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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Justice #6 - Aug. 2006

Comics Weekend "Justice Chapter Six"

Hey there everyone, Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett here with my review of Justice Chapter 6, by the stalwart team of Jim Krueger, Alex Ross, and Doug Braithwaite!

When we last left our story, things were still going poorly for the home team. Aquaman remains incapacitated, The Flash is running himself ragged, Wonder Woman is infected by a mystical poison, and Green Lantern is trapped in an unknown dimension. Perhaps most seriously, Superman has discovered that both he and Batman (and possibly others) have been outfitted with cybernetic, mind-controlling worms fused to their nerve endings. Thus, Superman tells Captain Marvel that in order to get rid of the worms, he has to be thrown into the sun!
After that attention-grabber of a cover, that's exactly where our story reopens. Cap Marvel does throw Superman into the sun (he's too weak from his beating to fly there himself). Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice…I mean, at a hospital in Ivy Town, Ray Palmer is recovering after being shot by a sniper. His wife Jean attends to him, but leaves as a nurse enters. But this is no ordinary nurse; it's Giganta doing her best Daryl Hannah-in-Kill Bill impression. She attempts to smother Ray with a pillow, but he activates his size-changing belt and shrinks away, while Giganta grows to massive proportions. Her size doesn't prove to be an advantage, however, as The Atom exploits a very vulnerable spot:
The old shrinking-into-the-eyeball trick works, and Giganta is defeated, although in the process Ray reopens his stitches. At the same time, Green Lantern is still flying through a vast, starless space. He asks his ring where he is, only to be told that he is outside the known universe. After learning that he has seven hours of charge left in the ring, Hal discovers that if he converts to energy and shrinks inside his own ring, he can stay alive indefinitely. Unfortunately, the ring tells him that if someone untrustworthy finds the ring, he could be trapped inside forever. Hal, having little choice, decides to shrink into the ring.
Back on Earth, J'onn J'onzz has reunited with Hawkman and Hawkwoman, having survived their attacks from Gorilla Grodd and The Toyman respectively. J'onn uses his psychic powers to track down the whereabouts of Toyman for the Hawks, and they all agree to meet at the League's designated rendezvous point soon after.

Inside one of the Legion of Doom's floating cities, Luthor realizes that Captain Marvel is now on the chessboard; a presence he didn't factor into his plans. Braniac asserts that unpredictability is unavoidable and that a new player changes little. Luthor asks Grodd to send "the dream" to Black Adam (thus endearing him to Luthor's cause, like the others). He also asks if Superman is still under Grodd's control, but Grodd can find no trace of Superman anywhere. And in Asia, Dr. Jonathan Crane (aka The Scarecrow) is still working benevolently for the Legion of Doom, administering eye treatments that eliminate the need for glasses.
In Gotham City, the first of the LOD's cities have begun to admit people inside, as Vicki Vale reports on the situation. In the crowd is a very odd, vaguely Amish-looking man, asserting that he's "never been well. If I had a dollar for every time Batman said I was sick, I'd be Bruce Wayne." He says this with a very disconcerting grin…
Superman is not dead; but he is de-wormed, and thus it's time to get some answers. At the same time back on Earth, Wonder Woman has contacted The Atom, and she decides to go check on Batman. The Atom muses that not only has the League suffered a massive attack, but public perception of them has also been affected. Wonder Woman arrives at The Batcave to find it overrun with vines, and Batman and Alfred bound by twisted steel girders. Batman tells her that Poison Ivy is there, but before WW can figure out who was able to twist steel to bind Batman, the villainess presents herself.
Poison Ivy (looking very Garden of Eden-esque) taunts Wonder Woman about her festering scratches, but WW remains undeterred, telling Ivy that she now has two Justice Leaguers to deal with. In Midway City, the Hawks descend into The Toyman's lair and face the full might of his safety-guideline-free toys.  Stumbling into another room, the Winged Wonders discover that the facility is a factory for making Braniac's robot duplicates. And back in space, Captain Marvel asks Superman why the worms were not used on himself, since their presence would seem to indicate Mr. Mind's involvement. They decide to check the JLA Satellite for information, but something unexpected happens:
Back in The Batcave, Wonder Woman discovers that Batman is under mind control as he attacks her. She manages to wrap him up in her Lasso of Truth, which immediately frees his mind. Batman takes out Ivy, helps up Wonder Woman, and vows swift justice on whoever is controlling him.

Meanwhile at Ferris Aircraft, Green Lantern John Stewart (acting on a call from Elongated Man) arrives to inquire as to Hal Jordan's whereabouts from Carol Ferris and Tom Kalmaku. They have no idea, although Carol remarks that it isn't odd for Hal to be MIA for long stretches of time. With that, we find Hal's ring, still floating in starless space with Hal inside. He has constructed from memory a replica of Coast City, and as he looks out over the verdant skyline, he wonders why he was ever given the ring in the first place. As he walks through the city, Hal also realizes that even if he can create a highly detailed replica of his home, it is still only a construct of his imagination, bearing no outside influence or animation. This depresses him enough to wonder if he will soon simply let himself die in space.
On a (slightly) lighter note we flash to Doctor Will Magnus' lab, home of the world-famous Metal Men. As the robots pace outside, each anxious in their own way, inside the lab Zatanna asks Dr. Magnus if he will be able to fix Red Tornado. He isn't sure, but Magnus is able to reactivate Tornado's mind. The first thing the android says is, "Aquaman. I found Aquaman. He's commanding the fish to show us where he is. He's in Argentina."  As we see Aquaman's living marker from space, pointing the way to Argentina, we also see The Flash, dashing faster and faster over the surface of the Earth. As he runs, he repeats: "Ican'tstopIcan'tstopIcan'tstop…."

A quick note on these reviews before I get into my thoughts on this issue. I realize that reading the synopsis of each issue may at times seem like a play-by-play call, with a quick scene followed by another and another, all in wildly different locations and with different characters. However, that is my attempt to match the pacing of this story, in which Krueger (with input from Ross and Braithwaite) keeps so many story threads rolling at a time (and does a good job of juggling all these threads). As opposed to many JLA stories of the past in which the team is a unit (or units) throughout the adventure, the Legion of Doom's plan of attack in this story is "divide and conquer". Thus we have the separate Leaguer crises that are coming together into the League finally uniting once again. So basically, the slightly choppy nature of these reviews is akin to the slightly choppy nature of the issues themselves; but hopefully they read smoothly and without too many starts and restarts. Just a quick point I wanted to make.

But that leads me to my next point. I've praised the art and design of this series quite a bit, as well it should be, and I'm certainly not changing that opinion with this issue either. The compositions, the storytelling, the action; it's all sold so well by the artistic choices. But I also want to spotlight the writing. There are many nicely crafted character moments in this series that would help to illuminate these heroes for any newbies picking up this book based on fond memories of Super Friends or the Justice League cartoons.

Take for example the moment after Hawkman and Hawkwoman enter the Toyman's hideout; Shayera grabs a second to tell her husband, "Just in case. I love you." It's brief, but it tells us so much about how devoted these two people are to one another. Another great moment happens during Hal Jordan's "darkest night of the soul" sequence in his self-created oasis. While taking a ring-slung elevator, he asks his ring to make the elevator shake a little bit, like an old elevator would. That simple request highlights how lonely he is and how the little things in life we recognize bring us comfort. I appreciate moments like these because they help shape the characters into something much deeper than just the icons and paragons of virtue that they initially seem.

Sadly, Aquaman doesn't appear in this issue, though he is mentioned by Red Tornado and we do get to see his cool "sea creatures mapping his location" trick again. So not a total loss on the Aqua-front but leaving quite a bit to be desired. Spoiler alert: Guess who's up and around next issue, along with an Aqua-family cameo or two?

So to wrap up here at the halfway point of the series: Each hero has been victimized, put in danger, and their loved ones threatened. Some have recovered to a degree, some are still stuck in a dark place. But they are beginning to get some answers, and since evil cannot triumph forever, the stage is set for the League to do what they do best. Be here soon as they begin the road to victory! And as always, here's Batman's case file pages on The Atom and Giganta. Please to enjoy:



Anonymous said...

Geoff Johns wearing an Aquaman cap "Arrow at PaleyFest 2013"
anyone got any further news on why hes wearing the Aquaman cap.

Russell said...

Love your reviews, Andy! You're doing a great job! :-)