It’s that time again, where we look at my purchases for this week. In part one, we’ll examine the offerings from DC comics. And in part two, we’ll look at the books put out by Marvel. Of note this week, additionally, is the start of the “Night of the Owls” storyline in the Batman group of books. All this and more after the cut.
Let’s start with JUSTICE LEAGUE #8, and why I seriously consider dropping this title. A good place to begin is at the tagline for this issue: “Will Green Arrow Join the Justice League?” The answer, of course, is a resounding no. Not that I ever held out hope of this occurring. I know how the industry works (more or less) enough to know DC isn’t going to alter the roster of their flagship series this early in the run. It’s issue eight, and the first six were spent getting the team together in the first place. This isn’t likely to change by issue thirty, let alone eight.
The only reason DC set up this little crossover was to get people reading both Justice League and Green Arrow. I don’t personally read Green Arrow, but sources say his book hasn’t been doing very well. In fact, the issue sort of reflect this a bit. Green Arrow stalks the League for several weeks, begging them to let him join, because this version of the character has a lot of baggage and wants a chance to prove himself as a hero. In fact, while he came off as a desperate stalker a good portion of the issue, I empathized with his character more than anyone in the League.
I think I finally figured out what’s been eating me about this series. The Justice League (and a lot of the surrounding supporting characters) are all assholes to a greater or lesser degree. And if they aren’t assholes to any significant degree, it’s because they barely get anything to say. I can’t remember the last time Cyborg had something meaningful to add to scenes other than short bits of exposition. In this issue, he teleports Amazo the robot to a holding cell after a fight, and that’s about it.
Oh, and wouldn’t it have been a lot better to see the League fighting a super android that can adapt to superpowers on a whim, instead of having Green Arrow stalking the League in search of membership? And what about the scene where the League effortlessly fights the agents of the Court of Owls? Maybe it’d have been better to tie the issue into that event than severely undermining its gravity by devoting five pages to it? And Green Arrow’s plot took up at least two of those pages!
And like I said, the League in this book is made almost entirely of assholes. Superman is the only one seriously receptive of the idea of getting more members. And he’s repeatedly shot down by the others, especially Hal Jordan and Batman (and Aquaman, who seems to be holding a grudge I assume has to do with one of their ongoings). At least this means Superman has developed into less of a dick in the intervening five years.
And speaking of dick, let’s talk about that Shazam storyline that makes up the B-Plot of this book. Billy Batson gets taken in by the latest of his potential adoptive families, this one made up not only of loving parents but also a number of foster kids. And wouldn’t you know it? These are Mary (Marvel), Freddy Freeman, and three of those kids from that Flashpoint story involving the alternate universe Captain Marvel of all people. I guess this is a nice touch, but it’s not like I particularly care about any of these people yet. Freddy is a criminal in the making, while the others are fairly bland.
It doesn’t help that I don’t much care for the art style, which makes the people look weird. I think Darla, the little black girl abandoned by her parents, is the only one who I don’t dislike. And Billy continues to be unlikable, despite the comic’s efforts to see him as a tortured soul lashing out because of all he’s lost. Sorry, but maybe I lost that feeling when he openly insults people and acts selfishly.
Oh, and we’ve still yet to get a real hint of Captain Marvel, meaning this comic is once again taking its sweet time introducing who we really want to see.
Okay this is taking too long, so let’s skip over to BATMAN #8, and the start of the Court of Owls storyline. The whole of the series run up to this point has lead to this moment, when the Court of Owls, the illuminati of Gotham city that’s been controlling it for centuries, brings its full force to bear against every major figure in it. And Bruce Wayne is right at the top of the list.
Well, technically I think the City Comptroller is at the top of the list, but Bruce gets an entire squad of the Court’s specialized, reanimated zombie assassins to fight against. And he could barely beat one in a fight, and he’s had little time since to heal.
If I had to criticize this storyline, and I do, I’d say the fact that this isn’t confined to its original book is evidence of how desperate DC is to capitalize on anything that’s working for them. This is a great issue, and one that’s come off of a string of great issues before it. So is it any wonder that every book in the Batman group has been hijacked to tell a city-wide story? In fact, I’d almost say the only way this falls short is that I don’t have as much confidence in the writers of the other books, like Batman & Robin, or Birds of Prey, or God help us Red Hood and the Outlaws, to live up to the strength of this plot that BATMAN spent its entire run building up. Not to mention to do so on basically short notice, dropping whatever plots they had going on, so as to participate in what amounts to an editorial mandate basically.
I don’t know if I’m going to go read any tie-ins to this, or if I’ll just continue with the books I’m reading. Given the ties to Nightwing, I might read that. But I have enough on my plate this month to deal with, so maybe not. I’ve heard that ALL STAR WESTERN ties into this event, though I’ve only gleaned that from covers, and only by way of Jonah Hex maybe fighting one of the Talons in the past. It’s all confusing, and I can only wonder what Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo intend to do with BATMAN after all this is over.
The last from DC this week is BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #3, featuring a preview for the upcoming Superman Beyond series. In fact, in addition to the A and B plots as with previous issues, of future Batman and the future Justice League respectably, the issue starts with several pages setting up for this new series. Superman is bummed, feeling inadequate about his place in the future, and questioning whether he should simply leave Earth. Meanwhile, a young woman and tech wiz finds a safety deposit box from her deceased mother, which leads her to find out her father was Lex Luthor!
Maybe that’s a spoiler, but honesty you wouldn’t care about that part of the Superman Beyond plot if I didn’t use that as a hook. I suspect DC found that Batman Beyond Unlimited was doing so well, and decided to create a spin-off in the Beyond universe. This seems like a common trend with DC today. Not that it wasn’t a thing they did before now, but it’s happening a lot today, as in this very day I’m writing about.
In the main A Plot of the issue, we continue the plot with Mad Stan and the Russian arms dealers from last issue. And then immediately drop it to bring the plot involving Terry’s hacker friend, and then back to the one with Dana’s brother, and finally looping back to setting up a confrontation for next issue with Mad Stan again. Not that this makes the issue unintelligable or anything. I guess I was just expecting the Mad Stan storyline to be wrapped up this issue. I really need to stop expecting quick resolutions to story arcs.
Meanwhile in the B Plot, the recently recovered Amanda Waller briefs the Justice League on what Cobra (not the GI Joe one, I reiterate) has planned, and how she and Micron came to be under their control. It heavily involves brainwashing and boom tubes, and at the end we learn Cobra intends to call upon some deep sea eldritch monster to destroy the world.
There’s been a lot of those around here lately, hasn’t there?
What I like about this issue is that while Waller talks about what Cobra plans to do, the art that goes along with it not only references the Challengers of the Unknown (remember who’s featured in DC Universe Presents right now?), but also to many of Jack Kirby’s stories, including Kamandi and the original OMAC. This is astoundingly awesome, especially given how most fans of Batman Beyond probably don’t know who Jack Kirby even is, let alone his many works for DC other than the Fourth World.
And before I forget, Micron is back in the tube of healing goo after the fight from last issue, marking the second instance on record where he spent a good portion of his appearance in the Beyond franchise as such. Floating in a tube of goo. Future Atom sure has gotten the shaft in this series, hasn’t he?
Next time, we’ll look at Marvel’s books.