The first 6 issues of this were all about showing how the team met and, more importantly, showing off how cool each individual member of the team is, but now that that’s over and issue #7 jumps ahead to present-day, I’m looking for more depth.
Other than the cover, Jim Lee is taking a breather this time. The art is instead being handled by Gene Ha and guest colorist Art Lyon. So you get a pretty different looking book than what you’ve grown used to. Without Sinclair’s vibrant colors and sharp lines the book takes on a much darker, dirtier look. It gives the feel that the world has gotten worse in the last 5 years and that would be an incredible touch if it was intentional. Instead, the story Geoff Johns has written hints more at a world that’s in control and grateful to a Justice League that has never failed.
So 5 years passed. What’s new? Well, from what I can tell…Cyborg is different. He’s a man now, not a teenager and he’s in full control of his abilities. He’s harnessed BOOOOOOOM tube technology to teleport the team around and that instantly makes him one of their most important members and he’s also great at retrieving intelligence. Soooooo basically I’m taking back everything I said about how the team doesn’t need him. Just by being able to BOOOOOM everyone anywhere he’s the 2nd most important member of the team probably. Superman is, well, Superman and you’ve gotta have him– he’s #1 BUT you wouldn’t guess it from this issue. Superman doesn’t speak a word the whole time (Hal, on the other hand, won’t shut up). Wonder Woman (who has an important role, just not action-wise), Aquaman, and Flash are basically there to swat down anybody that Hal and Supes miss. And you can always find Batman in the background of a splash page or 2-page spread with a grimace on his face as he punches a monster so it looks like he’s contributing. The team won’t even listen to Batman’s battle strategies and why should they? They have god-like Superpowers. There’s no need for flanking maneuvers when you have an indestructible man and another guy who can create anything with a thought. At least not in these stories. There’s a way of writing a Justice League tale where they have to out-think their enemies as well as out-fight and that’s where Batman really shines, but Johns has yet to present such a story. Until then, the solution will always be a punch, kick and energy blast. Lastly, Hal Jordan continues to get more and more annoying in every issue. I’m really starting to not like that character. He hasn’t grown up at all. None of them have.
In the last arc there were a lot of complaints, from me included, about how the team acted like a bunch of high schoolers. It was easy to argue that they were still very young and new to their powers, but now that it’s present day I expect Wonder Woman to somewhat resemble the character that Brian Azzarello is writing and I want everyone else to stop acting like they’re in 9th grade math class and the teacher just stepped out for a smoke.
The real heart of this story isn’t an actual member of the Justice League at all. This is the Steve Trevor show. He’s easily the most interesting character in this issue and the entire series so far. The stuff between him and the league, him and Wonder Woman, and him and congress shows more struggle, more emotion, and more depth than I’ve seen from any of the super heroes. And Gena Ha really draws these quiet moments very well. Honestly, I would buy a Steve Trevor comic.
And I don’t read “Justice League International” so hopefully somebody fills me in in the comments section, but what’s Batman’s role in that organization? Batman talks a lot of trash in this issue about the International squad, but I thought Batman was pulling double-duty on both teams (as well as Batman Incorporated because, ya know, the world needed 3 Justice Leagues and a Batman league). Did he have a falling out with that group? Is he not even part of it anymore? Was he never part of it and they just slapped him on the cover like they did with “Hawk & Dove” while back?
Anyway, in addition to the less than memorable Justice League story there’s a back-up tale also written by Geoff Johns and, unlike JL, drawn by Gary Frank (who knocks it out of the park. It’s a really great looking back-up and it outshines the Justice League in terms of art). This back-up is an important one because it’s the first appearance and origin of Shazam. I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about Billy Batson and his enemy Dr. Sivana, but pretty much everything I thought I knew got thrown out the window. Does that mean the story was bad? No. It means it’s too soon to tell if it’s bad. Since it’s only a brief glimpse at a much bigger story, I can’t accurately judge if the changes made will ultimately turn out for the best. For right now, I don’t like the changes and I’m not going to say what they are because that would spoil the fun. This Shazam story is the main selling point of the whole issue, but I can’t recommend spending $3.99 just to see these 12 pages.
The 7th issue of “Justice League” is pretty weak except for one really great character, Steve Trevor, and an intriguing back-up tale that introduces a super hero that doesn’t get enough respect or attention.