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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The New 52 Part 4: The Justice League Comics

            Welcome back to my look at The New 52 and after my….setbacks with the Red Lanterns, I figured I may as well take a look at the next set of comics, The Justice League comics.  Now, to be honest I found it a little odd that D.C. would group all of these comics together like this, as many of these characters have nothing to do with The Justice League and they could have easily categorized it as The D.C. Universe or something.  But I have to say, out of all the groups of comics that I’ve read so far, this one has proven to be the least satisfying.  Not to say that all of them are bad mind you, but most of them are just ok and I can see how someone may like or hate these comics.  So I’m not really going into this post whole heartedly.  It’ll contain reviews of The Justice League, Justice League International, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Captain Atom, The Fury of Firestorm, Green Arrow, The Savage Hawkman, Mr. Terrific and D.C. Universe Presents.  We’ve got a lot of comics to go through so let’s not delay any further.  This is The Illusive One’s Review of The New 52 Part 4: The Justice League Comics.

The Justice League

As you may or may not know, this was the line of comics that launched the reboot and set the stage for how future comics in it would be written, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  The story mainly focuses on how The Justice League first comes together in this new universe as Darkseid invades the Earth.  And I have to say, I have mixed feeling on this line.
But before we get into what my problems with it are, let’s start with the good.  The drawing style is really good, for the most part, and most of the stuff looks the way it should.  I think Cyborg is really cool in this and like the way his becoming a partial robot was directly caused by the invasion, (although the story did seem rushed at times).  I also love the way they characterize Wonder Woman.  It clearly indicates that she is new to our society, and it’s just hilarious how ignorant she is of our traditions and willing to kill anything she thinks is evil and I think it’s a great way to portray her.
The last thing I love is how superheroes are viewed in this world.  It really makes perfect sense that superheroes would be viewed with suspicion and hatred rather than revered.  Like Action Comics, it’s a tone that I actually really like because it gives a fresh and realistic feel to the whole thing.  But then we come into the area where I have mixed opinions on.
For starters is the action.  On one hand, it is well depicted and intense, for the most part.  On the other hand most of the fights came off as being pointless.  It just seemed like they could have spent the pages where the characters were fighting on much better things.  It’s not at all unlike the action in The Expendables, where it was good, but really had little to nothing to do with advancing the plot. 
The main issue for me, however, and the thing that I have the most mixed feeling on is the characterization and interaction.  Most of the interaction consists of childish bickering as most of the characters have pissing contests with one another.  As a result, Superman, Aquaman and Green Lantern are extremely annoying, immature and unlikable.  It’s just something that I found really irritating and when you make the Teen Titans look mature in comparison, you’ve done something wrong.  But at the same time, somehow it’s still really enjoyable and you’ll probably get a few kicks out of it.
Then we have Batman and, I hate to say it, but he seems really awkward and out of place here.  It’s a problem that The Justice League animated series had before they went into Unlimited and anyone who has read these comics or seen the show will see what I mean.  It’s just really odd to see him standing beside some of these characters with powers that are borderline dietic and you question what use he has there.  But at the same time, it does offer the writers a chance to poke fun at him because of this and it’s something that very few authors have the guts to do.    
Finally, we have our main villain Darkseid.  On one hand it’s really cool to see him in The New 52 and what better villain to bring the world’s greatest superheroes together to battle against?  On the other hand, I feel like they’re breaking out the big guns to soon.  It just seems a little odd to me that they would bring out one of the most powerful enemies in the entire universe as the series is just starting.  My last problem with him is that the character design doesn’t seem right to me.  For starters, he’s too tall.  Darkseid was big in the other series but here I swear he’s ten feet tall.  The rest doesn’t look right either.  His armor is blue for some God unknown reason, (seriously what the fuck is up with that?), it doesn’t look like Darkseid’s armor and his skin tone doesn’t seem right.  I mean just look at the image below.  Am I wrong or am I right?

But despite all my issues with it, it’s still one that I recommend you take a look at.  I can see how someone could love it or hate it and more issues will have to come out before I can make my final decision on it.  I just hope to God The Avengers movie doesn’t follow this formula or I’m gonna be pissed!


Justice League: International

After such mixed feeling on the first comic, you would think that JLI would have been dead on arrival.  But, like the last one, I have mixed thoughts on it.  The story follows a group of superheroes formed by the UN to combat threats and to get an edge on the Justice League.  This story arc follows them as they try to stop an alien from harvesting the Earth of all of its resources, destroying it in the process.
So what works about this comic?  Well, like Justice League, the drawing style is really good with everything looking the way it should.  The action scenes are well depicted and the story arc is pretty good.  The characters are kind of a mixed bag, with a few like Russian Rocket Red and Chinese August-General-in-Irons came off as stereotypes.  Booster Gold, however I think is a good character, Guy Gardner is great in it and Batman doesn’t seem as out of place among them and actually seems like he has a purpose in the group.
However, it does have a few problems that I can’t get past.  For starters, I had a hard time getting past the fact that most of these characters are C List superheroes and ones that I don’t really give a crap about.  I also can’t help but feel that the government B.S. they have to put up with is more than a little stereotypical.  Finally, it raises a lot of continuity questions for me.  Like, if an alien is destroying the planet, then why the hell isn’t the actual Justice League doing anything about it?  Why isn’t Superman knocking this alien on his ass or destroying his ship?  It just raises too many questions for me to look past.
With this one, again I would recommend getting you own opinion as I can see how someone may like or hate it.  Is it better then Justice League?  I don’t know but I recommend you take a look and decide for yourself.




Of all the superheroes out there I think Aquaman is the most ridiculed and in recent decades has become something of a pun for anyone who isn’t familiar with comic books.  And this is a story that takes every opportunity to make fun of the people that make fun of the character and brings it to the point to where you almost feel bad for thinking about him that way in the first place.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.  What’s the plot?  Well, the story is kind of hard to talk about.  On the surface, (no pun intended), it’s about Aquaman and his wife, Mira fighting off these monster fish things that come to the surface trying to eat everything that they can find.  Underneath that, it’s really about how the two of then interact with society and deal with the ridicule that comes from…well…being the king of fish I guess.  And I have to say, this one is pretty damn good.
For starters the art work is nothing short of fantastic with everything looking amazing with action panels that are well depicted and help move the story along at a good pace.  The story involving the fish things was actually pretty interesting, and it kept me interested as to what these things were, where did they come from, and why were they doing this.  The characterization, particularity with Aquaman is really good as it show the annoyances he goes through dealing with all the ridicule he gets.  It also really focuses on his personal dilemmas, most notably deciding whether or not to return to Atlantis to rule. 
Finally, this comic is just hilarious.  Yes, you heard that right.  It is fall on your ass funny.  Most of it revolves around the misconceptions people seem to have about the character.  Like he can “talk” to fish even though it’s more like mind control or that he can only fight in water even though he’s just as strong outside of it.  It pokes fun at all these things but also takes the time to set them straight and just seeing Aquaman’s reaction to people’s thoughts on this almost makes you feel bad that you thought that way to.  It’s just brilliant. 
The only downside to this line so far is that the main story is kind of underwhelming.  The whole story involving the all devouring fish is something that they cut short and the final resolution was underwhelming.  It made me mad mainly because they could have easily drawn it out a few more issues and could have built on it a lot more. 
But with that gripe aside, this comic is easily one of the best of The Justice League section and is one that I highly recommend you give a read.  If you aren’t sold by the first issue…well I honestly don’t know what to tell ya.


Wonder Woman

            Next we have Wonder Woman, another superhero who is something of a walking punch line because of her “lasso of truth” and skimpy outfit, although not nearly to the same extent as Aquaman.  Anyway, for the re-launch they decided to center the story around Greek Mythology in modern times.  Throughout the line, Wonder Woman is protecting a woman whom is carrying Zeus’s child, learns more of her own origins, and gets involved in a power struggle among the Gods.  And I really can’t say much more beyond that so let’s get into the pros and cons.
            On the positive side, I think that the story really worked.  It got you involved in the power struggles of the Gods and will keep you involved the whole time.  I also love how they portrayed the Gods in this, most of which were very accurate to their mythical counter parts which is a lot harder to find then you would think.  Hera for example is a jealous nut job, (a way she was in the myths as well), Aries is an unpredictable psychopath, and Poseidon is an unpredictable force to be reckoned with.  It’s this kind of characterization of them that very few adaptations, even the good ones, get right.  The action depiction is pretty good, but there is very little of it and it makes it a tad annoying.
            As you may expect, there are downsides to this line.  For one thing, the art work just looks horrible.  I mean, there just isn’t anything appealing about it whatsoever and it continues to be a distraction to me.  While the action is good there is very little of it, which puts it behind some of the other series out there.  Finally, I can see why some people would hate the way they’ve taken Wonder Woman’s story.  Not meaning to give everything away, but they re-canonize a big chunk of her origin story in a way that will probably piss people off.  And her actual reaction to it was a little…odd.  I don’t know why, but it just didn’t seem right to me.
            All around, this one was ok.  There were things that I loved about it but on the whole, it was just ok.  While I do love the way they portray the Greek Gods and the plot, it’s brought down my mediocre art and characterization that I can’t help but scratch my head at.  Go ahead and take a look I say, but don’t expect the best of The Justice League books. 


The Flash

Ah, The Flash.  How I’ll always remember you as that annoying yet entertaining douchebag from The Justice League Animated Series.  And yet, this is a completely different Flash.  Yea.  For the re-launch they decided to go with Barry Allan instead of Wally West.  Why?  I don’t know and I really don’t care because this line is awesome!  It focuses Allen as he combats what appears to be an army of clones of his former best friend, known as Mob Rule while discovering the extent of his super speed abilities.
There were a number of things that made this line work.  For starters, it had great concepts concerning The Flash’s powers and how he uses them.  The sheer number of things he can do in this series is just insane and it’s fascinating to see what he can do and unlike other stories, they manage to tell this in a way that makes it interesting.  The characters are also really good.  Barry Allan is a compelling protagonist and the conflicts he goes through are interesting.  It’s interesting to see just how he reacts to an old friend and it is something that I think anyone can relate to.  It also helped that the villain and his/their motivation was an interesting and compelling one.  I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that Mob Rule is one of those villains that you can’t help but sympathize with.
The only complaints I have is that sometimes the general art direction could be a little weird, but other than that this one was really good.  The characters were compelling, the villain was great, and the concepts were fantastic and out of The Justice League Comics, this one is probably the best and one that I highly recommend you take a look at.


Captain Atom

GOOD GOD!! This one is dull.  It focuses on Captain Atom as he plays God and gives exposition on his life, abilities, and….you know what?  I really don’t care.  While some of the ideas could be good it suffered from poor execution and was just boring.  Every issue is just him thinking about what he is and talking to people about it.  There is little to no action, no real story arc and nothing to keep the reader involved and the characters are just as dull and uninteresting.  To sum it up in a single sentence, it’s like they took every boring part of Dr. Manhattan’s story from Watchmen and decided to make an entire comic line for it. 
Only redeeming quality is that the villain is kind of interesting but it’s not nearly enough to save this line.  I’ve already said all I can say or need to say on this one and I can only recommend that you avoid it with anything short of flamethrowers.


The Fury of Firestorm

This is one of those lines/concepts/characters/ I went into knowing next to nothing about.  I mean, I had heard of Firestorm and was slightly familiar with whom/what it was but I didn’t know a whole lot.  So any comparison with previous lines or characters will be non-existent in this review.  Anyway, the story focuses on two teenagers as they are turned into Firestorm creatures, (I honestly don’t know what else to call them), after government agents try to kill them for…well knowing the wrong people at the wrong time.  The rest of the comic focuses on the two trying to avoid various government agencies trying to kill/capture them. 
One thing that I think anyone would agree on is that the art direction is fantastic.  The coloring and the drawing style both work really well together and it’s something the artist deserves praise for.  Right alongside this is the action as it is incredibly well depicted and helps move the story along at a fast pace.  I also really like the concepts.  The actual powers of the “Firestorms” are really cool and make me interesting in how they will use their abilities.  I also like the way that there are multiple “Firestorms” working on different sides of the board and it makes for good fights and great suspense.
One thing that I’m a bit divided on is the villains.  On one hand they’re pretty badass and leave their actual motivations and goals a bit ambiguous, (I love ambiguity in my stories).  On the other hand, they often come off as over the top 24 villains.  More time will have to pass before I can make a final decision concerning these so take them for what they are for now.
But then we come to our biggest problem of this series, our two protagonists.  They just suck!  I mean they suck!  Our first protagonist Jason is a stereotypical nerd who thinks he knows everything about everything and for some God unknown reason has a hatred for jocks.  Our second protagonist, Raymond is a stereotypical jock who thinks he’s better then everyone, has a hatred for nerds and is…slower than a lot of the other characters.  And trust me when I say, these aren’t real people!  I’ve known both nerds and jocks so trust me when I say that they do not act like this at all.  It just seems reinforce stereotypes that you really shouldn’t see outside of kid shows.  The interactions don’t help either.  They both come off as complete jackasses and it makes them completely unlikeable.  The last complaint I have is against the dialog and inner monologues as about a third of it is just bad.  That’s all I can say.  It’s just bad.
All around, this one wasn’t that bad.  The artwork, plot, concepts and action make it readable but dialog and protagonist are extremely annoying and drag it down.  But they don’t drag it down enough to where I say burn but keep that in mind if you decide to give this one a read.


Green Arrow

          Hmm.  This is another line that I have mixed feelings on.  As you may expect the story revolves around Green Arrow/Oliver Queen, as he fights crime and tries to help run his family company with the two frequently colliding.  The first three issues revolved around his hunt a group of super criminals who are posting their exploits on the internet, gaining tons of views and subscribers.  The next two issues involve his fights against an assassin known as Blood Rose and her…. “pet?”  “Lover?”, (it’s not really made clear), Midas who have a vendetta against Oliver Queen, (not Green Arrow).
            This is another that is a bit of a mixed bag and the quality seems to change from issue to issue.  Before we get into that, however, let’s look at what’s good of all the issues.  Like Firestorm, the art work is great with well depicted action.  The supporting characters are also pretty good as well.  Nomia and Jax both make good supporting tech characters and I like the way they interact with Queen.  But the supporting character I really like is C.E.O. Emerson who, in my opinion, went past being a stereotypical corporate dick head.  He thinks Queen is throwing his life away, eluding responsibilities, and throwing away everything his father built for him.  This makes him sympathetic because it is obvious that he cares about Queen and almost makes us wish he knew what Queen was up to.
            But then we get into what doesn’t work with this line.  I found the first three issues utterly intolerable, mainly because of the villains.  Now for anyone who defends the first three issues because of the premise, let me tell you right now that it’s not original at all and the execution was just terrible.  It didn’t work in Death Race or The Condemned or Untraceable and it isn’t any better here.  The end result was a line that kind of came off as anti-internet/pro-S.O.P.A., (at least that’s the way I saw it) and it just annoyed the crap out of me.  None of these villains were memorable and the way Green Arrow reacted to them was just ridiculous.  It also didn’t help that he had the dialog of 80 year old conservative calling everyone punks and losers.  Had they continued on this route I would have burned this series with a passion. 
Luckily the next two issues saved it.  The annoying viral plot is gone and Green Arrow’s dialog is a lot better.  This time around, he’s a much more likeable and sympathetic character, whereas in the first three issues he was just an annoying bore.  We also have memorable villains that we don’t know much about and it adds a mystery to it that will keep readers coming back for more, (something that the other books failed to do).
My final recommendation is to skip the first three issues and go straight to Issue Four.  But even then I can still see how someone may not like it.  After all it is Green Arrow and some people will probably think that he really lame.  All I can say is make your own choice about it.



The Savage Hawkman

Oh boy.  Now we’re digging into the worst of The New 52.  In terms of story, there really isn’t much to say.  It centers around Hawkman as battles an alien, then later fighting some wizard or someone and that’s about it.  The only good thing that I can say about this series is that the concepts involving the aliens and wizard are interesting.  But then it goes straight down the shitter real fast.
Let’s start with the basics.  The art work is really unappealing.  The coloring and drawing style just looks ugly and I don’t find it appealing in the least bit.  The action is horribly done and doesn’t consist of more than “Hawkman Smash!” type fights where he just cleaves single blows against his enemies.  The ways the panels are ordered are just messy as well and makes the whole thing really confusing and half the time you can’t tell what is going on.  But for me, the worst part about it is that the comic is just boring and the actual story progression squanders the interesting concepts and utterly fails to live up to any potential it may have had.  I think a big part of this has to do with the characters, which, like the plot, are incredibly boring and as wooden as a tree.  They have zero personality, no real characterization, and nothing remarkable or memorable about them in the least bit.
In the end, I have nothing good to say about this line as it doesn’t leave an impression at all.  I don’t hate it the way I hate Red Lanterns because it actually has a story but that isn’t enough.  There is nothing interesting or engaging about this story whatsoever and deserve a place in my fire pit.  It’s not good enough for my flamethrower.


Mr. Terrific

And now for our second to last comic for the day, Mr. Terrific.  This one revolves around Michael Holt, aka Mr. Terrific as he fights Brainstorm, a mutant, or something that increases people’s I.Q. rapidly over a short period of time causing them to go homicidal.  Then he’s captured by extra dimensional aliens and has to escape.  And I’m just going to be blunt about this.  This series is completely useless and unoriginal.  Yea.  Not necessarily bad but useless.
It seems like it contains every single concept, idea, or characterization that I’ve heard a million times before.  The most notable is this: Billionheir using his wealth to fight crime with a high I.Q. and technology because of a personal tragedy.  When it was used in other series it came off as fresh because they were the first to do it.  With this series, it just seems clichéd.  In the first three issues, nothing is really that interesting.  The villain reminds me of a cross between Brainiac and this one thing from the cartoon series The Big Guy and Rusty and the way he actually became this thing seems to indicate much “inspiration” from the latter.  It doesn’t help that I don’t find the art work appealing and the action is really underwhelming.  Not to mention the story involving Brainstorm isn’t that interesting.  It has its moments but he just comes off as a throwaway villain.
Things start to look up at Issue Four when Mr. Terrific is captured by extra dimensional aliens and has to break out with the help of other aliens and has to help one find its place in the universe.  But sadly this is ruined by him in two ways.  First, he’s being whiney because he almost beat a man to death.  A man who just so happened to be responsible for his wife’s death which is a completely human response.  Yet he thinks he is an animal just because he lost his temper on the guy who killed his wife.  Dude, you do not have anger issues!  You are just human!  What you did was a completely natural response!  You didn’t kill him so you’re in the clear!  Stop being a bitch about it and get on with your day.
It also openly compares his and the aliens’ capture to the enslavement of Africans in America.  This just annoys me on so many levels.  For one thing, this isn’t something that needs to be in a comic.  Everyone learned in grade school the horrible things that were done to Africans and we don’t need this comic retelling us some of those stories.  If you want to make this an analogy for slavery, that’s fine.  But don’t spell it out like that.  Keep it subtle; let the reader draw his or her on conclusion from this without telling what you’re actually alluding to.  The way they have it set up just makes it sound preachy.
There is also really irritating stereotyping, although I’m not sure everyone else will see it.  For one thing, you have the aforementioned thing above.  Just assuming that he would make that connection doesn’t seem right to me at all.  I’m Scottish/Irish and I don’t immediately think of the British oppressive rule over Ireland and Scotland whenever I think the government is being a little too strict, (may be a bad analogy but you get my point). 
That and there are these little lines of dialog that had me shaking my head in disapproval and thinking “what the hell were the writers thinking?”  For example, there is this line of dialog: “And I’m a black woman which means I’m built to handle things you can’t even imagine or never had to.”  I mean what the fuck?!?  Does that sound right to anyone?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m overanalyzing this a bit but it still bugs me. 
In the end, this series was utterly pointless and boring.  It had a bunch of things that just didn’t seem right, underwhelming action and just seemed like an all-around useless series without much original to add to the D.C. Universe and I’m not surprised in the least bit that D.C. putting the axe this line.  It’s a very passable series and one that I’ll be taking my flame thrower to and suggest you all do the same.


D.C. Universe Presents

            And now for our final comic of the day, D.C. Universe Presents.  For those of you who aren’t aware, this is an anthology series who’s protagonist changes about every five issues or so.  This one focuses on Boston Brand/Deadman as he tries to help a disabled war vet as well as figure out just what his purpose is in what he’s doing.  So has this anthology series gotten off to a good start?  Let’s find out.
            On the positive side it had a good art direction and I really like the philosophy aspect of it.  It’s very rare that anything in the mainstream media would address the kind of questions they ask in this series.  Other than that it’s kind of difficult to actually say what makes it so good without spoiling it but it is a comic that touches on redemption, and the meaning of life.  I wouldn’t say that it’s Alan Moore level but it really went in depth on these things and is what makes the book reading.
            There are some things that may keep people away from the book.  For starters, it’s not a traditional comic by any means.  There is very little action, it can drag on a bit and the protagonist is more than a little unlikeable.  And I’m not entirely convinced that this is what people reading comics will want.  From what I gather people who read comics really aren’t in general looking for things like this and that’s why I have reservations about recommending it, as I can see why someone wouldn’t like it.  This is another that I say take a look at and get your own opinions.


            And that’s it for Part 4 of my look at The New 52 and I have to say, this one was the most disappointing for me thus far.  The Flash and Aquaman were both great, but Captain Atom, Mr. Terrific and The Savage Hawkman just disgusted me and I wish I had never read them.  The rest were mixed bags and I suggest you get your own opinions on them.  And that’s if for The Justice League.  Next time I’ll be looking at The Dark and hopefully-

Illusive One:  What the hell?!? 


Illusive One:  Oh….Hi Darkseid!  Um…this isn’t about the crack I made about you armor is it?  Because you still look badass in it!  Sort of…

Illusive One:  Oh shit….I’ve got a problem….

To Be Continued….

1 comment:

  1. Agree on nearly all counts on this one. I love Justice League personally, and hated International... so many cliches...

    Mr. Terrific started off great but went really downhill after they brought in the heavyhanded slavery story.

    Kudos on Aquaman and Flash. Loved em both.