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Synopsis "Team History (Part 1)"
Previously: The Justice League had suffered a run of narrow victories that had left them depleted and battered. The super villain Prometheus engineered a massive scheme to teleport entire cities to random places in space and time. He injured many Leaguers and ripped Red Arrow’s arm off before he was captured. He then blackmailed the Justice League, forcing them to vote to release him in exchange for the cities’ safety (Justice League: Cry For Justice #1-7). Shortly afterwards, the remaining members of the League (Vixen, Red Tornado, Doctor Light, and Plastic Man) with Gypsy and Zatanna found themselves assaulted by Black Lanterns, corpses animated as cruel undead parodies of their original personalities. The Justice League barely survived the attack. The Black Lanterns were defeated, but the psychological and physical wounds they caused run deep (Justice League of America vol. 2 #35-37, Blackest Night #1-8).
Vixen, the leader of the Justice League during the attacks by Prometheus and the Black Lanterns, announces to Doctor Light (the only other active Leaguer) that she is standing down to give her broken leg and arm time to heal. For Donna Troy the wounds of the Blackest Night are different – she saw her late husband and infant son reanimated as Black Lantern zombies reopening a grief she thought she’d come to terms with. Donna arrives at Mercy Hospital to collect the body of her son so that she can rebury him, but she finds a hostage situation underway in the children’s ward. Donna reacts angrily to the hostage takers callousness and defeats them before Wonder Woman arrives. She admits she is on the verge of quitting public life when Wonder Woman offers her something different to fight for.
In 1777, at the height of the American War of Independence, Tomahawk and his Rangers (including Frenchie, Stovepipe, Anvil, and Dan Hunter) are preparing to ambush a group of British Red Coats in Virginia. However, they discover that emanations from a strange, futuristic device has left the Redcoats in a catatonic state. Tomahawk touches the device and experiences hallucinations of terrible monsters. Afterwards, his ally, Lady Liberty, sends the device to Benjamin Franklin for his appraisal. It remains buried in the collections of the Smithsonian in Washington DC for centuries until it’s found by the scientific investigator Darwin Jones. He barely has time to examine it before a glowing assailant bursts in and demands it from him.
Wonder Woman has requested that Donna Troy bolster the ranks of the depleted Justice League. She visits Starfire and Cyborg, before turning towards Gotham City. Donna finds Dick Grayson, Batman since Bruce Wayne’s death, fighting the Killer Wasp. After the fight she asks Batman about the League and he happily agrees to help her. Donna, Starfire, and Cyborg then approach Doctor Light on the JLA Watchtower. She is dismissive at first as Vixen, Firestorm, Plastic Man, and Zatanna have already quit and she was intending to follow them. However, Donna convinces Doctor Light to change her mind. Doctor Light then contacts Mon-El, who has been standing in for Superman in Metropolis, and asks him if he would like to also take up Superman’s place in the JLA.
Batman and Green Lantern track Green Arrow down to offer him Justice League membership in an attempt to stop him destroying himself. However, Arrow’s singular focus on finding Prometheus threatens to divorce him from his friends and allies.
The latest two issues of Justice League of America are, in my consideration, the first real issues of the run of James Robinson and Mark Bagley. They may have been on the title for three issues already, but those are really just a teaser and a two-part Blackest Night tie-in – the equivalent of a Blackest Night: Justice League mini-series.
There is some carry over from Cry For Justice, but the tone is completely different. Whereas Blackest Night, Cry For Justice, and the Rise/Fall cross-over are “grim romps” (a phrase Robinson uses in the Cry For Justice #6 text-piece) this issue of Justice League of America is brighter and more positive. It’s about the process of bringing the new team together while a prerequisite mystery is seeded.
I have to say that I liked this issue a hell of a lot more than I liked the end of Justice League: Cry For Justice and I think a lot of people agree with me. For example Shawn Hill of Comics Bulletin is glad he “stuck it out on this book”, Don Smith of Comic Book News “this will be a nice run”, and even JeffR of iFanboy who has problems with the repeated material admits that “I’ll stick with this run of Robinson’s a little bit longer.” Not a glowing endorsement perhaps, but it is symptomatic that this is a series that feels like its turning the corner.
As JeffR noted, what does feel odd is that we are retreading a lot of the material from the start of Cry For Justice – the getting the band together part that was actually quite good in CFJ. Hopefully the repetition won’t last beyond this issue. The issue is now thirty pages, 50% longer than before, and the extra-space feels well used – believe me I feel those extra pages when writing the annotations.
Mark Bagley’s art style isn’t the hyper-detailed art that a lot of people go for, but it is a style that he can maintain at a constantly high-standard and volume over a long period and nowadays that is something to be praised. His style reminds me a bit of Howard Porter’s art on Grant Morrison’s JLA series and that wasn’t to everybody’s tastes either. It’s something that Herve St-Louis hits on the nail:
Bagley is a pro. I’m more used to seeing him on a Spider-man book than on a Justice League series. So his characters have that Marvel Comics energy and looseness which is often lacking from the illustration centric DC Comics.
I haven’t read Bagley’s Marvel work, but the description of “energy and looseness” fits. It certainly fits this big, bold superhero action better than it did the horror motif of the last few issues. Although, Greg McElhatton at CBR finds it “hard to ignore Donna Troy’s ludicrously large and round chest”, but then neither he or Doug (their CBR reviewer on JLA) seem to be that impressed with the Robinson/Bagley combo. From their reviews I get a sense of that they were hoping for more than we actually got. It’s a valid argument, but one that it may be too early to judge.
Personally I liked this issue and I hope that the change in tone continues.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Greg McElthatton||2/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comics Bulletin||Shawn Hill||3.5/5|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 3 reviews||3.83333333333333/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||408 Pulls||3.5/5|
|Character Site||Superman Homepage||Michael Bailey||4 (story) & 3 (art)/5|
|Reviews Blog||Comic Book Bin||Herve St-Louis||8/10|
|Reviews Blog||A Comic Book Blog||Wayland||60/100|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Fair|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||3.5/5|
The Flash Backs.
- 1.1 Flashback to Blackest Night showing Black Lantern version of Superman, Superboy (Conner Kent), Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Animal Man, Donna Troy, and Kid Flash (Bart Allen).
- 2-3.1 Justice League: Cry For Justice #6 – Prometheus defeats the Justice League. He had posed as Freddy Freeman in order to gain access to the Justice League Watchtower’s computers. Shown here are Donna Troy (staked to the wall), Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Doctor Light (arm shown at the bottom).
- 2-3.2 Justice League: Cry For Justice #5 – Prometheus ripped off Red Arrow’s arm before he was discovered by the rest of the League.
- 2-3.3 Justice League: Cry For Justice #7 – You can see Vixen’s leg which had been broken by Prometheus in Cry For Justice #6.
- 4.1 – The survivors of the Black Lantern attack on the Justice League – Doctor Light and Vixen. Black Lantern Vibe destroyed Red Tornado in Justice League of America #39 and he broke Vixen’s arm in Justice League of America #40.
- 4.2 – “This was your League” – Vixen became the leader of the chronically overstretched League after the resignation of Black Canary.
- 5.1 – If this is a previously known police detective I don’t recognise him
- 6.1 – Ditto with these villains
- 7.1 – Donna Troy has been many things and there have been many attempts to explain her back story, each of these usually have a title like “Who is Wonder Girl?”, “Who is Donna Troy?”, etc.
- 7.2 That ever-changing back story has actually been written into continuity as an assault by a character called Dark Angel (a dark version of Donna from a parallel Earth). Dark Angel forced Donna to live through many tragic permutations of her life. She survived, but she is obviously aware that her identity is never fixed.
- 8.2 Necessitas, as she sounds is the Roman goddess of necessity or destiny. Odd that the Greek Wonder Woman should invoke a Roman goddess, but the pun doesn’t work with Ananke (“personification of (unalterable) necessity or the force of destiny” ).
- 9.2 Donna’s son was reanimated as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night: Titans #1-3.
The American War of Independence
- 10-11.1 The guy in the Davy Crockett had is Tomahawk (Thomas Hawkins) and those other folks are soldiers, Tomahawk’s Rangers. The nickname comes from his skill with the Iroquois throwing axe. He first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #69 (June 1947) and he last appeared in 2008′s The War That Time Forgot.
- 10-11.1 Stovepipe refers to the variant of top hat.
- 10-11.2 Frenchie. The French were heavily involved in the War of Independence. King Louis XVI of France was gunning for a war with the English King George III. King Louis XVI lent support to the American colonies as part of that Anglo-French War in order to tie-up England’s stretched resources. England ultimately lost the battle for the American colonies, but it won the larger war against the French. It was Louis’s unrestrained spending on the Anglo-French war that precipitated France’s own revolution.
- 10-11.3 A doxy is a prostitute. Williamsburg is a city in Virginia, the pre-Revolution capital until Thomas Jefferson moved it to the more defensible Richmond. A Canker sore is a symptom of herpes.
- 10-11.4 That tracker is Dan Hunter. Now this is where it gets complicated. The Time Masters comic-book revealed that Dan Hunter is actually Rip Hunter’s cousin. He was one of rip’s Time Master’s group, but on one mission he decided to stay in the past with Tomahawk’s group. It was revealed in the current Booster Gold series that Rip Hunter is actually Booster Gold’s son from somewhere in his personal future so that would make Dan Hunter Booster Gold’s nephew. Booster’s only got one sibling to that would mean that Dan Hunter is Goldstar’s son. That is of course if any of this is still in continuity.
- 10-11.7 Lord Shilling (real name unknown) was Tomahawk’s arch-enemy. He was a spy and a master of disguise. His trademark was to leave a shilling – a British coin – behind as a calling card. Shilling was a dashing hero, a revolutionary era James Bond, who is dedicated to protecting King and Country against those colonial scoundrels.
- 12.1 Various monsters. The two top-right look like King Kong and Godzilla. The big figure is Frankenstein’s Monster – one of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers. He is currently working for the American Government. The figure bottom-right could be the Wooden Alien from the Justice League’s origin.
- 13.4 Miss Liberty first appeared in Tomahawk’s adventure in Star-Spangled Comics #81. She is the ancestor of the All-Star Squardron Liberty Belle I and the JSA’s Liberty Belle II (Jesse Quick).
- 13.6 At the time this is set Benjamin Franklin is the American Colonies’ Ambassador to France where he is/was instrumental in securing French support against the British. So it may be a while before Franklin gets to see this particular gadget.
The Present Day
- 14.1 The Smithsonian, Washington DC. If the device was still in Franklin’s possession when he died in 1790 it would have had to have passed through several hands before it reached the Smithsonian which wasn’t established until 1846.
- 14.2 Darwin Jones first appeared in Strange Adventures #1 (Sept 1950) as a federal detective specialising in cases of extra-ordinary or unusual science. His adventures were, in many ways, a 1950s precursor to the X-Files. His appearances have been spotty over the years, he’s just another of those great background DC characters.
- 14.4 “Magnus” is Doctor Will Magnus, inventor of the Metal Men, who was indeed shown to be on medication during the 52 series. “Caulder” is Niles Caulder, a manipulative control-freak and founder of the Doom Patrol.
- 15.1 An unnamed villain at the time of first appearance. I would comment that he bares a passing resemblance to an evil version of the New God Lightray. His name is established next issue as Neon Black.
- 16.1 Donna approaches Starfire about membership of the League. Vixen had offered Starfire League membership (as recalled in Justice League of America #36 and Titans #16), but she had turned her down.
- 16.2 Donna approaches Cyborg about membership of the League. Not sure I recognise the unconscious green fellow on the floor.
- 17-18.1 Bruce Wayne died in Final Crisis #6. The Battle For the Cowl mini-series showed Dick Grayson, the original Robin, battling to prevent Jason Todd (his immediate successor as Robin) from becoming the next Batman. During the course of that battle Dick realised that only he was qualified to succeed Wayne and reluctantly became Batman. The little snot in the red and green is his the fifth Robin, Damien Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son with Tala Al Ghul from the Michael Barr’s Son of the Demon graphic novel. In the Kingdom Come time line he’d become Ibn al Xu’ffasch. This version was trained by the League of Assassins and possesses Bruce Wayne’s fighting ability, but none of his humility or wit.
- 19-20.7 Batman refers to the villain as Yellow Wasp, an old Wildcat villain who first appeared in Sensation Comics #20. However, this Wasp is actually the Killer Wasp, the son of the original. Yellow Wasp had kidnapped Wildcat’s son years before and raised him together with his own son. The Wasp’s natural son grew jealous of the interloper and killed him and the Yellow Wasp. The Killer Wasp first appeared in JSA #9 – shortly after James Robinson left the title. He recently appeared in JSA All-Stars #2.
- 19-20.8 The Broker is indeed just that, a man who specialises in finding all those themed, derelict theme parks and fun houses for the Gotham villain with a particular compulsion to obey, He was created by Paul Dini and first appeared in Streets of Gotham #4.
- 23.1 Cyborg is eyeing the Red Tornado, I guess we know who’s going to put him back together this time.
- 23.2The fates of the last League.
- Zatanna - wasn’t really a member, she’d assisted the League on a series of cases and had come to recruit their help during the Blackest Night, but she wasn’t technically a member.
- Plastic Man was tagged pretty hard by Prometheus in Cry For Justice #6 with a drug that prevented him holding his shape. He lasted through the Black Lantern assault, but was almost killed by Black Lantern Vibe. According to Doctor Light he’s now he’s at STAR Labs, San Francisco – the League’s meta loci.
- Firestorm – Firestorm (Jason Rusch) was in the JLA Hall of Justice when the main body of Black Lantern’s attacked. Black Lantern Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond) killed Gehenna by turning her into a salt statue and then absorbed Jason. He was saved by Blue Lantern Flash in Blackest Night: Flash #2.
- Vixen – As shown earlier, Vixen left to give her arm and leg time to heal.
- 24.3 – A new costume for Doctor Light reversing the white/black pattern
- 25.1 – Mon-El fighting the Atomic Skull. Mon-El (Lar Gand) is from the Krypton-like world Daxam. Daxamites gain superpowers under a yellow-star like Kryptonians, but they suffer from acute and fatal allergy to lead. Gand escaped the xenophobia and technophobic homeworld and crashed landed on the Kent Farm where he was found by a teenage Clark Kent. Gand has amnesia leading Clark to believe that he was his older brother from Krypton, ergo the Mon-El nickname. Clark put Mon-El in the Phantom Zone to save him from acute lead poisoning until he could create a proper cure. Over a decade later the Phantom Zone began to collapse forcing Clark, now Superman, to release Mon-El. Luckily a cure for the lead poisoning had been given to them by the Legion of Superheroes (a group of superheroes from the 31st century that Mon-El will one day join). Superman then asked Mon-El to take over as protector of Metropolis whilst he was away on New Krypton. He assumed the secret identity “Jonathan Kent” and joined the Metropolis Science Police.
- 27.1 – The Guardian (Jim Harper) is one of a series of clones created by the Cadmus Project from the DNA of the original World War II superhero. This version, their first, escaped the Project years ago and been living in anonymity until he was tracked down by Jimmy Olsen. Since then he’s become head of the Metropolis Science Police and Jonathan Kent (Mon-El)’s senior officer. The Guardian appeared in Cry For Justice #6 after he discovered one of Prometheus’s teleportation devices and was present on the JLA Satellite when Prometheus took down the League. Doctor Light knows Mon-El and the Guardian as she is currently working for STAR Labs, Metropolis and has collaborated with both on them on investigations and in action. She and Harper are both single-parents and they have socialized allowing their kid to play together. James Robinson has been writing the Superman comic while its featured Mon-El and he has used Doctor Light and the Guardian as part of his supporting cast.
- 29.1 Colouring error: notice the difference between Hal’s costume on the preceding page and on this one. This is the old colouring for Hal’s costume. Nowadays his green “tunic” stops just below his rib-cage, but the original version was green down to the tops of his legs. You can see the inked line where the tunic was meant to stop.