Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Justice Society's “Plot Buffet” and A Very “Cheeky” Justice League "Unlimited"

Hello loyal reader. You would be well within your rights to feel like that FanBoyWonder has been neglecting you. The holidaze are always a busy time of year for us—both at work and home and this year has been a real pain in the rear.

We are heartened just a little in hearing that other writers we know have been suffering a similar loss of writing inspiration and/or creative mojo. Worry not as we’re not going anywhere but our output may be a tad slower during the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, just to prove what we haven’t totally lost our poison pen, here’s our take on the two big Justice titles this week—the only thing we found worth picking up for the week of December 5.

Justice Society of America # 11

The Upshot from DC Comics: The epic storyline by Geoff Johns and Alex Ross, THY KINGDOM COME, continues! Adjusting to this strange, new Earth, the Superman from Kingdom Come discovers he may have more in common with the heroes of the Justice Society than he believes. Plus, Flashes Jay Garrick and Wally West pull out the cosmic treadmill!

Fortunately for Geoff Johns, he is such a proven writer that his stories often (but now always) gets better with each read through—such was the case with this issue. Our first read of JSA #13 left us feeling let down following the big introduction of Kingdom Come Superman last issue.

We closed the issue at first glace thinking the story was all over the place. The beautiful Alex Ross cover should say it all—we see KC Superman but while he is at the center of the scene, he is swarmed by a plethora of other JSA characters—center but not dominant.

This issue was something of a plot buffet—a sampler plate of various storylines with the promise of the main dish to come later.

Okay, what’s not to love about seeing the two Flashes on the old Cosmic Treadmill not attempting time travel but to traverse the multiverse barrier to a parallel Earth—stop us we’re having a 1985 flashback (for those of you either in Pampers or not yet alive at the time, that was the year of the CRISIS of Infinite Earths—Grandpa FBW).

Then we have the assembled Justice League and Justice Society at the JSA Brownstone to meet this strange visitor from another planet.
Wonder Woman has verified KC Superman is “not lying” via her magic lasso while Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart have had their power ring’s verify KCS is 100 percent Kryptonian (apparently Alan Scott’s magical starheart model power ring doesn’t do DNA analysis—but he’s got a cape so he’s cool).

Most important, the Justice League’s Superman vouches for his older counterpart—not via his microscopic vision but with his heart—“I believe him” followed by “I appreciate that” from his counterpart.

Unfortunately these are just about the only words we see the two Supermen exchange, although KCS does say that he can’t go back to his Earth because it’s been destroyed (or so he thinks??).

Still, Two Men of Steel in the same room NOT fighting and we feel a bit teased at what little was exchanged between them but we’ve also seen the cover to Justice Society of America #13 Promises, promises.

Still to this point in the story has had the characters confirming what the reader has already known for ages—KCS is a good guy and that a new multiverse exists.

Meanwhile, KC Superman’s arrival is a bitter pill for Power Girl to swallow. As another refugee from a parallel universe, she is mourning the loss of her cousin Kal-L, the “Golden Age”/Earth-2 (and original) Superman and his wife Lois.

In an eerie scene at their secluded graves, PG is in tears, reeling from the sight of this Superman that looks and sounds so much like her cousin (right down to the grey hair). In a very subtly played scene, PG uses her x-ray vision to look down and the reader sees the two coffins carrying the decaying mortal remains of Kal-L and Lois Kent.

Okay—the detached fanboy geek in us took over at first. When we saw the partially, but unmistakably decayed Kal-L’s corpse, our first thought was, “hey, Kryptonians decay just like humans do—hope no one tries to steal his corpse to get some Krypton-2 DNA.” We’re not proud of it but the thought came and went in a flash—we’ve fully disclosed, let’s just move on.

It took us a couple of reads to really get the power of this scene. Face it, how many would want to see the decomposing remains of our deceased loved ones??—but it’s something those of us without X-ray vision don’t have to worry about. But to be sure, Kara Zor-L looked at the unlookable and saw that cold, heard truth—her family is truly gone.

This was the heart of the story as was the two pages where KCS in civilian clothes walks among the crowd in Times Square watching their reaction to seeing the JSA flyby above—not panic or fear as he is used to on his Earth.

Unfortunately, these moments were sandwiched in-between Johns’ introduction of more “legacy” heroes with this story—namely the new Judomaster (last seen in Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey) and later Mr. America.

Okay, we’ve heard it from Johns before—he wants JSA to be more than a team but a true “society” as this first super-hero team has connections to just about every hero in the DCU in one way or another. It makes sense.

Yet we felt this pursuit of “legacy” heroes was a real intrusion into the real story. And quite frankly, there are too many characters already being neglected and now Johns wants to bring more into the brownstone?

It was a HUGE disappointment to see KC Superman rip open his shirt to reveal his own “S” shield and the next splash page to be Judomaster. KCS just shows up into the action with JSA six-pages later.

We consider it a major failing of this issue that we didn’t’ get to see a fully-costumed (meaning re-caped and repaired outfit) KC Superman take to the air with the JSA.

However major kudos goes the art team of penciller Dale Eaglesham and inkers Ruy Jose and Drew Garaci, not just for their usual understated but elegantly serviceable visuals but for Eaglesham’s attention to detail with the visual presentation of the two Supermen.

In the splash page with JLA Superman and KC Superman, the reader sees where Eaglesham has gone to great pains to replicate and be faithful to Alex Ross’ rendition of KC Superman (not unlike what George Perez did during the CRISIS when rendering the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Supermen).

This was NOT just a carbon copy Superman with a different “S” shield and grey temples.
Instead we see KC Superman is stockier and barrel-chested as a strong middle-aged man would look compared to his thinner, more chiseled counterpart. Good job.

Bottom Line: Johns manages to walk the fine line of keeping the story arc in low gear without losing momentum—thanks to some key character driven scenes that comprised the heart of the issue. So from let down to a mixed bag—not terrible but didn’t blow our doors off either—yet we’re heartened that we haven’t lost our excitement for this story arc.

Justice League of America #15

The Upshot from DC Comics: It's the brawl of the century, delivered by writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League Unlimited) and artists Ed Benes and Sandra Hope, as the Justice League of America takes on the Injustice League in the final chapter of "Unlimited"!

We spent a lot of words on JSA but we’ll be briefer with this issue of Justice League. For all of new JLA writer Dwayne McDuffie’s gift for dialogue, he doesn’t bring much to the plotting table—at least from what we’ve seen so far with is first story arc Unlimited.”

Coming from the instant classic Justice League Unlimited animated television show, we had high expectations but what we’ve been reading amounts to a glorified version of an old Super Friends episode—almost to the point where everyone announces what they will do before they do it.

To McDuffie’s credit he does have a gift for dialogue which makes for some amusing scenes and even better, he attempts to remember and incorporate events that occurred during other writer’s arcs into his story—such as Cheetah taking her whack at scumbag rapist Dr. Light.

But there just wasn’t a lot to “Unlimited” and it barely rated as an amusing waste of time. It was helped not at all by the fact that Part 1 of this story arc did not occur in Issue 13, the first Justice League of America issue for McDuffie, but in the gimmick one-shot JLA Wedding Special (which we refused to purchase).

This stinks (and the operative word here is “stink”) of editorial-directed plotting. Assuming this is the case, McDuffie seemed to play the hand he was dealt as best he could and at least there was some action and not all talk like Brad Meltzer’s disappointing 13 issue run.

Helping McDuffie not at all is the art. While the visuals are clear as day to see, penciler Ed Benes’ art is drawing attention for all the wrong reasons (we’re exempting Sandra Hope from blame as she just traces what she’s been laid out).

In short, Benes' best ASSets have become a liability on the book. We’re talking about the numerous and plentiful thong and ass shots included throughout the story—five such cheeky shots with Black Canary alone.

Hey will the reader that correctly counts all of this issue’s thong/cheek shots win an old fashioned Marvel Comics no-prize???

But we finally put our finger about what bothers us about Benes’ style. It’s all posing. There is very little sense of genuine action or kinetic energy. Even in battle scenes, everyone is positioned into place and energy blasts or other visual effects give the illusion of action.

At the tip of Benes’ pencil, everyone is a very pretty puppet who moves and fights like action figures—stiff and unbending (unless to display their thong), not living, breathing carbon-based life forms. Perhaps if he keeps “mooning” the reader will pay no mind to that little man behind the curtain.

To paraphrase the Bard (with our apologies), the ass-cheek thong shots proves that the ASS lies not on the page dear Benes but in yourself—ASS-MAN!!!


Blogger GroovyDaddy said...

I can deal with Benes' art. But it's the plot convergences that get me.
"OOOhhh ... glad that's over with. Now we can all go home, grab a shower and head off to Black Canary's wedding, which actually happened months ago."
Arrgh ...

12:09 PM, December 17, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities