’s story in the first few pages of the issue feel completely disconnected from the rest of the story. I know Lemire is playing the long game with her, but it just feels weird since the entire rest of the book is completely uninterested with the long game. Things just happen with little explanation, like the formation of the team. That approach is fine by me. It means we get to skip the boring set up and just jump straight into the fun. I just can’t see why that approach would be changed for just one character.

The Verdict

I really enjoy this book. Its not overly serious like its predecessor, Justice League of America, and is mainly concerned with just having fun. There are a few story elements that I didn’t think was fantastic, but the art was great. You should definitely pick this one up.

Story: 3.5 out of 5

Art: 4.5 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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Current Events – Review: DC’s Forever Evil

Forever Evil LogoIt took 9 long months, but it finally happened. Forever Evil #7 hit comic shops last week signifying the bitter end of DC’s latest universe-wide event, and although the epic was full of great moment after great moment, a clunky start and one very untimely delay did a whole lot to derail this otherwise exciting roller-coaster ride of a blockbuster event.

The Beginning

Although Forever Evil #1 was released on September 4th, 2013, you have to go way back The New 52 Free Comic Book Day Special Edition #1to Free Comic Book Day 2012 and DC’s The New 52 Free Comic Book Day Special Edition #1 to get to the real start of this ambitious series of events. That’s right, Forever Evil was nothing more than a single part of a much larger plan for DC Comics, a plan that we’re still currently seeing DC implement. In this FCBD issue we get new insights into Pandora, The Phantom Stranger, and The Question’s punishments before the Council of Eternity, as well as a foreshadowing of DC’s Trinity War, an event that promised a lot, but only delivered one thing: Another event.

Trinity War

Trinity WarI know a lot of people who had a huge problem with Trinity War, and not really because of what it was, but because of what they assumed it would be, and people just hate being wrong. While I like to think of it more as a surprise, many assumed that the “Trinity” in Trinity War was a reference to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, or the new Trinity of Sin characters Pandora, The Phantom Stranger, and The Question, while still others assumed it referred to the three distinct Justice League teams of the DCU, The Justice League, The Justice League of America, and The Justice League Dark, with the latter being the most popular of the assumptions, probably due in great part to DC’s solicits for the event suggesting as much. This turned out to be a huge misdirection tactic, and despite the various Justice Leagues fighting over Pandora’s Box, the “Trinity” of the Trinity War shockingly referred to The Outsider’s plan to use Pandora’s Box to simultaneously hamstring all three Justice Leagues while bringing the Earth-3 incarnation of the Justice League into the New 52. “Trinity” always referred to the three of Earth-3, and never really had anything to do with the Trinity of Sin, Bats, Supes, and WW, or the 3 Leagues, and the misdirection meant to surprise was missed by many readers who simply couldn’t get over the fact that they had made a wrong guess. Admittedly, Trinity War was not the most interesting read ever written, but that page reveal of the Crime Syndicate standing in the DCU-proper was awesome, and made everything that came after it an exciting proposal. Well, almost everything.

Villain’s Month

With the release of Forever Evil #1 on September 4th, 2013, DC Comics also started a Villains Month Jokerpromotional campaign that seems to be turning into a DC Comics trend. During this premiere month for the event, DC halted their regular publishing line and released 52 comics starring the best and worst of DC’s villains. 3-D lenticular covers and fan-favorite villainous characters helped push this promotional stunt to success, and while most of the issues had absolutely nothing to do with the Forever Evil event overall, it was a new and different approach to selling and publishing comics, and the buzz that came along with the month-long endeavor helped to solidify the event as something special. Although this wasn’t enough to make Forever Evil anything more than some cool elements and even cooler moments wrapped up in a less than perfect event, as a single block in a bigger foundation, Forever Evil has changed the status quo in the DCU for the foreseeable future.

The Good

TCrime Syndicatehere were some really fun things going on within the pages of Forever Evil, as well as in the tie-ins surrounding the event. The members of the Crime Syndicate itself were wonderfully depicted, and from Ultraman’s Kryptonite addiction, Grid’s quest for emotions, Johny Quick and Atomica’s Bonnie & Clyde-esque relationship, Power Ring’s problems with his…well, Power Ring, and Superwoman’s love quadrangle and baby-daddy issues did a great job of making these carbon-copy character knockoffs more than simply carbon-copy character knockoffs. The kidnapping and outing to the world of Nightwing as Dick Grayson did a great job of establishing the Crime Syndicate as villains that were willing to go above and beyond what DC’s usual batch of badguys were willing to do. The mystery of the hooded man was an interesting element of the event, albeit a telegraphed aspect of the end of the series, and seeing long-time Lex Luthor cohorts Otis and Bizzaro was fun. Although Cyborg’s destruction at the beginning of the event left me bewildered at the repairs and upgrades he receives later on, the whole Firestorm Matrix prison that entrapped the Justice League was an ingenious plot device, but seemed a bit drawn-out as the overarching story-element of the Justice League of America tie-in arc. BizzaroDespite the awesomeness that surrounded Lex’s Injustice League team of Captain Cold, Bizzaro, Black Manta, Black Adam, and Lex himself, the happenstance that lead to each members’ joining the team seemed forced. Batman with a Yellow Lantern Ring, Sinestro making an appearance, Lex and Bats team-up, Dick’s death and resurrection, Captain Cold putting it to Johnny Quick, the reveal of the hooded man as Alexander Luthor as the power stealing Mazahs, and the fun moments and universe-redefining end of issue #7 of Forever Evil were quite enjoyable, but the changes to the status quo felt lost on a single character, Lex Luthor, and a single title, Justice League, than found to be universe-changing.

The Bad

While Forever Evil excels when it comes to interesting moments that make for blockbuster comic book events, the overarching plot devices that defined the actual story Hooded Manof Forever Evil were telegraphed from the beginning of the event, leaving readers wanting by the end. With the first issue reveal of a hooded man and the suggestion that he holds a certain amount of power over the Crime Syndicate let the cat out of the bag early in this event, and it wasn’t hard to guess that Lex Luthor would be at the center of overthrowing the Syndicate by the end of it all. Additionally, there were plenty of unexplained WTF moments in this series that left readers scratching their heads. Despite Cyborg being held together by nothing more than the green hue of a Green Lantern’s ring, Batman and Catwoman seem to have no problem taking Victor’s lifeless, useless, Cyborg-free body to the Red Room for repairs. It was very-well established that Victor dies without his cyborg implants, and as much sense as using Green Lantern’s power to keep him alive makes, him staying alive long enough for Batman to get him to the shop for repairs makes absolutely none. Then we have the convenient meetup of the Injustice League, with Lex and Bizzaro in the perfect location to see Black Adam get beat up by Ultraman without Ultraman seeing them, Black Manta in the perfect position to drag Black Adam out of the ocean, and Captain Cold just happening to get away from a fight he had no business getting away from way too close to Lex and Bizarro to make any damned sense at all. The biggest hurdle tripping up this event, however, had nothing to do with the story, and everything to do with boring tie-ins and untimely delays. Although the Justice League tie-ins starring the individual members of the Crime Syndicate were the shining stars of the tie-ins, the separate stories being told in Justice League of America the Dark family of DC titles, and just about every other DC comic fell flat on several levels. Justice League of America dealt with the Firestorm matrix prison that entrapped most of the JL members, and although the tie-in had some great elements, Martian Manhunter and Stargirl’s adventure was confusing, felt unimportant, and dragged for at least 3 issues too many than it should have. I understand why the story was part of the overall event, I’m just not sure it should have been. That same unimportant tone was heard in the Dark tie-in story known as Blight, and although it explored interesting details of how the Syndicate dealt with magic-using characters of the DCU, the 18-part, 4-title-spanning epic within an epic was way too unwieldy and uneventful to be anywhere close to entertaining. Although the Arkham War 1Arkham War and Suicide Squad tie-ins were way better than the others, by the end of the Forever Evil event itself they felt worthless and horribly useless in light of the new status quo established by the supported event. Furthermore, the almost two month delay of the release of the last issue, which in turn caused delays for most of the tie-in books, was an inexcusable circumstance when it comes to comic book events. Any steam that had been building to the climactic ending of Forever Evil escaped during this two month hiatus, and the ultimate end of the series that did nothing but setup yet another event was intriguing, but only for what may come after Forever Evil, and did nothing to remedy the mediocrity of the event as a whole.

The Verdict

When one judges Forever Evil based on its standing as a comic book event it loses much of its appeal due to underlying plot holes, bad tie-ins, and the use of gimmicky character moments that were the only driving force of the series from issue to issue. But Forever Evil isn’t just a single event. It’s only a small portion of something much bigger going on at DC, and we’ve been seeing that something bigger in the form of DC’s weekly event Futures End. Without Trinity War there is no Forever Evil, and without Forever Evil there Futures Endsimply is no Futures End. While we have yet to know for sure just how good Futures End will end up being, the very fact that DC is taking a chance with something so epic and all-encompassing is a great approach for a publisher that has been losing to Marvel when it comes to big events. Septembers are another piece of evidence that points to a categorical change to the way DC handles events, and while September 2013 saw DC make waves with Villain’s Month, September 2014 sees a similar month-long event with a series of one-shot issues featuring 3-D lenticular covers. Do you see the same trend I’m seeing? After the entire plan DC has implemented comes to fruition it may be a different story for Forever Evil, but, until that day comes, I have to score it as it is now, and wait for any future context to build itself. Perhaps, someday, Forever Evil will seem better than it was, but that day is not today.

Story: 2 Out of 5
Art: 3 Out of 5
Overall: 2.5 Out of 5

 

 

Rant: How Did I Start Buying All These Events?

Event MontageI’m not really sure how it happened. No, I take that back, I know exactly how it happened, and it’s a sinister ploy involving “accidental” scheduling foul-ups and interesting comics. Let me explain.

Forever Evil 7I was reading Forever Evil, and it was great, but then it just stopped sometime in February. Because of the tie-ins, Justice League and Justice League of America also both stopped. I mean, they just stopped coming out! I had all of this extra money to spend on other books, and damn it if DC didn’t provide me some in the meantime. So, I jumped on both Batman Eternal and Futures End (which isn’t all that much more money a month if you account for the differing cover prices), and they are actually pretty good for weekly books. But now that Forever Evil came back to life this week, I now have Justice League books to buy again, and my wallet is taking the hit. But that’s only half of the problem.

After the events of Marvel’s…well…event Infinity, I was all ramped up for the Inhuman title ORIGINAL_SIN_ELEMENTSthat was supposed to come on the heels of that event. But, a last minute writer change, and some obvious problems with the art in some capacity, pushed this book back a couple of months. So, what was I supposed to do with that extra cash? I’ll tell you what I did, I bought the damn Original Sin event’s first issue, and damn if it wasn’t just a fun little old comic book. But now Inhuman is due to come back to shelves, and my wallet is going to take a hit. Is there an echo in here?

Okay, so this is obviously not a new problem; readers are always cash strapped because there’s always another comic book to be bought; but this is a comic book perfect storm of epic proportions, and something’s going to have to give…or I’ll just leave some books in my hold-box for an extra week.

This was a huge week for comic books from all sides, and I’m not sure it’s going to stop throughout the summer. Maybe I’m crying about money again, but really it’s just a great time to be a comic book fan. Which also makes it a terrible time for comic book fans.

Review: Justice League of America #10

Justice League of America 10

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #10
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TOM DERENICK and EDDY BARROWS
On sale DECEMBER 11
32 pg
$3.99
RATED T

I’m pretty sure it’s not as literal as it sounds and won’t be lasting forever, but DC’s latest epic event, Forever Evil, continues its long march through many DC books, including all of the Justice League titles. As I mentioned in a previous JL-book review, however, each of the three individual Justice League books is taking a unique look at certain aspects of the overall event, with some good things and bad being left in the wake. While JL proper has been taking us on a fun-filled ride through the lives of the individual members of the Crime Syndicate, and JL: Dark has been a lackluster journey through something altogether different and only loosely associated with Forever Evil, Justice League of America has been sitting somewhere in the middle. Yes, the title is completely different, but it remains inherently Forever Evil, and issue #10 sticks to that trend. Although this title is taking on elements and characters that could make it the best of the Forever Evil tie-ins, like other Justice League tie-ins to Forever Evil, the issue is getting bogged down in the slow crawl that is the Forever Evil event itself. Despite a big reveal and some interesting character interactions, a mediocre origin story and seemingly cheap tactics bring JLA down enough to make this issue less than spectacular.

The Good

Despite four artists (two on pencils and two more on inks) and an entire company devoted to the coloring working on this issue, the ish does not suffer artistically from there being so many cooks in the kitchen. The art is consistently good throughout; there’s a ton of detail in each and every panel; those panels are quite diverse with sprawling two-page splashes, brilliantly done full-page offerings, and great story-telling done from beginning to end. While I didn’t really care that much about Stargirl’s origin it was nicely told, and didn’t take too much away from the overall story being written. The real gold in this book is the interaction between Manhunter and Stargirl as they attempt to rectify their current desperate situation, although the “how” behind that fix left me wanting. I hate spoilers in my reviews but one’s coming, so be warned and skip to The Bad right now if you must, but the reveal that the entire JL is being imprisoned inside Firestorm and the matrix itself was, while pretty damned predictable, vindicating to say the least. There’s a really interesting element to this reveal that I hope doesn’t get lost somewhere between now and the end of the Forever Evil event.

The Bad

Understanding that, perhaps, Stargirl was, herself, stuck in the prison along with the other JL members did nothing to help keep her origin story entertaining. I kept waiting for the hook of that aspect of the story to show itself, and, sadly, it never did. The desperate matter that Stargirl and Manhunter deal with in this ish, although quite fun on the surface, seemed equally desperate as a lackluster effort to get from Point A (the end of last issue) to Point B (the rest of this arc). Yes, I know, that IS the goal, but the approach in this case felt way to clunky, and the culminating solution was so cheap that I flipped back and forth a couple of times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I hadn’t.

The Verdict

Although the artwork, surprisingly, makes issue #10 of Justice League of America almost redeemable, I cannot advise you to pick up this issue. There’s really nothing going on in this issue that won’t be covered down the road as a part of the event tie-in, the big reveal, while interestingly fun, was as predictable as the sun rising in the morning, and Stargirl is nowhere near as intriguing as she needs to be to deserve any kind of origin story, especially in a book meant to make the Forever Evil event more enjoyable. So, unless you are hooked on those pencils, or just have a thing for Stargirl, skip this ish, reread the previous issues in this arc, and wait for what’s coming next. Because, as this filler issue alludes to, there’s plenty to come.

Review: Justice League of America Issue #8

JusticeLeagueofAmerica8

Justice League of America #8
Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Doug Mahnke
32 Pages
Cover Price: $3.99

If you haven’t been keeping up with the happenings of the current DC Comics Universe-wide mega-event Forever Evil, you’ve missed way too much to cover in any sort of depth in this review. Basically, The Crime Syndicate has taken over the earth and, as far as any of us were led to believe, The Justice League, save at least one or two, were *gulp* DEAD! Of course, no one in their right mind actually thought DC would kill off a huge chunk of A-list heroes, at least not in one fail swoop, but this did, however, continually beg the question among fanboys: Where the hell is The Justice League? Well, JLA issue 8 begins to paint the intriguing answer to that question, while raising a few more of its own.

The Good

Before I get into the meat of the matter I have to give some credit to Doug Mahnke’s art in this issue. While the art was generally consistent throughout, stunning panels sporadically leap from the pages with every other flip of the book as different members of The Justice League are seen emotionally distraught to the point of relative paralysis. This terrific work on pencils drives an equally interesting story as we discover, via the unlikely team-up of Martian Manhunter, Stargirl and the Jason Rusch half of Firestorm, other members of The Justice League trapped in a prison that preys on each of their greatest qualities in the context of their weakest moment. Wonder Woman struggles against her own honor and mortal/immortal duality; Captain Marvel is set loose in a playground of destruction without consequences that only a super-powered child could fully appreciate; Flash sits motionless as the thought of being fast enough to do ALL things hinders his ability to do anything else; Superman seeks justice for a murder he himself committed as he is consumed by his enormous guilt. This prison is yet another example of just how sinister the Crime Syndicate truly is, and I can’t think of any worse sort of jail than one that causes a constant mind$%^& for those inside. The issue tried to answer a few more questions, but I’m wishing writer Matt Kindt plays the same sort of mind$%^& with his audience, and hoping these “answers” are anything but. There’s definitely room for plenty of cerebral twists and turns in this story, I just hope it doesn’t end up being the same straight line this issue ended up being.

The Bad

Although we got some “okay” answers to some pretty important questions, that’s just about all we got: Straight-line story from end to end, no twist, no hooks, just revelation. Such an important question that surrounds a huge moment in the overall event (i.e. The Justice League’s surmised death) deserves something better than “Oh, Martian Manhunter and Stargirl aren’t affected by the prison.” Maybe there’s more to it than that, and I certainly hope there is, but as of this issue there are big and obvious holes in an otherwise perfect and insidious plan carried out by the Syndicate. My gut tells me this is too big of a ball for DC to drop, but it’s an observation worth mentioning and worth worrying about. Those holes, which may in fact not be holes at all, are still not wide enough to ruin an otherwise fascinating story surrounding a fascinating way to subdue The Justice League. While I don’t particularly care for the way Doug Mahnke draws Martian Manhunter, and his quality tends to waver a bit depending on the angle of the characters he’s drawing, these are minor nitpicks at best and do nothing to take away from the overall enjoyment of the issue.

The Verdict

If you are reading or thinking about reading DC Comics’ Forever Evil event this is a worthwhile grab. While it may not pan out to be everything it could potentially be, it has the potential of being THE book for seeing The Justice League get their stuff back together and move toward taking the fight back to the Crime Syndicate. If you’re not reading Forever Evil, however, this book is going to be a major waste of time and money. There’s nothing here that isn’t inherently Forever Evil, and someone looking for a good, run-of-the-mill Justice League story is going to be very disappointed. It’s a really good event tie-in issue, answers some questions, brings up some others, has a ton of potential and does exactly what a book like this is supposed to do: Get me to buy the next issue. Which I will, without a doubt, be doing.

-Gaumer