Justice League (vol.2) #36 (2015)

Justice League (vol.2) #36 (January, 2015)
“The Amazo Virus, Chapter One: Quarantined”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Artist – Jason Fabok
Colorist – Brad Anderson
Letterer – Carlos M. Mangual
Assistant Editor – Amedeo Turturro
Group Editor – Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $3.99

If I were to pick just one New-52! book to read… it’s always gonna be Justice League.  This was the only title I collected for it’s duration… well, besides Teen Titans, but we don’t talk about that… I’m convinced those volumes were just an insanity test for the Titans faithful.

Justice League, to me, was appointment reading… it didn’t need events (though it had its share) because every issue was an event!  I very seldom put down an issue of this series and felt disappointed.  I always felt like I got my money’s worth.  Kinda makes it doubly sad what the title has become post-Rebirth.  Almost unreadable if you ask me.  It might just be the biggest drop in quality from one creative team to the next that I’ve ever experienced… but, that’s a discussion for another day.  Today’s about a book I actually like!

We open twenty-four hours after the outbreak.  The quarantined streets of Metropolis are barren… well, almost.  We come across a threesome of infected looters trying to pick up as much cash as they can from an armored van.  It just so happens that they’re not alone.  Superman and Batman are also on the scene.  Superman’s not scared of the virus due to his being an alien and all… Batman is wearing protective respiratory gear.

They confront the boys… who start to exhibit metahuman powers, a result of infection.  This is what they call “Stage-2”.  One breathes a swath of fire at Superman… clearly never having met Superman before.

Another shows off his particular power… the ability to create a black hole!  This one is definitely a bigger threat… however, before he is able to suck the World’s Finest team into the void he enters into “Stage-3”, which is to say… he dies!

Well, for a moment anyway.  Batman is able to use his suit as a defibrillator and jump starts his heart.  After which, he and Superman stare into the heart of Metropolis, sure in the fact that somewhere within walks Patient-Zero.

We shift scenes to Lex Luthor standing over the rest of the Justice League as they deal with having been infected.  Apparently if a Meta is infected, they lose their superpowers.  Lex mentions that not even the Flash, with his hyper-metabolism, has been able to burn through this.  The Leaguers are described as having organ functionality at between sixty and seventy percent.

Wonder Woman enters and requests a status update.  Luthor informs her that without a cure, they will all be dead within twenty-four hours.  Wonder Woman is unsure whether or not Luthor’s on the level… however, at this point… he’s all she’s got.  She reasons with Lex… er, threatens to use her lasso, that is… in order to get him to spill the beans about the Amazo Virus.  We learn that it was concocted using the principles of Professor Ivo’s Amazo android.  It was set to remove the powers from Metas… with violent criminal records (yeah, right)… 

Steve Trevor and his team are on hand to hear all of this, and he inquires as to what would happen to an ordinary human should they become infected.  Luthor kind of brushes it off… saying that was unplanned.  He mentions a Patient-Zero who should be the key to crafting a cure.  We also get a rundown on the “Stages” of the virus.  Stage-One: Flu-like symptoms.  Stage-Two: Manifestation of a random metahuman power or ability.  Stage-Three: Gruesome and painful death.  Neat-o.

Lex exits the room and runs into Captain Cold.  Snart is in charge of protecting Lex’s sister… and has thus far done a pretty good job.  She is safe… and uninfected.  Cold is acting as Luthor’s “Head of Security” and as such believes he is entitled to know all about those who would do his boss harm.  Luthor replies by telling him that it’s a very long list.

We wrap up back on the streets with Superman and Batman.  Sure didn’t take them all that long to find their bounty… Patient-Zero!

I grabbed this one seeing as though it was a “Part One”… then upon coming downstairs and actually reading it, realized that this… like most of the Justice League story arcs had a “Prologue” issue.  Too lazy to head back upstairs, I’m just gonna make do.

It’s probably because I have been so entrenched in comics from the 1980’s of late that I was sort of expecting a bit of a recap before being thrust into the action… can’t hold that against this issue, that’s just not how comics are done anymore.  This was meant to be enjoyed in sum, in collected edition format… I get that.  No harm, no foul.

There is the question of decompression… Now, since my reviews skew toward the older, I’m not sure I’ve actually said my piece about this storytelling method.  I remember in the mid-2000’s, creators and editorial would tell fans and readers that there was no such thing as decompressed storytelling… and most certainly no such thing as “writing for the trade”.  I think we’re all past that now… I mean, if it quacks like a duck… and takes six issues to do so, it’s probably decompressed storytelling.

That being said… not a whole lot happened here, however… somehow I feel as though there was enough forward momentum to keep me satisfied.  I felt that way when I read this at the end of 2014, and I feel that way today.  Just goes to show that certain writers can massage the episodic “for the trade” method into something satisfying.  Can’t say this would hold true for other readers… but for me, I think this was a fine issue.

I would perhaps be bothered by the amount of full and double-page spreads included here… if they weren’t so damn gorgeous.  Jason Fabok is an artist that, to me, came out of nowhere and just knocked my socks off.  I remember seeing him on the solicits for this title, and had no idea who he was… man-o-man, this dude can draw!

The story?  Really not a whole lot to say… which makes reviewing such a book quite difficult… then again, I’ve said it before… I’m not sure what I do here can even be considered “reviewing”.  I think our main takeaway here is finding out just what the Amazo virus was initially intended to be.  This opens up a lot of discussion… Luthor claimed to have concocted it to remove powers from Metas with “violent criminal records”.  We’re gonna skip the ol’ slippery slope argument… and just go ahead and call Lex a liar.  We have some pretty good ideas who this virus was intended to effect.  Not that that is a big shock or anything… just love that they gave us this image of Luthor working on and having this incredible virus to take down his adversaries.

Luthor may be my top “success story” of the New-52!, he just keeps raising the bar here.  He was always a formidable opponent… well, usually anyway… here, in this “new” world… dude is a force to be reckoned with… which is something that has, thankfully, followed him into Rebirth.  I like that he is played as the smartest and coolest guy in the room… but we’re not hammered over the head with it like we are with Batman.  Lex doesn’t need the praise… he knows he’s always one step ahead.  Granted, what happens a few issues after this catches him off guard… but that’s a story for another day.

The Amazo Virus storyline is what I consider the last “true” New-52! Justice League arc.  After this we hop into the (perhaps overlong) Darkseid War… which ends with us in the post-Rebirth landscape.  If you haven’t read it, I’d definitely say it’s worth checking out.  For better or worse, it’s a quick read… but one you get a lot from.  Available in collected edition (as it was intended) as well as digitally.

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