Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
VIBE is an important book. Not just because this interdimensional conduit will be the go-to FLASH buster in the newly formed JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA, aka the real JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK (when you think about their mission). It’s also not because it puts Johns back in his wheelhouse of humanizing his heroes by focusing on the family dynamics that make all of really tick. I’d say VIBE is most influential in showing us the panels we missed from JUSTICE LEAGUE 2…I mean…5…fuck, you know what I mean…years ago. I’ll also say that Johns dropped a few possible Easter eggs in here that could make VIBE the herald of the long promised opening of the Multiverse. Yes, the last point is utter conjecture on my part, but a girl can dream can’t she.
OK, VIBE, known for most of this issue as Carlos Ramone, is hired as the FLASH buster for Amanda Waller’s new JUSTICE LEAGUE buster JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA. Forgive me, I meant to say appropriate detainment measure in the event Flash requires persuasive assistance in future choices. It’s the least interesting part about Carlos, and it happens at the end of the book. Although, I will say it’s nice to see the naïve view of a team that’s essentially being founded out of cowardice towards change. For the real doings go see my review of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.
Now, what I liked best was the book’s second virtue – family and genuine every day slices of life before our teeth get kicked in by the fantastic. It’s amazing how pivotal Detroit has become to the New 52, but I’ll allow this geographic narcissism since my first book is coming out soon and it’s set my home town, Philly. First rule of writing, write what you know. Personally I would rather see authenticity through experience than some of the trite clichés writers use about towns they haven’t been to (WE DO MORE THAN EAT CHEESESTEAKS). So once we’re intimate with the location we meet the Brothers Ramone. Good for DC on racial diversity, good for Johns for never turning to stereotypes. Between these guys, Baz and Billy though, I will say we’re having a run on of impoverished characters, but I’ve seen specials on Detroit, so this just might be closer to reality than I care to admit. Anyway, the Brothers Ramone were at ground zero when Darkseid attacked…2…I mean 5…I mean 7…dammnit…years ago. Carlos, his jocular older brother, who will be the salvation of the family by getting into college, and his younger gadfly Brother who just wants to play soccer and mooch are all the first victims of parademon bloodlust. Lil bro hides, big bro dies and Carlos is forever changed by being caught in the wake horizon of a Boom Tube. 5 years later, Carlos is trying to save more money when not phasing out of space time. It was pretty funny watching him work in an appliance store given his affliction for not showing up clearly on camera. These little moments made me care much more about Carlos’ fate when he unleashes his full VIBE awakening on the parademon that killed his Brother.
Speaking of little moments. What Johns did in 4 pages in this issue, I didn’t once feel in the first 12 issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE. This was what we needed to see more of, less posturing and big attacks. I actually would have given JUSTICE LEAGUE, leagues of leeway had it a sister book like this being published in tandem at the same time. But, since other books were in the here and now, I mean then and when, all we got were the broad strokes. VIBE shows us just how much pain Darkseid wrought upon this world. I also would recommend EARTH 2 if you want to see another close intimate portrayal of the Darkseid invasion. It’s a pivotal moment that I always felt deserved more…justice.
Now again, this is mere conjecture on my part, but again I am going to conject. I could have sworn when the A.R.G.U.S. agent was explaining Carlos’ powers he said he exists between dimensions. I could also have sworn he said that Boom Tubes are interdimensional gateways. I think when Carlos isn’t Flash busting it would be fun to see him traveling the 52 worlds. I don’t read Previews because playing out these scenarios is an important part of the hobby for me. As I understand things Morrison won’t be doing DC books shortly, and short of getting Warren Ellis on board, it would be nice to see what Johns and VIBE can do with the most controversial revelation from FINAL CRISIS.
To say I dig VIBE is an understatement. I’ll admit I don’t love his costume, but Woods supported Johns pacing in spades – to the point it sometimes in felt like individual panels were moving. Johns is the type of writer that works best on pages with more panels plain and simple. Woods just says show me where to draw.
Read KATANA and VIBE before you read JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. No matter what the covers say, trust me.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA 1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool)
Purpose: I’ve asked one thing from the JUSTICE LEAGUE since waaaaayyyyy back in the post FINAL CRISIS days, have a purpose for bringing together a LEAGUE. Back then the blunders were egregious, with the Holy Trinity picking heroes like baseball cards (and this is not hyperbole) to bring together a LEAGUE, because you know…there’s always been a JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Then came the New 52 and with it the promise of salvation. Not only were we getting a JUSTICE LEAGUE, but also a return of the Bwahahaha JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, a new JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK to handle magic threats, and finally oversight for all heroes in the form of STORMWATCH.
I’ve made my thoughts well known on these titles, but here’s a synopsis. Johns should not create with Lee. Before anyone throws goddamn sales numbers at me I will remind you that the 4th Batman movie was a box office success. People are sheep and marketing easily leads the masses, I know firsthand, I’m in marketing and my soul is one step above lawyers on Satan’s most wanted. When we peeked past the marketing though, the first two arcs of JUSTICE LEAGUE were wafer thin. I have my theories on why, and it basically equates to the fact that Johns is indie film and Lee is big budget and never the tween shall meet. Johns is not your splash page writer and Lee is not a cramped panel artist. Disagree if you like, but I haven’t heard a better theory yet. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL was less bwahahaha and more just plain awwww, hence why it’s no longer with us. STORMWATCH, don’t even get me started. It has been a mess since day one choking on its own hubris. These folks were supposed to be the ones who watch the WATCHMEN, but since they can’t get shit straight in their own house all we’ve gotten are a bunch of slap fights between Apollo & Midnighter and some kind of shadow council…or shadow puppetry…I’m not sure. I like JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, but part of that adoration lies in the detractors’ claims it doesn’t feel like it’s part of the universe. Fair enough, but at least it’s original.
JUSTICE LEAGUE redeemed itself with Throne of Atlantis, and I believe whole heartedly that JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA will rectify the missteps of the team books that have come before.
Not only does JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA have a purpose, but that purpose is steeped in actual continuity. Its purpose is also right in line with the marketing hype and a stark reflection of the current 99%ers feelings towards the 1% who pull our collective marionette strings. You want to know, “Who watches the WATCHMEN” or in this case the JUSTICE LEAGUE? Then you need look no further than JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.
While this is a straight-up introductory tale, Johns does a great job of keeping the book moving without it being a straight up Mickey Mouse roll call. He also builds off the history of the New 52, without making it required reading. Basically, there’s a pervasive fear in the government and leading the rabblerousing is our own favorite Queen of conspiracy theories, Amanda Waller. Uncle Sam fears the JUSTICE LEAGUES allegiance to the planet at large, and the US of A wants a way to ensure countermeasures should the JUSTICE LEAGUE side with someone other than the Stars & Stripes.
Now since Waller has her hands full with other skullduggery in the DCU, she turns to the Old League liaison Steve Trevor to corral and manage this new group. This leads us to a part of the book that confused me, but still left me enthralled. We’ve always known Waller will manipulate people to get her way, but she takes it to new heights in this book and I can’t tell if her concerns were genuine or simply pushing Steve’s buttons.
The kiss between Superman and Wonder Woman that made a thousand Lois Lane fans spontaneously combust apparently wasn’t only viewed by readers. American satellites caught this precious moment as well and got the think tanks pontificating on the damage these two could cause. We’re not just talking the shockwaves from bumping uglies, but also what could happen if these two could and would actually procreate. Again, Waller is a manipulative little gal, so did she mention this to get Steve to sign-on or was it a genuine concern? Maybe a little of both, but it does push Steve over the edge to go recruit his addition to the team CATWOMAN.
Just in case the purpose was unclear, after we see vignettes of each character as Waller and Steve discuss their place on the team, the issue ends with a direct match on who in the JLA will take down who on the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Some are clear jumps – Baz against Hal, Martian Manhunter against Superman and Catwoman against Batman. The match-up of Vibe against Flash makes sense, but it makes even more sense if you read VIBE 1 this week. But there are a couple I match-ups I question like Hawkman against Aquaman and Katana against Wonder Woman. In one case they could escape each other by going to their natural habitats and in the other case I think simple sword wielding does not make equal class balancing in a fight.
Finch and Johns go together perfectly and even in the heavy talky scenes between Waller and Trevor, the panels were visually engaging.
So, what about GREEN ARROW who is so prominently displayed on the cover, well that dear reader is a mystery that comes with the price of admission. His fate lies squarely in plot that wild rive this first arc forward.
I’d like to walk away with a suggestion for DC. Your team books are finally starting to come together, but your work is far from done. With the creation of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, I know have even less of a reason to read STORMWATCH, which is shame because they are characters I once loved Pre-52. At some point you need to either shit-can STORMWATCH as a the failed experiment it was or actually commit to its place in the DC Universe. Most fans will deride what I’m about to say, but I think the only salvation lies in a cross-over amongst the LEAGUE books and STORMWATCH. “We’re the JUSTICE LEAGUE we’re in charge! Fuck you, were the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and we’re in charge bitches!! Fuck all y’all, we’re STORMWATCH and we’ve been in charge since Jesus was in diapers!!!” I know crossovers are a verboten phrase, but when well-planned and crafted they can once again be as epic as they were initially intended to be.
by Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
So apparently the JUSTICE LEAGUE script has shit the bed. Finger pointing is currently aimed at Warner Bros. Studio Execs. I’ll buy this as maybe half the problem. The other half rests squarely on the fact that NO ONE is looking at the one thing that made AVENGERS the billion dollar baby.
Geeks know comics. Joss Whedon made AVENGERS…the AVENGERS…plain and simple.
I’m sure Will Beall is a nice guy. My parents loooooovvvveeee Castle. But what the hell makes this guy qualified to write a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie? Has he read all of the new 52 titles? What about DC Universe before the New 52 (you know, the continuity that ALL of the rest of the world outside comic geeks knows and understands).
3 Easy Steps to Fix JUSTICE LEAGUE THE MOVIE!
Walk down the street and show anyone the word Darkseid and they will look at you like you are illiterate especially after you pronounce it for them. Now, show someone the words Lex Luthor and Joker. DING DING DING! Instant recognition.
Now to round out a one-to-one villain ratio for the rest of the team we will have to travel outside of public awareness, but if we make them cool enough it could work. Green Lantern can take on Sinestro. Wonder Woman has a whole cavalcade of slippery siblings to battle, personally I like Eros. And of course Flash should take on Captain Cold. Finally we might see a frozen city in a DC movie that doesn’t look like it was created from cellophane.
Get a GEEK. Hell Get a Gaggle of Geeks
Again, Joss Whedon is what made AVENGERS so damn good. Likewise, Christopher Nolan loooooves comics, so DARK KNIGHT couldn’t help but be win sauce. Why does Hollywood insist on employing writers like Will Beall who have nothing to do with comics? What formula are they using as success?
Warner Brothers owns a whole cavalcade of successful writers who actually UNDERSTAND COMICS. Walk out into the bullpen and go, “Who wants to write a movie?” I’m sure you will get takers.
Once Jim Lee pulled himself out of the New 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE equation the book became really good.
How about it Mr. Johns? Want to write a movie?
4 Hours – 2 Movies (at least)
It will be too damn hard to acclimate Betty Lou Sue, from Bumbfuck, Arkansas who was born in 1998 to the world of comics in one movie. Twilight, Harry Potter, hell even the next two chapters of The Hunger Games showed that a movie can be split into two and succeed.
Or go Lord of the Rings and film it as a trilogy. You will need to set-up: who these characters are and why they fight their respective villains, bring the villains together, bring the JUSTICE LEAGUE together and finally battle for the world.
Of course an engaging script will also be required, but with these three steps in place pretty much a mongoloid could write this thing.