Justice League: Gods and Monsters #2: “Genesis”
Story by J. M. DeMatteis and Bruce Timm
Written by J. M. DeMatteis
Illustrated by Thony Silas
Colored by Tony Aviña
Lettered by Saida Temofonte
Things are starting to get interesting here in the Gods and Monsters universe.
Last week’s debut was an enjoyable start, if somewhat slow and scattershot. This week, DeMatteis dives head-first into the intrigue and delivers a much more solid story. There’s no middle installment syndrome here; if anything, this is probably the strongest issue of the series outside of Wonder Woman’s solo outing.
Previously, the (As-Yet-To-Be-Christened) Justice League received word that Jackson Alpert had been experimenting on the elderly and infirm, providing them with a “miracle cure” for the aging process that also endowed them with superpowers. These new Forever People, as Alpert dubs them, are a new beacon of hope for the world, the next step in human evolution.
Naturally, things are not as they seem, as Bekka, alias Wonder Woman, is reminded of similar tests performed by the long presumed dead Doctor Psycho, and the ever suspicious Batman sees it as too good to be true. Superman, on the other hand, is driven almost by jealousy at the prospect that there might be others out there as powerful as himself, so he confronts Alpert about experimenting on him.
It goes about as well as you’d expect.
Seeking answers, Batman confronts Lex Luthor, here a professor at Gotham University, and is in turn put on the defensive regarding his own superhuman status. “Can you honestly tell me that we shouldn’t be terrified of you?” Luthor asks. “That you’re not a trio of monsters… capable of devouring us all?” While there isn’t any in depth detective work that the normal World’s Greatest Detective does, it’s a good opening to the issue and shows that this Batman at least attempts to use his head to solve problems instead of just succumbing to anger and bloodlust. Luthor is characterized really well too, with the same arrogance we’re used to. (“And is that name supposed to mean something to me?” he asks after Langstrom dramatically reveals his identity.)
The majority of the rest of the book is action, and it’s all the better for it. Thony Silas’ pencils are exaggerated and cartoony enough to make things move dynamically while still being clear. Some of his faces look similar, but everyone is given enough distinguishing features so that nothing ever gets too confusing. Thankfully so, because the fights between the trio and the Forever People are incredibly brutal, with no shortage of blood and gore.
It never feels gratuitous, though, and the outcome of the first big fight further demonstrates just how monstrous Alpert’s experiments are.
There are some good lines here, especially in that first scene between Batman and Luthor, and DeMatteis keeps things moving during the fight scenes in a way that furthers the plot without cluttering up the page with text. Lois Lane still acts as our narrator as well, and her doubts and cynicism towards the “heroes” is just as strong as before. When she finally dubs them “the Justice League” it doesn’t read as a triumphant moment, heralding the hope that name normally carries; instead, it reads as a sarcastic jab, a resignation of acceptance that they may be the lesser of two evils. It’s heavy and could have easily buckled under such a cynical attitude, but seeing just how flawed these characters are and how willing they are to admit it makes them much more sympathetic. Even Superman, who is driven by pride and arrogance more than anything, at least realizes the difference between right and wrong.
His script, along with Bruce Timm’s input, and the art from Silas and Aviña makes this an enjoyable read. With the animated roots and the same art team, it reminds me a bit of Batman Beyond, which I greatly miss, but it’s an acceptable substitute in a similar vein. Gods and Monsters is proving to be a worthwhile, daring endeavor from DC and Warner Bros. If their future original movies can inspire comics like this, I’d welcome it with open arms.
- You enjoyed the movie and/or other comics.
- You like some good action scenes.
- You like Elseworlds and similar takes on characters.
Overall: Light on plot but heavy on action, this is a quick read that is still satisfying. After the decent start, DeMatteis, Timm, Silas, and Aviña have settled into this world nicely and twisted the familiar concepts to make an intriguing alternate reality. It has a ways to go before I’d say it’s a masterpiece, but based on my initial reservations I’m pleasantly surprised.