Tag Archives: Douchebag Superman

A Justice League: The Villain’s Journey Review – Love and Heroics

Justice League: The Villain's JourneyTITLE: Justice League, Vol. 2: The Villain’s Journey AUTHOR: Geoff Johns 
PENCILLERS: Jim Lee, Gene Ha, Carlos D’Anda COLLECTS: Justice League #7-12 FORMAT: Hardcover 
PUBLISHER: DC Comics 
PRICE: $24.99 
RELEASE DATE: January 30, 2013

By Rob Siebert Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well, the readings on the douche-o-meter have gone down a bit since Justice League: Origin, they’re still a little high for my taste.

Set five years after the team’s formation, The Villain’s Journey pits the Justice League against the newly super powered David Graves, formerly an author who rose to stardom after writing a book about the League. Graves blames our heroes for the death of his wife and children, and now intends to exploit their personal weaknesses. He starts by kidnapping Steve Trevor, the League’s government liason, and an old flame of Wonder Woman’s Now the team must face their personal demons to rescue their friend and defeat the enemy. And interestingly enough, amongst all the anguish and the chaos, a new romance will bloom.

Justice League, Jim Lee, Green Lantern, Wonder WomanOne of the major problems I had with Justice League: Origin was the way some of the heroes acted like immature, douchebag teenagers trying to one up each other. They said things like: “Chains? You’re funny Green Lantern” and “So, who’s in charge here? I vote me.” Not to mention the big fight Superman got into with Batman, GL and the Flash. Obviously, Johns and Lee were playing up the many differences between these characters, and the idea that most of them were meeting each other for the first time. But the constant bickering got to be irritating. Thankfully, the readings on the douche-o-meeter decrease in this book, but they’re still a little high for my taste.

Our primary offender is Green Lantern, who is still an arrogant, quippy comic relief character whose demeanor grates on the other heroes. He winds up in a fist fight with Wonder Woman, which is accentuated with an eye-roll inducing sex joke from Wondy. And yet, just like in Origin, Johns redeems him at the end. Obviously, a character with this kind of personality tends to help a story come alive a little bit more. But at times it feels like we’re dressing a stock character up in a Green Lantern costume and throwing him into the mix.

Justice League: The Villain's Journey, Jim LeeThe Green Lantern issue happens to feed into a larger one: This book does NOT feel like it takes place five years after Origin. Five months seems more likely. While some of the characters seem calmer and more experienced (most notably Superman), the constant dissension in the ranks, mixed with the way most of these heroes don’t seem to know any more about each other than they did five years ago, shatters the illusion that they’ve been working together as a team for an extended time frame. Whether they don’t quite understand how Cyborg’s powers work, or they’re drilling Superman about what he does in his civilian life, I don’t have any kind of feeling that these characters have spent time with each other longer than a few months. Even in the outrageous world of comic book superheroes, it’s pretty bold to ask us to believe that a group of people on such shaky grounds could co-exist for so long.

I have no problem with DC wanting to rebuild the Justice League’s continuity for the New 52 initiative. It gives readers a fun chance to watch the team grow from the ground up. But human relationships usually don’t stay so stagnant for five years at a time. If you want us to believe it, we need more evolution in the rapport between the team members than what we got here. Trying to fill that big gap with throwaway lines about Aquaman and Green Arrow, or even that big two-page flashback about Martian Manhunter, isn’t enough.

Justice League #12, Superman, Wonder Woman, kissAll this talk of human relationships brings us to the highly publicized Superman/Wonder Woman romance that blossoms toward the end of the book. For the most part, I was fairly pleased with it. When you read all the issues back to back, as opposed to on a monthly basis, it’s fairly obvious that there’s some sort of unspoken bond between the two characters, which culminates in a big romantic moment. Perhaps that chemistry is one of the few things we can say did build up in the five years we haven’t seen. The book uses Wonder Woman’s relationship with Steve Trevor to convey that neither she nor Superman feel they can have a romantic partner without endangering them somehow. It’s the old “if the bad guys ever found out I was a hero…” routine. But with this story there’s an added dimension to it, as these are literally the two strongest heroes in the world. They could literally take on some of the most powerful beings in the known universe (i.e. Darkseid). Would you want to put someone you love in the path of such cosmic danger? With this romance, both parties have chosen one of the few people in the world that they know for certain can defend him/herself against whatever threat opposes them. It’s a “safe” relationship, in that sense. And when you factor in that both characters are outsiders, in the sense that neither comes from the society they protect, it makes sense that they’d be drawn to each other. Given what we know about Superman and Wonder Woman, the romantic connection isn’t difficult to believe in.

Despite some of the flaws in Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s run on this title, one thing that can’t be denied is that it has restored a certain must-see quality to the book, which I’ll call the “big fight atmosphere.” That was one of the reasons the previous volume of Justice League fell off so badly. We had no Superman, no Wonder Woman, no Flash, no Hal Jordan. At the end, the closest thing we had was Dick Grayson standing in as Batman. Without at least a few of those iconic staples of the Justice League, all you’ve really got is just another team book. The New 52 was, and still is, ripe with questionable editorial decisions. But putting all of DC’s big guns back where they belong was never one of them.

Justice League: The Villain's Journey, Jim Lee, Martian ManhunterThe book is also jam packed with foreshadowing for Johns and David Finch’s upcoming Justice League of America title. After you read the book, look at that team’s roster. Things’ll make sense pretty quickly.

At the end of the day, things still aren’t where I want them to be in the land of the League. I’d put this book at about the same level as the first, if not marginally better As a long time fan, it’s sometimes irritating to see these characters you grew up with (arguably) robbed of some of their depth by a company-wide reboot. But the spirit of the tried and true Justice League is still present in this new incarnation of the team. You just have to look harder to see.

RATING: 6/10

Image 1 from insidepulse.com. Image 2 from galleryhip.com. Images 3 and 4 from comicvine.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Advertisements

A Justice League: Origin Review – A New Era Begins

Justice League: Origin, coverTITLE: Justice League: Origin
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Jim Lee
COLLECTS: Justice League #1-6
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Yeesh. Talk about a tall order. Justice League: Origins tasks Geoff Johns and Jim Lee with setting up the post-Flashpoint DCU, introducing all seven members of the League plus Darkseid to new readers, telling a story that’s appealing to both new and longtime readers, and moving that story along at a pace that doesn’t allow it to get bogged down by all the introductions. They definitely accomplished the first two. Whether they got the last two is up for debate.

Justice League: Origin takes place five years in the past. Superhumans are a fairly recent development, and the public is largely afraid of them. But when demonic creatures (which regular DC readers know as parademons) start popping up around the world, Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman must come together to save the world. Meanwhile, a terrible accident turns high school football star Victor Stone into Cyborg, who may very well be the key to humanity’s survival. Because from the flames of Apokolips, Darkseid is coming…

Justice League: Origin, team shot, Jim LeeThis book takes a very ground-floor approach to the Justice League concept, as it should. Unlike the previous continuity, the League is the first active superhero team. There has never been a Justice Society, an Infinity Inc., etc. Most of the characters have heard of one another, but have never met (Green Lantern and The Flash are the exception). The plot is also pretty simple: Bad stuff is happening in Metropolis, and these heroes are all drawn to it. As a longtime fan, the formula for most of this book is almost painfully simple. Character introduction and exposition, action mixed with character introduction, repeat. But you can’t necessarily fault Geoff Johns for that approach. Remember, this is supposed to be the first chapter in the Justice League’s history. And what does a first chapter do? It introduces the characters. That’s especially important when you consider that this book is designed to be a hook for new readers. For longtime fans it might be tedious, but it’s necessary.

They couldn’t have chosen a better artist for this book than Jim Lee. Let alone the fact that he’s a co-publisher at DC, and designed the many of the new looks for these characters, he’s just an amazing artist. His action scenes all have great weight and tension to them, which needless to say is a must when your book is so action-heavy. Fight scenes tend to be filled with epic splash pages. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Darkseid all get nice two-page splashes. The costume tweaks for the heroes are all acceptable, except for the fact that Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and The Flash all look like their armor was made by the same company. That’s a hell of a customer pool, isn’t it? Gotham City, Central and Keystone Cities, the planet Krypton, and the Guardians of the friggin’ universe! I’d like to shake that marketing coordinator’s hand…

Justice League #1 (2011), final page, Superman, Jim LeeHowever, I’m greatly concerned about how Superman is portrayed in this book. The fact that he’s so powerful makes him cocky and standoffish, and thus not necessarily likeable. He spends a good portion of his introductory time saying things like:

– “So, what can you do?”
– “Talk, Batman. Before I won’t let you.”
– “Chains? You’re funny Green Lantern.”
– “Why should I come with you?…No one’s like me.”

I get that this story takes place during Superman’s early years, so maybe he’s a little overconfident, and dare I say immature, than we’re used to seeing him. He’s feeling ostracized because he’s not from Earth, so he’s not very trusting. That’s fair enough. But that’s the only side of Superman we see in this story. If you’re a new reader, the only impression you have of Superman is that he behaves like the conceited star of a high school football team. That’s a pretty big misstep considering Superman is not only one of the poster boys for the Justice League, but one of the faces of the entire DC Entertainment brand. We see a similar problem with Aquaman. But he’s also got the most bad ass moment in the entire book (he tells a bunch of shark to leap out of the water and catch parademons in the air), so that buys him a bit of leniency from me.

Truth be told, Origin sees more than one of our heroes acting like jocks vying to be captain of the team. Green Lantern has the stones to trap Batman in a construct and says: “Here’s the plan: Green Lantern goes in there and restrains Superman for questioning. Batman waits here.” But the difference between what happens with Superman and what happens with Green Lantern is that Johns takes the time to redeem GL. Without getting too specific, as the intensity of the battle increases, we start to see cracks in Hal Jordan’s confidant, cocky exterior. We see that deep down he’s really a good person, and not the pretentious douchebag he is at the beginning of the story. Superman and Aquaman don’t have moments like that. Johns and Lee didn’t need to stop the story to address this issue. All we needed were a couple of little moments. A throwaway line for both characters might have even done the trick. But nope, pretentious douchebags.

Justice League #6, Jim Lee, super sevenEverybody else fares pretty well. Batman is the combat veteran, Wonder Woman is the honorable yet action-hungry warrior, The Flash is the straight-laced guy with the heart of gold, and Cyborg is the new kid on the block trying to find his way.

So is this a team new readers can root for? Yes, and I think that quality will only grow as the series progresses. But in this book, their origin story, I wish they spent a bit more time acting like heroes, as opposed to squabbling teenagers. Are disagreements bound to happen when seven people from seven different backgrounds come together? Of course. That’s one of the things that makes any team book interesting. But at the end of the day, these characters are here to fight for justice and virtue. I wish this book could have done more to show us the beginnings of a team, as opposed to characters who all happen to be fighting on the same side of a war.

Origin is a solid start. It’s not as good as it could have been, but it’s a start.

RATING: 6.5/10

Image 1 from imgarcade.com. Image 2 from threatquality.com. Image 3 from superherohype.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/