Saturday, October 21, 2017

Justice League of America (vol.2) #10 (2007)


Justice League of America (vol.2) #10 (August, 2007)
"The Lightning Saga, Final Chapter: The Villain is the Hero in His Own Story"
Writer - Brad Meltzer
Penciller - Ed Benes
Inker - Sandra Hope
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Colorist - Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor - Adam Schlagman
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

Okay, we finally made it...

If you need/want to catch up:
Chapter One: Justice League of America (vol.2) #8
Chapter Two: Justice Society of America (vol.3) #5
Chapter Three: Justice League of America (vol.2) #9
Chapter Four: Justice Society of America (vol.3) #6

--


We pick up back during the Computo fight.  While Superman and Power Girl realize they've been duped, the rest of the amalgamated Justice League-Society continues the battle.  Spotting Sensor Girl, and assuming she's behind the illusion, Superman zips across the battlefield to question her.  He grabs her by the shoulder... shattering it?  Well, no... turns out, Sensor Girl is also an illusion!


We shift to the Legionnaires and find that they are all in position... Dawnstar is in Tokyo, Timber Wolf is in Central City, Sensor Girl is in Smallville, Wildfire is in San Francisco, Starman is in Gotham City, and Dream Girl is in Keystone City... where she is joined by an inquisitive Jay Garrick.  He knows that she knows how this is all going to roll out... but she ain't talkin'.  In fact, she hints that her placement was simply to pull the present-heroes' resident speedster off the scent.


Jay smiles... because, well... he's always smiling.  At that moment we can see that each of the Legionniares we just mentioned have been joined by a member of the Justice League.  In Smallville, Sensor Girl finds herself in the company of Superman.  She is crying, knowing that this time around we won't just be losing a "Proty".  He asks if he can see the Lightning Rod.


In Gotham, Batman is joined by Mr. Terrific so they can have a discussion/debate on suicide... which, I suppose is relevant at this juncture but still comes across as somewhat forced.  While across the globe the League members try and talk the Legionnaires out of their suicide mission, we see that Batman and Green Lantern are in very familiar locales.  Batman is where he was during Crisis on Infinite Earths when Barry Allen appeared before him... Hal is in Barry's police lab.  Really cool visual.


We find ourselves around twenty seconds from "impact", and the waiting Legionnaires activate their force fields.  Jay radios in to Black Canary, who immediately deactivates the Legion Flight rings... unfortunately for the League/Society, the Legionnaires Rings are able to override the command.  Welp, that was a good use of a page!


The seconds continue to tick down, and we shift to Blue Valley, USA where Karate Kid (remember him?) is stationed.  The League/Society were unable to follow him as he removed his tracer.  Hmm, perhaps the Legion did already know who was going to be zapped today!


He looks to the skies, says "Lightning Lad" and is struck by a... sorta iconic looking... lightning bolt!


Moments later, the remaining Legionnaires begin to fade away... being drawn to the Fortress of Solitude so they can go back to the future.  In the smoldering crater where the lightning struck in Blue Valley we see... Wally, Linda, Iris, and Jai West?  Well, there's some folks I wasn't expecting to see.


While the Legionnaires continue to fade away, Starman removes his flight ring to remain in the present with his new team.


The Legionnaires arrive at the Fortress, and as they proceed through the time-portal thingie... Karate Kid is told that he's got to stay behind... a story thread that will be picked up in the pages of Countdown.  Fate worse than death?  Oh and if you're wondering, he survived the lightning bolt by "ducking".


We follow the remaining Legionnaires into the future, where Brainiac-5 is a bit surprised about the lightning bringing the Wests back.  Ya see, they weren't inside the lightning bolt... they simply rode it back.  Back in the present, Superman looks a bit betrayed... and wants to talk to Starman.  Batman looks disappointed... suggesting that he might've been expecting, I dunno, a different speedster? 


We wrap up with Wally accepting an invitation to rejoin the Justice League... and Brainiac-5 revealing that the Lightning Rod gambit was successful, and they get exactly who they were looking for.


--

Well... that was moderately unsatisfying.  Feels like a whole lot of buildup for not much of a result.  We discuss the whole "decompression" thing here from time to time... and we're about to do so again!

I feel like the second-half of this story could have easily filled a single issue.  Hell, this entire story would've made for a great annual or something.  There just doesn't feel like nearly enough "meat" to satisfyingly fill five whole issues.  Chapter Four was basically just the fight with not-Computo, and this was just waiting for lightning to strike.

I'm a pretty big Wally West fan, but the result here even felt like a bit of a letdown.  I guess that's a problem we face when we read things out of context.  I'd actually forgotten the era we were reading about, and the fact that Wally and Family had vamoosed for a bit there.  Made the entire thing feel anticlimactic.

As for who the Legion were hoping to bring back... well, we'd have to wait about a year and a half to find out what that's all about.  So, if you were a Legion fan hoping for some follow-up, you're gonna have to exercise some patience.  Nothing new for Legion fans though, right?  Especially nowadays...

Overall... I found The Lightning Saga disappointing.  To be fair, I'm coming at this from a position of not knowing a whole helluva lot about the Legion of Super-Heroes... and having little investment in the characters, disparate reboots, and stories which may or may not have happened.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #6 (2007)


Justice Society of America (vol.3) #6 (July, 2007)
"The Lightning Saga, Chapter Four: Three Worlds"
Writer - Geoff Johns
Penciller - Dale Eaglesham
Inker - Ruy Jose
Colorist - Jeromy Cox
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Adam Schlagman
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

A storm's on its way... prepare for the Penultimate Lightning!

If you need to/want to catch up:
Chapter One: Justice League of America (vol.2) #8
Chapter Two: Justice Society of America (vol.3) #5
Chapter Three: Justice League of America (vol.2) #9

--

We open up with Superman explaining his weird and wacky history with the Legion of Super-Heroes... and boy, is he getting into it!  Power Girl asks why they left so abruptly... and what's the deal with these lightning rods anyway?  Superman mentions the hazards of time-travel, especially when it comes to memory.  He even brings up an archival-adventure they had called "The Legion of Three Worlds" that nobody can remember!  He says the last time he remembers seeing the Legion was during the "first" Crisis.  Well, we could argue that... but we won't.


Anyhoo... dem lightning rods, right?  They were used by the Legion after the death of Lightning Lad (Adventure Comics #304).  It was sort of a game of Russian Roulette where lightning would strike (and kill) a Legionnaire... and it would somehow bring Lightning Lad back to life.  The gang played this game in Adventure Comics #312... and it looked like Saturn Girl was the thunderstruck sacrifice.  Turns out it was actually Chameleon Boy's shape-shifting pet Proty taking the form of Saturn Girl that bit the big one.  Still with me?  Okay... we said all of that, so we might say this... looks like the Legion is planning to give the lightning rods another go-round.


Speaking of the Legion, we join them as they fly in the skies over a densely-wooded/jungle area.  We can see here that despite Star Boy/Man's memory blocks being off... he's still pretty loony.  Since we're skipping around this volume at this blog, we know all about the time he'd spent on Earth-22.


The land... and they must be in the right place, because nearby we see Liberty Belle, Wonder Woman, Damage, Hourman, and Black Lightning tracking the final Legionnaire.  We join them as Jesse is trying to sell Diana on dating the new Mr. America.  They come across one of the Secret Society's old bases... and Jefferson steps in to zap the door off it's hinges.  What they find inside is not one Legionnaire, but... three?


Hey, it's Triplicate Girl... and boy is she chatty.  She seems a bit misinformed as to her purpose in the present, however.  She thinks the Legion has been sent back to prevent Computo from activating... and while that's an erstwhile endeavor, it ain't the one we were expecting!  Worth mentioning, there's another Legionnaire lurking in the shadows, hmm...


Oh yeah, also Computo activates... and a fight is on!  The sixsome of Legionnaires as well as the remainder of the amalgamated Justice League/Society of America arrives and we find ourselves experiencing one heckuva skirmish.


The fight doesn't seem to be going the way the League expected... and Hal notices something weird about their foe when he tries scanning it with his ring.  A comment from Karate Kid suggests something's afoot.  We shift inside the Secret Society base where we see Dawnstar "trigger-wording" that shadow-lurking Legionnaire.


When it looks as though Triplicate Girl is about to be crushed to death, Superman issues a stand-down command.  As several confused heroes look on, he instructs Power Girl to use her x-ray vision.  In doing so, we come to find that... Computo (and Triplicate Girl) was a lie.


An illusion, courtesy of the actual seventh Legionnaire, Sensor Girl... under which the Legionnaires were able to bug out, and venture off to face their flashy fates!


--

Boy is it nice to have Dale Eaglesham back for this issue!  It just doesn't look like the Justice Society without him.

Now we start off with a quite annotate-able flashback to the first time Lightning Lad bought the farm, which isn't something I was expecting to research this early in the morning (what the hell is a Proty anyway?).  I found an excellent blog post from Silver Age Comics discussing the entire magilla.  Worth a visit!

I mentioned in our discussion of Chapter Two that this feels like more of a passion-project in Johns' issues... and this further cements that point of view.  We see that he's already laying the groundwork for 2008's Legion of 3 Worlds miniseries.  I mean, that story doesn't even start for like a year and a half at this point!  Wild.

I gave "props" (ugh, did I just say that?) to Brad Meltzer for keeping his Justice League-centric stories/character development bubbling away in the background of this crossover, and I gotta do the same for Johns.  We get another mention of that crazy Earth-22 which will, within the next few months, absolutely take over this volume.

We're definitely putting pieces in place as we approach the climax.  A great issue, though I wasn't completely on board for the Computo fight scene.  I'm not sure why, but it kinda lost me there.  I suppose it was necessary... just didn't dig it.  Least it was beautiful to look at!  I've said it before but I just love Eaglesham's two-page spreads!

Overall... like I said yesterday... if you've read the previous parts, there's really no reason not to check this one out too.  Unless, of course, you hated the previous issues... but then you'd probably not be reading this piece.  I think I just confused myself.  Anyhoo... this sucker's been collected and is available digitally!  We'll wrap this up tomorrow... also, that Power Girl's boobs cover.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Justice League of America (vol.2) #9 (2007)


Justice League of America (vol.2) #9 (July, 2007)
"The Lightning Saga, Chapter Three: Suicide"
Writer - Brad Meltzer
Artist - Ed Benes
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Colorist - Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor - Adam Schlagman
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

Welcome to the halfway point of The Lightning Saga!  If you're interested, be sure to check out our chats on Chapter One and Chapter Two first!

--



We open with Mr. Terrific and Black Canary getting us caught up on what's gone down so far.  Of interest, we (or at least, I) learn that Wildfire is actually using Red Tornado's body... that's pretty neat, and not something I ever knew.  Not sure if this had ever been established before this.  They also look at the odd utility belt that Wildfire had produced last chapter... and find that it looks almost too ordinary.  Speaking of Red Tornado, Michael is still almost creepily stoked to get him into his lab.  On the other side of a two-way mirror, we can see a soft-interrogation going down.  Batman chats up Karate Kid, asking about the "Trigger Word", suggesting that it might be a sort of fail-safe.  Val thinks he's on to something... and they discuss how "random" their being flung into the past might... or might not, have been.



We shift scenes to the Congo... seemingly to facilitate Vixen explaining how her powers differ from Animal Man's.  She, along with Jay Garrick, Hal Jordan, and Wildcat Jr. are visiting Gorilla City... the House of Solovar, to be precise.  They are greeted by Nnamdi, who as it would happen feels power emanating from Mari.



Their chat is cut short by the arrival of some very important news... about an arrival!  Ya see, a Nzame (which a Google search says is the name of the African God of Creation) is about to be born... and this is an event that only happens once every thousand years.  Ain't he just the sweetest thing?  Or... does he remind you of another white gorilla we might know?



While the Gorillas celebrate, Jay and Mari prepare to scout the area in search of their futuristic bounty... annnnnd, they find him!  Legionnaire, Timber Wolf is running with a pack of hunter-apes... riding dinosaurs!  I'm not much for Internetty "lol, random" humor, but this is pretty cute.  Hal's Green Lantern ring speaks the trigger-word, waking Brin from his haze.



We next shift to Thanagar, where Power Girl and Red Arrow provide a little bit more in the way of expositional catch-up.  They are joined on this journey by Hawks Man and Girl.  It would appear that this might be the most hormonal flight in existence... because you can cut through the romantic tension with an Nth Metal knife.  We see that Roy is quite smitten with Kendra... a fact that isn't lost on her, and one she appears to sorta-kinda enjoy playing with.



Power Girl looks on, and cautions Roy about getting tied up with one of the Hawks.  We see that she and Carter had a bit of a fling earlier on... which ended the way most Hawky romances do.  No, not with death and reincarnation... with Hawkman and Hawkgirl being pulled together again.



Next stop, the future.  Remember Dolores Whatsherface from Chapter One?  The Ultra-Humanite host with cancer from 1948?  Well, we now see her laid out on a table with the top of her head cut off.  Well, that's pleasant.  We then (thankfully) turn the camera to see her captors/saviors... Per Degaton, the Ultra-Humanite (White Gorilla... hmm... edition) and (pre-Crisis) Despero!  Last we saw them on this blog, they were messing with Rip Hunter over in the pages of Booster Gold (vol.2).



Back on Thanagar, our foursome arrives at the foot of the building where they believe Dawnstar is hanging out.  They head for the roof and find a winged woman knelt in the corner.  They offer up the trigger-word, but it's no-dice.  We come to find that this isn't Dawnstar... just the person she left her Legion Flight Ring with.  It might be her lover, I'm not sure.  I guess when you're packin' wings, a Flight Ring isn't a "must".  We learn that Dawnstar has already "felt" her friends, and is headed to them.



Back with the League, we see our five Legionnaires reunited... and discovering their true purpose in the present.  Ya see, that Utility Belt actually houses several lightning rods... with which they will sacrifice themselves???  Sooo, the Legionnaires are actually on  a suicide mission to "bring him back".  Considering the safe-word is "Lightning Lad", they've got Lightning Rods, and the story is called The Lightning Saga... I gotta wonder who they might be talking about!  Ya know, the more I type the word "lightning" the weirder it looks...



We wrap up this chapter with the arrival of Dawnstar.  Despite having been drawn there, she's still in her haze.  Wildfire has to trigger-word her out of it.  Now with all her bearings, she knows where they need to go to successfully complete their mission...



--

Boy is it nice to have Ed Benes back on art!  Not that Davis was a slouch or anything... just came across a bit inconsistent.  Plus, that Power Girl... ay yai yai.  That's not to say we don't get our cheesecake here... it's just a lot... well, I wouldn't say subtle... just nicer.

Anyhoo... after this chapter we're up to six out of our seven time-lost Legionnaires.  Not being a "big" Legion dude, I can't say whether there's rhyme or reason to the characters chosen.  If it were up to me, I'd have went with the bigger names... Brainiac-5, Saturn Girl, Mon-El, Ultra Boy... but it is pretty neat seeing some of the ones I don't know quite as well (or at all).  If not for the wings, I wouldn't recognize Dawnstar if she delivered a pizza to my house.

I was thinking about this story... and found myself bothered that the Justice League/Society doesn't know who the Legionnaires are.  I was recently re-reading The Final Night for an episode of the Cosmic Treadmill... and there were time-lost Legionnaires in it!  I mean, they figured into it in a fairly large way.  Brainy helped with the plan to put out the Sun-Eater... and the only way Dusk's warning could be translated was via the universal whoziwatsits in the Legion Flight Rings!  I suppose it serves this story for them not to know... and hell, for all I know their presence was erased from the people-in-the-present's memories.

Outside of the main story, we do get some neat character beats.  I've given Meltzer some guff over the way he does things from time to time... but I gotta say... I appreciate his keeping League-centric stories moving forward throughout this crossover.  If someone were only reading the Justice League... they still get a decent amount of character-progression here.

Now, the subplot with Per Degaton and the gang... I can't recall where this was headed.  I wanna say it ties in with Countdown (to Final Crisis), but wouldn't swear to it.  All I know is that they were beboppin' and scattin' throughout time a bit during this era.  If it does all wrap up in Countdown... well, then it makes sense that I wouldn't know how it goes down.

The reveal that the Legionnaires are on a suicide mission is an... interesting wrinkle.  I suppose this could've brought some urgency with it back in 2007... I mean, there was already a Legion "in the world" (I think the cool kids called it the "Threeboot Legion"), so it might've stood to reason that these Legionnaires were "expendable".  Either case, this helps move this story toward its climax... and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it wraps up.  If I were a betting man (and thankfully, I'm not) I'd wager that the Rebirth-Legion (if that ever becomes "a thing") might be in this vein... hell, might even be in this continuity... so, this could wind up being "must reading" in our Legion-Learning journey.

Overall, if you've read the first two chapters... you might as well pick up the third!  As mentioned in earlier installments, these were collected a few times, and are available digitally.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #5 (2007)


Justice Society of America (vol.3) #5 (June, 2007)
"The Lightning Saga, Chapter Two: Dreams and Fire"
Writer - Geoff Johns
Aritst - Fernando Pasarin
Colorist - Jeromy Cox
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Adam Schlagman
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99


Moving right along with The Lightning Saga!  If you're interested in checking out Chapter One, be sure to check out yesterday's discussion of Justice League of America (vol.2) #8.


--


We open at Arkham Asylum where Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD have the gates surrounded.  It's feared (ha!) that the Scarecrow has done his toxin-thang... however, a certain caped crusader believes differently.  Having traced the Valorium in a Legion Flight Ring, Batman and an amalgamated Justice-crew (including Geo-Force, Sandman and Starman) have just arrived on the scene.  Batman deduces that this is likely not the Scarecrow's handiwork, as his gas creates illusions... and these folks are being affected by temporary physical manifestations of their worst fears.


Starman begins to panic, claiming that a "doctor... with no face" is inside and behind all the hoopla.  Also, Dream Girl.  The faceless Doctor is Dr. Destiny... but we already knew that.  Sandman is a bit incredulous, knowing that the Dr. D's Dreamstone had been destroyed... Batman suggests that he must've found another.  Fair enough...


We go "off subject" for a moment to a bit to illustrate that Geo-Force has similar powers as Starman and Sandman combined, by Geo-Force bragging that he has similar powers as Starman and Sandman combined... which really feels out of place.  I mean, are we trying to make him look like a jackass here?  Sure feels like it.  Anyhoo, Batman pulls the team in to discuss strategy, but doesn't notice that Thom has wandered away.


Inside, Thom has found a bank of monitors... all of which features his gal-pal Nura.  There's a sizzle, and the monitors blink off.  Batman approaches to clue him in on Dr. Destiny's standard operating procedure, before suggesting that ol' John Dee might be about to tap into the worst fear of the Arkham inmates and use it against them... wouldntcha know it, their worst fear is Batman!  Not quite as impressive as Man of Steel #37, but it'll do.


While his partners fight off the colony of Batmen, Starman makes like a cartoon character and proceeds to burst through walls on his way to Dream Girl's cell.  Dr. Destiny wastes no time tapping into Thom's worst fears... which include his murder (in self-defense) of Kenz Nuhor.


While the manifestation of Kenz pummels poor Thom, he is able to utter something in Interlac... which, thanks to our handy-dandy Interlac translator (see below) we know to be "L-i-g-h-t-n-i-n-g-L-a-d"... which, I dunno... there's a symbol specifically for Lightning Lad (sorta looks like Captain Marvel's "thunderbolt"), so why not just use that?  Oh well.  Either way, this is what snaps Nura back to wakey-ness.  She slams Dr. D into a wall, revealing him to be... just some bald dude, not scary in the slightest.  She and Thom embrace.


Meanwhile Superman, Red Tornado, Stargirl and Cyclone arrive at the Fortress of Solitude.  Courtney comments to Maxine that she hasn't been her normal fangirly self... which can be attributed to being around the "new" (as in non-Hunkel) Red Tornado.  Court suggests she chat him up... ya know, legacy and what-not... Hal and Alan get along fine, right?


Superman leads the crew into a room labelled... (thanks to our handy-dandy Kryptonian Translator) "Trophy Room and Museum".  Inside, he procures his Legion flight ring, and begins telling the story of how he met the kids from the future.  Among his exhibits is one featuring dozens of Legionnaires!  It's really quite the scene.


While Superman continues the Secret Origin of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Maxine notices that there's a dupe in the exhibit... there are two Wildfires!  Superman immediately realizes that one ain't a statue... and is, in fact the real deal.  And so, he Interlacs some "L-i-g-h-t-n-i-n-g-L-a-d" to bring Drake to his senses.


Wildfire collapses to the floor warning of a great storm... before ejecting Batman's Utility Belt from his chest?  Ehh??


--

Okay, we're two parts in and we've already found four out of seven Legionnaires!  Moving right along...

I enjoyed this issue a heckuva lot more than the first chapter... but that could just be me digging Johns' more than Meltzer.  I might be projecting (okay, I'm almost certainly projecting), but this feels like a much more "personal" story to Geoff.  Like, this is a story he needed to tell... whereas, perhaps not as much for Brad.

Johns was always the guy who could stuff his stories full of nods to the past, while still making things appear to be moving forward.  It's not terribly often I get a Legion reference (without a visit to the DC Wikia, anyway), so when I do get a nod to the past, boy... it's sort of a rush.

For the Legionnaire "awakenings", I gotta say, it feels pretty samey and convenient.  I'm not sure why I'd expect more... especially since we're going to need the sevensome awake and assembled before we find out and deal with the actual threat of the Saga... but, it still feels like things are moving a bit too fast.  I mean, you ever play an RPG where you collect party members along the way?  It's like... if I'm only playing for an hour or two, and already have my entire team... it's kind of a let-down.  I like meeting and aligning with new team members deeper into the story... but, maybe that's just me.

Overall, I thought this was pretty good.  Having no real tether to the Legion, I can't say for certain how "right" this all feels.  If I were a bigger fan of the franchise I suppose I might really love (or really hate) this story/take.  As a relative neophyte, however... I guess I can say that I'm having a pretty good time with it.

As a post-Crisis kind of guy, I am a bit "iffy" on the whole Superman was Superboy thing... and while that isn't said outright, the allusions were definitely there.  I mean, unless they're saying that young Clark Kent hung out in the future instead of Superboy... which, I suppose could be the direction.  For all I know, it's been made clear elsewhere... and I'm just talking out my backside.

As with the previous chapter, this issue has been collected several times over, and is available digitally.

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