Justice League 7

Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Justice League 7, originally released March 22nd, 2012.

Peter: Okay, I like a good team book as much as the next person. It allows for interesting character interaction on a regular basis. It also gives me the feeling that there are clearly some things that no one superhero can take down on their own. That’s how this Justice League came together; no individual could defeat Darkseid. They were brought together by fate — and Fatherboxes — to defeat evil. Now, we’ve jumped ahead to present day, the origins are long gone, and now we get a taste of the current Justice League. But why does it taste funny?

This issue starts with Spore monsters attacking people in Baltimore. The Advanced Research Group Uniting Super Humans, henceforth referred to as ARGUS, is responding, and getting bugged by civilians as to why the Justice League isn’t there helping. On cue, BOOOOM, the Justice League appears, and those whiny civilians are elated with their presence. The JL fights the monsters, then has a quick intel meeting, complete with Green Lantern umbrellas. Batman starts to lay out a plan but GL and Flash head off on their own, ignoring anything Batman has said. They then encounter Papa Spore (and more Spore Monsters) in the act of attacking Papa Spore’s ex-wife. The rest of the League shows up, and they beat him up.

Flash forward 1 hour, and Colonel Steve Trevor, the man with two first names, and the head(?) of ARGUS is giving a press conference about the events, and he gets riled up by the press doing what it does. We then see Steve in a meeting with several US Congressmen and women, and they express their doubt in Trevor’s ability due to his potential ‘involvement’ with Wonder Woman, and their overall lack of trust in the Justice League and ARGUS. But Steve takes them all to school. Colonel Trevor hops on his computer and starts up a video conference with the Watchtower, and begins to talk to Wonder Women, but they are interrupted but mindless bickering between Batman and Green Lantern which then into a complaint-fest for the Justice League to unload a bunch of stuff onto Colonel Trevor. We learn why Steve Trevor does what he does, and after he signs off his video com, we learn that he clearly had his heart broken by Diana. We then cut to the narrator continuing his story, as we discover that it is none other than David Graves, who literally wrote the book on the Justice League. He clearly has had a change of heart about them, as it is revealed that he has stolen the Orb of Ra and now knows exactly how to beat the League…Steve Trevor.

This is our first issue of a present day Justice League, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t feel connected to the rest of the new DC Universe at all. This issues raises several questions, like how does Hal have a ring and use it, if Sinestro controls Hal’s ring? Or — and I’m sure this is Patrick’s big question — where are the owls??? But really I don’t have a problem with most of these things, and have decided to read Justice League as if it were a completely different setting away from the rest of the Universe.

The best part of this book is Steve Trevor. Colonel Trevor is clearly the hero of this issue, and is in more panels than the entire Justice League. We get to witness gods among men through the eyes of Trevor in Justice League #7. What’s interesting about this approach is that Geoff Johns doesn’t really pull any punches in making the members of the League come off as cocky jerks. As the book’s titular characters, you would think this series would paint them in the best possible light. But that isn’t the case. Instead, we follow along with Trevor as he acts as the liaison between the League and Congress, a job that looks like it’s an absolute nightmare made worse by the fact that Trevor is essentially an errand boy for “gods.”

Oh man, does Johns make the members of the Justice League cocky jerks. Hal Jordan especially, and to some lesser extent, Barry Allen.

I mean, just look at Hal’s cockeyed smile. I feel like he could instantly start to sell me insurance at any point in time. Also, the team dynamic is drastically different from an previous incarnation of the Justice League. This issue doesn’t really expand the characters at all, which is a little disappointing. Batman is still trying to enact order and tactics and gets frustrated easily, Wonder Woman is still Wonder Woman-ly, Aquaman still hits things with a trident, and Superman might as well not exist in this book at all. This feels soooo weird.

The art in this book is different, with Gene Ha standing in for Jim Lee. Ha does a great job of drawing out the emotions and facial expressions of Steve Trevor. They are perfect for understanding what is going on Trevor’s head. Ha’s strengths come in at the close up shots of people, but they get a little lost in the two pages spread in the middle, but that is still amazingly fun to look at.

We see each member of the JL doing what they do best, in their own unique style of superheroing. This, I like.

Even after five years, this team still doesn’t seem to work well together. Why oh why? This is the JUSTICE LEAGUE, they are supposed to set the bar for all other superhero teams. I am seriously hoping that with the introduction of another ‘big’ villain in David Graves, they will be shocked into a better team dynamic. He has stolen the Orb of Ra, and wherever that Orb is, means that Metamorpho cannot be too far behind. That should be interesting.

This issue really brings to light the Gods vs people idea of the Justice League. The ‘gods among men’ so to speak. It is not an uncommon trend for superhero comics, especially Justice League, but it needs to be fleshed out more. I love Colonel Trevor as the bridge between the two ideas, and I hope to see more. But this felt like a Steve Trevor, Agent of ARGUS book, and not a Justice League book — that’s okay, as long as we going up from here.

I want to take a minute and get excited about the SHAZAM back story. I have always loved SHAZAM/Captain Marvel, and I am looking forward to this story. I really liked how this didn’t overreach, and did a good job of setting up characters and the universe. Through the magic of retcons, Billy Batson is a little asshole.

Let me say that again. Billy Batson is an asshole.

This is weird, because Billy Batson/Captain Marvel was always the one person you could count on to do the right thing. Of course Johns is setting him up to learn a big life lesson, but this still scares me a little. Oh, and I’m not thrilled that Dr. Sivana is Lex Luthor with glasses. I miss the sniveling old bald man. But I LOVE that this story is bringing up the science v. magic in society, and that should make for a very interesting plot line. Up until this, magic has kind of fallen by the wayside in the New 52, save for Justice League Dark, and to a lesser extent, Swamp Thing. But colored me impressed. I think I may be more excited for the SHAZAM storyline than the Justice League story.

Shelby: I don’t want to see the members of the Justice League behaving like dicks. There, I said it. They all kind of struck me as just…childish. Cyborg was the only one really accomplishing anything, and isn’t he a child? I agree with you completely; retconned or not, this is the Justice League, the team of teams! Come on, people, pull it together! I don’t know, I can’t even really muster up a proper criticism, I just feel underwhelmed.

There were some things I liked. This issue was full of small moments, both in the writing and the art, that I really appreciate. I was immediately taken with Ha and Lyon’s artwork; some of the high action scenes get a little muddy, but they imbue a ton of personality into the characters. All the characters, background extras included. My favorite moment is at the press conference, there’s some old man throwing up some JL gang signs.

Haha, what? That’s a little dumb, and I totally love it. This book is full of little stuff like that. Johns gets in on the action too, with Aquaman telling Hal he doesn’t need an umbrella in the rain (get it?!?), or Hal hitting on the woman they rescue from the monster. There are a ton of small moments in this book that are damned charming, and bring a smile to my face. Are these small moments enough, however, to make up for the fact that the characters are acting like cliched mismatched college roommates for a mediocre coming-of-age comedy? Well, they keep me from completely hating it, at least.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

16 comments on “Justice League 7

  1. Peter, you’re totally right, Steve Trevor really shines in this issue. If this book was completely about him dealing with the press, government, and public and there were zero appearances by the heroes, I probably would have liked it more.

  2. It’s just a irritating to me that Superman has maybe said a dozen or so words in this entire series. He’s motherfucking Superman! Truth, Justice and the American Way! The Big Blue Boy Scout! I expected him to be out in the forefront, leading this team, not just a quiet bruiser. It’s really put me off of the Superman character of the New 52.

  3. I did think that it was interesting that Cyborg has kept his knowledge of Fatherbox/Motherbox/Boom Tube technology and they use it to get around. That’s pretty neat, especially since not everyone can fly or run really fast. An interesting story element, that I could see coming back to bight the JL in the ass. I also get the feeling that while the Justice League saves the world time and again as reported in this book, that they haven’t had a lot of major threats overall. Like this Spore guy, seems like small potatoes for the League compare to something like The Legion of Doom, or Darkseid. That’s why I hoping that David Graves will be able to do that, with the Orb of Ra, which is immensely powerful, giving it’s wielder, among other things to transmute stuff, make Metamorpho, and enslave people.

    • Honestly, I don’t think any of the JL Team are being shown in a flattering light. Hal is an even cockier ass than usual, Barry is the kid brother tagging along, Batman is an uptight control freak, Aquaman is practically nothing, and Wonder Woman is the token girl. Not impressed.

      Is David Graves an existing character, or is he new for the relaunch?

      • David Graves is new to the relaunch. I think that showing them in a rather unflattering light is an interesting take. We are getting a lot of these ‘Gods among men’ metaphors, and for some of the JL they don’t really know what it’s like to be just a regular person. There could be a humanity/humility lesson in their somewhere. If people are seeing them as gods, then they will start acting like them, and obviously show little respect for things like property damage, and doing things the ‘best’ way, as opposed to doing it whichever way they please.

  4. I’ve always kind of gotten the impression that the Justice League has to exist in some kind of parallel timeline where the heroes have enough time to hang out in the watchtower and handle domestic disputes in Baltimore. There’s no mention of the League in any of the characters’ namesake titles, and they’re all busy enough in those titles to make you wonder when they had the time to develop this reputation as the country’s garbage men. I’d really like to see Justice League stories that justified them getting together, but I can also see the appeal of having these characters bounce off each other on a regular basis.

    What’s weird is that these versions of the characters are so far removed from what we’ve seen of them elsewhere in the New 52. Hal has a ring and is hitting on randos? Wonder Woman is a hawkish naif? Batman’s a pragmatic nag? I read Justice League because I want to see characters I like interacting. Just because they’re wearing the same costumes doesn’t make them the characters I like. I’m all for different interpretations of these heroes, but I’m not sure it’s possible to like these characters as they’re shown here.

    It is pretty funny when Supes and Aquaman are walking by in the background, as it’s kind of an acknowledgement that they aren’t really in the issue at all. Seven heroes is a lot for a single issue to cover, especially when it focuses so much on non-leaguers. I actually liked the Colonel Trevor stuff, but could have done without the ending with David Graves. It really felt like something out of the Inspector Gadget playbook for trying to end on a cliff-hanger.

  5. Can we talk about how silly the idea of Science vs. Magic is in the context of the DC Universe? From the sound of it, the members of the Justice League are all considered “science” – that is to say that all of their powers are explained by methods other than “magic.” But hold up: What possible scientific explanation could there be for the Yellow Sun of Earth giving Clark Kent his litany of powers? And the Flash taps into a made up spectrum of energy to move fast and displace objects in time? Or Green Lantern has a ring that can make manifest ANYTHING HE WANTS? DIANA IS A DAUGHTER OF THE KING OF GODS for fuck sake. As far as I’m concerned, Batman is the only member of that team NOT using magic.

    Also, if Magic is real, then why is it still magic? If its real, it can be studied and measured and is therefore a goddamn science.

    • Here we go. Superman gets his powers from Earth’s yellow sun because the solar radiation interacts with his body on a cellular level. Barry’s power are the product of a chemical spill plus a bolt of lightning, but I would agree that the Speed Force is a little magical, but you could explain that the energy that Barry generates by running, and thus all speedsters is contained and collected on a level that human eyes cannot see or comprehend, not unlike radiation or subatomic particles. The Green Lantern Rings harness the energy created by the collective willpower of the universe, and act as a conduit for Hal to sculpt. Wonder Woman, is probably magic.

      I think what they are getting at with Sivana and SHAZAM is that overall magic has kind of fallen by the wayside with the inventions and scienc-y stuff. Think back to ancient history, anything that could not be explains was considered magic, and as the human race evolved the curiosity drove us from Plato’s cave and into the light as we began to understand the world around us, and discover it’s meanings.

      • Also, I think there is a difference that we will probably see between ‘magic; and ‘mystical shit’ that will somehow pull that magic is the unexplainable out. Like what Zatana or Zatara does is magic. Or Dr. Fate. Dr. Fate is in connection with the Lords of Order(Nabu) who fight the Lords of Chaos, so their like higher beings, that grant their powers or grant abilities to mortals. Like how each letter in SHAZAM stands for a god’s name, and the power that they each individually bestow.

        • The only other thing I can think of is that it is a lot like the difference between something that is naturally occurring, vs something that is man-made.

      • Yeah, okay, but like Superman’s cells are reacting magically to the Yellow Sun. Check out the way he flies – there’s no way that’s physically possible, no matter how amped up his cells are.

        Speed Force is definitely magic. I won’t argue that there aren’t energy forces acting on the universe in ways we don’t understand, but any one person having the ability to tap into that and use it to improve their physical abilities is just impossible. Barry’s magic and has access to a magical speed force.

        And using emotions for energy is also clearly magic. Emotions don’t power shit. The creatures experiencing emotions release chemicals and trigger hormones and make that specific creature capable of something extraordinary, but there’s no abstract “will” floating around the universe. MAGIC.

        • Patrick, I think you’re problem is you’re using a “real-world” definition of magic. Of course this is all magic to us. But we’ve talked before about the different genres of characters in DC; broadly speaking, on the science side we’ve got aliens, meta-humans, and regular humans, and on the magic side we’ve got … well, magicians, gods, etc. Green Lantern is a great comparison: Hal fits in the science side, Alan Scott is on the magic side.

          Also, let’s think about this for a second. We’re arguing about what is physically possible and impossible. In a comic book. On the internet.

        • I think what Patrick’s getting at, is there a point where sci-fi becomes magic, and it’s pretty much whenever they don’t even try to explain shit hypothetically. How could something with mass fly through space without any form of propulsion (and why would the color of light hitting it matter)? Magic is really the only answer. But yes, it it’s real, then it can be studied and explained, so then it would become science. It’s kind of a silly debate when it’s all fiction.

        • I know I know I know. This is one damn nerdy conversation and a nerdy complaint to voice. The only reason I bring it up is because the material itself draws a distinction between magic and non-magic. I’d be willing to let the alien and super-technology stuff slide as “science” (you’re off the hook Green Lantern and Superman), but where’s that leave Wonder Woman? Objectively magic right? SHE’S PART GOD.

  6. Pingback: The New 52 1 (FCBD issue) | Retcon Punch

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