Tag Archive: Geoff Johns


JLA 1 cover by Finch courtesy of DC Entertainment

Review by C.J. Bunce

It was way back in August that we first previewed the very first images of the new Justice League of America here at borg.com.  DC Comics has had a big month with big changes–first we reviewed Jeff Lemire beginning a new Green Arrow story in the monthly series, then we were introduced last week to Tatsu, a new recruit in a new Justice League whose superhero name is that of her sword, Katana.  And if you’re not keeping up we chatted a few days ago about DC Comics’ two trade editions available for the plain ol’ Justice League of the New 52.  And that’s not even getting into the cancelled Justice League International monthly title and the awesome Justice League Dark we’ve raved about here earlier.

Today DC Comics put the America back in the Justice League.  Sure, the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg)–the League with all the egos–will continue as a monthly series, but the rest of the original JLA superheroes we all know and love are back in their own separate league.  They may not be the World’s Finest but writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch have launched a new story, “World’s Most Dangerous.”  And if Issue #1 is any indication I think we’re in for a better league with the new JLA.

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Justice League Volume 2 cover

With DC Comics having wrapped it first year with the New 52, it is now releasing the second hardcover volume of its flagship title, Justice League.  If you don’t read the monthly series, now is the time to catch up on the full first year with Volumes 1 and 2 now on the shelves.  Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin reprinted Issues 1-6, and now Justice League, Vol. 2: The Villain’s Journey reprints Issues 7-12, both volumes including variant covers and cover sketch art by the popular artist Jim Lee.

Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin, now available in both hardcover and trade paperback, began the entire New 52, a new DC Universe unveiled first 5 years ago, a reality which may or may not have been manipulated from the universe we’ve known all along by the red-hooded Pandora, who has managed to flit in and out of nearly every DC Comics series since the reboot in September 2011.  In Volume 1 we met the new original seven members of the League–first a comical run-in of Batman and Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who then have their own run-in with Superman (run-in meaning lots of bruises and destruction of property).  Then Barry Allen’s Flash entered the picture as probably the most interesting character in the new League.  He formed a relationship with buddy Hal Jordan which provided many of the most entertaining scenes of the series so far.  Then we met Wonder Woman, who in this incarnation of the DCU is far more Valkyrie than Amazon, and this plays nicely off of Aquaman’s entrance, whose Atlantis origins are here very much influenced by the world of Thor.  This is all tied together by a new League entrant, the young Vic Stone, transformed by happenstance into a cyborg, now known as the League member Cyborg.  And they all must come together to protect the world from being devastated by none other than classic villain Darkseid.  We reviewed the monthly series at borg.com least year here.

Justice League Volume 2

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DC Comics announced at the DC Entertainment-All Access panel at Fan Expo Toronto this weekend that DC will be adding a new Justice League to the New 52 coming in 2013.  Not merely another mini-series, DC will be publishing a new ongoing comic book series titled Justice League of America. 

“Wait a second!” you say.  “But we already have a Justice League–it’s DC’s main title that ties the New 52 together, as well as a Justice League Dark, and a Justice League International already being phased out.”

But the Justice League is just the Justice League, and apparently the DC Powers That be figured out we all needed to see a Justice League with its original JLA moniker, stress on the “America”.

New 52 writer Geoff Johns (who has writing credits on the current Justice League, Aquaman and Green Lantern series) will be writing the new series, with David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight) serving as series artist.

“This is a very different kind of team book,” said Johns in a DC news release. “On first glance, people might think the heroes of the Justice League of America stand in the shadows of Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League, but Green Arrow, Katana, Martian Manhunter, the new Green Lantern, Stargirl, Vibe, Hawkman and Catwoman thrive in the shadows.  They’re underdogs who have everything to prove and something to lose.  They’re a team of unlikely heroes who will help one another discover they’re as A-List as anybody — yes, even Vibe.  Though getting there won’t be easy.  Why they’re formed, why each member joins, what they’re after and who the society of villains is they’re trying to take apart will all be clear in the first issue when it hits early 2013.  David and I are really focused on delving deep into what it’s like to not be a member of the big seven and why, sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

“Wait a second, again,” you say.  “Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Hawkman… unlikely heroes?  Underdogs?”  Umm… right.

If Johns is talking about the third-string positioning of these former, long-time–as in decades long–early JLA members as now seen in the New 52, well, then we agree with what Johns is saying.  But these guys were only B-List because the current DC editors relegated these superheroes to that status.  Ultimately it is not a big deal–superhero titles needs shaken up from time to time in the DCU and the new line is no different from shake-ups in the past.  What would be nice is a Justice League of America book that out-performs the Justice League series.

Other interesting bits–Catwoman? In the JLA?  Another Green Lantern?

We can also look forward to Johns revisiting his creation Star Girl, Courtney Whitmore, a character named for Johns’ sister who died in an airplane crash in 1996, whose costume is based on Yankee Poodle, a member of Captain Carrot’s Amazing Zoo Crew.

We will check out the new series when it launches next year, particularly because stories pairing Hawkman with Green Arrow are always fun, and it’s not really the League without the Martian Manhunter.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

   

Review by C.J. Bunce

Spoilers!

Justice League is the biggest enigma of the main DC Comics New 52 storylines, now readying for its fourth issue to be published next week (Dec. 21).  On the one hand the story is a typical “Avengers Assemble” type story—Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are giving us a new origin story of the main characters in the DCU—Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Aquaman.  It is both incredibly simple—we have a major common foe, the superheroes are being confused by the public as somehow the cause of the problem, and the characters are meeting for the first time, even though they have heard of each other–and requires a good deal of coordination, as each character’s personality must come through with first meetings and first impressions laying the groundwork for months of new stories.

As with his work on Aquaman, reviewed here yesterday, Geoff Johns continues his universe building in a literal sense, and at the micro level his characters’ interactions are funny and entertaining.  What is not obvious to the casual reader is where all this plays into the individual issues of Batman (or the several related Batman titles), Superman (or the related Superman family titles), or Green Lantern (or the several Green Lantern titles), or Flash, Wonder Woman or Aquaman.  With a Green Lantern title focused on Sinestro…from where did Hal Jordan emerge in the new reboot cycle?  The reader is left to ask:  how do these stories tie together?

In Justice League issue #2, Batman and Green Lantern are fending off Superman in Metropolis, who believes a “Pandora’s Box” of sorts that Batman possesses links the two superheroes to the evil plaguing the world via flying, large-toothed aliens, who keep uttering the name Darkseid.  Green Lantern gets the great idea to invite an ally, Barry Gordon aka The Flash, to come and whip around and ultimately wear down Superman.  Barry is a cop, and Barry and Hal know each other’s secret identities.  They finally all calm down enough to discuss what is happening when the Pandora’s Box turns into more of a Trojan Horse, wreaking further havoc by letting into the world even more alien beasties.

In Justice League issue #3, Wonder Woman enters the fold, taken in by the Pentagon in Washington, DC, she wanders out into the street searching for harpies, and instead stumbles upon the wonders of…street vendor ice cream.  (Johns is a quirky fellow).  The same aliens that are attacking Superman and Batman and Company in Metropolis are now attacking DC.  We flash to Metropolis again and Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and the Flash are still under attack.  Then Wonder Woman enters the picture, sword slicing, speaking in a stilted manner like Xena, Warrior Princess (Don’t you think DC needs to license some rights to the other famous Amazon for this new DCU?).  It’s a strange transition.  Did Wonder Woman walk from DC to Metropolis?  How close are these cities?  Maybe I am having too many thoughts here.

They pursue the alien menace to seaside, to Aquaman, coming out of the water. “They were in the water, too,” he says, and we see a creature strikingly like the ones he is fighting in the Aquaman series.  This brings up the obvious question: Are these the same alien beings Aquaman and Mera are pursuing into the oceanic place called The Trench, as told in the Aquaman series?

I’ve no complaints with the story or art in Justice League issues #1-3–Justice League is simply a fun ride, as it has always been (although with the “of America” in the title).  As the cornerstone of the DCU going forward, I do wish there was some continuity explanation in these books, in a way that you don’t have to seek out explanations via interviews with writers and other reviews.  From that we learn the Justice League story is five years in the past, so presumably none of this inter-relates, at least yet.

I did leave a big piece out of my review above of issues #2 and #3.  It’s what I think of as the Will Robinson/Wesley Crusher character—the kid in a major sci-fi franchise that becomes the access point for kids to the adult real world in stories like Justice League—the excuse to explain the techno-babble of what is happening for the viewing audience despite the fact that everyone on-screen should be savvy enough to know what is happening.  Presumably this is a potential narrator, or at least a vantage point for kids, in future stories.  I usually found this role in stories irritating when I was a kid.  For whatever reason, as a storytelling device, writers still employ this.  That said, in the context of the traditionally kid focused comic book medium, it may at least be an appropriate place for it.

In Detroit there is a kid named Victor Stone.  He’s a football player.  A teenager.  His father is a doctor doing super-human research at S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit.  In the study of the Pandora’s Box mentioned above, Victor is nearly killed in an explosion.  Panicking (or quick thinking?) Dr. Stone takes all of the nano-technology currently within his reach, even if untested, and applies it to his son, to create a new character to be fleshed out in future issues… this is the beginning, the origin story of the character seen in past DCU stories called Cyborg.

Of course, even with a Will Robinson/Wesley Crusher-role of the DCU, we like cyborgs at borg.com, so we’ll be watching his growth as a character closely.  This cyborg has cybernetic implants, including an eye piece similar to Seven of Nine’s in Star Trek Voyager.  DCU’s cyborg was created in 1980, so he’s a recent hero and a strange choice for a newly-founded Justice League team.  Geoff Johns has been quoted as saying of the new Cyborg, “He represents all of us in a lot of ways.  If we have a cellphone and we’re texting on it, we are a cyborg — that’s what a cyborg is, using technology as an extension of ourselves.”  I think that is a bit of a stretch, but I like the spirit of that philosophy.

  

Review by C.J. Bunce

With three issues out we’ve had enough time to get a feel for the DC Comics’ New 52.  Some of the DC titles have found their own niche in the giant volume of books available, considering the severl hundred books published by DC, Marvel and all the independents.

I am pretty pleased with the overall picture in the Aquaman series.  On the one hand, the story is very simple so far.  On the other hand, what is there is full of snappy dialogue, nostalgic quick references, and inside jokes, from the pen of writer Geoff Johns.  As far as the art is concerned, initially I was hoping an Aspen comics-esque, ex-Fathom series artist would draw the Aquaman series or that the current artist would take on Fathom’s dreamy waterworld stylings.  Yet Ivan Reis’s view of a world existing side by side Atlantis is superb.  And his seafaring underworld aliens are still the best villains in the DC universe right now.  Kudos are owed to Reis for his consistent, relevant, striking covers, too.

What struck me reading issues #2 and #3 is that this story is written as if Aquaman was existing in the Marvel Universe.  Folk on the street chide and lambast Captain America and X-Men in the ordinary course of the day.  Here, Aquaman walks in the room and there is no awe in the eyes of those he meets.  He might as well not be there, from the perspective of the regular townspeople.  Now this has been done in the DCU before and happens all the time in various contexts but this superhero in the real world concept is very overt here and Geoff Johns’ approach is working so far.  The fact that someone can show up at Aquaman’s door and basically say that he was looking for Aquaman and heard he lived around here…maybe it is simple, but it works.

As story arc is concerned, we are seeing more of the calm before the storm in this story than the actual storm, yet we see pockets of storm.  As a matter of story tempo and meter, it is following the pacing of the movie Jaws, unintentionally I would expect. That is, we get to know this harbor town, and this is a familiar place.  It could be Amity from Jaws.  It could be Haven from the Stephen King/SyFy channel series Haven.  It is tranquil, and if you have ever spent much time in coastal towns Johns and Reis locked in the feel of this setting, the calm tide, almost the smell of sea and sound of the squawking seagulls.  And like the vengeful spirits in John Carpenter’s Fog, the approach of the villainy is slow and deliberate, victims are picked off one by one.

The aliens speak in stilted tones like the bionic animals in the stellar-but-sad-and-disturbing series WE 3, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (probably the only series that has really impressed me from the much-hyped Grant Morrison).  Unlike the aliens in the Alien series, this makes them some how more approachable, a necessary trait with any good fleshed out villain.  Can these seemingly unsympathetic villains be redeemable?  One says “Help us” as he drifts away?  Does he mean “I am helping myself?” by escaping, or is he beckoning to Aquaman?

If there is anything to improve upon it is Aquaman and the often jokingly mislabeled Aquawoman, Mera.  Mera almost seems more interesting at this point.  We’ve been peppered with some slightly depressing but spotty backstory, some kind of regret, but I’d prefer something else, or at least some reason to like these characters more.  The super duo are trying to help humans, despite clearly the fact that humans don’t always want their help.  But as story elements go, we need to like the humans and the lead characters both or we’ll get bored with the story.  Maybe if Aquaman were to act against his own interest?  Then again, saving a dog from the creatures is a good start.

In issue #2 we learn that the sea monsters are hungry and they see us as food.  We also see that Mera is not going to take a backseat in this story—being the first to step forward against this new threat.  In issue #3 Aquaman gets the body of one of the sea monsters for examination and learns more about the creatures.  The book ends with Aquaman and Mera racing to “The Trench,” the supposed origin of these villains.  The story arc continues next month… and we’ll be back for more.

By C.J. Bunce

Geoff Johns is well known as one of DC’s best writers and he doesn’t disappoint with a well formed intro to everyone’s favorite superhero from their youth.

Ivan Reis’s pencilling of the king of Atlantis is clean. He has a nice way of making Aquaman look like a hero in contrast to the regular people he encounters around Boston Harbor. A few pages feel bit like Reis could go in the direction of the Aspen/Fathom art style. He doesn’t and I am not sure if that would be so bad.  Here is the original art for his first appearance in the DC New 52:

I was a bit surprised to see a brooding Aquaman. The story begins with an awakening of some hideous sea monsters at the bottom of the ocean’s depths. By the end of the book the creatures have reached the water’s surface and had their first and unfortunate contact with humans. Like several other DC New 52 stories, this Aquaman is having some sort of mid-life crisis and a re-evaluation of his role as superhero of Atlantis. (Makes you wonder how all these writers are doing in their personal lives just a little bit).

Some nice setting locations go a long way to getting us into the feel for this book: a seafood restaurant, a lighthouse where Aquaman’s alias Arthur lives with a beautiful wife, and a seaworn vessel where the crew is first to encounter the sea monsters.

The sea monsters are probably the best villains yet in the DC’s New 52. Alien-like, with their own language, these will be a good first nemesis for Aquaman.

As new costumes go Aquaman looks exactly like he should. His gold scaled shirt seems to shine as if made from gold, matching his trident. At first we see Aquaman in a fish out of water scene and he is tough, with bullet deflection and the ability to make a car stop with his trident.

This would be a great first comic for all ages, and I am looking forward to issue #2.