This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
There was no word for justice on my planet. The closest was the symbol on this table. It meant going beyond what was supposed to be possible, the natural laws. Imposing on the universe a higher standard. An ideal.
Martian Manhunter, Justice League 1
Our conceptions of justice hinge on fairness and impartiality — the notion that we are all held to the same standards of behavior (and face the same punishment for flaunting those standards). We understand how that can break down in practice (humans aren’t great at partiality), but we can imagine justice as a kind of platonic ideal we can strive towards. And that may be the best way to think about it, but closer inspection reminds us that, if it’s a platonic ideal, it’s one that varies from society to society and changes over time. We might reflect on the “justice” of the past (or of other cultures) and find it to be decidedly unjust, but that’s not how justice works — it’s not an objective monolith, but a deeply subjective, dynamic concept. That is, justice is a moral construct that only makes sense in light of the values of the society that construct it. Martian Manhunter’s approximation of justice reflects that idea, adding no moral spin to the “ideal” he mentions — in J’onn’s estimation, any ideologically motivated action “beyond what was supposed to be possible” is justice. In short, J’onn’s brief for the Justice League works just as well for the Legion of Doom. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Forever Evil 6, originally released March 5th, 2014.
Spencer: One of the biggest issues I’ve had with Forever Evil has been trying to figure out just how, exactly, its interpretation of Earth-3 works. Before the reboot Earth-3 was a world of opposites, where all evil characters were good guys and all the good guys were villains, and villains always won, but ever since the Crime Syndicate forced their way onto our world at the end of “Trinity War” writer Geoff Johns has largely shown Earth-3 as a world where everybody is evil, which I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around up to this point. Johns and David Finch’s Forever Evil 6 has finally helped put things in perspective for me, though, by unmasking the Syndicate’s prisoner and showing us exactly what a hero looks like on Earth-3. Continue reading →
Mikyzptlk: There’s been some internal discussion of whether or not the “Throne of Atlantis” storyline should be considered an event. Some of us here have grown tired of DC’s seemingly endless run of events and I can’t really blame them. The comic book “event” is a double edged sword. While they definitely bring attention and increased sales to the books that are involved, they tend to get bloated with needless tie-ins, many of which are written by writers who may not be nearly as talented as the showrunners themselves. The current Batman event “Death of the Family” is a good example of this. Compare some of the “DotF” tie-ins to the main series and you’ll know what I mean. Fortunately for “ToA,” the entire story is being handled by the one and only Geoff Johns, so we shouldn’t have to worry about any bloating. In fact, as it’s only 6 issues (3 in Aquaman and 3 in Justice League) some may consider it more of a crossover than an event. Regardless of that, however, Johns gives us something that feels like a big event, with a prologue that is both foreboding and fairly intense in a mostly quiet way. I think it’s safe to say that I actually enjoyed this issue more than any other so far and it’s gotten me pretty psyched for the “events” to come. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Justice League 14, originally released November 21st, 2012,
Mikyzptlk: My complaint with the first 12 issues of Justice League was that there was too much emphasis placed on the action and not enough on the characters. Being a fan of Geoff Johns for many years, I’ve seen what he can do with characters big and small and have read many tales of his that were rich with deep characterization. As year 2 of Justice League is starting to rev up, I’m happy to see Johns starting to focus more on his characterization. Even though this issue isn’t perfect, I’m glad to say that it’s less a Jerry Bruckheimer summer blockbuster and more of a return to what I come to expect from Johns.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Aquaman 13, originally released October 31st, 2012.
Drew: Confession time: I dropped this title after issue 4. My only sense of what is going on in this title is the zero issue, and reading the reviews on this site. For the most part, “The Others” storyline has been hard to follow from just summaries, as it focuses heavily on characters I know in name only. The only thing I’ve really gathered from those reviews is that 1) the art is fantastic, and 2) there’s room for disagreement about whether or not Aquaman is actually the villain of this title. Picking up the action in issue 13, I can say for sure that both of those statements are definitely true.
Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Aquaman 12, originally released August 29th, 2012.
Peter: The multi-issue story arc is an ungainly creature. What should the first issue look like? How about the last? What shape does it take in the middle? I tend to read my comics the way I think DC wants me to: one at a time, the week they come out. But sometimes that episodic reading does a disservice to the story. That’s why someone decided to collect them into graphic novels. “The Others” is definitely one of those stories that I am going to have to go back and read as a whole from start to finish to get the full effect. Geoff Johns has crafted something that definitely will flow together better as a whole, because frankly, this is a roller coaster of emotion and story.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Aquaman 11, originally released July 25th, 2012.
Shelby: Despite what you are currently reading, I don’t really think of myself as a writer. Art was always my schtick, the only writing I did in school was academic papers and the occasional bullshit artist’s statement. I’ve been a reader, however, since I was 4, so I’m pretty good at figuring out what I like in a story. I know that sometimes exposition is necessary to advance the plot or give character insight, and I think there are natural ways to present that information within the story. Comics, though, have such opportunity to show me what I need to know instead of just telling me, I sometimes don’t quite know why writers chose to have their characters just standing around gabbing when they could be doing something so much cooler to give me the info I need.
Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Aquaman 10, originally released June 27th, 2012.
Peter: Since its return last year, Aquaman has been selling extremely well just about every month. That is really surprising to me. For a while I’m wasn’t sure what was driving these sales. Was it Aquaman nostalgia? Was his impressive run in Brightest Day? Out of all the books I have been reading, it’s been pretty hit and miss. It has some really great issues (issue 5) that have been amazing, and some really terrible issues (issue 6) that just don’t work. With the introduction of the Others storyline, Aquaman has quickly become one of my favorite books again. This issue is no exception, giving incredible historic elements, as well as dynamic characters.
Today, Shelby and Peter are discussing Aquaman 9, originally released May 23rd, 2012.
Shelby: I have grown to appreciate Aquaman. I used to think he was pretty lame, but I think his character has been fleshed out in recent years. There’s some depth to him now; he’s a man torn between two worlds, and all that. Geoff Johns obviously has some grand ideas for where he wants to take Aquaman; he just keeps doling out his ideas at such a slow pace, I’m afraid there will be a point when my questions so outnumber the answers, I’m just going to get fed-up.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Aquaman 8, originally released April 25th, 2012.
Shelby: Geoff Johns first impressed me with Rebirth, the retold origin arc of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. His narratives combine epic, sweeping action with a much closer, personal look at the characters. He has a knack for writing emotion that doesn’t diminish the super-humanness of these characters. Lately, I haven’t been quite as impressed; both Justice League and Aquaman have felt a little….pedantic. It’s true, I have fallen away from Johns somewhat with the relaunch, but I feel like this Aquaman arc is beginning to get back to what it is I first liked so very much about his writing. Continue reading →