By: Geoff Johns (story), Jim Lee (pencils), Scott Williams (inks), Alex Sinclair, Pete Pantazis, Gabe Eltaeb (colorists), Gary Frank (feature art), Brad Anderson (feature colors)
The Story: Soon, the League will know the dangers of excessive fanship.
The Review: One of this title’s biggest pitfalls has been its inability to establish a consistent tone, direction, or even purpose for itself. Although Darkseid’s invasion gave plenty of reason for the League to come together, they did so in a way that felt genuinely random. It didn’t feel like destiny had any part in their gathering at all. Once victory was theirs, they might as well have gone their separate ways; you didn’t really grasp the value of their association.
Up to this point, the League’s dealings among themselves have felt largely professional in nature. Johns pulls away from that trend in this issue, splitting the team into little units and using that opportunity to show a somewhat more intimate interaction. Even in these circumstances, you don’t see the heroes truly resonating with each other, but Johns plants the seeds for what may cause them to draw closer together in the future.
For each Leaguer (except Aquaman, whose absence would be conspicuous except he doesn’t do much in this title anyway), we get a choice vignette of their past which may clarify their attachment to the team besides pure back-up in a crisis. For Batman, it may be proof that he’s doing some tangible good in the world, if Gotham’s a lost cause. For Superman, it’s a way to finally feel like a team player. For Cyborg, it’s the only place where he can fit in. For Green Lantern and Flash, it’s their way to execute the justice they find missing in their lives. And for Wonder Woman, it may be the closest she gets to a long-term relationship with a man.
Speaking of which, Steve Trevor has clearly received the bulk of Johns’ attention in terms of character development. It’s very easy to sympathize with him. He lacks the power to be considered one of the Leaguers, even an honorary member, and his closeness to the team causes his non-costumed allies to question his loyalties. And, in a clear meta-commentary on his character, he’s constantly under the media spotlight but never for his own merits; “Gone are the dates with Wonder Woman” is the general gist of what they have to say about him nowadays.
To be frank, none of these points generates the sweaty kind of tension you’d expect from such a major title with such big characters, but at least you can feel there’s some kind of fragile balance in danger of disruption. Still, I find it interesting that there has been a whole lot more promotion about this David Graves as the League’s worst enemy than there has been actual evidence in that regard. So far, he’s only shown himself to be your typical ally-turned-villain due to some vague series of misguided circumstances (“I was…wrong. They’re…not gods.”).
Some people don’t find Lee to their taste, and I can see why; although his look is instantly recognizable and distinctive, it doesn’t do much more than tell the story as the script calls for. In cinematic terms, he’s more of a metteur en scène than an auteur. But personally, I don’t see anything wrong with that when the script is as simple and straightforward as this one is. I imagine with a classic superhero title like this one, it’s enough that the art is attractive and mostly sensible, which it always is.
And what about the “SHAZAM!” back-up? Well, even though Billy does put on a display of spunky heroism, partially redeeming his otherwise dirtbag behavior, it’s Freddy Freeman who breaks out in this feature. I rather love that he forges doctor’s notes for a living, and that he gets a bit too imaginative in so doing. One of his customers complains, “That doctor’s note said I was suffering from endometriosis! …Mrs. Myers asked me when I was getting my hysterectomy, which apparently is also a lady problem.” Still, the plot takes a big step forward in that Billy’s foster parents finally get to see he’s not the model child he made himself out to be, but that doesn’t seem to change their devotion all that much.
Conclusion: It’s a bit ridiculous that it took this creative team this long to bring this title to a place where it should have been from the very start, but at least we’re getting there. It’s even more ridiculous that this still falls far short of where the title should be.
- Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - Even though I roll my eyes a little each time, I have to admit Hal and Barry’s buddy-idiot partnership offers most of the title’s humor and entertainment. I really like that Hal commits himself completely to hyping up Barry as bad cop (at Barry’s insistence), only for Barry to totally blow it with the softest possible sell.
Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Alex Sinclair, Barry Allen, Batman, Billy Batson, Brad Anderson, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, DC, DC Comics, Doctor Sivana, Freddy Freeman, Gabe Eltaeb, Gary Frank, Geoff Johns, Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, Jim Lee, Jimmy Olsen, Justice League, Justice League #9, Justice League #9 review, Kal-El, Lois Lane, Perry White, Pete Pantazis, Princess Diana, Scott Williams, Shazam, Steve Trevor, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman