Justice League 12

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Justice League 12, originally released August 29th, 2012.

Shelby: “Is this the end of the tried-and-true Justice League?”

This is the question the world is facing at the end of Justice League 12, and the end of the Villain’s Journey arc. I was really struck by this line, because my question is “What tried-and-true Justice League?” My biggest complaint with the Justice League since the reboot is the lack of cohesion to the team. The team starts out rough, and five years later still can’t work together. We’ve discussed over and over how they are such a bad team, and now at the end of the arc, Geoff John’s point seems to be… they are a bad team. Maybe my question should be, “What was the point of reading this in the first place?”

Our heroes are right where we left them: being confronted by the icy spirits of their loved ones. The spirits begin to encase the team in ice, claiming it’s the only way they can be together. Graves walks through, monologue-ing like any good villain in his situation would. Surprisingly, his motives are based in pity; he feels sorry for the team, and the individual losses they’ve all experienced. He wants to help them, help everyone, to be as happy as he has been since being reunited with his family. Just as he is about to commence destroying the temple to release the spirits to the world, he’s shot by (gasp) Steve Trevor, who looks like shit but is totally alive. This raises the very valid question of how his ghost can be chilling in this temple. Turns out, these are not the spirits of the League’s lost loved ones, they are some sort of parasite spirits. Everyone pulls themselves together and destroys/banishes/separates Graves from the spirits attached to him. Without his icy armor, he’s just a sick, grieving, pitiable man.

Back in the real world, Wonder Woman visits Steve in the hospital. She basically breaks up with him again, claiming it’s too dangerous for him to be close and saying they were going to ask for a new A.R.G.U.S. liaison. On the satellite, Batman, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Green Lantern are dealing with the fallout; the world is beginning to question the team, and the team is doing the same. After some argument that a change in leadership is necessary, Hal says he’s the problem, so he’s going to quit. As the world sees it, he started the fight with Wonder Woman, so if he takes the fall the rest of the team can continue to do good. While all this is going on, Wonder Woman and Superman are talking on the roof of the Lincoln Memorial. They chat about being different from everyone, and keeping loved one’s at an arms length to protect them, and about being lonely, and then they kiss.

I know that’s a long recap, but there were a lot of things going on in this issue. Despite that, I was underwhelmed. I still don’t feel anything for these characters: an impressive feat, considering I am reading titles starring more than half them. Johns has made the support characters of Trevor and Graves more compelling than any of the League members. On the one hand, I don’t believe this sudden reversal of Graves’ motives. Wanting to destroy the Justice League as a team but help it’s individual members just doesn’t feel believable to me. Even with that, I still feel nothing but pity for him in the end.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a villain I can empathize with; a pitiable villain is more complex, and makes for more compelling story telling. What does it do to the story, though, when the villain is so pitiable, it makes the good guys look bad? I know Johns is trying to make the point that the Justice League may not be the great team the world thought they were, but I feel like Johns may have over-made his point with this one.

This title has been a frustrating read. All year, we have been complaining about how crappy of a team Johns’ Justice League is, and with this conclusion Johns is saying that was his point all along. Well, great, I guess, except that a bunch of people not getting along makes for some really uninspired reading. I guess I should be happy that the team has finally realized the error of their ways and is going to learn and grow together, but mostly I just feel irritated that it took so long. The only character I’ve liked is Trevor, and he’s just been crapped on the whole time, and is apparently going to be leaving the title. With all the hype about Justice League of America, I feel like Johns has just been using Justice League as an excuse to create this new team. In the long run, this will probably prove to lead up to a really compelling universe; right now, reading it month to month, I’m feeling pretty much over it. What about you Patrick, were you more impressed with this conclusion issue than I was? I didn’t even touch on the kiss seen ’round the world that had no bearing on the issue at all, what did you think of that?

Patrick: I think you’re right on the money, Shelby. Everything about Justice League screams OBLIGATORY. The question you pose above (“What was the point of reading this in the first place?”) is one that goes unanswered, while the question “What was the point of writing this in the first place?” is immanently answerable. Justice League 1 launched the New 52 – it came out on the same day the final issue of Flashpoint came out, and those were the only two released at that time. (Which is insane, by the way. Even more insane?  Both of those issues were penned by Geoff Johns, meaning he was 100% of the company’s output on September 7th, 2011.)

And that very first issue showed us two heroes very clearly: Batman and Green Lantern. Both were back to being Platonic expressions of these characters. Batman was Bruce Wayne (and not Thomas Wayne as implied by Flashpoint, and not Dick Grayson as implied by pre-reboot continuity) and Hal Jordan was flying around Earth being a Green Lantern. The story of the team coming together was a clerical responsibility; an armada needs a flagship. So you put your two biggest guns on the deck (Johns and Lee) and sail out into open waters.

And it’s in that spirit of clerical responsibility that this story arc closes. Hal leaves the team because he wants to salvage the groups’ reputation? Or Hal leaves because the Green Lantern books just disappeared him and so he’s going to absent from all titles whether JL acknowledges the Third Army stuff or not. Superman and Wonder Woman kiss because they’re both outsiders forced to keep their loved-ones at arms-length? Or they kiss because Lois Lane isn’t being written as a love interest and, hell, they’ve never done this pairing before. Actually, let’s talk about that kiss a little bit.

Johns has said that this isn’t a temporary thing; a Clark/Diana ‘ship is the new normal. I know there’s been a fair amount of outrage in the fan community, and even we are likely to point to this pairing as arbitrary. But, you know what? Big deal. Human beings (or Kryptonians and Amazon’s pretending to be human beings) fall in love for non-spectacular reasons all the time. It’s up to the storytellers to convince me this is a love worth exploring. The kiss here is the beginning, not the end. And for his part, Jim Lee does an impressive job of giving those pre-kiss moments some much-need electricity.

What actually does sort of bother me is the wacky logic employed by both our heroes and villains in this one. You mention Graves’ weird little reversal, but it’s also odd that the Justice League buys into Graves’ line about dooming his family. Batman explains: “David Graves and his family were the only survivors of a group of people Darkseid had cornered in Metropolis. They escaped his omega beams, but they breathed in the ash. Who knows what that could have done to them?” How can the team possibly feel bad about this? They’re not fucking doctors – they’re the superheroes. It is objectively more important that they stop Darkseid from cornering and murdering more people than diagnosing a to-that-point-unknown malady caused by an ash they’d never encountered before.

This issue also suffered from a lack of Shazam. Does it seems sorta shitty to you that we shell out the 4 bucks for a longer book that usually has a fun backup story in it, only to discover that the last four pages are simply hype for future comics? Not even in-narrative hype, but plain old advertising. Heads up DC, I saw that JLA graphic on line last week, I don’t get any extra sense of enjoyment from seeing it tacked on gracelessly to the end of my story.

But what the hell, we like speculation here, don’t we? Here are the two preview pages, let’s throw out our wildest theories in the comments.

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?

58 comments on “Justice League 12

  1. Honestly, I have a hard time caring enough to really speculate. If this whole year was a set up for the Justice League to fail so we can introduce the Justice League of America, I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time and money on this title.

    That gives us, what, 4 Justice League titles now? Justice League proper, America, International, and Dark.

    • International just had it’s last horrah with it’s annual. It’s done. America will fill it’s Justice League shoes by hopefully having more of direct tie-in other than having Batman pop in and out. The ‘Coming in 2013″ looks like it could come from a JLA book, especially the last 2 images, since they are very clearly David Finch. I can’t tell with the Pandora shot, since it’s all shadow-y, but that entire page could easily be a David Finch production.

      The Cheetah panel alludes to the potential of a Legion of Doom rise up, since Cheetah is a staple member of them. I just really want to the old Super Friends narrator back. “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom!”

  2. Patrick is absolutely right: if the Justice League can be blamed for “allowing” Graves’ family to inhale Omega ash, they must also be accountable for every single person Darkseid killed, which is crazy. Like, sure, they didn’t save those people, but neither did anybody else, so why blame the one group who actually STOPPED Darkseid from killing more people?

  3. As far as the kiss goes, the only thing I didn’t like about it was the way Wonder Woman dumped Trevor again. The whole “push away my loved ones to keep them safe” trope gets old, and when she immediately hooks up with Supes afterwards…it just doesn’t line up with my perceptions of Wonder Woman, I guess.

    • It reads a little more logically if you assume there’s a good 10 year age difference between Diana and Steve. She mentioned being 23 years old in Wonder Woman, and while I’m not sure where that falls in relation to this title, she’s clearly meant to be in her early-mid twenties. Steve, on the other hand, is a high-ranking colonel, tasked as the sole liaison to the world’s most important super-humans. It seems like he must be in his mid thirties at the youngest. Dinah making mistakes/being fickle/preferring hunky 20-something super men makes more sense if you read it as youthful, though it’s a drastically different reading than the one we like so much from the Wonder Woman title.

      • I think that’s my problem with it; I like Azz’s Wonder Woman so much, it bugs me that Johns’ version seems so misaligned.

        It’s cool, he’s going to have his hands full with Leagues Dark and Of America anyway.

  4. Yeah, how can Johns hope to make the disintegration of this team meaningful when he’s only ever shown them not working well together? I get that there were 5 years of good times between the first arc and this one, but since we only ever heard about them abstractly, there isn’t any actual emotional resonance (I believe they call that Episode II syndrome in the biz). We have no familiarity with the notion that this team works well together, or that there’s any goodwill from the public, so it’s hilariously misguided to expect us to care when things go awry.

    • Further, doesn’t it just sound like a fun comic book to read? The Justice League working together and conquering tough opponents? If it were just a showcase for action-packed crime fighting with seven cool heroes – wouldn’t that be more fun that bicker-bicker-bicker?

  5. This is the first issue of Justice League that I’ve truly enjoyed and it really had to do with the smaller character moments we got to see at the end. To be honest, I haven’t cared that much about Graves’ story and that’s not necessarily because I dislike the character. I just have not been a fan of this Michael Bay type storytelling Johns has been doing for the majority of his run. I feel that DC went to him and demanded this kind of story. We know what Johns is capable of, we’ve seen that he’s capable of epic style story telling in GL. But what GL has that JL lacks are those smaller character moments. GL is peppered with great character moments between Hal and Sinestro in the midst of an epic story. JL lacks that focusing entirely on the big action sequences.

    After Graves defeat, Johns moved immediately to those smaller moments between Aquaman and Batman, Hal quitting, Diana and Steve and then Clark and Diana. THIS is what I’ve been missing from the title and I was glad to see it return. I hope now that Johns has captured his readership on this title DC will let him continue to do this kind of thing. Johns has stated that his JLA will read more like his old series JSA which was filled with small character moments spliced with large scale, epic storytelling. I’m definitely looking forward to JLA, and I’m hoping JL will shift to focus more on its characters now that it’s proven itself sales wise.

    Lastly, has anyone read this article from Bleeding Cool?


    It discusses how Supes and Wondy’s kiss could lead to an Alan Moore line wide event that was purchased but never used by DC comics. The possibility of this finally happening is exciting for me as it seems like it would be an amazing story.
    Is that enough to get me on board the super-kiss? Not necessarily, but we’ll see how it all turns out! And, in the end, Clark and Lois will get back together no matter what editorial is saying now.

      • No, I wouldn’t say that. I don’t think that ANYTHING in comics should be set in stone. But when it comes to certain things, no matter how much you change it, you know that eventually it’ll go back to the way it was. Bruce Wayne will always go back to being Batman, even if he steps away from the role from time to time. And I think that eventually Lois and Clark will get back together. It almost feels like it would happen regardless of weather or not it was written that way.

        I FEEL that Lois and Clark should be together but they are works of fiction so really they can be with anyone a writer may think up. I kind of compare it to when you have two friends who you KNOW would be perfect for each but they don’t want to have anything to do with other. They may date around but eventually you think to yourself, they’ll find each other.

        They’ve been together for SO LONG it just feels right for them to be together. I can say the same for Hal and Carol, Dinah and Ollie and even Bruce and Selena. These characters work better in an on again-off again scenario but you know they’ll find each other again eventually.

        I guess my point is that hero relationships CAN be changed and you can have your hero’s date around to mix things up but eventually you know that some of these heroes have already met their soul mates and will always be linked to them in some way.

        My God, that is the corniest comment I’ve ever made in my life. But I’ll stand by it!

        • I totally agree. There are so many character details that are compelling and key aspects of our relationship to these heroes that have been absent in the New 52, but I suspect will be back some time in the not-too-distant future (I’d add Barry and Iris to that list). Those details are too magnetic for any writer to resist them for too long. Booster’s appearance in JLI suggests that Clark and Lois not being together (or at least Clark and Diana being together) is bad for the DC Universe, so perhaps it’s more than just the hands of fate bringing these two together.

        • Yes, writers can’t resist going back to these kinds of things. Certain elements just become ingrained in these characters that is impossible to resist going back to.

        • Ultimately, I’d say Clark’s relationship with Lois is as iconic and defining as the cape or the idea of leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Superman loves Lois Lane. It’s that simple.

        • Do we know why those two kids haven’t gotten together yet in the New 52niverse? Anyone reading Superman or Action Comics who can fill us in?

        • I think she’s married to someone else, but I haven’t been reading any Superman titles. Clark is def pining for her in the Superman Annual, though, if that means anything.

        • YES!

          And again, there is nothing wrong with these characters exploring other options but in the end you know who they’ll end up with. And I’m personally excited about this. I’m not the biggest fan of this reboot but I’m looking forward to being able to read Lois and Clark get together again. By the time I started reading comics they had been long married so it’ll be cool to see it from the start.

        • Well and it’s exactly that sort of thing that the reboot is going to allow all of us read. Like we were talking about Wally a couple weeks ago – it’ll be great if I can meet Wally the way the rest of the world did: by slowly portioning him out and growing the character from the ground up.

        • I totally see your point even though I’d love to see Wally now. The problem is that DC knows that whenever they introduce Wally, fans are going to have that expectation of him eventually becoming the flash which will take some of the spotlight away from Barry. So I don’t think we’ll be seeing Wally any time soon. The only solution I can think of to introduce Wally any sooner would be to give him a new hero identity entirely or give him his own world to run around in.

  6. Superman and Wonder Woman won’t be permanent. I’m not sure how long it will last, may even be years, but it’s not final. The JLI annual/finale showed us a *more*future version of Booster Gold coming back in time to try to stop WW and Supes from hooking up in hopes of saving the world, and failing, and both Boosters fading away Marty-McFly style in the aftermath. In some way, this pairing is bad for the universe, and I’m interested in why.

    I have no problem with WW and Supes being together for a while as long as Clark and Lois get back together again in the end (which, since this is a new universe, has plenty of time to happen).

    Also, it’s interesting to go back to the first storyline of this title and look at any panel where Superman and Wonder Woman are interacting. Superman is dead-set STARING at her nonstop from the moment she appears, never taking his eyes off her. There were definitely some very subtle hints that this might happen eventually.

    I haven’t really minded the bickering on the title, but the idea that somehow the team has been together for five years but haven’t learned each other’s identities and are still acting like rookies bugs me. This didn’t read like there was a five year gap between the two storylines, it read like the first story flowed directly into the second.

    The only thing I can figure is that the incident with J’onn J’onzz must have been a huge setback for the team morale/trust-wise.

    • I did notice a couple of times that Superman was awfully worried about Wonder Woman…I should go back and check those out.

      Really, I don’t have a problem with the two of them together. Can you imagine how epic their breakup would be? It would be like Godzilla vs. Mothra!

    • That is EXACTLY how I feel. It read like this was their second mission. Even if they didn’t share their secret ID’s with each other they would at least be well oiled by now (especially Cyborg…sorry, I can’t ever resist a bad joke). The majority of the second arc would have made a lot more sense if it were a continuation of a flashback for sure.

  7. So far what Justice League has done is set up a lot of things. It’s set up character interactions and relationships, the team dynamic, and several spring boards for future stories. Between JLI Annual, Trinity War, JLA, SHAZAM and a host of other things, I am confused and a little let down by this book, but at this point I can only hope that it will go up spectacularly as these other divergent storylines come back here to the hub. Is the Aquaman panel not only in JL, but also the future of the Aquaman book as well? Hmm.

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  9. Am I the only person who doesn’t feel like Jim Lee is the #1 superstar he’s treated like anymore? I remember loving HUSH when it was a brand new comic, but when I read these Justice League issues the art seems top-tier but still 90’s-ish? I’d prefer Gene Ha as the regular artist, personally

    • No, I think we’re totally with you on that one. His art is fairly workman-like, getting the job done but without any of the invention we see from artists we really like (like J. H. Williams, Yanick Paquette or Francis Manapul). Who have been your favorite artists just judging from their New 52 output?

      • I love Mahnke and Reis… those are my top 2 guys right now. Diogenese Neves has been good on Demon Knights. Kevin Macguire and George Perez sharing art duties has been right up my alley too. Francis Manapul can’t be ignored… love those layouts

    • I can see that. For me, it’s just a matter of taste; his style is definitely more classic than others, but not as bad as some I’ve seen. I felt the same way about Joe Kubert’s later work as you do about Jim Lee; you have to find a way to acknowledge what they’ve done with the fact that personally you aren’t super wild about it.

      • Yeah, it’s weird, I never get tired of Perez for instance… I am a huge fan of certain silver age/bronze age artists like Curt Swan, Neal Adams, Jim Aparo… but Lee isn’t doing much for me recently. I can’t say his art isn’t good though, it’s obviously a cut above… definitely a taste thing as you say

  10. Jim Lee left Justice League, and a lot of bloggers think it’s because he’s going to work on an old series DC is planning to relaunch, WildC.A.T.S.. It was him who created this series, exactly 20 years ago.
    If you have an A-list artist, you give him an A-list series: WildC.A.T.S. would be a C-list one, so, in a normal situation, Jim Lee working on it is pure nonsense.
    But maybe in this case Jim Lee sticked obstinately to this project because he wants to bring his old series back to life, and DC decided to indulge his whim because otherwise their working relationship would have gone really uptight, and it would have ended as soon as possible. Jim Lee on a C-list title is better than Jim Lee on a Marvel title, DC thought.
    I hope Jim Lee won’t write WildC.A.T.S.: he’s an awesome penciller and he’s very skilled with creating characters (think about Grifter, for example), but his 90s stories were boring as all hell. Since then he always worked with the most talented writers, so maybe he learned something from them and got better, but I don’t think so: writing well is a talent, not a technique, so you can’t learn it from anybody, no matter how good your teacher is. Good writers are born, not made.
    But maybe all this hype about Jim Lee working on WildC.A.T.S. will be proved wrong: perhaps Jim Lee doesn’t want to slip back (especially now that he’s at the top of his career), no matter how fond he is of WildC.A.T.S., and perhaps DC never thought to bring WildC.A.T.S. back to life. Only time will tell.

    • There’s also talk of Lee penciling on the Snyder-written Man of Steel. And that sounds like a slam dunk for Snyder, for Lee, and for Superman. WildCATS would be such a weird franchise to bring back. However, we are seeing a bit of a resurgeance of 90s characters in the “edge’ corner of DC’s N52, so who fucking knows? My money is on Man of Steel.

        • No *way* Snyder is leaving Batman 🙂 Swamp Thing is a bit dodgier. Seems like DC is giving him the keys to all the nice cars. They definitely need a superstar team on a Supes book since Grant is leaving AC with #16. That’s going to leave a big Superman-sized hole in the DC universe until they can get another one of their top 3 guys on a Superman book

        • Well, Snyder will stay on Swamp Thing AT LEAST through Rotworld. Hopefully, he’ll just stay on it forever because it’s so good.

        • I think in an absolute scheduling emergency it would be conceivable that he might hand the whole crossover over to Lemire, but I don’t think the schedule is going to warrant that. Man Of Steel hasn’t even been officially announced, and if/when it is we probably won’t see it until a few months after that, and if he anticipated such a thing he could prepare his scripts well in advance since he is only writing 2 books right now

        • I suggest you to widen your reads. Daredevil and Hawkeye are pure awesomeness, and The Lone Ranger (Dynamite) pleases my eye each month with its wonderful art.

        • LOL, yeah, and if Geoff Johns can write 3 books, special issues for other books, AND hold an executive position I’m pretty sure Snyder has 3 books covered no problem 🙂

        • I usually don’t buy Superman, but a Snyder & Lee comic book is a must buy. I couldn’t imagine a luckier writer than Snyder, writing both the most iconic DC characters, Batman and Superman. But maybe it’s not fair to call him lucky, because he deserves the success he’s having. Thank you for your reply! : )

        • Well, when a writer is good, he can make interesting and readable even his grocery list. If Bret Easton Ellis wrote a science school book, it would be a best seller. Thank you for your reply! : )

        • Look at that!

          Also, @Wwayne – YOU were right. Per our other conversation on this post, I added Daredevil and Hawkeye to my pull and they are both well-worth reaching across the aisle.

        • I’m really glad you enjoyed the series I recommended you. It’s always a pleasure to see that something you like is appreciated by other people as well, and they tell you “I liked it!” not because they feel obliged to, but because they sincerely think that. Thank you for your reply! : )

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