Justice League: Generation Lost #4 (2010)

Justice League: Generation Lost #4 (Late August, 2010)
“The Rocket’s Red Glare”
Script – Judd Winick
Breakdowns – Keith Giffen
Penciller – Joe Bennett
Inker – Jack Jadson
Colors – Hi-Fi
Letterer – Steve Wands
Assistant Editor – Rex Ogle
Editor – Michael Siglain
Cover Price: $2.99

If I had more time in my day I think I’d research how many issues dedicated to the Rocket Reds bear the title “Rocket’s Red Glare”.  I bet it’s a lot.  Kinda like when any book takes place in England the title will very likely be “London Calling”.

Anyhoo, it’s still #BrightestMay… we’re almost halfway through, and it feels like we haven’t even made a dent!  That’s probably because we haven’t!  I think to truly do this, it’ll take 4-5 more Brightest Mays.  Well, if we’re still at this next year… maybe we’ll give it another go!

We open in… an undisclosed location.  Parts unknown, if you weeeeel.  There, Maxwell Lord is chatting up a researcher… who, of course, doesn’t know Max from a hole in the wall.  Lord pulls one of his “power of suggestion” tricks, which surprisingly changes the lab-man into a zombified Black Lantern?!  We then shift scenes.  If you recall, last issue ended with the Gen Lost League catching a ride from an OMAC portal in El Paso… and winding up in Russia.  Enter: The Rocket Reds.

The Reds shout out some threats… but it turns out they’re not even paying attention to our Super Buddies… they’re actually threatening another Rocket Red?!

Skeets gives the deets… turns out this “rogue” Rocket Red is Gavril Ivanovich, a “revolutionary”.  He was once a Captain in the Brigade… but has broken off as the Reds move a bit closer “to center”.  Ya see, Gav is a “true Communist”, and sees any and all westernization as a betrayal.

The Gen Lost League decides… maybe it would be best to stay out of it.  Ya know, “International Incidents” and all.  Plus, this gaggle of geeks doesn’t exactly have the best reputation at the moment.  It isn’t until the War of the Reds starts endangering innocent civilians that the heroes know they must get involved.

Gavril is overjoyed to see that the Justice League International has come to lend him a hand.  Just how old are Russian newspapers, anyway?  The JLI hasn’t been a thing in like forever, right?  Anyhoo, they enter the fray and fight for a bit… and are eventually joined by Fire.

Now at “full capacity”, Gavril gets it in his brain that they can take on the Rocket Reds head on.  Thankfully, Booster and Captain Atom drag him away.  Ya see, they know the fight’s not over… but would rather it occur where there are fewer potential civilians to injure, maim, or kill.

Tora asks Bea how things went at Checkmate, which segues beautifully into a scene where the Black King is reporting everything that went down last issue to Batman.  Batman takes the information… but isn’t quite sure what to do with it.  You know how Batman is always the smartest guy around, right?  Well, he has a sneaking suspicion that there might be more to this than meets the eye.

Back in Russia (after beating up the pursuing Rocket Reds), Gavril takes inventory of his new “team”, and refers to them as the Justice League International.  This goes over like a lead balloon… but he’s sincere.  He suggests all they need is a Green Lantern to make the “ensemble” complete.

Booster gets a whiff of what he’s cooking… and suggests that Gav’s right.  He starts ranting and raving… finally realizing that they’re being “played” by Max Lord… and they’re being played for a reason.  Suddenly a voice box on one of the fallen Rocket Reds starts to crackle.

It’s Max!  And he just might be ready to answer some questions.

Very nice issue!  We’re definitely getting somewhere.

Before we get “into” the issue, I really wanna say that this is the series where I finally started to “get” Judd Winick as a writer.  It felt like he really found his “voice” here.  This no longer feels like snarky, stale Bendis-lite… or, even worse Kevin Smith-lite.

The jokes here, while not laugh out loud, actually land.  The characterization is strong, and there are some pretty great working-off-each-other moments to be had.  I remember being so bummed out when the “follow up” to this series, Justice League International (vol.3) from The New-52! was announced… and Judd’s name was nowhere to be found!

Not that Dan Jurgens (who wound up writing that short-lived volume) is any slouch, but by the time Gen Lost ended, I felt like Winick really made these characters his own.  What’s perhaps worse… Judd went on to write that Catwoman (vol.3) book that featured rooftop sex in the very first issue.  Maybe Gen Lost was an anomaly?  Who knows?

Anyhoo… into this book!  It’s a pretty good blend of talky and fighty.  There is banter… but it’s written in an… I dunno, organic way?  So often it seems as though a writer will think of a really great punchline… and work backwards from there.  Like setting up a joke for pages… lobbing dialogue softballs for a set-up.  I bet if we look though the archives we’ll find that I’ve very likely leveled that accusation at Winick himself.  Here, however… it doesn’t feel like that.  Jokes just “happen”… and it makes for a much smoother read.

The Batman scene… eh.  I could say I could “do without” it… but, one of the few things I do remember about this series is that Batman will eventually get involved.  Remember, he was a founding member of the Bwah-ha-ha League too.  I remember growing up and how annoyed we’d get when Wolverine always seemed to have “all the answers” and would get involved with everything.  Never really see those complaints about Batman though.  Ehh, maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.

The Maxwell Lord stuff is pretty interesting.  In our look at the various returnees so far, it’s clear that they’re not exactly as they’d left us.  Aquaman is summoning undead sea(un)life… the Firestorm Matrix has some sort of dark entity swirling about… Captain Boomerang can summon black boomerangs… and now Max is “power of suggesting” people into dead Black Lanterns?!

Really feels like we’re building to something special here.  I’m going to wager that DiDio and Company didn’t yet have their hands on the toilet flusher just yet.  I mean, could you imagine putting this much effort into revitalizing the line… knowing that you’re a year away from dropping the entire magilla (minus Batman and Green Lantern) into the commode?  Seems like a mighty dumb idea, don’t it?

Overall… this was a fun read… and the cliffhanger we’re left with is a great one!  This whole Brightest Day endeavor almost feels like we’re watching a class on serial storytelling.  Good stuff.

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