Drew: Determining a level of focus is perhaps the most important step in evaluating a work of art. These foci are specific to the style at hand — harmonic analysis is likely going to tell you very little about a rap song, just as an examination of brush strokes wouldn’t add much to a discussion of da Vinci. Intriguingly, these styles often begin to resemble each other as you zoom in and out — abstract paintings may share concepts of form, color, or composition with those of the Rennaisance masters, for example — further increasing the importance focus in an analysis. Geoff Johns has always written “big” — he’s been at the helm (or at least sharing the helm) of some of DC’s most important events over the past decade — and his writing has often chafed at the analyses of his critics. Justice League of America 7 actually avoids many of the pitfalls Johns is often cited for (a lot of stuff actually happens here), but it still has me wondering if we’re simply using the wrong tool for the job of evaluating a giant, Geoff Johns-penned event. Continue reading →
Patrick: Did any of you guys ever play Warhammer? If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a table top war game where you assemble an army from your race of choice and battle against your friends’ armies. It’s the least pick-up-and-play game you could ever imagine – understanding the basic rules means reading a 100+ page manual, and keeping a cheat sheet with charts and tables with you at all times. And then there’s understanding your own army, for which you need yet other book completely dedicated to that race. Then you need the little metal figures to represent the members of your army (sold separately), and if you’re really hardcore you can paint them. Then you need a surface large enough to play on – one time my friends and I took a door off its hinges and used that when we were denied the dining room table. Ideally, this surface will be populated with trees and terrain and stuff like that. Setting up the Trinity War has felt an awful lot like setting up a Warhammer game. Everyone’s been reading extra books they don’t really want to read just so they can play in the big game. Now the event is actually here and I can’t believe I’m surprised that all the characters feel like pieces in a game. Continue reading →
Taylor: The Flash has been living up to his abilities and making himself appear nearly everywhere with his insane speed. He popped up in Dial H a couple months ago and he’s currently enjoying a run (pun definitely intended) in Justice League Dark. The character has fit in remarkably well in both of these titles and in Justice League Dark, Barry even goes so far as to say he feels more comfortable working with the JLD than he does with his regular teammates. That Barry would say such a thing is interesting both for its narrative consequences and for what it means about his crossover events in general. It’s not always an easy thing to integrate a hero, with his or her own mythology and personality, into a different title that has its tone and voice. So what happens when you try to integrate not just one hero, but an entire league of them into a different title? Can that be done? Issue 22 of the Justice League, which marks the beginning of the Trinity War crossover event, makes it seem that such a thing is not only possible, but that it can done well too.
Spencer: A team doesn’t become a team just because a group of characters are assembled together. These characters truly become a team when they can put aside their individual goals, combine their distinct talents and work together as a cohesive unit, and doing so usually takes time and practice. Both of Geoff Johns’ Justice League books this week feature groups that are finally learning to be real teams; the real surprise is that the Justice League-proper isn’t one of those groups.
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Justice League of America 4, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Spencer: I’ll be honest: from the very start, Justice League of America has seemed more concerned with putting pieces in place for the upcoming “Trinity War” than it has with telling a compelling story. Unfortunately, for a story so focused on getting its players from Point A to Point B, the way writer Geoff Johns does so strains credibility. He makes several attempts to keep this issue engaging, but its biggest failing is simply that the heroes come across as really, really dumb.
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Justice League of America’s Vibe 1-3, originally released February 20th, March 20th, and April 17th, 2013 respectively.
Patrick: Superheroes are legendary. The greats — like Batman and Superman — are name brands both in their own universes and in our own. One of the recurring themes in the New 52 has been heroes grappling with their own relevance in a world so densely populated by superheroes. Aquaman is a great example of this – the character is the subject of near-constant ridicule, all in an effort to make his struggle to be “cool” explicit. Geoff Johns has turned that character around in the last couple years, and even when the storytelling hasn’t been at its best, the idea of Aquaman as a impotent fish-enthusiast has basically disappeared. Johns lends a little bit of that credibility to the first couple issues of the series devoted to DC’s ultimate underdog: Vibe. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Michael are discussing Justice League of America 2, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Motivations, we’ve all got them. It’s what drives us to do whatever it is that we do. Geoff Johns is intent on letting us in on what drives his characters in his latest series. Not only that, but it seems that he’s using these motivations to drive the story forward. That leaves us with yet another issue that is mostly a bunch of characters yammering on. Fortunately, what they are yammering on about is fairly interesting, and the story that’s unfolding is getting more intriguing by the page.
Patrick: The End of the World. Pretty bleak subject matter, right? But we can go bleaker. Let’s kill as many superheroes as possible, and then use their grotesquely reanimated corpses to attack our protagonists. Also, no one’s safe, so those protagonists themselves can get picked off at a moment’s notice. Still not grim enough? Then let’s keep flashing back to the putrid death of our hero’s family. These are the principal building blocks of Rotworld. So if I’m using the adjectives “grim,” “grotesque” and “bleak” so much, why is this issue so much fun?
Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Justice League International Annual 1, originally released August 29th, 2012.
Peter: With any reboot, world-building is near the top of the priority list. If you’re starting from scratch, you have to start with something and move on from there. Justice League International is a series that has become central to the future of the Justice League family of books. While this Annual will be the last issue bearing the JLI banner, I doubt this is the last we will see of these characters, many of whom have other books to appear in. This is a glimpse of the future of the Justice League family, and even if you haven’t read the 12 issues of Justice League International, the Annual is definitely worth the read.