Justice League 18

justice league 18

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Evan are discussing Justice League 18, originally released March 20, 2013. 

Patrick: I’m always missing something when I read a DC or Marvel comic. The companies and the characters have been around too long and there’s just too much material for me to be well-versed in all of it. That’s not an apology or an admission of any kind – I think we should all accept that readers have a infinite amount of time and money and memory and interest. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone stares at me, mouth agape and says “Oh my God, I can’t believe you haven’t read blank.” Justice League 18 digs deep into the DC archives but also embraces brand new creation and mixes vigorously. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter what you’ve read before.

The Justice Leaguers are all ready to dial down their commitment to the League – I mean, we’re all busy, right? Right. The problem is that they’d need to hire on some full-time help, so they can all just go part-time (if you get in 20 hours a week, you can still qualify for medical, so there’s that). Cyborg searches every database in the world and assembles a short list of candidates that they invite up to the Watchtower for a kind of Superhero Reception. Let’s take a look at the guest list:

Justice League Reserves - Black Canary, Black Lightning, Blue Devil, Element Woman, Firestorm, Goldrush, Nightwing, Platinum, Vixen and Zatana

Before you can say “who the hell is Goldrush?” – Platinum’s Responsometer malfunctions, causing her to attack everyone at the table. Via radio communications, her inventor Dr. Magnus, urges them not to damage the precious, precious Responsometer. See, it’s like her robot-brain, and even though its on the fritz right now, it’s an advanced and irreplaceable piece of technology. Element Woman distracts Plantinum while Firestorm turns her platinum body into water – thus leaving the Responsomter unharmed! Or so it would seem until everyone sees the thing plummeting toward the ground. Luckily, The Atom was also invited and she (more on that in a bit) rushes in for the save. So the decision is made: Firestorm, Atom and Element Woman will be the new full-time members of the Justice League. Just then, Cyborg discovers that the super duper secure Watchtower servers have been hacked.

DC’s got such a deep bench of heroes, and Geoff Johns is one of those writers that absolutely relishes digging through the archives for fun characters and concepts to play with. The heroes he brings up to the satellite run the gamut of notoriety levels in the DC Universe. Hell, this is the New 52 introduction of Platinum. And Goldrush? Don’t bother looking her up – she’s a brand new creation that appeared when Cyborg was considering back-up during the battle against Atlantis. We also get a brand new identity for The Atom – a Ms. Rhonda Pineda. Atom’s been one of my favorite D-List heroes for a long time, and I’m happy to see some version of the character here. If future issues of Justice League mean meeting Rhonda, then color me enthusiastic.

The rest of the room is populated with people we’ve seen regularly in the New 52 – if you were looking for them, that is. Black Canary’s been the lead in Birds of Prey and featured heavily in the hyped-but-sorta-crummy Team 7 and Zatanna’s been fighting alongside John Constantine in Justice League Dark. Nightwing and Firestorm each have their own series, and Blue Devil and Black Lightning just finished a four-issue run on DC Universe Presents (issues 13-16). They’re all from such vastly different corners of the universe, and most of them are pretty deep cuts. It’s remarkable to consider that no two people are going to approach this set of characters with even remotely similar expectations.

The plot of the issue is totally trivial – and the conflict presented by a malfunctioning Platinum seems well within the abilities of Superman and/or Flash to address (seriously, Flash couldn’t vibrate through her and pull that robo-brain out?). But as a ‘here’s how a team starts’ issue, this was actually sorta fun. There are so many characters that are new to the series (11 heroes in 9 pages), that it boarders on self-parody. That sense of fun and frivolity is precisely where this issue distinguishes itself from something like the first issue of Justice League of America. I like this series so much more when it’s not focused on being the super-serious center of the DC Universe.

Another reason to love the issue is that it’s drawn by Jesus Saiz. Saiz effortlessly juggles rooms full of superheroes, keeping the space consistent and dynamic whether the characters are idly chatting or throwing each other around the space station. Plus there are two different characters trasmuting matter in this issue – that shit gets complicated. Also, maybe I’m just nostalgic for a time when I really liked Birds of Prey, but it is damn good to see him drawing Black Canary again.

Black Canary fights Copperhead

It’s also sort of cool how many lady-heroes got called up to the satellite. Actually, there are a few weird gender-things at play here, and I can’t tell if this issue, over all, has a positive or negative view of women. The biggest problem I have is that Goldrush’s sexuality is treated as some kind of threatening force toward Flash. He’s so threatened by the woman that he “votes no” on her inclusion in the team, but like, all she did was ask him if he’d ever been married and sorta hit on him. God forbid a women express her sexual desires – she must be no good! It’s just sort of a bummer that an issue that features so many strong and awesome lady characters (Z and Dinah ON THE SAME PAGE!) should also have these weird sexual hang-ups.

Evan, I haven’t gotten to the latest chapter in the Shazam saga, so I will leave it that story in your capable hands. Are you at all frustrated to see Billy trying to refuse his magical powers at this point?

Evan: Thanks Patrick! I’m going to get to Shazam! in a moment but I want to touch on the Goldrush/Flash dynamic that you mentioned. My take-away was that Barry was being a bit of a whiner. It made me think less of Barry and like Goldrush more. (can I love someone more, considering I just met them?) Also, totally believe she’s the one who sabotaged the Watchtower.

I’m glad that you left me the Shazam! stuff because I have a lot to say about it. To start, the story is dragging on too long for my liking. I did a little research and discovered that this is the 10th Shazam! back-up, dating back to March 2012. Patrick, Do you remember March 2012? Marvel NOW! Was just a twinkle in Joe Quesada’s eye, Rick Santorum was a Presidential Contender, and Damian was alive, well, and not even a vegetarian yet. A year is a long time. On top of all this, I’m not that crazy about the art. I don’t like heavily inked art and have been known to drop books because of it. All that said, I do like this Billy Batson fellow, and I feel that he is written with a real depth of character. We have seen many times over the course of his story that he has a moral code, but a jaded view of people. He will stand up for others while at the same time pushing everyone away. He is both bratty and likable. Maybe he will be the new Damian.

One piece of writing that I will take Geoff Johns to task on is this:

You don't believe in magic

How can a person live in a world with the Justice League, aliens from outer space, and rings that manifest “will” NOT believe in magic? I get that they are trying to set up Eugene as the science/bookworm type, but comments like that make him seem out of touch with reality.

Switching to the main Justice League story: I too enjoyed watching all the heroes interact with each other. I have not read any of The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men so this was my first chance to read the character and found the interplay between Ronnie and Jason funny, inviting, and I look forward to reading more of them. In fact, I could say the same thing for the just-excited-to-be-nominated Elemental Woman, the great-things-come-in-small-packages Atom, the knows-what-she-wants Goldrush (mentioned above) and the I-know-where-all-the-mutants/superheroes-are Proffessor Xavier/Cyborg.

Cyborg showing off the grid

I will end my first Guest Writer adventure with a bit of frustration over the “C” word – Continutity. Johns went out of his way to mention what’s been going on for these characters in their other books:

  • Nightwing is mad at Batman because of Joker stuff
  • Flash couldn’t help because of Gorilla stuff
  • Aquaman is King of Atlantis because of brother stuff

But then he chose to ignore the fact that Zatanna is trapped in Epoch or that Vixen was in a coma last time we saw her in Justice League International or anything that Brian Azzarello has ever written about Diana.

It’s fine with me if you don’t want to mention other books, and I have no problem believing that Batman can do Scott Snyder and Grant Morrison things at the same time but once you do start trying to connect the books you can’t pick and choose which characters to do it with a which ones not to. I guess what I’m trying to say is I want Strife to join the Justice League.

Evan believes that Batman and Robin was the best the of the Burton/Schumacher films and also loves Superman 3, so take his opinion with a grain of salt.  When not watching universally hated movies he enjoys Cosplaying as Nightwing.

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?

38 comments on “Justice League 18

    • I think this might be a double-first, or possibly a meta-first, in that I’ve never seen anyone “first” one of our articles before. So on the off chance someone’s trying to throw around their first-cred, Evan’s got ’em all beat.

  1. “I like this series so much more when it’s not focused on being the super-serious center of the DC Universe.” TRUTH. I’m not sure what’s clicked for Johns since Throne of Atlantis, but this series has been a whole lot more fun since then and the inclusion of new characters into the mix is oh so very promising.

    • Right. I actually think losing the seriousness is what made this issue so fun. I think it’s still the center of the DC Universe, but I think acknowledging that there are heroes outside of the seven we’ve been following all along makes it clear that the DC Universe is a lot weirder than this title has been pretending. Patrick is right to call most of these heroes deep cuts, but they serve to illuminate areas of the Universe that have been under-explored — if not outright unexplored — in the New 52.

      • Agreed. I can’t help but make the comparison to the JL animated series. That show absolutely exploded with quality when it became JL Unlimited and introduced us to the other heroes. It’s going to bring new perspectives and hopefully even more supporting characters too. Element Woman is already referencing Rex, so hopefully we’ll be seeing Metamorpho one day too.

  2. I’m also excited for the All-New Atom. I wonder/hope she has some kind of connection to Ray Palmer since we’ve already seen him in do his shrink-thing in Frankenstein. Even if he doesn’t want to put on the blue tights, it would still be fun to see him guest star in JL or other books.

    Oh! Like maybe JLA? So they could have a shrinking specialist too? I wonder if the JL expanding their ranks will lead to the JLA wanting to do the same thing too. It’s way too early for something like that since we’ve still got to establish the current team, but I’d imagine that is something Waller would be interested in doing at some point.

  3. Ok, one last comment and then I’ll shut up. I understand why the Goldrush/Flash stuff bothered you Patrick. But I also read it as something to be played for laughs more than anything else. I enjoyed seeing Barry all frazzled like that and seeing him cower behind Superman’s cape elicited a belly laugh from me.

    That said, Johns is a hero of mine and so I’m probably not as willing to read anything from him as sexist.

    • I’ll agree that it might be a minor offense. But I see Barry as a pretty solidly moral character, and so when he freaks out about something, I believe we’re meant to freak out about it too.

      Imagine if the genders were reversed: the overly confident guy would have hit on the girl, she would have flirted back for a second and then shot him down, and he’d join the team anyway (he’s a scoundrel). But Goldrush hits on Barry and motherfucker starts USING HIS POWERS to get away from her and then insists they not put her on the team. It’s just icky.

      • I’ll continue to defend Goldrush and shame Barry here. In the same week we saw uber-cleavage-broken-zipper Catwoman plant one on Steve Trevor and although he said “Don’t do that again” he was clearly able to handle himself and not go whining to Waller. Also, I seem to remember Selina being pretty agressive with Bruce in Catwoman #1 and he didn’t get scared off. Also, in Barry’s own title (drawn by fellow Torontonian Francis Manapul!) he ditched Iris when she showed that she was a strong woman who had other things going on. But Barry’s was all to willing to rescue her when she was just a damsel in distress.
        In conclusion, Barry is a raging misogynist and should be replaced by Wally West, and Catwoman and Goldrush will become BFF’s or the Cyclops/Wolverine of the DCU! LET THE HATE BEGIN!! 😛

        • I’m not really interested in attacking or defending Goldrush or Flash – I just think it’s a weird way to portray female sexuality and the response to it. It’s a decision made by Johns, not by either of those characters.

          Also, Patty is just as strong and capable as Iris, so I don’t that’s a fair way to characterize Barry’s actions in Flash.

        • Patrick, it’s all cool! In all honesty it was a small moment that made me chuckle as well and I don’t know if I would have given it a second thought if it wasn’t in your half of the review. It’s funny actually, I enjoyed the issue quite a bit and I don’t think that came across in my review. Normally I would have closed the issue and moved on either moved on to the next book or checked my email, but knowing that I was writing a review of it I really started focusing on it. In fact, I just got back from lunch and while I was walking I was thinking about the the Goldrush/Flash/Johns dynamic and how Johns has said that Barry Allen was his favorite charcter growing up and how he brought him back to life at DC and wrote him for years so clearly he would know his voice and THIS is how he wrote him? But all that is kinda ridiculous because it was a two-panel scene meant to show Goldrush as a strong, independant character and have a laugh. I don’t think there was any deeper meaning in that, but once I started nit-picking it was amazing how far down the rabbit hole I could go.

      • Ascribe to it what you will, but all I’m seeing is a cigar. I just don’t feel that Johns is making any kind of statement here, consciously or otherwise. But hey, this art! What we get out of it can be subjective. 🙂

  4. I think the Atom should be used as a spy character, especially with someone who clearly has such an upbeat attitue at the New Atom. Also, I’m not super familiar with the Atom powers and really only know the character from Brave and the Bold. Can there actually teleport themselves through phone lines?

    • YES!!! It’s a super fun thing they do. Plus, I’m sure with all the new tech out these days, what with your Blueteeth and Wi-flies, Johns will find even cooler things to do with the character.

      I like your take on her being used as a spy. It really would be perfect for her, and she’s already kind of been established that way with her sneaking around everywhere. I mean, she did manage to sneak aboard the Watchtower right? How many folks can say that?

  5. There was a lot to like in this issue, but I actually think my favorite bit was that Batman nominated Nightwing for the League, likely as a way to try to make up for the “Death in the Family” stuff but also because he thinks he deserves it. He isn’t afraid to work side by side with his oldest partner on such a respected team.

    I’m always a sucker for the “Batman tries to get Nightwing to join the League” stories (surprisingly this isn’t the first).

    Goldrush “winning her powers in a divorce” got a laugh out of me. I wonder how literal she’s being about that?

    I like all three of the new League members, but it’s a shame not to see some of the other recruits stick around. I was looking forward to seeing more of Zee or Dinah around the Watchtower. At least Johns seems to have something planned with Zatanna in the future (she and Superman mention something about Zatara, which seems to harken back to her very first story back in the 60s/70s where she was introduced asking the League to help her search for her father).

    • I didn’t get to it in my review, but I was a little disappoint with Nightwing’s portrail in this issue. Dick is supposed to be one of the most upbeat, lighthearted characters and has been considered to be the BEST leader in the DCU. Yet here he never talked to anyone but Bruce.

      • Well, he’s super down right now since everything that’s happened recently. I’m okay with him not being upbeat myself. It would seem out of place for him at the moment.

  6. I’m real happy with Johns’ characterization of Element Girl. I only know her from an issue of Sandman, but I think he’s really nailed her self-consciousness and all-around kindness.

  7. I’ll take on Evan’s continuity question – because I think it’s actually a pretty good one, in re Diana (I think it’s safe to assume Zee will get out of Epoch in the JLD that comes out today, so a little time-shifting isn’t hard to project onto this – in fact we get a little context here with JC kicking her out of the League on that phone). I still believe that the Wonder Woman story we’re reading simply takes place before all of her exploits in JL. Even though it’s hard to believe Johns’ Wonder Woman is the same confident-in-fashionable-civilian-clothes bad-ass Azz is writing… I think the explanation is just that Johns isn’t Azz.

      • That interview is hilarious. Azz clearly doesn’t care about those “what about the rest of the DCU” questions. Dude’s telling a story and who cares if you have to employ some cognitive separation to make it work? It’s an admirable stance to take.

        • Yeah! The more I see him or read his interview the more I like the guy. In all the interviews I’ve read from the guy I don’t think he has ever given more than a one-line answer. Must be hell on the interviewer though.

    • I had assumed Platinum was brand new, but the internet was more than happy to tell me otherwise. Also, I had to look up Vixen (I only read the JLI Annual). Which is part of what was so neat to me. Johns seems to not even care who’s new or how new they are – they’re all in the room and the JL has to deal with all of them, so we do too.

      • Vixen has a couple of really fun episodes in the “Justice League Unlimited” cartoon (where she’s dating John Stewart!).

        Actually, if you guys haven’t seen the Justice Leauge and Justice League Unlimited shows from the early 200s, you should really add it to your “to watch” list. Its an excellent show and you’ll learn a lot about the DC Universe

    • I think Goldrush is entirely new. The Metal Men all are named strictly off of their individual metals, such as Platinum with her name and then there is Copper with his and so on. I’m ecstatic that Will Magnus and his creations are being carefully introduced into the continuity again

      (I know I’ve pulled out some weird references to them in a past Justice League write up) But Will was/is a very cool character. A mad scientist who doesn’t was to be mad, so he loads himself up with prozac. The Metal Men are like his reoccurring dream of creation given form, which he can only truly breathe life into when off his meds–of course.

      But Goldrush’s powers seem more like Marvel’s Colossus to me.

      • As far as I can tell, the only previous mention of Goldrush was when Cyborg first considered pulling up the JL reserves to help, making this the first actual appearance of the character. I hadn’t considered it, but she does seem Colossosy. ‘cept, you know, golden.

  8. Every the optimist, I picked up the Blue Devil / Black Lighting run on DC Universe Presents in preparation for this write-up. It’s pretty clumsy and will go a long way toward killing any good will you might have toward Blue Devil (instead of coming of as carefree and fun, he’s more dismissive, assholeish and MURDERY) and doesn’t really play into Black Lightning’s statement in this issue about “the kids.” BL is a teacher in LAUSD, but — in the course of what I read — he doesn’t involve BD in that in any way. All in all, a pointless endeavor, I don’t recommend reading them.

  9. Pingback: Justice League Dark 18 | Retcon Punch

  10. Pingback: DC Universe Presents 19 | Retcon Punch

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