Saturday, April 13, 2013

Justice #7 - Oct. 2006

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Comics Weekend "Justice Chapter Seven"

Hey there everyone, Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett back again with a review of Justice Chapter Seven, once again by the esteemed team of Krueger, Ross, and Braithwaite. As last issue ended, some members of the Justice League were beginning to piece together clues about why they were each brutally attacked. However, many members still remain in deep trouble, such as The Flash; still stuck racing around the world; and Green Lantern, floating through uncharted space inside his ring.
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As we pick up this issue, J'onn J'onzz and Zatanna have followed Red Tornado's information and traveled to Argentina to find Aquaman. They arrive at the right location, but Martian Manhunter's mind senses no evidence of Aquaman's existence. He and Zatanna enter the building, and find the Sea King where Braniac   left him on the operating table. Horrified, Zatanna wonders, "What have they done to him, J'onn? What have they done to his brain?"
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Meanwhile, The Legion of Doom watches these events. Luthor is insecure that Aquaman has been discovered, but Braniac takes it all in stride, asking Grodd to activate his agents by sending out a signal. Luthor theorizes that Braniac did not find what he was looking for by "examining" Aquaman, so he is moving on to other plans. As for Braniac's agents, the Legion of Doom members in the field begin to attack the loved ones of the League. First up, Dick Grayson and Wally West are ambushed by Solomon Grundy.

As Wonder Woman and Batman (still bound by her Lasso of Truth to allow him to resist the LoD's mind-controlling worms) fly to the League's rendezvous point in the Arctic, WW is contacted by Dr. Will Magnus, the Metal Men and the newly rebuilt Red Tornado. Tornado tells Wonder Woman that Batman was the one behind the attacks on the League and the destruction of the Justice League Satellite. Wonder Woman decides to play things close to the vest, and instead of informing Magnus and Tornado about the mind control (they might also be infected), simply tells them to meet at the rendezvous. And as we see, the rendezvous point is a familiar DC Universe destination:

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At that moment in Midway City, Hawkman and Hawkwoman are destroying the robot duplicates of Braniac they discovered in a factory guarded by The Toyman. The avian duo manage to blow up the factory and escape, and in the debris Hawkman discovers the robotic worms. In low orbit, Superman and Captain Marvel watch as the Flash continues to circle the Earth, quickly burning himself out. They swoop down and follow him at high speed, and Marvel tells Superman his plan to stop the errant speedster. Superman thinks the plan is too dangerous, and asks Marvel why he can't simply use the speed of Mercury to catch up to and grab Flash. Marvel replies that the Flash is moving so fast he would simply vibrate through Marvel's hands. So instead, Captain Marvel tries out his initial idea:
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It works, but Barry needs to eat, so Superman and Marvel decide to take him to the nearest buffet. Superman asks Marvel to pay, since he lost his wallet while being thrown into the sun. Elsewhere, the Legion of Doom is hunting down the important people in the Justice League's lives, including in Atlantis.

Meanwhile, trapped inside the protective prison of his power ring, Hal Jordan faces his own personal demons; particularly his inability to keep a relationship with Carol Ferris going for a significant length of time. Even more depressed, Hal asks the ring to send him back out into space to die, but the ring refuses, saying that command contradicts its primary programming. It tells Hal that in his current form as an electrical impulse, he will live forever, but alone. Back on Earth, Mary Marvel and Freddy Freeman return to the mysterious tunnel lair of the wizard Shazam, only to be surprised by Black Adam, who grabs Mary and threatens to kill her if Freddy speaks his magic word.

In the Arctic, the members of the Justice League who are not incapacitated meet outside Superman's Fortress of Solitude and discuss all that has happened to them. The Flash worries that the LoG is going after his loved ones, but Captain Marvel tells him that if he rushes off now, he will be taken down just as he was before. Superman agrees, saying that to beat their foes, they all must come together as a team.

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At the same time, Zatanna and J'onn J'onzz have taken Aquaman to Dr. Niles Caulder of the Doom Patrol in an attempt to save his life. As they wait, Dr. Caulder appears, telling them that he was unable to do anything for Aquaman because Aquaman's body is healing itself! He has Arthur's body put into a saltwater tank to help accelerate his regeneration. Caulder theorizes that whoever mutilated Aquaman was looking for something in his brain that would be "complementary" to that of the animals with which he communicates. 

Regarding Aquaman himself, he also says, "It's extraordinary, isn't it? As if all the mysteries of the ocean were somehow made manifest within him…He really is a man of untapped potential." Dr. Caulder realizes that because Aquaman is an amphibian rather than purely a land-dwelling or sea-dwelling individual, he shares the traits of regeneration that many amphibians have, thus explaining how he is able to recover anything he has lost. Just then, Arthur awakes, asking for Mera:
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And speaking of Mera, we find her in the throne room of Poseidonis, cradling Arthur Jr. Garth rushes in to tell her that he just barely escaped Manta's attack. Mera asks how they are going to help Arthur, to which Garth replies, "We're not" and punches her in the face. He lifts Arthur Jr. out of her unconscious arms and says, "You're needed, little one." He immediately takes him to Manta, who boasts, "You have no idea how happy this is going to make Braniac."
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The ups and downs continue for the Aqua-family. Aquaman survived his ordeal with no lasting aftereffects and discovered a new ability (although I think he would already be aware of that, having sustained injuries before). However, now his sidekick is under the Legion of Doom's mind control and his son is in the hands of Braniac. It's time for Arthur to get off the sidelines and into the game.

Once again there's quite a lot to like in this issue from both characterization (J'onn J'onzz thanks Dr. Caulder for comparing him to a human) and art (details such as Superman's reflection in the giant metal key he hoists over his head) and the creative team keeps things rolling ever forward.


The only complaint I have with the story itself at this point is the slow reveal of Braniac's master plan using the Legion of Doom. He begins by searching for something in Aquaman's brain, doesn't find it and goes to look elsewhere. He is also building robot duplicates of himself, and talks openly of betraying Luthor and the others, yet Grodd still unquestioningly obeys his orders. Is he mind-controlling members of the Legion of Doom? Were the prophetic dreams sent to the LoD members simply a means to manipulate them, and if so, why go to that trouble if Braniac already used mind-controlling nano-worms? And now that he has Arthur's son, how does it all fit together? As a reader, I simply find this area of the narrative to be a little murky and hard to keep clear in my mind. Maybe that's just me, but it seems as though we only have clues at this point instead of enough information to follow along.

But other than that, I'm still very much enjoying this series. The art is a pleasure, the characters act just as we want them to, and they each are overcoming their personal challenges to make things right again. And now that the heroes have regained their bearings (most of them have, anyway) and are ready to take the fight to their archenemies; next issue promises some payback. See you here soon as we tackle Chapter Eight! As always, here's the Batcave files on Hawkman and Toyman to peruse and enjoy:

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