All Associated Cover/Issue Images
- I’ve got some experience with leadership. I’m the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis. I’m their King.
- Green Lantern
- And I’m the Mayor of the Emerald City.
- Green Lantern
- I’ll get them out of the choppers and to safety. Not to be a good guy like the Flash, but because I want to impress you. Most of what I do is about trying to impress people.
- Green Lantern
- No, I.. What’d I just…?
- Wonder Woman
- You were touching my lasso.
- Green Lantern
- So what?
- Wonder Woman
- It makes you tell the truth.
- Green Lantern
- Are you laughing, Batman? At a time like this?
Synopsis "Justice League -- Part Four"
Main Story: “Justice League — Part Four” (22-pages)
Previously: Five years ago, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash put aside their personal differences to investigate the appearance of Para-Demons in major US cities. Their alliance led them to the creatures’ Mother Box devices, but they were too late to stop the devices from creating a network of Boom Tube gateways. Para-Demon swarms emerged from the gateways and began dragging captives back to a Para-Demon Hive located in Metropolis harbour. Wonder Woman joined the other heroes just in time to see Aquaman climb out of the ocean.
In Detroit, Doctors Silas Stone and Thomas Morrow have used the confiscated alien technology in STAR Labs’ Red Room to save the life of Stone’s son Victor. The backwash from a Boom Tube infected Victor’s body with a fire-like energy that almost consumed him. Advanced and evolving technology has replaced Victor’s limbs transforming him into a true Cyborg. Victor is a passenger in his own body until his cybernetics’ operating system reconfigures itself. The system defeats two Para-Demons on its own before returning control to Victor’s conciousness. He is horrified at what he has become and flees the Red Room.
Aquaman is assessing his new allies and offers to become their leader after quickly establishing that they don’t have one. Green Lantern, as usual, is incredulous about the new arrival — even after Aquaman commands a shoal of massive sharks to rip apart a legion of Para-Demons. Their discussion is cut short when Government helicopter gunships arrive. They begin shooting at everything in sight — including the heroes. Nevertheless, the heroes do their best to protect the helicopters from the Para-Demons.
The new Cyborg is fleeing head long from STAR Labs when he stumbles upon a woman being chased by a Para-Demon. As he attacks the Para-Demon his cybernetics connect with the Mother Box like-device buried in its head. Cyborg assimilates the Box’s programming and its ability to summon Boom Tubes. He then summons one to teleport him to the Para-Demon Hive in Metropolis. Cyborg’s sudden appearance causes Green Lantern to automatically assumes he’s part of the threat, but Aquaman protects him. Cyborg starts to warn them that “He’s coming… Right here…”, but he is interrupted by the arrival of a second Boom Tube. It delivers a towering figure who announces “I am Darkseid.”
Text piece: “Star Labs Employee Dossier” (5 pages)
Who’s Who like employment dossiers on Dr Silas Stone (he set up the Red Room, blames himself for his wife’s death), Dr Thomas Morrow (use to work with Will Magnus, watched by the FBI), Sarah Charles (intern), and Prof Anthony Ivo (developer of the A-Maze Operating System).
Justice League Sketchbook (2-pages)
Character designs and notes for the Flash.
- Silas Stone is the inventor of promethium.
- Slias Stone, Thomas Morrow, Anthony Ivo, Ryan Choi, and Sarah Charles all worked for STAR Labs, Detroit prior to the formation of the Justice League.
Warning, I’m a bit grumpy in this review. I still rate the issue quite highly, but I think that it falls short on too many fronts.
The fourth part of the Justice League’s origin continues their fight against the Para-Demons and builds up to the eventual arrival of Darkseid. This pretty much follows the pattern we’ve seen so far — introduce a new character, throw in some interpersonal conflict to show their personality, have Hal Jordan say something stupid about them, and then they all bash some Para-Demons.
This is all very reductionist at times, but you do get the sense via seemingly throwaway dialogue and the backup pieces that there is a larger story at work here. It is firmly set on Earth-Geoff as Geoff Johns uses Aquaman’s first appearances to set up hints and clues for his new Aquaman title and to continue with his exploration of Hal Jordan’s jock behaviour. That is all good and interesting, but it rather highlights how little depth there is in the main story line.
I personally think that Darkseid’s arrival was fumbled. It comprises three slash-pages that look good on the Source blog and will probably sell well on ebay. However, those pages do little to actually convey a story. For example, in the middle slash panel it looks like Darkseid has landed with enough force to cause a shock wave that has thrown the heroes around, but there is no sense of kinetic movement in the previous slash-page! Nothing set ups the energy of his arrival. There is too much interpolating left for the reader to do, something that shouldn’t be necessary in such a decompressed story.
The new Aquaman takes some getting use to. By the time that this issue appeared we’d already have seen several issues of Geoff Johns phenomenally successful Aquaman series. That featured a fairly traditional Silver Age Aquaman, but this version is more transitional. He’s more unkempt with stubble and a mop of hair. The look and that necklace do all look a bit disco.
The new Cyborg also takes come getting use to. The original Cyborg was the product of fairly mundane (by DCU standards) technology that his father had developed. However, this new cyborg is assimilating new technology like the Borg from Star Trek rather than the old Million Dollar Man like original. I’m not certain how I feel about the elevation of Cyborg to Swiss army-knife status, but I guess it was necessary to keep him in step with heroes like Green Lantern and Superman.
The invasion plotline is wafer thin — bad guys show up to fight heroes and then the big bad guy shows up and fights them. Yet, there is no reason given for anything. Darkseid isn’t treated the the due respect that the grand god-ruler of Apokolips deserves. Instead he’s the end of level boss in the Justice League’s first level mission — a role that would have better suited a character like Kalibak or one of the other lieutenants. The characters, the world, the art, the banter, the origin of Cyborg are all brilliantly handled, but the main plotline — the Apokolips invasion — is thoroughly underwhelming by comparison.
Surveying the Internets
Four issues in and there are a couple of observations that we can make about the internet reviews. First is the number of reviews. Generally the frequency with which a series gets reviewed is proportional to the hype about that series. The hype has now dropped-off so Justice League is now receiving just under half the number of reviews that it did at the start of the relaunch.
The second observation I’d make is that this issue breaks the upwards tends seen in the previous three issues’ scores. The ratings for the first three issues of this series were increasing by about 2-3 percentage point per issue (i.e., 75, 78, 80% for #1, #2, #3). However, the average review score for this issue is 10 percentage points lower than the trend would have predicted (72 rather than 82%). If I was analysing this distribution scientifically I’d describe it as bi-modal – there is one group of reviewers who are giving fairly high scores (4-stars and higher) and another who are giving relatively low scores (3-stars or less). There is a distinct gap at 3.5-stars between them.
So what do those low-scoring reviews say. The lowest rating comes from Alan Rapp (Razer Fine Reviews) who describes this issue as “a complete trainwreck”. Its the “utter lack of progression” that Rob Rasmussen (Major Spoilers) dislikes while Rokk (Comic Book Revolution) elaborates that,
There is a palpable lack of life or “pop” to the story. The issue simply plods its way lifelessly through the story but never displays anything special or exciting that succeeds in capturing the reader’s imagination.
While Darkseid’s arrival is what got Andy Hunsaker (Crave Online) hot under the collar as he rips into the last double-page spread,
Surely, it’s supposed to be some massive, impressive explosion to herald the arrival of this immensely powerful alien overlord. But I defy you to look at the final two-page spread in this issue and NOT see this as a tremendous blast of Apokoliptic gas.
Read/Rant don’t post a score, but they do call their review “Shorted Justice League 4 Review Ever” and likened the series to “Justice League for Dummies”.
The reverse side of the low-scoring reviews is the high-scores. These are led by Ralph Silver (Superman Homepage), who has yet to give anything lower than 5-stars on this series. He focuses his review on the character iterations and really celibates a “chararcter-driven” story. Erik Norris (IGN) notes that it is this characterisation that lifts this story above a simple slug-fest,
Geoff Johns is injecting enough personality and character-defining traits into all the members of the book’s ensemble cast to make this series feel like something more substantial than a bunch of dudes (and ladies) wearing tights and punching monsters in the face.
Andrew Asberry (Batman News) loves the big-action, but does briefly echo a sentiment from the lower-rating reviews,
As great as it is to see those cool pictures of BOOOOOOOOMING, SKRREEEEEEEING, and CHOOOOOOOOMING, I want to see the story move along more than this.
The name of movie producer Michael Bay has been used by more than one reviewer to liken this action to than in his films (Armageddon, Pearl Harbour, Transformers).
|Character Site||The Captain's JLA Homepage||Jason Kirk||3.0/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Doug Zawisza||3/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Vine (staff)||Tony Guerrero||4/5|
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Erik Norris||8/10|
|Reviews Portal||Inside Pulse||Michael Maillaro||8.5/10|
|Reviews Portal||Newsarama||Edward Kaye||6/10|
|Community Site||Comic Vine||15 reviews||4.1/5|
|Magazine||Crave Online||Andy Hunsaker||5/10|
|Blogs||A Comic Book Blog||ACB||50%|
|Blogs||Comic Book Revolution||Rokk||5.5/10|
|Blogs||Funks House of Geekery||Super Marcy||4.5/5|
|Blogs||Game FOB||Joe T||8/10|
|Blogs||Heretical Jargon||Jimmy Trapp||8/10|
|Blogs||Major Spoilers||Rob Rasmussen||3/5|
|Blogs||Modern Media Myth||Sean Gerber||4.5/5|
|Blogs||Multiversity Comics||Brian Salvatore||5.7/10|
|Blogs||Nerdy Nothings||Eric Garneau||B|
|Blogs||Razer Fine Reviews||Alan Rapp||1.5/5|
|Blogs||Weekly Comic Book Review||Minhquan Nguyen||B-|
|Blogs||World of Black Heroes||World of Black Heroes||4/5|
|Character Site||Batman-News||Andrew Asberry||8.5/10|
|Character Site||Batman On Film||Chris Clow||B+|
|Character Site||Gotham Knights Online||Brendan||4.5/5|
|Character Site||Superman Homepage||Ralph Silver||5/5|
Page 1. Victor Stone’s transformation into Cyborg is quite unlike his original incarnation. In Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans origin, Cyborg’s father was forced to replace his son’s injured body parts using cybernetics that he had been developing for disabled soldiers. The process was akin to major surgery and Victor took many months to heal. The technology behind the new Cyborg is significantly different and in his initial phase seems to be more fluid. The parts are now made from Promethium, an energy absorbing metal that first appeared in Teen Titans, rather than the molybdenum steel of the original.
Page 2. The fourth panel shows Cyborg accessing STAR Labs main-frame and name checks a number of prominent DC Universe technologies.
- Responsometer — While the size and shape of these devices have changed over the years their function remains fairly constant. They are the animating technology behind the Metal Men, small devices which when attached to a large sample of pure metal cause that metal to animated and come “alive” as a Metal Man robot.
- The A-Maze and B-Maze Operating Systems developed by Professor Anthony Ivo. The first would be the technology behind the Amazo android in the new DCU while the second a secret branching of that technology created by STAR Labs after they lost faith in Ivo’s activities.
- White Dwarf Stabilizer — In the DC Universe, lens made from White Dwarf matter can create a beam which drastically shrinks anything its focused upon. However, the shrunken objects are inherently unstable. A White Dwarf Stabilizer would counter this instability and allow the perfection of practical size-control technology. It is noted that this is being worked upon by a graduate student called Ryan Choi, the alias of the fourth Atom.
Page 6. “Aquaman was a sketch on Conan O’Brien.” O’Brien is an American talk-show host. There was a tie up between O’Brien and Bruce Timm from Warner Brother’s animation where they talked him into visualising himself as a superhero, the Flaming C, which they then dropped into a couple of scenes lifted from episodes of Young Justice.
Page 7 Aquaman’s allusion that “I’ve got some experience with leadership”, refers to a short lived group of heroes he led prior to joining the Justice League. These are the subject of Geoff John’s second story arc on Aquaman.
Page 12. The helicopter gunner is wearing an insignia showing a shield with a chess knight emblazoned on it. This is normally the symbol for Checkmate, the intelligence agency that, in the previous version of the DCU, was usurped by Maxwell Lord before he was killed by Wonder Woman. In Justice League: Generation Lost Lord attempted to use Checkmate in his plan against Wonder Woman. Ironically they now have orders to shoot everything and everyone except for Wonder Woman.
Page 14. The sequence showing the Para-Demon’s orders make them appear to be locus life scavengers — “Locate inhabited worlds. Harvest organic materials. Process organic materials. Repurpose organic materials. For Darkseid.” They arrive on a world and kidnap people who are then taken to central Para-Demon Hives where they are either transformed into Para-Demons or are broken down into the ingredients from which Para-Demons are made.
Page 15. Superman’s little speech to the Flash is in keeping with Superman’s new portrayal in Action Comics. Grant Morrison has revised his early personality to something similar to that shown in Siegel and Shuster’s original, i.e. a true Ubermensch who is willing to over ride the law and authority to uphold his own strict sense of morality and justice.
Wonder Woman’s Lasso is the Lasso of Truth. Her creator thought that a Lasso was a peaceful weapon that could be used to bind and subdue a person without physically hurting them. Its truth telling powers also align with her creator’s day job as the creator of the polygraph.