Tag Archives: Geoff Johns

FOREVER EVIL 5 ADVANCE REVIEW – So Evil Your Pinky Won’t Leave Your Lip

forever evil 5 coverFOREVER EVIL 5
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain;t It Cool News)

The slow drums of Evil we’ve been saying have taken too long to hear in the distance are now a Neil Pert, ear bleeding, arena rock solo. This issue is brimming with so much eeeevvilll, you’ll find your pinky trying to attach it self to your lower lip.

While I’ve loved the juxtaposition of rooting for the bad guys, there has been too much set-up and not enough ass kickery in this series thus far. Issue 5 rectifies all. We finally shift full focus from the Justice League doing time in Firestorm’s mind to an all out real world fight for survival.

When last we left FOREVER EVIL proper Batman and Catwoman had just ran into the Luthor League and then all of them were jumped by Deathstroke and the other sell outs to the Syndicate. Quick side note, more Luthor and Bizarro in main continuity please, comic gold watching Ego and the Bear interact. While on the other side of the subterranean world, Sinestro set his direct sites on the pussified Green Lantern, Power Ring.

I’ll save you the suspense; Sinestro takes out the anti-Hal in one of the most creative ways I have ever seen. Kudos to Johns for imagining this scene, and to Finch for rendering the bloody, stumpy, aftermath. The big mystery to be seen next is who will get stuck wearing this asshole ring until death’s sweet release.

The ultimate tension though comes in the form of “who will lead this ragtop group forward.” Batman’s arrogance by insisting he must lead the crew because killing is bad (hmmmm kay?) was charming if it wasn’t so blatantly naïve. It did set-up a notice zinger for Catwoman though. Luthor is of course in charge and his ranks swelled after Deathstroke’s team is…liquidated and in some cases liquefied.

Once ranks are settled Johns wisely takes us back to the Syndicate (a presence we needed a little more of in all the Crossover titles IMHO). These guys have transcended beyond their initial pastiche. Their own private melodrama is actually way more intriguing  than watching them simply overthrow. I would honestly read an EARTH-3 book (get writing DC or I set up a fanfic blog) if this dynamic of lies, adultery and general deceit has always been their norm.

My only complaint with this plot and action driving issue is the Malcom McDowell slayer on the last page. That’s right folks, the entity that destroyed Earth-3 is also responsible for bringing together Picard and Kirk. The Nexus is here in all of its ELO album cover glory. I hope there is something really really dark behind that pink ribbon and I don’t mean Guinan.

AQUAMAN 25 REVIEW – Johns’ Whale of a Run Closes

aquaman 25 coverAQUAMAN #25

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain
“I’m going to make a prediction, and even if my crystal ball has more clouds than clarity this is a belief I hold to the core of my being: Geoff Johns will one day helm the DC comic line as Editor-in-Chief (if he so chooses).” Optimous Douche, February 2010

I didn’t fully understand the implications of this prediction when I made it that cold February morn. I figured if my words became true, it would be in the contextual model of business as usual. Once Johns had some more salt and pepper on his temples, he would take the top spot from Didio and, like Dan, occasionally write a few books.

I of course got wrong the instilling of a holy trinity in control, the folding of the comic line under the main WB banner, the Hollywooding of the comic line which will come to full fruition once the NY offices close, and of course Johns’ true control title of Chief Creative Officer.

What reality has wrought is AQUAMAN #25: basically the end of Geoff scribing monthly books, presumably to give the other media channels in the WB a fighting chance against the miraculous Marvel movie machine. Honestly, with the casting away of GREEN LANTERN and there being no real Justice Society except on EARTH 2 the only thing left pouring out of Geoff’s keyboard is JUSTICE LEAGUE.

It’s been a great run, but good-byes are always sad, this one even more so for the reasons I just mentioned. It’s one thing when a writer leaves a title; it’s another thing altogether when a beloved writer is absconded from the bullpen to be locked away in the executive ivory tower.

Out of all the New 52 offerings, I’ve found AQUAMAN to be the most intriguing. I never personally cared about the character outside of small snippets by seminal writers. Johns kept me engaged, though, for 25 issues. Not all DC titles had the same consistent staying power being printed or making it into my longbox.

It was touch and go at first: I dug the perpetual fish out of water jokes because I’ve made plenty and I find suffering at someone else’s expense sort of hilarious. After a few issues, though, I got in line with the purists – the waaa waaaa Charlie Brown walk off can’t work forever for a hero. It’s one more joke, not a symphony. What kept me in the game, though, was the true heart Geoff was bringing to the title with Mera being Arthur’s continued champion in the face of ridicule. Any man who has found a good partner knows how much their smile can brighten even the gloomiest of days.

Also, it was great watching the king shun the ocean for life as a landlubber until destiny had a different idea. “Just when I’m out, they pull me back in”, lamented Michael Corleone, and I think it resonates here as well. Great men simply can’t escape being great.

The return to the sea was just as engaging: the perceived betrayal by Vulko, the actual betrayal by the men who helped Arthur acclimate to life on land, THRONE OF ATLANTIS that wiped out half the Eastern seaboard and resuscitated the JUSTICE LEAGUE’s anemic storyline, and this final battle with the Dead King made this reporter consistently care about the DC life aquatic for the first time in 25 years of comic collecting.

Johns gives us a satisfying conclusion to the Dead King saga. Some of it was expected, like Arthur regaining the throne, Vulko being absolved of wrongdoing because of his fierce devotion to Arthur’s line, and finally Arthur and Mera living happily ever after. Some events were surprising, like the little black guys from the trench being one of the seven sunken kingdoms of Atlantis and fighting by Arthur’s side once he flashes a little bit of scepter; also, the king of Xebel showing up looking for a fight to launch the next arc. Some of it was WTF inducing, like Orm now shacking up with a woman he helped during FOREVER EVIL. I always thought Orm hated us land-dwellers, but I’ll admit I could have missed something in the deluge of event books.

I’ll admit now, I fear for the future. Books seem to lose some staying power when other writers are plopped into Johns’ plotlines. Johns lays down so many different tangents crafted by his unique voice, it’s akin to other writers trying to pick up after Claremont left X-MEN. Writing a title and marrying it are two different experiences; the prior produces a few trades while the latter inexorably changes the character and the universe for years to come. Anyone trying to pick up after Johns walks away is left with the latter, after he has mined the grandeur dry, leaving only fragments of mediocrity for follow-up. I might be wrong this time. Make that, I hope I’m wrong this time. I’m not done with AQUAMAN, even if Geoff is. I thank Geoff for his time and service, and I truly wish him his heart’s desire moving forward. I would caution, though, to never fully abandon the rocket boosters that helped him leave orbit.

FOREVER EVIL 2 – Making Sense of Villain’s Month

Forever-Evil-2-final-cover-David-Finch-Crime-Syndicate-vs-Teen-TitansFOREVER EVIL 2
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

This will be a quick review folks, because not a lot of words are needed to convey the central themes of FOREVER EVIL 2. Honestly, I only need two: carnage and Bizarro.

I’m not slighting the issue by any means. Watching the world get razed is a glorious treat, especially under Finch’s deft hand. There’s simply not a lot in this issue that begs to be analyzed. The Crime Syndicate is still doing their business to make Earth Prime a mirror darkly more akin to Earth 3. Luthor is still on the lam, but now has his secret undercooked clone that was teased in BIZARRO 1 a few weeks ago. The Titans make a move on the fallen Justice League watchtower with some disastrous results and finally Batman returns from his Syndicate imposed exile with some very grave news…and what looks like a carburetor. All right, maybe some explanation is in order after all.

First and foremost, FOREVER EVIL 2 crystalizes “villains month” beyond the obvious cash grab. Many criticized that the stories didn’t have any weight or impact on the overarching event since a majority of the titles were origin in nature. I felt this way about BIZARRO. “What the hell does this have to do with the event,” was all I could mutter. Now, it seems that each villain will have their moment to shine in the title we just need to have a little fan patience. I was never a fan of Bizarro’s prior iteration. The backwards speak felt hackneyed and was frankly just outright confusing after a while. When looked at beyond the words uttered, the old Bizarro made no fucking sense.  Thankfully he is now just a half-baked clone taken out of the lab five years too early.   Biz-boy gurgles, mutters and shuffles behind Luthor following his every whim as Lex prepares his first volley against the Syndicate. Perfect.

So it seems that all was not lost on Villains Month, it drew in a few new readers and actually looks as though it will tie into FOREVER EVIL and not completely tangentially either.

As for the rest of the issue, Johns keeps it all at a brisk pace. We learn a little bit more about the politics of the Crime Syndicate like Super Woman and Owl Man’s love child, Evil Flash and Atomica’s creepy love and the bromance between skeletal Firestorm and Power Ring. Frankly, I want more though. I consider it a huge loss the only dalliance with the Crime Syndicate in forever evil was SECRET SOCIETY 1. For anyone who never read EARTH 2 by Morrison, this lack of insight into motivation is a huge blind spot that needs to be course corrected in issue 3.

I also want a bit less jumping around. After a bit, it’s easy to get desensitized to even the most revered landmarks being burned, destroyed and otherwise defiled. The white noise effect is hard to ignore after about the fifth pile of rubble in the middle of the city. Again, nothing bad here, just my personal preference for the slow burn Johns versus the wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

The Titan battle was spectacular as was the way Evil Flash took the team out of the equation. Using some speed force “science,” Baby Flash Bart along with the rest of the team are going back to whence he came.

I’m enjoying FOREVER EVIL, its Michael Bay level destruction is the stuff of pure fluff, but it’s fun to watch as are the Machiavellian back-stabbing within the Syndicate itself. Hell, the heores might not even need to come back, simply let the dark souls of these characters devour themselves from within. I also appreciate FOREVER EVIL for the huge crater it will inevitably leave in this shiny new universe. Crime Syndicate is delivering the ass whooping Darkseid simply could not. The only thing I need now is a bit more insight into the Crime Syndicate as people, I would love for the next issue or a side book to address their lives prior to Pandora skull fucking Earth Prime.

SECRET SOCIETY 1 REVIEW: Opposites Really Do Attract

JL_23-4-Secret-Society_1SECRET SOCIETY 1
Writers: Geoff Johns & Sterling Gates
Artist: Symon Kudranski
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool)

Opposites are hard to play. Anyone who has written an issue of BIZZARO has my deepest sympathies trying to keep the double negatives turned positives straight. SECRET SOCIETY takes us a sojourn over to EARTH 3 so we can learn, not necessarily the origin of The Outsider (aka Earth 3 Alfred Pennyworth) and Owl Man, but more how the two became inexorably intertwined.

I’ll be honest, I’m a skeptical man, so many of you will no doubt have a better time imbibing the “bad is good is, good is bad” flip-flop that Earth 3 presents us with in this issue. It’s more than just a shifting of East and West. There’s a definitive love between Alfred and Thomas Wayne, but I ask if love could even exist on such a world and if so wouldn’t you rather be hated than loved if all is opposite. See what I mean about this being hard?

Essentially, we learn that Alfred is the one responsible for killing the Wayne parents, and I think Thomas Wayne has a brother Bruce, but I’m not sure since he was really just a mention. Also, The Joker is a present force of…good…in the Owl controlled Gotham. We find that Owl Man had a partner in Dick Grayson, but that partner has also been tidily chopped into tiny boxes wrapped in Christmas paper by The Joker in hopes to throw Owl Man off his omnipotent perch.  My question becomes this, The joker is supposed to be a symbol of anarchy, but I guess on Earth 3 since anarchy is good a Joker is never wild, but simply a standard card like the 4 of clubs. Right?

Confusion aside, the issue does close with a little peek into the fucked up dynamics of the Secret Society. This is a necessary book, simply for the fact we’ve been hit with over thirty issues over the last few weeks and we’ve only really seen the SS (hehe) in FOREVER EVIL 1. While certainly not the brunt of the issue, we do get some insight into the team dynamic. Towards the end of the issue time flash forwards and Alfred takes us out of Gotham with his narration to show Owl Man and Super Woman getting busy behind Ultra Man’s broad back, plus we learn why the team is so interested in our Earth. Apparently Darkseid is a bad ass invader on every known parallel earth.

While the issue would have been better served being called THE OUTSIDER or OWL MAN from a real-estate perspective, while I was confused in part by the nature of human emotions being played as opposites and while I was a little unsure how a Joker type would survive in a world where capital punishment is a matter of course I really did enjoy this issue. My only complaint was that Gates and Johns were too constrained by page count to let some explanatory moments breathe a little bit. The art more than made up for it though, as Kudranski shows some real chops setting a creepy pall of darkness without “smelling the glove” too much.

This is an essential for FOREVER EVIL and the entire villains month.

FOREVER EVIL WEEK 1 REVIEW ROUND-UP PLUS DARKSEID 1, VENTRILOQUIST 1, JOKER 1, BIZARRO 1

Forever Evil 1 coverFOREVER EVIL 1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka  Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

FOREVER EVIL is the crossover we have been waiting for…well…forever. That is if we all believe time began in the year 2011 with the end of FLASHPOINT. Court of Owls was good, Throne of Atlantis even better, but personally I’ve been waiting for a cataclysm that would truly test the mettle of our heroes beyond an emotional level.

Trinity War truly helped set the stage for this book in both plot and tone.  There are no subverses of light, magic, Bat or Supes — every character is going to be affected by this event as is clear in this week’s .1 holocover (if you were lucky) villainous deluge.

DC September events have become a staple at this point. Unlike the New 52 launch or the zero issues of last year, FOREVER EVIL is an apocalyptic treat for those of us ingrained in the universe. No exposition in the traditional sense and It also doesn’t waste one second jumping from the end of Trinity War to Lex Luthor flying high above…Chicago??????

That’s right kids Chi-town sets the stage for what is probably the best treat fangeezers will get this year. Lex is soaring the skies with none other than one Mr. Kord, a kind family man with a son in college who is a whiz with electronics (hint-hint-wink-wink). How DC will work two Blue Beetle’s in the universe remains to be seen or perhaps the one-half of the ole’ Bwahahaha will take on a new mantle. This could also lead to nothing at all, but you can’t blame a boy for dreaming can you?

This moment was also compelling because Lex has played a very gray area in years past. We know he’s not a good man, but is trying to make humanity self-sufficient truly evil? I don’t think so. The way he treats Pappa Kord though, leaves no room for doubt. If the company isn’t signed over, Lex will take this man to the pain destroying all he cares for before killing him. However,before lex’s schemes can come to fruition, possessed Cyborg kills the entire US power grid and let’s off an EMP blast just for good measure.

This blackout serves as the perfect cloak for the rest of the Crime Syndicate to begin their reshaping of Earth Prime into the perfect image of horror. One by one they hit every major DC correctional institution to release the hounds on a world unprotected. This is also so Crimey Superman can bust into Lexcorp to get a Kryptonite fix. Kudos to the creative team for having him grind it up and snort it like a college Freshman taking Adderall during finals.

With evil running amuck, the issue closes with a feat of SUPERMAN like daring we haven’t seen the real Supes even come close to accomplishing yet. Let’s just leave it at the world is now shrouded in metaphorical and literal darkness thanks to the positioning of an entire celestial body in front of the sun.

Superheroes, Superfeats, Super Sold on this event. Now let’s see how the expanded titles fared.

A NOTE ON VILLAIN’S MONTH: First off: Holocovers? Get them is you can, they do provide a unique dimension and depth to the imagery that titillated the same nerve centers as when I saw my first mini hologram on titles like ROBIN I-VIII back in the 90s. Now, before we get into the play-by-play of select titles, I have to honestly say the .1’s left me nonplussed. I really thought these were going to be issues of villains raping the land with reckless abandon as opposed to a deluge of straight-up origin stories (I know, I know…my fault for not reading Previews). Some were good, some not so good, but all in all none of them served to push the event forward. Again, decent reads in many cases, just don’t think you need these books to push you deeper into the Forever Evil story.

darkseid-1-coverDARKSEID 1
Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Paulo Siqueira & Netho Diaz

I didn’t love this book, DARKSEID’s new origin is an antiseptic story that’s simply too clean and not evil enough to convey the terror that Darkseid brings to the universe. Before he ran a planet that is the embodiment of death, Darkseid was a…mud farmer along with is Brother-in-Law, Highfather. That’s right, both of the newest and greatest Gods were…mud farmers.

Perhaps I am tainted by the recent origin of Thanos, where his pathos was given form and explored from childhood to today. I know many, including my fellow Spoiler Alert hosts, who found that to be too much of a Kimono opening. This in my opinion is not enough. There’s simply no fucking way a man with this much discontent would subjugate himself for any period of time especially not until adulthood.

Basically Darkseid sows discontent into the ears of the old Gods to get them to fight one another. I didn’t see this as a herculean feat though. First off, hey are kind of stupid. At one point mud and fire make out in a field. Next flaw, all it takes is one night for Darkseid to climb the most sacred mountain the universe and one whisper to each God to get them to turn. I’m sorry, but Gods should have more freewill than the average watcher of TMZ or the Bachelor.

So the old Gods kill one another and as a final fuck you bestow their last bit of power to Darkseid and High Father. The artists did an admirable job trying to make this story epic, but as we all know spectacle can only take a story so far.

I hope someone eventually gets Darkseid right. He scared the beejezus out pf me as a kid with his reckless regard for all life. Thus far in the DC Universe, he jumped up and went BOOM once. Oh, and he farmed mud.

ventriloquist 1 coverVENTRILOQUIST 1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist:  Derlis Santacruz

Odd that this title hijacked BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT, since this  vaudevillian Carrie has been the bane of Babs over in BATGIRL. For the uninformed this new addition to the evil line-up possesses telekinesis that she chooses to manifest in murder and mayhem. Her weapon of choice (as the name implies) is a dummy with corkscrew hands of eye gouging delight.

This character has one of the most interesting and intriguing origins of the entire .1 bunch. As the uglier and less talented of twins, her delusions started early. Her perfect Brother was gifted the looks and talents, while our future murderer was perpetually forgotten by her parents. Simone makes these moments come alive by never transcending to hyperbole. This little girl was simply forgotten, not beaten or abused in any fashion. However, this is more than enough to make any would-be diva lash out by pushing the attention whore of the clan off a swing set so the spotlight can shine where she wants it.

It wasn’t so much the origin or the bawdy mannequin who get “wood” so much you think the little bastard was actually ingesting Viagra that entranced me. Don’t get me wrong any kill killing a clown to get a dolly is aces in my book, but what I liked best was that Simone remembered there was a larger story going on than just the genesis of evil. The entire origin is told to reporter hanging from the gallows of a dressing room. The Ventriloquist is getting ready to take the stage and perform her death non-defying act to anyone stupid enough to enter her theater of lights and food during this Forever Evil crisis.

I can’t wait to see more of this character and the depravity she will wrought with her little boy toy.

Joker-Cover-1-Forver-evilJOKER 1
Writer: 
Andy Kubert
Artist: Andy Clark

Anyone remember the old Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle?” Basically, Harry laments the mistakes of the  Father being passed to the son, then watching the son make the same damn mistakes.

Naturally, the recollections of a madman should be taken with a lick of salt, but since this is all we have to go on, we’ll roll with it. In a time before he lost his face we see the old clown prince of crime adopt a wee baby gorilla from the zoo. During each step of raising Bobo, Kubert flashes back to a similar, but far more horrific hyperbole of The Joker’s aunt raising him. It’s not hard to figure out the Joker was abused as a kid, but seeing it happen still stings the little parts of humanity that remain inside me. No one should fuck with kids or puppies period.

I enjoyed this issue for every reason I disliked DARKSEID. I want my villains to be evil for a reason, not just because. Also, Kubert reveled in the madness of raising a gorilla and making him the Joker’s Robin. And the biggest joke of all is that when all was said and done, this was just another laugh for the Joker to have at the expense of his own humanity.

superman-BIZARRO-1BIZARRO 1
Writer: Scholly Fisch
Artist: Jeff Johnson

Why? Just…why? BIZARRO hasn’t done shit in the DC Universe before now, why did we have to bring him back and in such a…temporary form at that. That’s right Bizarro’s genesis is also his destruction.

Keep in mind I have deep a prejudice against easy silver age trappings like Bizarro’s backwards speak.  So it was going to take a lot to get me to like a character that even Grant Morrison couldn’t warm me up to. The backwards speak is gone, but so os Bizarro by the last page.

Essentially Luthor moves his Kryptonian DNA cloning clinical trials from animal testing to Phase I (that’s human testing on people who are healthy for anyone not married to a clinical data specialist). Fisch does an admirable job with the page count afforded to get us to empathize with the wide-eyed cherub injects with his Bizarro juice, but again he’s just an expendable element in an expendable story. Some Luthor gadgets chase the mad creature around before Luthor melts it with sun rays (opposite – get it).

The only reason I think this book exists is the fact Luthor is hatching another labeled B-O. But why would he name it Bizarro before this one went bizarro? Uhmmm…moving on.

Literally moving on, week 2 just dropped. Let me go write some reviews that will actually help when you get to the store this week instead of remembering when.


JUSTICE LEAGUE 23 REVIEW – And We All Get SkullF%$#ed

Justice_League_23_CoverJUSTICE LEAGUE 23
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

DC just got Skull Fucked…and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

After much hullabaloo, speculation that has ranged from the outrageous to the downright erroneous, and fan reactions that could only be silenced by the monumental news of #BatBen, Trinity War ends.

I dug the Trinity War…a lot, but I’m also a self-professed DC fangeezer. To show my fervor isn’t completely deaf to reality though, I hear the arguments and I can’t say I disagree. However, it’s all about perspective. This is a build up to something else (namely Forever Evil), but I say that’s comics folks, everything should be a buildup to something else. I hear the accusations about false promises, but again comics should be a surprise – and when did anyone swear on a bible to work at a comic company? Finally, I totally understand the rage against the New 52 characters being different than they were before, but here is where old timers and those accepting of the New 52 can come together in gleeful harmony.  Because these young upstarts are about to get bitch sla vbpped with some old-school alternate Earth awesome.

That’s right Pandora’s Box…skull…was more likely developed by Jerry O’ Connell than God, it’s a transport device that brings forward the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3…and we all shat our pants.

This is a great choice to be the next morsel thrown to us alternate reality fans.  As much as I would have loved for all 52 earths to have been revealed in form and function when the Monitors wept at the end of FINAL CRISIS, I must admit this slow reveal satiates my all too male thirst for the hunt and frankly the tease. Thus far, the multiverse inductions have been stellar from Earth One’s heft, to the blink and you’ll miss it appearance of Earth 23 in ACTION. Every story has felt special because we simply never know when and how the next will appear.

This series and particularly this issue also helped quell a bit of my rage at the first arc in JUSTICE LEAGUE. I was not a fan of volume one, the whole thing lacked purpose in my opinion except that is on EARTH 2 where all the big guns died in a blaze of glory. Earth Prime’s League though, seemed to tussle with a few Mother boxes and had Darkseid yell at them for one panel before all was right again with the world. As it turns out there was a story behind that story. Whether it’s true or ret-conned I don’t care. It fills in gaps I was looking for on the eternal question of “why?”

All of these behind the scenes machinations are relayed to our dumbfounded heroes by the mystery man who orchestrated the war and much of the wrong doing since September 2011 – Earth 3’s very Joker like Alfred Pennyworth. This bad ass who has sent all of Earth’s heroes chasing around the globe and beating the piss out of one another is just a minion on the opposite and far more badass Earth 3.

The story ends with Pandora’s skull getting cracked open wide by ole Alfie so he can bring forth his masters of Ultraman, Superwoman, Owl Man and Johnny Q.

Johns also throws in a double…make that triple agent whose the cause of Superman’s sickies in this series. Nope, Supes ailments have nothing to do with the box…skull.

Forgive the run on sentences in this review, but I didn’t want a week to go by before congratulating DC on a job well done. Trinity War is pure comic booking, in any reality.

JUSTICE LEAGUE 19 REVIEW – The Distant Drums of Trinity War

Justice league 19 coverJUSTICE LEAGUE 19 REVIEW
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Gary Frank
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey ( aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

As I expected, after last month’s recruitment session this JUSTICE LEAGUE serves to utter the quiet murmurs that will crescendo into a cacophony of chaos in coming months.

Longtime fans won’t experience much shock or awe at the Gatefold WTF moment of BATMAN taking down SUPERMAN with a hunk of homegrown Kryponite, what is shocking is that once you get inside the opening pages BATMAN isn’t the one wielding the green death. We don’t know who it is actually, all we know is a clandestine figure with open access to all Bat-Cave systems knew exactly where to find Batman’s cache of JUSTICE LEAGUE busting weaponry. If I was BATMAN I probably would have mislabeled the suitcases in such an event (i.e. put the Kryponite inside the case labeled for the Flash), but I also understand that page counts are sparse these days and a page of the nefarious burglar opening suitcases doesn’t make for the most exciting moments in comics.

Now, what was truly WTF worthy is the second story in this book where SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN enter the global political theater. In a moment sure to enrage FOXIans and other right wingers, Supes and Wondie decide to enter the sovereign nation of Kahndaq to end a hostage situation after the US was specifically told to stay out.  That’s not the part that will piss off disciples of Limbaugh though, it’s the duo’s rationale for this raid.

Khandaq has stood as “that” ethereal Arab nation for a longtime at DC – sometimes it’s been Iraq, other times Afghanistan – not geographically, but politically. After the raid, Supes and WW have a moment of introspection where they justify events by saying all of the unwanted occupations and bombing of innocents haven’t changed a damn thing over the years. That’s a pretty bold statement by Johns and even bolder is how this changes the tide of comics. The last time SUPERMAN thumbed his nose at the American way in ACTION 900 there was a comic outcry. Now with the two biggest heavy-hitters singing a similar tune someone will need to step as the antagonist to this choice. Dangerous ground; is quipped by Batman who was spying on the couple, this is how villains get started.

What’s interesting is that Bats approaches the two with a velvet glove instead of the aforementioned hunk of Kryponite and whatever the hell he has tucked away to subdue WONDER WOMAN. He also brings up the fact that their hidden relationship is anything but. This was a great character moment as Bats shows genuine concern for their well-being versus simply being an information stream control freak. Despite the pleasantries, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will hear the Trinity Wars’ battle drums off in the distance. Months ago we all thought this upcoming schism would be caused simply by forbidden love; this moment just upped the stakes to a battle of ideologies for all comic characters.

The rest of the issue follows a similar set-up cadence, but with less gravitas and more fun. With some league members investigating the bat-cave to find out who walked away with the Kryptonite, Firestorm and Lady Atom are left alone in the watch tower. That is of course after Atomette finishes her dungeon raid in World of Warcraft. Great little character moment made greater for those of us who truly wish we could shrink ourselves and actually step inside Azeroth. As an MMO player though, I will wish her ill will for blinking out half-way through the raid – unacceptable whether late for an appointment or not. She gets payback though, as Despero crashes the down the doors of the satellite on the last page.

Reis delivers great pencil work, especially during the rising tension behind the trinity. Pain and anger adorn Wonder Woman’s face in every panel. Reis also does a great job of portraying Superman with a hanged lasso whipped expression on his face. Don’t judge, we’ve all been there.

The SHAZAM back-up continues to deliver on all fronts. Again, I truly hope there’s a plan here to meld the JUSTICE LEAGUE and SHAZAM threads, I would hate to think this gold has festered at the back of the bus for so many months with no good reason.

JUSTICE LEAGUE has had an awakening creatively since “Throne of Atlantis,” and while the past issues have been a respite action wise, it’s clear this is simply the walk before some great running in the near future.

JUSTICE LEAGUE 18 – Cyborg Must Use Bing!

justice league 18 coverJUSTICE LEAGUE 18
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jesus Saiz and Gary Frank
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Why hello JSA, I missed you.

Like a conductor stuck playing VFW gigs, Johns steps back into commanding a full orchestra of heroes in this latest installment of JUSTICE LEAGUE. The last time our maestro had this many action figures to play with was in Pre-52 JSA. Fear not though, the gremlin like expansion of that team will not be plaguing JL,  because after some fun and genuinely funny commotion,  only three contestants will remain on, “Who wants to live on a space station?”

With ranks dwindling by the epic event, Cyborg’s clarion call across the DC Universe at the bleakest moment of Thrones is finally answered. A new section of the Internet he invented called the Grid can pinpoint the location of every hero on Earth at a moment’s notice. Zatana, Firestorm and Black Canary are the first to be asked by the stalkerish Web 9.0, ” What are you wearing?” It was also at this moment the drool cup on Batman’s cowl swung into activation. Hey anyone remember that bug Bats planted on Superman’s back when he and Wonder Woman were playing grab ass in Kansas? No? Ok, guess it wasn’t important. Moving on.

The invitees who are touched by a Cyborg to try out for the JL are a motley and strange crew. Perhaps The Grid only has a plug-in for Bing. Aside from the aforementioned three the likes of Blue Devil, Black Lightening, Goldrush, Nightwing, Element Woman, Vixen and a Metalmen andrette named Platinum are invited to sit at the table.

Madness ensues as we learn the New 52 Will Magnus is more ineffective than Talia Al Ghul’s 12 Steps to Raising a Happy Child.

As Magnus’ failed experiment, Platinum, tarnishes everyone’s faces, the recruits get to show their stuff in true and surprising problem solving style though. A most welcome change from bash em up escapes. After all, all life is sacred, even when it’s broken and createdp by an ineffective simpering scientist. On that; I was seriously surprised by these Magnus moments and also Barry’s channeling of Wally West. One I can live with the change, but Barry no cute quips please even if you are being molested by a Goldfinger harem escapee.

The three that make the final cut are Firestorm (making super friends fans everywhere rejoice), the uninvited stowaway Lady Atom (I find her endearing already) and Element Woman (more kooky than a tenured college professor).

Once the party has ended and the moon bounce returned, our new justice league is faced with its first threat from some very l33t hackzors.

Ill allow the league this one issue respite, and even the ensuing next few issues of training wheels as the team works the kinks out. Learn from Atlantis though, BIG events because a BIG team deserves them.

Saiz did an excellent job, but he forgot to look at the cover and ensure Cyborg properly raged his way through recruitment instead of being calm and cordial like he was.

Shazam…I love you, please become your own book already. It’s so good and goes by so quickly I refuse to even review it. Sorry.

I’m Picking Up Good VIBErations – What’s the Frequency Johns?

VIBE 1 COVERVIBE 1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Publisher: DC
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 REVIEW- Finally a League with PURPOSE!

Justice league of america 1 coverJUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA 1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC
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.

JLA _1_5While 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.

JLA  PAGES 6-7Just 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.