Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Tony Daniel & Gary Frank
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t it Cool News)
It took a year, but I think Johns is finally finding his groove on this book. Well, let me be more succinct: I think Johns has finally found his groove to appeal to a broader range of comic consumers.
To say this book was a failure the first year is myopic and stupid, it was THE bestselling book for the first six months after launch. Also, kids are eating this book up with one of their stupid little safety sporks. The main grumblings have come from us old timers who compare the title to the volumes sitting inside our brain vaults. Even with the thin and often inconsistent characterization compared to the JL members’ main books, the New 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE after launch was 10x better than where the book was post FINAL CRISIS. Hell, I remember two issues in those dark days where in one issue the Holy Trinity were swapping hero pictures like baseball cards to form a new team. Exciting huh? Then there was the cover where the Big 3 were walking away from the JL logo with their shoulders slumped…some say it was a good-bye and fresh start…I firmly believe it was shame.
With the New 52, JUSTICE LEAGUE at least had a plan. All comic aficionados should appreciate this. However the plan was heavy on art and very light on heart, Johns was given little space to do what he does best – turn a trope into a human. Not human human, but you know what I mean. Without humanity to these superbeings, we should all just keep rereading the Golden Age and call it a day.
Issue 14 succeeds for one reason and one reason alone…contact. No not the Jodie Foster movie. What I mean is the contact between SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN. If you read JUSTICE LEAGUE on its own, these are the loneliest characters on the team. They are Gods amongst mortals. Every fellow member of the team was once human in some capacity, they can at least relate to the human condition even if they no longer are mere mortals. SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN are true outsiders, yet they revere and long to be one with the human race. As comic collectors we always felt these two should be together and I applaud Johns for making this a courtship versus a wham bam thank you ma’am. Like most couples, the woman is never satisfied…I mean WONDER WOMAN isn’t satisfied with only knowing the Super and not the Man. So Supes introduces her to Clark. The part where he takes her to Clark’s favorite diner would have been awesome; it was a nice “show and tell” of the reason why Superman helps humanity. I say “would of”, because they wore their costumes. It’s tough to have a conversation when you are the two most powerful beings on earth. Would have gone civvies for this scene. However, the moment when they go to the Kansas farm that was perfect in tone and emotion.
The Cheetah storyline also ends before this event. It was all right. Daniel’s a more than welcome addition to this book, but one of WONDER WOMAN’S B-List villains simply doesn’t seem sponge worthy to me. Sorry.
Before we get into the SHAZAM there is an ominous last two panels that set BATMAN on a path he’s been down before and has always led to ruin. Will be cool to see how they twist it in the New 52.
Finally we have the backup SHAZAM story. SWEET HOLY FUCKITY FUCK WAS THIS GOOD. It makes zero sense to me why this isn’t a solo book yet. I can only guess it’s because SHAZAM is going to join the League in 2013. At least I hope so, because I want more, much more. For this vignette we see Black Adam discovering the world for the first time and his arrogance is amped up to 11. A little murder, a discovery that magic has been stolen from the world and the resurrection of the first sin of man, Sloth, made me scream at the page when this quick moment was over.
This issue proves JUSTICE LEAGUE is salvageable for Fangeezers. My personal opinion, they need a big bad guy to fight. The fallacy with the Darkseid arc was no development of Darkseid. Likewise the two arcs after never really explored the psychology of the villain. Slow it down guys; we’ll be patient with you I promise.
Please don’t speak for all comics collectors. You can only speak for you. I’m a comics collector and while I appreciate what Johns is doing here with Superman/Wonder woman this is not something I’m in support of nor something I want to see last long term as I think it’s truly detrimental to both characters and what they truly stand for.
First off, I think your description of the characters is incorrect. Superman was raised as a human. This increased isolation with Superman and separation from his humanity feels extremely wrong for the character and lacking in heart. Yes, Superman has the powers of a god and he’s “different” but he grew up as one of us and is one of us at heart.
Wonder Woman did not grow up as one of us. She loves humans very much but it’s in a much different way than Clark as she was not raised as a human and really….doesn’t belong with us. She’s a wise, watchful guardian. She’s not one of us at heart the way Clark is. That’s not a criticism of her nor a problem. It’s just different. Clark is one of us at heart. Diana loves us but she’s not one of us. The dual identity and the blending of alien/human is VITAL to Superman. That’s not the case with Wonder Woman. Their mythos aren’t actually telling the same message about humanity and putting them together cuts off a significant dual identity issue with Superman that is vital to who he is.
Superman’s loneiliess and isolation in the new 52 feels particularly forced and self-imposed. He laments that he can’t truly be close to the humans he cares deeply for (it’s more than clear that he’s still in love with Lois Lane and probably always will be) but when they reach out to him he pushes them away. It doesn’t feel sympathetic as much as it feels juvenile.
Wonder woman clearly was in love with Steve Trevor. She is slightly more sympathetic than Superman because she was “new” to Man’s world and taken aback by the violence and danger that was a part of life there. But truly, Trevor come off as more of a hero than either WW or Superman did in Justice League because he was a war hero willing to put his life on the line.
This “romance” doesn’t feel right to me…it feels pathetic and sad. Superman and Wonder Woman are desperate and lonely and sad. They are both turning their backs on the people they really love (Trevor and Lois Lane) because they are both too afraid to face what is difficult. But love should never be decided by what is “easy” or “simple.” True love should never be decided by fear.
So I can appreciate what Johns is doing here. But I think it’s a misread of the situation to think that this “romance” is being set up as a positive thing for either of them. Neither of them are really following their hearts. They are giving in to fear and turning to each other because they find the alternative—risking and being courageous with the people they really love—too emotionally scary. That’s not heroic to me. I expect better from my heroes. I expect them to take the risks that need to be taken just like we ALL have to. Fear should never decide love. I expect that where this is going long term is for these heroes to understand that seeking what is “easy” with each other is not the answer nor heroic.
Thank you Audrey for one of THE BEST comics I’ve ever had here or in my six years on Ain’t It Cool News.
You make some great points about heroics, but I beg to differ in a few places.
As for a romance between WW and SUPES. Yes, I have talked to many fans who have wanted this to happen. I mean thousands of fans through my time on Ain’t It Cool and speaking of cons. I may not be speaking for everyone, but I am most certainly not just speaking for myself.
Yes, Clark was raised by humans, but he can never truly understand what it means to be human. Man of steel, woman of tissue if you get my drift. In New 52, he’s never been depowered and as such never been able to experience the main reason we are here on earth – propagation. As such – no he still doesn’t know what it’s like to truly share yourself with another human being.
I might be able to concede on WONDER WOMAN’s love of Trevor, but there has been NO love between Lois and Clark in the new continuity. Clark has a crush and Lois barely even knows Clark is alive.
Your points stand well pre-New 52. But that time is now long gone.