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Saturday, December 08, 2012

Justice #4 - April 2006

Comics Weekend "Justice Chapter Four"

Hey there everyone, Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett back with a review of Chapter 4 of Jim Krueger, Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite's epic Justice series. We left off last issue with things at a low point for the Justice League: the Martian Manhunter fell victim to a vicious psychic attack from Gorilla Grodd, Aquaman underwent unscheduled surgery courtesy of Braniac, and worst of all, the Riddler's hacking of the Batcave files enabled the Legion of Doom to discover all the League's secrets.

As we pick up this issue, the LoD is launching their plans for the JLA members. But first, they continue with their scheme to woo the world's population with promises of safety and opportunity:
As Luthor and the others broadcast their propaganda, Bizarro makes a beeline for Clark Kent's apartment, hitting him hard and fast into a nearby construction site. At Ferris Aircraft, Hal Jordan is surprised by Sinestro, bearing a devious plan of his own. In Star City, Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance's…evening delight is interrupted by both the Scarecrow and Clayface. And as Wonder Woman finishes her speech at a women's conference, she is attacked by the reborn Cheetah:
The Cheetah scratches Diana deeply across the face, and Diana realizes her foe is much more powerful than ever before. In Midway City, Carter and Shiera Hall's Midway Museum is attacked by a most unusual foe as well:
In Ivy Town, Giganta shoots at Professor Ray Palmer from a nearby rooftop, hitting him in the shoulder and preventing him from transforming into the Atom. Meanwhile in Metropolis, Bizarro beats Superman (still partially dressed as Clark Kent) as Metallo shows up alongside Solomon Grundy, who's still discussing what he does during his week (dying on Saturday, buried on Sunday, etc). Then the Parasite appears, making a very bad evening even worse for our Man of Steel. Over in Central City, Barry Allen eats a peaceful meal with Iris West. Peaceful, that is, until his JLA signal watch goes off, triggered by Superman. Barry rushes off to help, while Iris comes face-to-face with the much less friendly mug of Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold.
As Barry heads out in costume as the Flash, he suddenly discovers that his speed is no longer under his control. Back in Metropolis, Superman is close to death as Parasite steals his strength and Metallo exposes his Kryptonite heart. And elsewhere, we see the aftermath of these attacks: Wonder Woman is seriously injured, Midway Museum is in ruins, Ray Palmer is missing in action, and Green Arrow is in very bad shape:
The rest of the League is in similar peril. Green Lantern is lost in a world of dark space, Martian Manhunter is adrift in the ocean, Aquaman is compromised after being operated on, and Red Tornado is literally in pieces. The silver lining is looking very hard to find at this point:

In story terms, this issue is what would be referred to as the "everything is lost" point for our heroes; the lowest of the low. The Legion of Doom is succeeding on three separate fronts of battle: swaying public opinion to their side, throwing the JLA under the proverbial bus, and landing devastating physical blows to each Leaguer. It has been said before that superheroes would be in trouble if the supervillains were able to get mobilized and cooperate in their goals, and in this story it is happening. Of course, this only being issue four, we know there is going to be a reckoning as our heroes make it back to the top, but Krueger and Ross have plotted out a massive set of challenges for them to overcome.

The most interesting dilemma posed by this story is the idea of the amount of intervention that heroes like the JLA should have in the lives of ordinary humans. Would it be such a bad thing if Superman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, or Wonder Woman were able to ease some social ills in areas where conditions are at their worst? Not to change governments or impose their own rule, but to act in a humanitarian aid capacity? It is a fertile topic for discussion.

Not much Aquaman content in this issue. His body is shown in its post-surgery state to get across how imperiled our heroes are at this point. We'll have to wait until later to see him start laying down the smack where appropriate. But to be honest, that's the position every Leaguer is in at this time, so I suppose we can't feel too cheated that Aquaman isn't up and around yet.

As always, the art is stellar. I'm especially impressed by how complete Alex Ross' (with Doug Braithwaite's help) art comes across. He sells these characters, whether it be the horror on Green Arrow's face as Black Canary morphs into the hideous Clayface, or the determination in Carter Hall's eyes as he dodges the bullets of the Toyman's creations. And of course, the design and composition of shots, panels, and even costumes really benefit the story (I'd love to see Ross' "scar-tissue" Parasite design used if the character ever makes it to film).

That's all for now, but join me soon for issue five, as the League begins to turn things around. See you then! And as always, here's the Batcave file pages for Bizarro, Solomon Grundy, Metallo, and the Parasite as they appeared in the original Justice issues.



Joseph Brian Scott said...

Really enjoying your recaps of these, as I only bought the first couple of issues, for some reason, when the series was in the shops. I'm on tentaclehooks waiting to see what happens!

Jorge PR said...

Hmmm... if I remember correctly, after being lobotomized by Brainiac and found by Zatanna and Martian Manhunter, Aquaman doens't get a lot more to do in the series (if you don't count vowing to kill Brainiac). Am I wrong?