52 Catch Up: Justice League

JL with Review52 Catch Up is a series devoted to looking at issues from DC's New 52 and seeing how they're faring now that they're underway, why they're worth reading (or not), and places we hope they will go in time.




Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg join forces to fight the battles none of them could handle on their own.  They are the Justice League.





Previously on Justice League: Covering Issues #1-#11

Justice League (#1-#6)


Five years ago, Batman is chasing a villain across the rooftops in Gotham when the military shows up right behind a guy in a well-lit, green costume.  This hero, calling himself Green Lantern and insisting that he is some form of space cop, interferes with Batman's capture. While the two bicker, the villain, who according to Lantern is an alien, gets back on his feet and shoots down a military helicopter.  Green Lantern stops its fall and then reluctantly teams up with Batman to go after the alien.  In Gotham's sewers they catch up to the alien as he finishes attaching a cube to a wall. When he spots the heroes, he cries out, “For Darkseid!” and explodes, but Lanterns' shield protects the two heroes. An examination of the cube reveals nothing, but since it's of alien origin, Batman and Green Lantern figure Superman, who is an identified alien, might know more; however, when the arrive in Metropolis, they find Superman's not so eager to talk when he attacks Green Lantern immediately.

Batman uses every gadget at his disposal to slow down Superman but has no effect.  Green Lantern gets back on his feet and starts to play defense.  He calls another hero he's teamed up with in the past, The Flash, for backup.  Flash arrives using his super-speed and starts to distract Superman who proves he is fast enough to keep up with Flash and hits him.  Batman steps in between the others and starts to talk Superman down. That's when the military arrives. The four heroes escape together and retreat to the factory that serves as Superman's hideout where they start to study the cube.  Superman found one just like it earlier that day stopping another alien creature, which is why he was on edge and attacked Green Lantern.

Wonder Woman has been staying at the Pentagon as a guest and as a hero for D.C.  She sets out on a walk with her boyfriend, Colonel Steve Trevor, enjoying the wonders of the modern world when an army of aliens attack.  She dives in with her sword and starts to kill dozens of them, but more grab civilians and start to flee back towards Metropolis, which Wonder Woman follows.  Meanwhile, the cube activates, spilling out an army of aliens, which Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Flash try to stop from taking civilians.  Wonder Woman arrives and joins them as does a man from the sea, Aquaman, which most of the other heroes thought was just a sketch done by Conan O'Brien. Aquaman proves his worth by taking out the next wave of aliens with an army of sharks that leap out of the water.  The military arrives (again) and Flash and Superman start to distract them and lead them away from the larger melee since they're worried they will do more harm than good.

Victor Stone, a star football player, visits his dad at S.T.A.R. Labs to confront him about seeing one of his games and signing the football scholarship paperwork he needs for college.  His dad refuses and tries to get back to his work of studying the strange alien cube his team retrieved from a fight Superman had earlier that day.  The cube activates creating an explosion that tears apart half of Vic's body and an alien invasion pours out.  Vic's dad panics and starts to attach Promethian technology to Vic in an effort to save his son's life, transforming him into a cyborg.  He puts Vic's systems on autopilot, so when he comes to he goes into offensive mode and starts to blast aliens.  Unable to accept what his father has done to him, Vic flees.  He saves a woman outside from another alien creature, and his cybernetic systems automatically absorb information from the data device the alien was carrying, giving him information of the being responsible for the attacks known as Darkseid.  His cybernetics then teleport him to Metropolis where he joins the other heroes, but so, too, does Darkseid.

Darkseid starts to blow up Metropolis while his flying aliens continue to grab people.  The superheroes rush in and Darkseid knocks them about like rag dolls.  Superman is taken out and captured, while Green Lantern's arm is broken and he is thrown to the side.  When Batman comes to, he insists that Green Lantern put his ego aside and help the others to work together as a team.  Batman tries to win Lantern's trust by revealing that he is Bruce Wayne.  Without his cape or cowl, Batman then allows himself to be captured by one of Darkseid's flying aliens so he can go find Superman.  Green Lantern organizes Aquaman, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Vic and they attack Darkseid together.  Wonder Woman stabs her sword into one of Darkseid's eyes while Aquaman does the same to the other with his trident.

Taken inside Darkseid's base, Batman learns that Darkseid is seeking his daughter, who is somewhere in the galaxy.  He takes organic life and reprograms it to serve him.  Superman is undergoing this process when Batman intervenes and saves him.  The two escape through one of the teleportation boxes and arrive back at the Darkseid fight.  Superman dives in and starts to hold Darkseid off while Vic realizes he can communicate with the box network.  He opens up a portal and Darkseid is shoved through by Superman; then Vic shuts down and fries all of the devices, blocking Darkseid's access to Earth.  The seven of them are honored as heroes and are considered to be a team even though many of them are not comfortable with this idea. One of the civilians they saved, a man named David Graves, writes a book about them where he coins the name Justice League and elevates their status as heroes.

Justice League Team-up: Green Arrow (#8)

I am assuming this takes place five years later, but I have no confirmation. Green Arrow helps the Justice League take on Amazo, a cybernetic villain.  Arrow is a fan of the Justice League and asks to join them but is rejected because the League does not accept new members.

A week later, he joins them in a fight against a group of Talons, agents of the Court of Owls, aboard a plane.  His explosive arrows nearly kill several members of the League and the plane breaks apart.  Green Lantern lowers them all to safety, but they abandon Arrow in the middle of nowhere out of spite.

A week later, Arrow helps the League take down a group of cultists.  When the media arrives, he tries to sweet talk his way into the League, but the others step in and insist this was only a team-up.  After the third rejection, Arrow returns home to find Colonel Trevor there.  Trevor offers him a position on a different, unnamed team.  Meanwhile, on the Watchtower, the League's flying space station, the League discusses the possibility of accepting new members.  Superman is for it while Batman and Green Lantern are against it, insisting that the one time they accepted someone new, the Martian Manhunter, his introduction had not gone well.

Villain's Journey (#7, #9-Ongoing)

Four years ago, author of the Justice League book David Graves lost his wife and daughter, which he blames on the League. He is also dying of the same unknown disease that took the lives of his family.  When his doctor can do nothing more than offer him a painless death, Graves kills him and flees society.  A year later he discovered ancient gods buried in a mountain and accepts power from them.

Modern day, the League stops a villain named Spore who was created by a device known as the Orb of Ra. Colonel Trevor was on the scene first with his men and is ridiculed for being unable to be as effective as the League.  Trevor and Wonder Woman are now broken up, but Trevor remains the liaison to the League.  He handles the media who believes the Justice League are perfect and should even take over the government, and has to deal with the government who believes the League needs to be controlled, and insists on access to the Watchtower. Furthermore, when he gets in contact with the League, all he gets is a list of demands: the Justice League International need to be shut down, they need more food, etc.

Later, Batman calls in Superman and Vic (now known as Cyborg) to assist in quelling a breakout in Arkham Asylum by a man known as the Key.  It turns out the Key was interrogated for every bit of information concerning the League and their weaknesses by a man named Graves.  Green Lantern, Flash, and Wonder Woman encounter a similar incident with the villain Weapons Master. After Flash fails in his self-assigned role as “bad cop,” Wonder Woman uses her lasso and gets Weapons Master to divulge that he gave a bunch of information to a man calling himself “Graves.”  They learn that dozens of villains have been tortured or bartered with for information concerning the League.  Meanwhile, Trevor is kidnapped by Graves and tortured until he gives him the code to get into the Watchtower. Graves' arrival sets off an alarm, warning the League.  Graves forces each of them to relive loss in their lives and saps their life force, taking out each of them in turn.

Graves uses the teleporters to go to visit Colonel Trevor's sister, Tracy, in Washington D.C., where he taunts her about Trevor's whereabouts. The Justice League wakes up and follows him but arrive after Graves has left.  Tracy is upset about her brother missing and blames Wonder Woman. Batman manages to piece together the identity of their attacker, who was once David Graves, author of the Justice League book, whose family died from a mysterious illness following the Darkseid attack.  Batman retrieves the location of a writer's cabin still owned by Graves. Wonder Woman loses her temper and threatens to kill Graves. The others try to calm her down but instead Green Lantern makes her madder and she attacks him.  The media takes note of the fight and starts to air it live. Cyborg teleports the team out of the public eye and to Graves' cabin.  Batman and Flash look through Graves' notes and find information about the Valley of Souls. The team teleports there, where they encounter the souls of loved ones lost, including Wonder Woman finding Trevor's soul.

Shazam! (#7-Ongoing)

Dr. Sivana is trying to discover Black Adam and bring magic back into the world.  He locates a tomb and is struck in the eye by a trap, which causes it to go black and allow him to see magic.  He realizes how he can open the tomb by saying “Shazam,” and does so, releasing Black Adam from centuries of slumber. Black Adam kills all but Dr. Sivana, who has the ability to speak his language and promises to show him to “the wizard.”

Billy Batson is an orphan with a bad record.  He puts on a good show for prospective foster parents and the Vasquez's, who already have five other foster kids, take him in. One of the kids, Freddy, is not so welcoming, stealing Billy's wallet, but others, such as the youngest named Darla, are friendly, looking forward to having a new brother.  Billy insists they are not family or even friends and Darla bursts into tears.  The oldest foster kid, Mary, insists Billy is selfish.  The first day of school together goes poorly as one of the other foster kids, Eugene, is picked on after school by the Bryers, the richest family in school.  Freddy and Mary try to intervene, but the Bryers start to hurt all three.  Billy steps in and kicks the crap out of the Bryers, which gets him threatened with expulsion.  After being lectured by the Vasquezs, who understand Billy's problems more than he knows, Billy sneaks out in the middle of the night.  Freddy follows him and finds Billy feeding hamburger to a tiger named Tawny at the zoo, who is the only connection Billy can remember to his parents.  Freddy thanks him for stepping in with the Bryers and offers to show him where the Bryers live, so they can discretely get back at Mr. Bryer for getting Billy into trouble. The two boys try to break into the Bryers' car but accidentally set off a car alarm. Billy shoves Freddy into a bush to hide, attracts the Bryers' attention, and runs, getting on a subway with the boys right on his heels. As the doors close, he finds himself in the foyer to a castle.

High Points

Humor: While some jokes are rehashed too often, overall Justice League has an enjoyable sense of humor about it.  Whether Flash is being a terrible bad cop or the others are chiding Batman about having no powers, Justice League is a fun book that doesn't let itself get bogged down with too much angst.

Art: I may not be a fan of everyone sporting a mandarin collar these days, but overall, I have to give credit to the artists of Justice League, who did both an amazing job redesigning the core characters of the DCU and rendering them in this book. The action scenes are high-paced with the characters feeling like the power houses they're supposed to be.  Justice League is filled with stunning splash pages and gorgeous, full-page panels that show off the strength of the characters as they overcome the extreme situations they find themselves in.

Low Points

Continuity: I'm still not 100% sure when Justice League fastforwarded five years, but since they did, why is the team still such a trainwreck?  There is little indication that they have that much history between them; not that Johns doesn't try to establish some changes like that Superman and Batman being BFFs, but a lot of things don't line up with the other series. One example is Batman joining the League against the Court of Owls. Batman was a little busy being in every other goddamn Bat-book to also be aboard a plane with the League at the same time. Another Batman-related one is he is supportive of the Justice League International and, hell, is practically on the team, in JLI, but in Justice League he disses them to Steve and insists they get shut down.

Hal Jordan, STFU: Green Lantern's arrogance and sense of humor is a great addition at the start of Justice League, but the further into the series, the more I want to strangle Hal for not knowing when to shut up and for instigating most of the intra-party conflict.

Looking Ahead

Stop the Bickering: While entertaining at first, presumably after Issue #6, Justice League is set in the modern day.  You'd think after five years, the team would stop trying to beat the crap out of one another.  Hopefully, after a few more issues the team will start to come together and act more like the heroes the rest of the world makes them out to be.

Now Accepting Applications: This one is probably a long ways down the road, but I'd eventually like to see the League open up and start growing in size, like it has done in past comics and in the fantastic cartoon Justice League Unlimited.

Martian Manhunter: Martian Manhunter is normally a classic Leaguer, but something went terribly wrong in this iteration. Already hinted for a later plot, Manhunter's got to return either as a foe for the League or to explain himself and try to rejoin.

“Shazam!”: Billy Batson's story has been slowly unfolding as the backup story in Justice League, and we're on the cusp of him taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel/Shazam.  DC's Captain Marvel is a fun character to have around and would make a great foil for the other, often darker, Leaguers were he to be introduced into the League.




Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 23:29

Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo
Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard
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