The last few months of Justice League 3001 have felt like a learning experience for both the readers and the creative team. Writers and editors must create a story that will most likely never be told, and have the skill and tact to make what comes out both believable and entertaining. Readers, meanwhile, have been subjected to a year of changes, with characters added and relationships changed without the slightest heads-up. I preface this review and score by saying that I think this book was an attempt to clear up a little of what’s been going on, and I hope that this issue ties into future ones. If not, this whole issue was a waste of time narratively-speaking.
Almost all of this book takes place in the form of a flashback, which I guess was inevitable considering the jump in time and the need to explain what everyone missed out on. The lead up is something that we’ve seen before in Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ work – Wonder Woman does not take kindly to Flash but sees a sort of blood-sister bond between them. They’re out for drinks, which blew my mind. How many times have we seen heroes just going out to drink together? It’s such a natural thing (hell, I did it last night) but there are precious few moments where we get to see our heroes in a more relaxed environment.
Wonder Woman, in her drunken state, asks Teri to tell her a story of battle. Teri, with her limited combat experience, shares a tale from her earlier days as Flash. At the request of Batman, Ariel/Lois sends Teri to the planet of Nirvana, a seemingly dead ice planet meant as some form of survival training. Ariel/Lois has reservations about sending her alone, but Teri demonstrates the classic Flash-enthusiasm at the chance to show her stuff. On Nirvana, Teri’s speed causes an avalanche to almost crush her, and she takes refuge inside of an abandoned station of some kind. There the action picks up when she comes face to face with her assigned arch-enemy, Mirror Master.
Most of the issue focuses on the interaction between Flash and Mirror Master once they figure out how to escape the avalanche, and it’s here that the book shines. Mirror Master acting as a reluctant ally even helps TerI figure out some of her powers’ uses and revealing that he does not want to work with the Injustice League was a really nice touch. It’s just another sacrifice to the time-skip, however, as I’m sure there was some story behind the schism in the Injustice League. The strength of this issue, however, lies in their time together.
While Teri and Mirror Master working together is fun to see, the writing feels lacking and uninspired. The same jokes which have been rehashed throughout the series’ history come to light here – Teri keeps calling Mirror Master Mister Mirror, for example – and it reminded me of a comedian who goes too long without adding to their routine. Comedy does not age well, and it certainly ages quickly. To keep people coming back month after month, the humor does not necessarily have to evolve beyond this realm of jokes, it just has to explore different parts of it.
The art style, this time helmed by Howard Porter and Scott Kolins, definitely left a different impression with me. I’m unsure as to whether Kolins will be around for more issues, but I’d like to see their style play out for a few more books before I give a definitive opinion on it. It is certainly a drastic change from the work of Hi-Fi, Porter’s partner for the last sixteen or so issues of JL3K. At first I was thrown, as the cloudy outlines and less angular features were not what I was expecting when I opened this book. When it came to the vibrant night life of Takron-Galtos, I found this to be a little detracting from the story – which was already easily the weaker part of the issue – and whenever Flash and Wonder Woman were in that bar it took away from the more interesting plot on Nirvana. Once there, the prevalent use of shadow worked well during the cave-in scenes, though the action did not feel as alive and vibrant as it had with Hi-Fi’s imput. The scenes on Nirvana would have been way cooler in a more realistic, grittier book, but here they succeeded in conveying a sort of disconnected alliance. Both Flash and Mirror Master are faceless through most of this – with Mirror Master’s true intentions hidden from even the reader while Flash is unsure of what to make of her former-arch-nemesis.
- Mirror Master eventually makes his escape in a pretty cool way, with some help from Flash. She polishes off some ice and makes it reflective for him. He then disappears through the dimensional space, asking her not to tell anyone about their encounter.
- I’m confused as to why Mirror Master, who was such a reluctant part of Lois’ plan, didn’t just out Lois/Ariel as being a double agent. I don’t think I wouldn’t have noticed if they hadn’t brougbt it up two or three times throughout the book.
- Did Batman know about Mirror Master on that planet? He was the one who signed off on the mission and chose the planet. We’ve been getting hints that he knows something is up with Ariel, and perhaps this is part of some greater plan. It’d be classic Batman.
Favorite Quote: “Says the man who led twelve-year-old boys into battle against The Joker.” “That’s a ridiculous myth. You know me, Ariel. Do you think I’d ever do anything that reckless and stupid?” – Ariel and Batman
- You want a change to a more shadow-based art style.
- You’re a fan of TerI-Flash or Mirror Master.
- You like when heroes and villains team up.
Not Recommended If…
- You don’t like flashbacks – it’s one big one.
- You were hoping for some forward progression, though I can’t believe that this wouldn’t be included in some later plot line.
- You look forward to seeing the Porter/Hi-Fi team.
Overall: I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this. It has the camp that JL3K has been known for, but it also doesn’t know when a bit has run stale (also that JL3K has been known for). While I’m torn on the change in art direction and what purpose this story holds in the overall Injustice League arc, fans of Flash and Mirror Master will find this book enjoyable.