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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Justice #2 - Nov. 2005

Comics Weekend "Justice Chapter Two"

Hey there everyone, Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett here with my review of Justice #2, once again by Jim Krueger, Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite. In issue #1, Aquaman had been captured by Black Manta and brought inside the undersea city/meeting area of the Legion of Doom, who are acting to protect the world from an apocalyptic future they have foreseen.

In this issue, nighttime in Gotham City brings out the usual suspects such as The Riddler, who is using the computers at Wayne Enterprises to hack into the Batcave's computers. One of Riddler's men notices someone approaching, and the computer identifies it as Bruce Wayne. But it isn't Bruce Wayne who breaks down the door:

Batman chases the Prince of Puzzlers and his men out of the building; pursuing their van with the Batmobile. While Riddler didn't put together the Batman/Wayne connection, he was able to steal many secrets from the Batcomputer and download them onto a disk. While in pursuit, Batman scrambles the van's communications so that the Riddler cannot open or send the information. Red Tornado calls from the Justice League Satellite with news of Aquaman's disappearance, and Batman pledges to help search after regaining the stolen information. After disabling the criminals' van, Batman pursues the gang into a nightclub called The Batcave (featuring a familiar Bat-logo):
Meanwhile, the Legion of Doom is putting their plan into action. Dr. Jonathan Crane, alias the Scarecrow, helps a disabled woman regain her ability to walk. Back in Gotham, Batman catches up to the Riddler and almost takes him down, but at the last moment the Riddler springs open his overcoat to reveal a holographic projection:
Meanwhile, the Flash traces the movements of his archenemy Captain Cold to the Middle East, where he sees the effects of Cold's ice-mountain creation from issue #1. Apparently, the melting of the ice produced a giant lake that has revitalized the area. Poison Ivy is busy as well, creating a gigantic vine to provide an impoverished city with abundant food.
Once again back in Gotham, Batman tracks the Riddler to Gotham Cemetery. He is employing heat-sensitive lenses to counteract Riddler's holograms, and they do the trick. The Riddler is defeated but, appropriately, questions remain. Batman wonders what the Riddler's use of a Russian nesting doll meant; but more importantly, he wonders what happened with the sensitive Batcomputer files while in the Riddler's possession. As the Riddler returns to Arkham Asylum, the Joker begins shouting that he wants to be a part of the Legion of Doom's plan. Meanwhile, back underwater, things are not going so great for Aquaman. Braniac is playing the mad scientist, and wants to skip the anesthetic and go straight to the surgery:
To be continued!

Compared to the Aqua-palooza of last issue, this one goes light on that story thread. However, it sets up and continues a handful of intriguing mysteries. What is the Riddler's purpose in carrying a Russian nesting doll filled with a preserved human eye and ear? Why does his riddle regarding "all the broken toys" match what Braniac says to Aquaman at the end of the issue? Why does Braniac want to cut into Aquaman's brain? And most importantly, is the big plan of the Legion of Doom motivated by philanthropy (uh, doubtful), self-preservation, or something more sinister? At this early stage all of the story threads are still clear and distinct (although things will complicate in future issues), making for a pleasurable read.

What else can be said about Alex Ross' and Doug Braithwaite's artwork? It's as stunning as ever, and having Braithwaite as co-artist helps to define Ross' art by allowing him to paint over a frame of tight linework. The effect makes the compositions clearer and more dynamic, in my opinion. I have to think that having Braithwaite on board must have helped Ross' workload, as fully painting 30+ pages an issue is an incredible undertaking, even with the bi-monthly schedule this book featured (if memory recalls, they didn't miss a deadline). We do again see Alex Ross' very personal convictions regarding his versions of the character's costumes, i.e., Green Lantern and Batman have no lenses over their eyes, the Flash's cowl has a seam over the forehead, etc. Overall just a great package to look at and still a treat for fans of 70's/80's DC Comics.

Unfortunately Aquaman is still in a victimized role in this issue, though that will change along with the advent of an unforeseen ability for the Sea King. It is an interesting setup for Braniac to be so interested in Aquaman as a test subject, but does it play into the Super Friends stereotype of Aquaman needing rescue? I don't know. The way I see it, while the story begins with Aquaman behind the eight ball, it ends with him strong, triumphant, and leading the charge. Not only that, but Krueger and Ross go out of their way to present him as a valuable and unique asset to the League. To me the pluses in his portrayal outweigh the minuses.

So that's it for this issue. Next up is issue 3, wherein things really start to get tough for our heroes. See you then! As last time, here's the information pages from the Batcomputer on the Riddler and Braniac:


1 comment:

Russell said...

I, too, thought this issue gave Aquaman extremely short-shrift. I was glad to see that he was handled better in later issues, but this story was a huge disappointment at the time. :-(