By: Geoff Johns (story), Ivan Reis (pencils), Joe Prado (inks), Rod Reis (colors)
The Story: People can barely stay afloat in Gotham and it’s not just the recession.
The Review: Considering Dean’s generally dismissive attitude toward Big Two comics, I was nothing less than blown away that Justice League and Aquaman made his picks for the week. Okay, true, in a week where each publisher only had two titles out each, the chances of landing a title on a five-count pick of comics are pretty good. Still, the idea of a skeptic sort-of returning to the fold of mainstream comics just warms my heart—it really does.
That said, I question the wisdom of choosing Justice League as your gateway series. Anyone who’s kept up with my coverage of this title since it launched knows that I’ve been less than warm and effusive. The character work has been mostly shoddy when it wasn’t non-existent, and the various plotlines have been erratic and unoriginal for the most part. Could a much-touted crossover with the Aquaman mythos really turn all that around?
Possibly. A war between Atlantis and the surface world certainly calls for the big League guns more than any other kind of conflict, and it’s exactly the kind of superhero ridiculousness that you’d expect from a Big Two anchor title. Of course, there’s quite a bit of predictability about the storyline as well; it doesn’t take too long to figure out the conspiracy behind the whole affair, and there’s not much room for complex political maneuvering in a Johnsian plot.
Perhaps it’s enough that the issue gets by on a string of solid character moments. Ever since Cyborg became Cyborg, his relationship with his dad has just kind of simmered in the background. Though now on speaking terms, it seems well past time for Vic to get over his resentment for the extreme measures his dad took to save his life. It’s getting a little petty now, as even Batman seems to hint. “I’ll call your father and tell him you’re all right,” he says in rather pointed fashion to the young Leaguer during the crisis.
Seeing as how we have no choice but to accept a Superman-Wonder Woman coupling for the foreseeable future, we might as well hope Johns does a good job with it—at some point. Thus far, the bud of their romance has been a bit lifeless, but they do manage to capture a couple moments of genuine sweetness here as Diana marvels over a pair of glasses’ magical ability to give a superhero a normal life.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to see Reis’ work gracing DC’s biggest title—not its most important or actually best title, but you can’t deny that it doesn’t get bigger than the Justice League. Reis’ cinematic eye and beautiful figures sells pretty much any sort of scene, even the most generic. Example: while Jim Lee made Clark Kent look suitably young and virile, it’s Reis who gives Clark a nerdy charm. He even makes Diana in cat’s-eye glasses work. And with Prado and Rod Reis finishing the art, you have got one of the purely attractive-looking issues out of either of the Big Two.
Equally readable is this month’s chapter of “Shazam!” The fun times between Billy and Freddy couldn’t last forever. Even though Freddy accuses Billy of acting like a grown-up, Billy’s snotty attitude simply reminds us what a brat he still is. At some point, Billy has to grow up just enough to match his burly frame and stop using his new powers to avoid reality, and it looks like that time is now. I am very much interested in the kind of hero this new-gen Shazam will be. As always, Gary Frank’s amazingly human figures make every moment of this feature, bolstered by Brad Anderson’s rich colors.
Conclusion: Two impeccable art teams elevate what is otherwise a merely decent story. Here’s hoping that the arc will produce more than just appealing visuals.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – It’s not super-clear, but did Diana just morph out of her dinner date outfit, Lynda Carter style?
– Isn’t Metropolis in the Midwest? How can it be hit by a tidal wave?