Justice League of America (vol.3) #1 (April, 2013)
“World’s Most Dangerous, Chapter One”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Art – David Finch
Colors – Sonia Oback w/Jeromy Cox
Letters – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Katie Kubert
Senior Editor – Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $3.99
Hey, waitasec… is that a variant cover?!
Yep, this is one of the handful of times I decided to order a variant instead of the “regular” edition… not that it’s all that much different, just a state flag instead of Old Glory. In this case, Arizona’s state flag.
I’ve said before how little patience I have for variants… but I don’t think I’ve ever gone into detail with the “why’s”. First, I feel like they make covers, in and of themselves, less special… and ultimately less memorable and iconic. I don’t think I can name a single memorable cover from the past several years.
Also, it makes ordering comics a whole lot more complicated than it ought to be! I use DCBS to order my books, and in an age where damn near every single book has at least one variant cover, it sometimes feels like I’m stomping through a minefield wearing tennis racket shoes when I try and complete my order. I shouldn’t have to pore over the order page the way I do just to make sure I don’t accidentally choose a $50 variant cover of Wolverine as a baby, or Harley Quinn eating a hot dog. Of course, I get the opportunity to review my order, but still… it’s a great big pain in the butt.
Now, don’t get it twisted. If variants are your thing, more power to ya. Though, I can’t say I’m not looking forward to the day where we look back at them the same way we currently look back on the era of “enhanced” covers.
With that bit of kvetching out of the way… onto the book!
We open five years ago… hey, that’s such a New-52! thing to do, ain’t it? We’re in London, where Professor Ivo has a meeting with… somebody, about the recent appearance of super-heroes. Since they’re the opposition, they suppose this makes them super-villains. We jump to the present, and find a green-clad fella wearing a demon mask being followed through a forest by… the Justice League?! They claim that their “creator” wants this guy dead.
Speaking of the Justice League, next we shift scenes into the offices of Amanda Waller. I swear I read her voice as the Chief’s from that Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego kids game show. Anyhoo, she’s meeting with Steve Trevor about putting together another Justice League… one that reports to the United States government. He doesn’t think it’s all that great an idea… the Wall just believes he’s too emotionally invested in a certain member of the real Justice League.
To attempt to “bring him around”, Waller shows Steve a photo of Superman and Wonder Woman making out. I think that happened in or around Justice League (vol.2) #12. It’s also that thing that Booster Gold wanted to make sure never happened… and when it did, he vanished into the timestream. Man, they did so much planning in these early stages of the New-52!, didn’t they? Remember all that awesome and riveting follow-up?! Yeah, me neither.
Trevor’s still not 100% on-board, but is now willing to listen. Waller uses this super-tryst as the rationale for putting together a League who answers to the government. After all, what happens if/when Superman and Wonder Woman break up? Will there be a super-war? What happens if/when Superman and Wonder Woman… have kids??? According to Waller, there are a number of ways that this can “end badly”.
And so, she begins rattling off members of this supposed new team… starting with, Hawkman! Steve wonders why Hawkman would ever agree to joining the JLA… Waller explains that they’ve offered him diplomatic immunity, so that he can continue doing whatever it is he’s doing without worry of repercussions. We get a look at the man himself, and it looks like he’s kiiiiiinduva dirty cop.
The next member is Katana. Steve protests immediately, as Katana is… ya know, a killer. Waller explains that she’s no longer an assassin… then goes on to say that she is vying for the title of “World’s Deadliest Assassin”. Huh? So, is she… or not? C’mon. Anyhoo, she’ll join because Waller can connect her with some targets. So… definitely still an assassin then?
Next… the “funny ha-ha” member. The fella chosen for alllllll the retweets, Vibe. He’s a young fella with vibrational powers… no longer a break-dancer (which actually kind of surprised me). He is portrayed as not being the most adept at super-heroing, but his heart is in the right place.
Remember that demon-mask guy from earlier? We rejoin him… still running through the woods… and he’s losing blood fast.
Next new member… Stargirl, and she’s… eesh, a celebrity. I thought the whole charm to Courtney was that she was just a normal girl swept into the superhero world. I wasn’t a fan of this take.
Anyhoo, after being regaled by her teenybopper fandom, she saves a kid from a burning building. Looking back, she sees a pentagram, which reminds her of “Pemberton”… likely/definitely a reference to Sylvester Pemberton, the original Star-Spangled Kid.
We get the next few members in rapid-fire succession… just looking at photos on the Wall’s desk. We see Martian Manhunter, Simon Baz… and Green Arrow. Steve ain’t pleased to see any of these guys. There’s reference to J’onn having been a member of the Justice League previously, which ended in a terrible fight (that I’m still not sure we’ve ever seen play out). Simon had recently been arrested (though, as Waller points out, not convicted)… and Ollie… well, Steve just doesn’t think he’s up for the job.
Steve’s got his own idea for Ollie’s “spot” though… Selina Kyle, Catwoman. He hides out in a suite under Kyle’s name… and waits for her to arrive. They fight for a bit, naturally… with Catwoman getting the better of the scuffle, again naturally. Steve offers her membership in the JLA in exchange for information. I feel like we’re leaning on that gimmick a bit too much here.
And so, our team is assembled. Each member specifically chosen as a “counter” measure against the members of the original League. For Superman there’s a Martian Manhunter… Batman, a
Green Arrow Catwoman… for Wonder Woman, Katan… wait, what?… Hal’s got Simon… Barry’s got Vibe… Stargirl is Cyborg’s opposite (somehow)… and finally, Aquaman’s got Hawkman.
The meeting wraps up when the Wall is called away for a debriefing on Baz. After she leaves, Steve tell J’onn it’s safe to come out. Turns out he was here the whole time… and he knows the real reason Steve is going through with this. He promises, if anybody in A.R.G.U.S. tries anything funny, he’ll erase everybody’s minds. Fair enough.
The discussion is interrupted by word that somebody is “back” and “in bad shape”. Steve rushes to the medical ward, and finds the man with the demon mask on the table.
Turns out… it’s Green Arrow! He reports in that he was targeted by a group calling themselves the “Secret Society”. Steve presses for more answers, however, Ollie decides to flat-line instead.
Not… my favorite.
First things first… I am so burned out on the concept of a superhero team working for the United States government… or an acronymed organization in cahoots with the United States government. One of the reasons I stopped reading Marvel was that I grew so tired of the Avengers having to stop to check in with S.H.I.E.L.D. before committing to even a bowel movement. It got so bad, it almost felt like parody! I remember opening Uncanny X-Men #1… one of the several we’ve had over the past half-decade… and instead of opening with, ya know… the X-Men, we get Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D.?! Ya kiddin’ me wit’ dis?
Even though I hated it (and still do), I could excuse it… because Marvel did have a S.H.I.E.L.D. television program. Did DC/CW have an A.R.G.U.S. one I’d never heard about? Are they cashing in on the mainstream appeal of A.R.G.U.S.?!
So yeah, the very premise and predication of this series has already turned me off. The fact that, with the power of hindsight, I know that this series became an afterthought after Johns left… well, that might color how I receive it during this reread as well.
The team we are offered here is pretty rag-tag, I suppose. Not quite to the point of a CBR “wouldn’t it be cool if…?” thread (well, besides Vibe), but really… not one that would make me come back month after month (if I weren’t already a completionist, that is).
This whole endeavor feels, I dunno… “empty” to me. It’s as though DC realized that there’s strength (and $$$) in the Justice League brand, and understood that they might be leaving money on the table by not having a Justice League of America book on the shelves. If our pals in mainstream comics know anything… it’s how to flood dem shelves (all the while, cautioning the rest of the industry on “glut”, hmm…).
Overall… yeah, this wasn’t my favorite. The art was spectacular, I’ll give it that much. Perhaps if I weren’t so burned out on government-sponsored superheroes, I’d be more “rah rah”… but, I yam what I yam.
Channel-52 (your moment of Vartox):