Friday, April 27, 2012

Comic Review -- Justice League #8: Team-Up: Green Arrow / Geoff Johns, Carlos D'Anda, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Gary Frank

Another beautiful Jim Lee cover, and unfortunately the only presence of his during this issue.  Still, it's a winner in my book.  The depiction of an over-matched, harried-looking Green Arrow against the backdrop of an X'd out Justice League, spotlight suddenly on him, looks stunning.  It also fits with the tone, in a comical sort of way: the picture might suggest Arrow as the one who spray-painted the X over the Justice League, but in the story, he's trying--very hard--to get them to let him on the team.

This story is essentially about Green Arrow, who keeps showing up wherever the Justice League happens to be doing their super-group thing.  He consistently gets in a couple of helpful shots, and then gets shot down by the League when he asks them to give him a chance at a spot on their roster.  Aquaman in particular seems to have issues with Green Arrow, hinting at a shared past between the two of them.  When Steven Trevor shows up at Ollie's to tell him there's no place for him on the Justice League, he tells him there is another team he might work better on, to which Ollie responds enthusiastically.  Finally, as the Justice League members discuss their reasons for not allowing others to join them, we are shown a flashback of the entire team fighting against someone they had once allegedly let into their ranks, one Martian Manhunter.  From a far away location, J'onn seems to be able to hear their thoughts, and enigmatically remarks that "They are not ready."

In the Shazam story, Billy Batson is introduced to his new home, along with his adopted siblings.  He's obviously put off at the prospect of having to share house space with other teens and children, and ends up making the young girl, Darla, cry with his callousness.  Mary, the oldest of them, throws him into his room, explaining that Darla's original family just didn't want her, and that he was extremely rude.  When he expresses no remorse, she walks away, astounded at his self-absorption.  He admits he didn't mean to make Darla cry, and notices a face in the clouds as he's looking out his window.  It disappears quickly, leaving him to wonder at what he just saw.

I will say this about the New 52: it's giving me a good opportunity to get acquainted with heroes an characters I simply wouldn't have wanted to bother with in DC's normal continuity.  It isn't that I couldn't do it, but the process of figuring out the good stories to read, finding a decent entry point, and then keeping up with yet another title is just too daunting, both economically and in terms of time management.  Green Arrow and Shazam are both characters I've know of but never really read much of, so I'm liking that they're getting some exposure in this title.

I actually really enjoyed the Green Arrow story.  It's amusing, and Ollie is both charming and at least partially able to hold his own among the god-like entities on the Justice League.  I particularly like that, despite several swats away from them, including some veiled threats from Aquaman and some amusing put-downs from Green Lantern, Ollie's resolve is unchanged.  Wonder Woman being at least mildly impressed with his efforts was also enjoyable, as well as the fact that it widened the apparently simmering issue of whether or not to expand their membership.  And, of course, I'm eager to know more about J'onn's past involvement with the League and how that all went down.

Billy's story was okay.  It doesn't really do much new at this point: we see that he's still a little jerk, though maybe not as intentionally as he comes off.  We see him getting introduced to his new family, which he doesn't take well, and we see him reacting to a face in the clouds that suddenly goes away.  We're getting a setup for more action, which is fine, but I just felt like this installment could have been a little more compelling than it came off.  Hopefully they'll get past all the expositioning soon enough.

Much as I want Jim Lee back on the pencils here, I think the artwork in both stories was great.  D'Anda, Reis and Prado do a good job of creating a look that closely adheres to the visual experience that Lee set up in the first story arc.  It's all realistic yet dynamically stylized, and is great fun to behold.  The Shazam artwork is very crisp and full, with gorgeously rendered detail.  The art styles are very different, yet both work well.

Overall, while I'm a little confused as to the apparent abandonment of The Villain's Journey arc that was started last issue, this was nevertheless a good distraction for this month.  The Green Arrow story is funny, the Shazam story is passable, and the artwork in both is very good.  Highly recommended.

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