All Associated Cover/Issue Images
- Do not acknowledge pleasure, Desaad. It is forbidden.
- Superman (weakly)
- The images they pumped into my brain. The death and torture Darkseid’s spread across a… Multiverse. I think I saw… me.
- Shadowy figure 1
- They’re calling them super heroes.
- Shadowy figure 2
- Well, then. I guess they’ll call us super villains.
Synopsis "Justice League -- Part Six"
Main Story: “Justice League — Part Six” (24-pages)
Previously: Five years ago, the Earth had been invaded by hoards of Para-Demons from the planet Apokolips. The demons appeared out of a network of Boom Tube gateways to seize innocent people and carrying them back to a Hive fortress in Metropolis harbour. A group of seven super-humans and heroes — Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the newly forged Cyborg — came together to fight the invasion. They came face-to-face with the invasion’s leader, a towering figure called Darkseid. He threw them around, defeated Superman, and broke Green Lantern’s arm. Batman followed the captive Superman into the Para-Demon Hive and found himself on Darkseid’s Apokolips.
The battle against the Para-Demon invasion rages in Metropolis. Author David Graves fears for his family’s survival until he sees Wonder Woman, the Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, and Aquaman wrestling with Darkseid. The only reason Darkseid will give for his invasion is “For her”. Wonder Woman and Aquaman manage to temporarily blind Darkseid, but he remains standing. Meanwhile, Batman has found Superman. He is being tortured by one of Darkseid’s lieutenants called Desaad. The torturer mentions to another lieutenant called Steppenwolf that the “her” is Darkseid’s missing daughter.
Cyborg detects a signal that Darkseid is using to communicate with the Mother Boxes that are controlling the Boom Tube network. He hacks into the signal and commands all the Boom Tubes to open simultaneously. This distracts Desaad and Steppenwolf allowing Batman to free Superman. The revived Superman flies to the help of the heroes on Earth and single-handily holds Darkseid back while Cyborg reconfigures his computers. Batman bounds through the Boom Tube from Apokolips as Darkseid is finally forced back. Cyborg then collapses the entire Boom Tube network. This locks out Darkseid and destroys his Mother Boxes.
Once the super-humans had been feared by the general population, but their very public defeat of Darkseid has created a ground swell of support for them. The President holds a thanks-giving ceremony on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington DC. The seven heroes stand together again as the President addresses the crowd. They bicker about whether they were ever really a team, but their fate is sealed when the President asks what their collective name is. The Flash eagerly steps forward and says that they are the “Super Seven!”. However, they eventually think of something better and decide to call themselves the Justice League.
The definitive account of the Justice League’s origin and early days, Justice League: Gods Among Us, is written by David Graves, the author who was there to witness their battle with Darkseid first-hand. Over the following months more costumed super-heroes appear, but there are also “super villains” waiting in the shadows to challenge the new heroes.
Back-Up Story: “Pandora” (6-pages)
A crowd gathers around a dead body on a rain drenched street. Unnoticed by the crowd are a woman in red called Pandora and a man in grey called the Phantom Stranger. They both hide their faces with a hood or hat and wear a full length cloak or coat. The Stranger has been sent by the Circle of Eternity to warn Pandora from the path she is following. She, in return, guns down the Stranger. However, yet even her bullets cannot kill the him. She warns the Stranger to stay out the way as she searches for a release from her curse. He won’t help her do that, but Pandora believes the Justice League will.
- The founding members of the Justice League are: Aquaman (Arthur Curry), Batman (Bruce Wayne), Cyborg (Victor Stone), Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Superman (Clark Kent), Wonder Woman (Diana)
- Darkseid has a daughter. We are to assume that she is Pandora.
- Superman is aware of the Multiverse. Darkseid’s invasion was also happening on other Earths.
The conclusion of this arc is a definite high-point in a story that has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. The arc started strong with the Green Lantern and Batman team-up, but seemed to lose its way as the flashy action overwhelmed plot development. Yet this wasn’t really a Justice League story, this was really a Cyborg story set against the backdrop of the Justice League’s formation. It’s Vic Stone who grows most as a character and dominates the scenes with real personal drama. He comes across well and the reader is definitely left wanting to read more about this version of the character.
Here’s a paradox. Justice League is a massive wide-screen Michael Bay like blockbuster of a comic. That implies a very fast pace, but relatively little plot. However, I’m increasingly convinced that this comic needs to be read at a slower pace. The key is Jim Lee’s art. The gloss is gorgeous, but Lee is rather understated as a storyteller. Flip the pages too fast and you may miss a lot of the details. Things like the Flash giving Aquaman a boost when he blinds Darkseid are too easy to miss. I’d love to see the double page spread from pages 1-2, Darkseid fighting the 5 heroes, as a DC Direct statue.
The flip side of that understatement is that there are moments in this issue, and indeed in this entire arc, that don’t quite work as they may have been intended, i.e., the same criticism as Darkseid’s arrival in Justice League (vol. 2) #4 (Feb 2012). An example in this issue is Superman’s slam into Darkseid. Its a massive build-up to a lacklustre double-page spread. Superman and Darkseid then vanish into the background while the rest of the League has a chat with Cyborg. Superman is a massive deal in the DCU, his struggle should be front and centre.
So. The end of the first Justice League arc and their new origin. The characterisation has been great, even if some of the new personalities take some getting use to. The arc has been great, even if there were a few storytelling quirks. The plot was okay, but was frustrating in how many questions it left unanswered — (why was Darkseid invading Earth, why did Pandora run away, where did all that kit in the Red Room come from, how did Steve Trevor end up on Paradise Island).
Here’s a thought that I’ll add after re-reading the above: this series was like the “Secret Origin” pilot for the Justice League cartoon. At the time it was amazing, but in hindsight its actually quite flawed, particular then viewed against their second season and in Justice League Unlimited. The production crew had to learn to tell stories under their new constraints and took time to really hit their stride. I think the same will be said of this series. The opening was good, but its only a taster of what I think Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are capable of producing together.
Surverying the Internets
Expectations were high for this first Justice League story arc and although people enjoyed it they don’t seem to have been dazzled by it. Doug Zawisza (CBR) says that
It’s a decent enough issue but it doesn’t bring a great big “Wow!” factor unless you’re a fan of Cyborg.
While Bobbie Shortle (Talking Comic Books) notes that it just doesn’t feel special enough:
It has taken me a full six issues to fully understand my problems with Justice League, but now its shortcomings have become abundantly clear. The first, and most egregious, is that this book just doesn’t have the weight of something that is supposed to relaunch a universe. If you were to take out the mentions of the heroes “not knowing” each other and if you gave Batman a leadership role this story could be numbered Justice League #76-81 instead of #1-6.
Mart Gray (Too Dangerous for a Girl) defines that’ll really take for this arc to be considered a success:
So, that’s the opening storyline of the new Justice League, if not ended (there are intriguing mysteries for the future/annoying loose ends) so much as stopped. Lots of flash, not much substance but selling by the bucketload. The big test will be how many newer readers come back after this opening arc.
ACB actually considers that option and asks a 13-year old who has never real comics before their opinion on Justice League #6.
What was your favorite part if the whole series?
The back story on Cyborg. It kinda gives you a look at what he was before what happened to him and how it did. You never really knew too much about that; like how he was going to be a star football player and then all that [happened]. I thought that was pretty cool how they showed that.
What was your least favorite part of all six issues?
The fighting. Like the fight with Superman and Darkseid you know, “Oh, Superman is hurt. But oh wow, now he just got back [up] and he’s fighting again.” Seemed so predicable. Didn’t seem to interesting. Didn’t really catch my attention too much. So the fights.
Ultimately the reviews for Justice League #6 are still split. For every quote I could pull up on some aspect or another there would be a contrary opinion. Maybe that is due to something that Erik Norris (IGN) alludes to at the end of his own review. He says that this book is “isn’t quite the book I want it to be”. Just the idea of Jones and Lee on a Justice League comic book creates a very particular idea in each readers mind of what that book should be. So as Erik says this book is never going to be “quite the book” that any single person completely wanted.
|Character Site||The Captain's JLA Homepage||Jason Kirk||4.0/5|
|Digital Comics||Comixology||755 votes||4/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Doug Zawisza||3/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Vine (staff)||Tony Guerrero||5/5|
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Erik Norris||8/10|
|Reviews Portal||Inside Pulse||Grey Scherl||8.5/10|
|Reviews Portal||Newsarama||David Pepose||4/10|
|Community Site||Comic Vine||8 reviews||4.3/5|
|Community Site||iFanboy||1264 Pulls||3.8/5|
|Magazine||Crave Online||Andy Hunsaker||6.8/10|
|Blogs||A Comic Book Blog||ACB/Shane||60%|
|Blogs||Captain Bloggington||Wade Christian||3.5/5|
|Blogs||Comic Book Movie||Destroyer14||9/10|
|Blogs||Comic Book Revolution||Rokk||7.5/10|
|Blogs||Game FOB||Joe T||7/10|
|Blogs||Heretical Jargon||Jimmy Trapp||7/10|
|Blogs||Razer Fine Reviews||Alan Rapp||2.5/5|
|Blogs||Weekly Comic Book Review||Minhquan Nguyen||C+|
|Blogs||World of Black Heroes||World of Black Heroes||3/5|
|Character Site||Batman-News||Andrew Asberry||8/10|
|Character Site||Batman On Film||Chris Clow||B-|
|Character Site||Gotham Knights Online||Brendan||5/5|
|Character Site||Supergirl Comic Box Commentary||Anj||C+|
|Character Site||Superman Homepage||Ralph Silver||5/5|
Main Story “Justice League Part 6″
Page 1. This is Metropolis. The man addressed as David is David Graves and he is the writer narrating this part of the story. Graves was first name checked by Amanda Waller in the text-piece to Justice League (vol. 2) #2 (Dec 2011) and a facsimile of the opening pages of his book on Atlantis was included in Justice League (vol. 2) #3 (Jan 2012).
Page 4 & 6. Darkseid merely says he is looking for an unnamed woman, “For Her”, but Desaad says that the woman is his daughter. The implication is that the person they are talking about is Pandora who appears in this issues back-up feature. What hasn’t yet been revealed is who Darkseid’s daughter’s mother is. Darkseid has several sons including Orion, Kalibak, and Grayven. Each of those has a different mother, the woman could be the full-blood sister of one of them or step-sister of all of them.
Steppenwolf and Desaad were created by Jack Kirby as part of the original New Gods cycle. Desaad is Darkseid’s torturer and most frequent lieutenant. He is named for the infamous Marquis de Sade, a French aristocrat who published shocking novels about sex and violence. Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle and was responsible — during Kirby’s original New Gods — for murdering Highfather’s wife thus starting the New Genesis/Apokolips War. He is named for the fictional character within a story written by Hermann Hesse, that character is a savage lone-wolf who hides his true nature with a mantle of civility.
Page 11. Superman mentions seeing the Multiverse and seeing himself. This could be an allusion to James Robinson’s Earth 2. That series features a similar Apokolitian invasion of a parallel Earth with its own Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. That invasion is led by Steppenwolf. The implication of Superman’s speech is that Earth 2 #1 (April 2012) takes place simultaneously with Justice League (vol. 2) #1 (Oct 2011).
Page 14. Superman wrestling Darkseid has a parallel with him wrestling the rogue angel Azmodel in JLA #7 (shown above).
Page 15. Bruce Wayne ripped off his cowl in Justice League (vol. 2) #5 (March 2010) so that he wouldn’t be recognised as the Batman. However, he seems to have found a spare from somewhere.
Page 20-21. This is five-years ago and the President is a white guy so that’s gotta be George W. Bush.
Page 23. The cover of David Graves book shows the new Justice League fighting Starro. This is a reference to the Justice League’s very first appearance in Brave and the Bold (vol. 1) #28 (April 2012). That wasn’t their origin, but it was their first published adventure.
Page 24. The foggy city is London, England. The building on the left is the Palace of Westminster which contains the House of Commons and the famous clocktower containing Big Ben (the clock’s bell). The building centre-right is Portcullis House where the British MPs have their offices. This particular view would require the “cameraman” to be stood on the foreshore of the River Thames.
The two figures are not identified, but the skull-faced cuff-link does resembles the appearance of Pandora’s Box as shown in DC Free Comic Book Day 2012 issue. It might be nothing, but the third-eye in its forehead is a design not entirely dissimilar to Cyborg’s current look.
Back-up story “Pandora”
Pages 1-2. Pandora is the New 52′s mystery woman. She first appeared in Flashpoint #5 and was responsible for using the Flash’s attempt to restore history to rewrite it to her own purpose. She’s the in-universe reason causality changed in the DCU. She later appeared in every first issue of the New 52, including Justice League (vol. 2) #1 (Oct 2011), as a passive figure lurking in the background. It is that lurking which the Phantom Stranger is alluding to. There was also mention of Steve Trevor taking part in something called “Operation: Pandora’s Box” during Justice League (vol. 2) #2 (Dec 2011) .
Page 3. Panel 1. The Phantom Stranger is the DCU’s old mystery-man. He was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino and first appeared in Phantom Stranger #1 (Aug-Sept 1952). The Stranger has varied between being a simple messenger who is forbidden to intervene to a full blown protagonist in his own right. Little is known about him, ergo “the Stranger” moniker, but Secret Origins #10 did feature four-different contradictory origins. This most famously one was an origin by Alan Moore which depicted the stranger as as an angel who remained neutral during the Satan’s rebellion and was thus spurred by both Heaven and Hell.
Page 3. Panel 1. What Pandora unleashed. The original Greek myth is rather old fashioned in its sensibilities. The original version says that in the earliest days there were only men. These men had attained the gift of fire after it was stolen for them from the gods by Prometheus. Mankind had to be punished for their ownership of fire so Zeus and the gods created a second race of mortals, womankind, to torment the men as a punishment. The first of these women was named Pandora. A different version of the myth says that the gods gave Pandora a box which contained all the evils of the world. The smart thing to do would have been to keep it closed. However, Pandora was curious and peeked, thus freeing death, torment, and disease upon mankind and womankind. That’s the old Greek myth. In the DCU is probable that the myth is a corruption of what actually happened.
Page 3. Panel 5. The Spectre, the wrath of god, is name checked for the first time in the New DCU. Pandora mentions that she’s been judged before. This is shown in DC’s Free Comics Book Day 2012 issue.
Page 4. As shown in DC’s Free Comics Book Day 2012 the Circle of Eternity is a council of magic users who once held court on the Rock of Eternity. They judged the three worst sinners for their crimes and punished them to become Pandora, the Phantom Stranger, and the Question (alluded to as the “third sinner”). If the Circle has been destroyed it would explain why its sole surviving member, Shazam, is searching for a replacement as a mentioned in the text-piece in Justice League (vol. 2) #2 (Dec 2011).
Page 5. The Phantom Stranger demands that Pandora hand over the Box. However, it isn’t in her possession. Again, as shown in DC’s Free Comics Book Day 2012, the box was recovered by a specialist team led by Steve Trevor.
Page 6. “Find and imprison the Strange”. Sounds like something new.