I wasn’t going to do a JLA review this week but there was simply too much Scarecrow and Catwoman in it for me to ignore. It’s also just a damn good comic that I enjoy reading anyway so I might as well say a little something about it. And by a little something I mean hopefully around 300-500 words. There are 8 comic coming out today that I need to review after all!
For starters, I really like the Juan Jose Ryp variant for this book. I think I like that cover better than this one, even though Catwoman looks mighty fine here. I also find the Finch cover to be a little funny because if you look at it you’ll see every hero in this weird clustered formation exploding toward… I’ll just say injustice. Everyone looks ready to fight or just ready to look cool… except for Vibe. Where’s Vibe? Look at the bottom right hand corner. He’s the guy running the f*** out of there.
Anyway, on to the actual content. The first few pages are part of a free preview you can find around the net right now and it’s the main thing I wanted to talk about as a Batman-guy. Geoff Johns depiction of Scarecrow aggravated me quite a bit. Why’s that? Because he describes Scarecrow as loving the sensation of fear. Not causing fear in others, but in feeling afraid himself. He used to gas himself until that wasn’t enough and the only reason he harms innocent people is so that the Batman will chase him. Being Batman’s prey is the only thing that instills enough fear in Jonathan Crane that he can get off. I hate this idea. I hate it a lot. Scarecrow’s a sick bastard who likes to scare people because he loves the sight of them writhing at unseen horrors. He’s lived his life as a weakling at every turn and the reversal of suddenly being the bringer of everyone’s worst fear is what he loves. He loves the power. He wants others to be as terrified of him and what he can create as he has always been of the bullies that tormented him his entire life. Having him be addicted to getting chased makes takes one of the most frightening villains in the DC universe and it reduces him to a pervert with a bag on his head. Stop it.
But besides that the concept of having the first JLA arc focus on the rise of the Secret Society of Supervillains is really exciting and it’s making it a more compelling read than Justice League proper, honestly. The idea of having a team secretly being trained to bring down the Justice League fight another group that’s openly being assembled to bring down the Justice League is just really cool. However, we’re still not quite to that point yet. It looks like issue #3 will really make the JLA and Secret Society collide but for now we’re still getting to know everybody. Last issue we had brief introductions to each character running about in their day to day life (except for Baz) and here we have everyone finally sitting at a table and talking (except for Baz, who is actually present this time but doesn’t say anything). This scene is WAY more entertaining than the one that happened in Justice League #18 today. Both of the Justice League books seem to be centered around the heroes chatting around a table and in the battle of who’s dinner part is more interesting, the JLA is the clear winner. I love the way Geoff Johns writes Savage Hawkman. There’s some really funny stuff here and the whole team interacts really well together. I suggest you pick up Vibe #2 as well. Not only is it a pretty fun read, but it ties into this comic and the previous issue of JLA perfectly.
Finch’s artwork offers an interesting contrast to the other Justice League title. You’ll notice that the other JL book is quite clean with pure colors but Finch and Sonia Oback are creating a very dingy, dirty looking world for these anti-heroes. Sometimes it’s a bit too dark and Finch’s lines are too heavy but overall it looks good. It’s a style that worked really well for the Scarecrow arc over in Batman: The Dark Knight and the villain scenes here but it comes off as a little too foreboding in this book’s more lighthearted moments. It should also be noted that Amanda Waller looks quite a bit younger here than she did in issue #1 and her hair has been relaxed. Not sure if I care for either look. I miss fat Waller.
Another fun thing you’ll see if you read this and Vibe #2 is that Barack Obama is indeed the PoTUS of the New 52.
This issue also includes the first of the Martian Manhunter backup tales by Matt Kindt (writer of Mind MGMT and a St. Louis native like myself) and the great Scott Clark (who passed away recently at the age of 43). Wow. It’s pretty undeniable at this point that the Martian Manhunter is one of the most formidable motherf’ers in the New 52. If it wasn’t enough to see him whoop the Justice League in a flashback in The Villain’s Journey or to hear a few of his powers described in the first to JLA stories (he can go inside your head and turn you into a completely different person for crying out loud!) then this short story will definitely convince you. Here is the story of how Amanda Waller convinced the President to accept the JLA and it is pretty awesome both in story and art. These backups are definitely going to be a real highlight each month just like Shazam over in JL, I can already tell.
Go pick this one up. I’m really enjoying JLA so far. It’s a lot more engaging than Justice League at the moment and it and Vibe complement each other really well. Plus the Manhunter backup is really cool. Can’t stress that enough.