All Associated Cover/Issue Images
- Green Lantern
- How mad was Batman?
- Why do you love love poking his bear so much?
- Green Lantern
- Because he’s so cuddly.
- Steve Trevor (to Congress)
- So I’ll go tell the League you don’t trust them. Which means, they might not trust you. And I can’t wait to see what a quick sweep of your offices with x-ray vision might reveal.
Synopsis "The Villain's Journey Prolog" (36-pages main+backup)
Main Story “The Villain’s Journey Prolog” (22-pages)
Through pouring rain in Baltimore, Maryland a crowd of terror-stricken people run. Behind them is hoard of pint-sized monsters (all mouth, teeth, and claws, but no eyes or much of a body). Steve Trevor’s A.R.G.U.S. (Advanced Research Group Uniting Super-humans) troops hold back the monsters, but the crowd only relaxes when the familiar “BOOM” of a Boom Tube signals the arrival of the Justice League. Cyborg‘s intel identifies the sources of the creatures (“Seeds”) as a new super-villain called Spore. He was Samuel Street, a military biologist who was delivering the a super-virus to A.R.G.U.S. for safe-keeping. However, he became infected after he was attacked by an intruder at A.R.G.U.S. headquarters.
Spore/Street how has the ability to generate an increasingly number of flesh-eating Seed drones. Cyborg’s computer searches reveal that Street is recently divorced and that he had been abusive towards his ex-wife. Batman begins to lay out a strategy, but Green Lantern cuts him off and runs off with the Flash to Spore’s last known location. They find him attacking Street’s ex-wife, but are almost overwhelmed before the rest of the League arrive to back them up. An hour-later, Steve Trevor gives a press conference to brief the press on Spore’s capture. The press are dismissive of Trevor’s agency’s work (much to his annoyance), but are uncritically enthusiastic of the League.
Trevor’s mood is not improved by arrival of his new aide, Etta Candy, who reminds him that he has a pending briefing with a Congress committee. The Congressmen and women on the oversight committee again ask Trevor about the League’s repeated dismissal of their request for greater transparency. They try to press Trevor, but he makes them back-down with the veiled threat that they don’t want the League to see them as enemies. Later again, Trevor tries to brief Wonder Woman on the Congress situation via a video link, but their conversation is hijacked by the rest of the League’s banter. When everything is quiet, Etta brings Steve his coffee and asks him what his real relationship with Wonder Woman is. He admits that he is in love with her and that he told her so. He doesn’t elaborate, but that appears to have been a problem.
The Justice League’s adventure was watched by David Graves, the burglar who stole the Orb of Ra from A.R.G.U.S.’s Black Room and the man who “accidentally” transformed Street into Spore. Graves concludes that Colonel Steve Trevor is actually the key to defeating the Justice League.
Back-up Story “Shazam” (12-pages)
Part one of Shazam’s new origin by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. I’ll leave our analysis/review of this story until a later date and do all the parts together.
- A.R.G.U.S. are a para-military security agency led by Steve Trevor. They are tasked with handling super-human situations, but that effectively makes them the Justice League’s babysitters and clean-up crew.
- The Orb of Ra has been stolen by an unknown individual from A.R.G.U.S. “Black Room”.
- The Justice League sanctioned the creation of Justice League International.
- The Justice League operates from an orbiting satellite Watchtower. However, they leave post-operation clean-up and press/media relations to Steve Trevor and A.R.G.U.S.
This is a very different Justice League story than the first 6-issues. We’ve now spun-on five years and see a fully mature Justice League at the height of their power and influence. The League themselves are idolised by even the cynical press, but they closely guard their independence and privacy. The one man who has any claim to know them in Steve Trevor, the head of the Government’s ARGUS agency, a para-military group designated with responsibility for researching super-human, interceding where necessary, and impounding dangerous technology/artefacts.
ARGUS are a new feature to these stories and I’m not really sure what to make of them. Previous agencies like the DEO or Checkmate have been positioned to police the super-humans and that explicitly includes the Justice League. However, ARGUS under Trevor is more like a firewall between the superheroes and rest of the world, providing political/media relations and post-operation clean-up. It’s an interesting new take, but its a little too cosy a relationship to last for long.
I can’t say I’ve really gotten use to the League’s new personalities. Superman’s too smug, Hal too much of a jerk, Wonder Woman wouldn’t do that to Steve, and Batman’s not given enough respect. Although, we’ve been here before haven’t we? When the JLI (the original one, not the New 52 version) first started it was a serious superhero comic punctured by A-level banter and constant snipping between the characters. Then behind everything you had the civilian Maxwell Lord trying to keep things in order. Now we’ve got Steve Trevor instead of Maxwell Lord, Hal Jordan acting like Guy Gardner, and even Barry and Hal acting like Beetle and Booster. I wonder how long until Batman decks Hal with one punch (he so deserves it) and they end up on Kooey Kooey Kooey.
Art wise, Gene Ha fills in to give Jim Lee a welcome break. Ha’s nuanced ability with faces and characterisation is really needed in a story that is as much about Steve Trevor’s feelings as it is about the League’s shenanigans. We see his teeth-gritting during interactions with the public, his amusement at baiting Congress, and his simple enjoyment at talking with Wonder Woman. He must be the most put upon man in the DC Universe. Through all of that we’re left with the impression that Steve Trevor puts up with it all because he’s loyal to Wonder Woman and he’ll always have her back — no matter that she doesn’t feel the same way as he does. It’s a very personal hook to the League, but you have to wonder how he’ll react if she is leaves them.
Surveying the Internets
Tip of the hat to Robot 6′s Chain Reactions which has their own list of pull-quotes from reviews of Justice League #7.
Reaction to Steve Trevor’s role
The juxtaposition of the informal League and their dutiful liaison is commented upon my most reviewers. That juxtaposition does not make the League look good. Erik Norris (IGN) describes the situation well:
What’s interesting about this approach is that Geoff Johns doesn’t really pull any punches in making the members of the League come off as cocky jerks. For being the book’s titular characters, you would think this series would paint them in the best possible light. But that isn’t the case. Instead, we follow along with Trevor as he acts as the liaison between the League and Congress, a job that looks like it’s an absolute nightmare made worse by the fact that Trevor is essentially an errand boy for “gods.”
And Valerie Gallaher (MTV Geek) comments on Trevor’s reaction to this.
…the League’s quite guileless sense of authority and even privilege very rightly disturbs Trevor
Trevor’s character is also picked up by Don MacPherson (Eye on Comics):
But Johns offers up a radically different interpretation of Trevor. He’s brilliant, he’s determined, he’s tough and he’s privately melancholy. He stands out as the most “together” person in the story, but he’s also the most broken and conflicted. Johns delivers a strong character study, one that’s so strong I hope we get to see a lot more of the character beyond this new story arc.
And finally, Andy Hunsaker (Crave Online) sarks that the reason Trevor appears so good is because the League have looked so poor:
Steve Trevor seems like the only one in this entire mix who isn’t an idiot, and it makes us realize how goddamned refreshing it is to have ONE PERSON WHO IS NOT AN IDIOT in this book.
Gene Ha on fill-in art duties
Not only is this story a Steve Trevor spotlight, but it is also a spotlight on guest artist Gene Ha who gives regular artist Jim Lee a month off. Walt Richardson (Multiversity) contrasted the two artists,
Gene Ha is an interesting artistic follow up to Jim Lee, because his style contrasts the current house artist’s so distinctly. Lee’s work is angular and cross-hatched, while Ha’s artwork has a smooth appearance due to his tendency to only use solid black for shadows. This issue, though, Ha’s art isn’t quite as polished as it usually is, resulting in a lot of uneven pages. It’s not even that his work is poor at any point; rather, his figures alternate between rough and smooth appearances that would look fine if they weren’t standing right next to each other.
However, Don Ventura (Cape Town Community) proposes promoting Ha to full time JL artist.
Gene Ha deserves to be the full-time fill-in artist on the series. This issue looks terrific and Ha dives right in with his own interpretation of some of the teams’ new costumes. Where certain artists have had a challenge with Superman and the Flash’s armored looks, Ha adds a nice depth to the layered look of the heroes’ uniforms.
Seeing a replacement artist on the billing can put some people off, but Caz Tidrick (ORP) for one was “glad I didn’t just skip it” and was” pleasantly surprised” with the result. Shane Pelzel (Major Spoilers) also celebrates colourist Art Lyon atmospheric lighting which accompanied Ha’s art:
The lighting of the art plays an intricate part as well in this rainy Baltimore, and the artists do this masterfully. From the Green Lantern’s constructs to Cyborg’s muzzle flash to the holograms to the Flash’s lightning to the flashes of lightning… Okay, well, it really was done beautifully.
Separate from the Steve Trevor storyline is the shift of this book into the present day. As Greg McElhatton (CBR) puts it,
Thanks to a lack of “this is how they all met,” we end up with a much zippier pace. [...] Each plot point is hit quickly and effectively and then the story moves forward.
Sean Elks(Player Affinity) questions whether five-years of character evolution have actually happened:
Without being told otherwise, I would have assumed this story took place a few months after the origin story or at the end of the first year at the outset. The reason for this is that there is so little development apparent in this issue. When the Justice League shows up to save the day from Spore, it’s the exact same Justice League lineup from five years ago. [...] The bickering and immaturity from the team’s early days is still present as if no development has taken place between these people.
I’m not reviewing the Shazam section here, but its addition makes Don MacPherson (Eye on Comics) observe that
The good news is this is the first issue of this series to deliver enough content to merit the $3.99 US cover price. With the main story and the backup, it finally feels as though we’re getting value for that extra dollar.
|Character Site||The Captain's JLA Homepage||Jason Kirk||3.5/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Greg McElhatton||3.5/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Vine (Staff)||Tony Guerrero||3/5|
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Erik Norris||7.5/10|
|Reviews Portal||Inside Pulse||Grey Scherl||7/10|
|Community Site||Comic Vine||18 reviews||3.0/5|
|Community Site||iFanboy||1309 pulls||3.6/5|
|Magazine||Crave Online||Andy Hunsaker||4.5/10|
|Magazine||What Culture||Marcus Doidge||2/5|
|Blogs||A Comic Book Blog||ACB||90%|
|Blogs||Cape Town Community||Don Ventura||A|
|Blogs||Captain Bloggington||Wade Christian||3/5|
|Comic Book Movie||Destroyer 14||8/10|
|Blogs||Eye on Comics||Don MacPherson||6/10|
|Blogs||Heretical Jargon||Jimmy Trapp||10/10|
|Blogs||Major Spoilers||Shane Pelzel||4/5|
|Blogs||Opinions, Reviews, and Previews||Caz Tidrick||8.5/10|
|Blogs||Player Affinity||Sean Elks||7.2/10|
|Blogs||Razer Fine Reviews||Alan Rapp||1/5|
|Blogs||Weekly Comic Book Review||Minhquan Nguyen||C+|
|Character Site||Batman on Film||Chris Clow||A|
|Character Site||Batman News||Andrew Asberry||5/10|
|Character Site||Gotham Knights Online||Brendan S.||3.5/5|
|Character Site||Simply DCU||Adam Basciano||7/10|
|Character Site||Superman Homepage||Michael Bailey||2 (story) & 4 (art)/5|
Page 1-2. This is the first appearance of A.R.G.U.S., the Advanced Research Group Uniting Super Humans, an agency led by Steve Trevor. He’s got the same rank he did five years ago. A reporter calls A.R.G.U.S. the “World’s liaison to the Justice League”, but they are obviously more than that and are quite capable in their own right. They also appear to be an agency of the US Government as Trevor’s reports to Congress’s oversight committee
The name ARGUS has two symbolic meanings. The first mythological Argus was a watchful 100-eyed giant who guarded the nymph Io from Zeus’s advances. The presence of an eye in the ARGUS logo reinforces this symbolism of watchfulness. However, there was also a second Argus, Odysseus dog in the Odyssey, the only creature that remained faithful to Odysseus after his long journey. ARGUS the organisation would seem to fit the 100-eyed giant, but Steve Trevor – as we’ll see – has that same sort of unrewarded dog like loyalty to Wonder Woman as Odysseus’s pal.
Page 3. This issue takes place five-years after the conclusion of the Justice League’s origin in Justice League (vol. 2) #6 (April 2012). The Justice League still has its original membership and they are using Cyborg’s ability to summon Boom Tubes.
Page 4-5. The commentary is by David Graves, the Leagues biographer turned villain, who will return in a the second story arc called “A Villain’s Journey”. This issue is the prologue to that arc.
Page 6. The Orb of Ra is one of the DC Universe’s major magical artefacts. It was the plot device that originally turned Rex Mason into Metamorpho – the Element Man. Based on early publicity image we are expecting an Element Woman to show up so this must tie-in.
This is the first mention of a “Black Room”. The “Red Room” is Silas Stone’s facility at STAR Labs where he collects advanced super human and alien technology for study. The “Black Room” is A.R.G.U.S. equivalent for mystical artefacts. These rooms seems to qualify as an updated version of the Justice League’s trophy-room, but they also qualify as study centres under the “Advanced Research” part of A.R.G.U.S.’s name.
Page 7-8. Batman taking control is a classic Morrison-Era JLA trope. However, it is subverted here by Hal Jordan undercutting Batman and running off before he can layout the game plan. It’s an indication that this is a different Justice League than shown in JLA, one that isn’t so deferential to the Batman. Hal’s the obvious difference. He’s the man who no fear so the fear-inspiring Batman has no sway over him. “We got this.” is a call back to Hal’s attempt at a catchphrase from Justice League (vol. 2) #1 (Oct 2011) and Justice League (vol. 2) #6 (April 2012). Also note that Batman is the only member of the League that Hal doesn’t create an umbrella for — even Aquaman gets one.
Page 13. A surprising reaction from a group of cynical hacks. I like the guy on the right who is making J and L with his hands. The reference to the “Super Friends” is of course a shout out to the old cartoon show highlighting the Justice League.
Page 14. Americans may not recognise the man who accosts Steve Trevor and suggestively asks him about his relationship with Wonder Woman. However, the Brits will recognise him as UK chatshow host and TV producer Jonathan Ross. Ross is a massive comic book fan and has presented documentaries on Japanese popular culture and his search for Steve Ditko. However, he is mainly known for his mainstream TV chatshow (in the Conan O’Brien mould) where his cheeky personality lets him getaway with asking the type of suggestive question he puts to Steve Trevor. Ross is currently writing America’s Got Powers for Image with fellow Brit Bryan Hitch.
Etta Candy is another member of Wonder Woman’s old supporting cast. She first appeared in Sensation Comics #2 (Feb 1942) as a short, fat, white comedy relief character. She was most often seen as part of the Holiday Girls. In the post-Crisis DCU of the 1980s Etta became a colleague of Steve Trevor and the two characters eventually sent off into the sunset to get married. The post-Flashpoint Etta Candy is different again. Her ethnicity has been switched from Caucasian to African-American, but she is still Trevor’s aide.
Page 15. The League’s headquarters is confirmed as the satellite Watchtower. This is a confluence of two-different bases. The League’s base in the 1970s was a space station that was just called the Satellite. In the 1990s it was a moon-base called the Watchtower. When the Justice League cartoon series launched they folded the ideas together and created a space station called the Watchtower. It was established in the final season of Justice League Unlimited that the League had a ground based building called the Hall of Justice (a tip of the hat to the Super Friends) and a secure space based Watchtower. Those dual facilities were incorporated into Brad Meltzer’s run on the Justice League and then into the Young Justice cartoon series. Both bases appear to have survived into the post-Flashpoint canon, but the Hall was destroyed by terrorists in Justice League International (vol. 3) #1 (Nov 2011).
Page 16. This exchange between Steve Trevor and Congress prompted Bleeding Cool to comment that “the Justice League are the New Authority”. They conflate both teams and describe them as,
They act independently of government, even when suckling on its teat. They are autonomous weapons of mass destruction, that the American government distrusts and fears. And despite the good that they do, and the reaction of the audience, they are sloppy, lazy, self assured and… well, basically, the bad guys. It’s just there are worse things out there.
A little over the top, but the point that the Justice League are independent of Washington is strongly made.
Page 18-19. The skype session is amusing, but it tells us little bits and pieces.
- Hal Jordan is still a jerk.
- Batman — who stays off camera when he realises he’s being recorded — complains about the JLI despite showing quite a different attitude in that book. The confrontation with Congress puts the JLI in context as the League’s sanctioned compromise with the politicians.
- Cyborg complains about his father trying to hack the League’s computers, but he himself hacks Steve’s video feed to complain about it.
- Trevor averts his gaze when Aquaman and Superman walk past. Why? What is the conflict between between them, or one of them, and him.
- The Flash is polite.
- Wonder Woman cares what Steve is doing.
Page 21. A few interesting moments here. Steve Trevor has been belligerently defending the League to Congress, but on page 17 he ducks Etta Candy’s question about whether he actually believes in the Justice League himself. Later on page 20 Wonder Woman also asks him why he does what he does, but he gives A.R.G.U.S. answer not his own personal reason. Its only here when talking to Etta Candy that he admits that he’s in love with Wonder Woman. His cryptic “That’s the problem. I did” would imply that she rebuffed him. His work with ARGUS is then away for him to stay near here and in some way protect her. Steve Trevor doesn’t so much have a belief in the Justice League as he has a belief in Wonder Woman. That could make his dealing with the group complicated.
Page 22. The narrator is again David Graves.