Justice League: Gods and Monsters [Blu-ray]
In an alternative history Zod is Superman's father, Batman is a vampiric Man-Bat, and Wonder Woman is the child of Ares, God of War. When these dark heroes form an alliance, the question everyone asks is will they save the world, or rule it?
Also available on DVD.
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Cover date: June 25, 2008
Lead Story: "Caped Simioid Thinks So, Hm?"
Lead Story Writer: Kurt Busiek
Lead Story Penciller: Mark Bagley
Lead Story Inker: Art Thibert
Cover Art: Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino
Back-Up Story: "World-Something..."
Back-Up Writers: Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Back-Up Tarot Layouts/Finishes: Mike Norton & Jerry Ordway
Back-Up Dream Pencils/Inks: Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
Batman runs off to find the spaceship that must have brought this destructive pair to Earth. He finds it and he's about to be attacked from behind by Graak.
To be continued...
Tarot reads her tarot cards. She's seemingly overtaken by an other-worldly power that creates a haze around her. She says "Worldsoul".
Tarot goes to sleep and dreams of Despero going toe-to-toe with DC space villain Kanjar Ro's troops. He's looking for the means to use a teleportation device of some kind that belongs to Kanjar Ro.
Tarot wakes up to a ringing telephone. It's Jose Delgado. She tells him that he's her 'knight in shining armor' but that regrets are clouding a decision he's about to make. Jose is seen holding the Gangbuster helmet.
Elsewhere, men in suits make a deal with three villains - find out who saved Tarot last issue, find out why, then bring Tarot to them.
To be continued...
Lead Story - 1: I hate this book. I feel obligated to keep buying it because I promised Steve I'd review the title for the site along with Jeffrey and Neal. But this story is nonsense and I'm going to put as much time into my review this week as Mr. Busiek seems to have put into writing it. Oops. Too late. I've already surpassed his efforts. Or maybe I should use Konvikt style spelling and say I've surpassed Bucee-Ek's e-farts.
Oh and one matter of specifics: When a super-hero tells the civilian populace that they need to save themselves because the hero can't, they're treading into "Superman III" territory (remember the fire at the chemical plant and the super-slide?). If Superman could lift the building with the people on it, then so can Diana. Contrived tripe. Again.
Lead Art - 3: It's still not as horrible as the story, but it's still not nearly as good as it should be given DC is asking us to invest $150, more or less, in this series over the next 48 weeks.
Batman running through a field in broad daylight? Come on, all this shows me is the "Trinity" creators don't understand the Trinity at all. Is it a story problem? Is it an artist problem? I don't even care anymore. It's just a problem. Period.
Back-Up Story - 2: OK so I talked to my friend Brady who is a tarot expert and artist who has designed his own deck. I even convinced Brady, a non-comic book reader, to pick up a copy of last week's issue of "Trinity". He agreed with my review last week that said tarot simply doesn't work the way it's being used here and someone of Tarot's caliber as a tarot reader would have realized that immediately. On top of that, and as I suspected, my friend says the readings she is making in the course of the story aren't necessarily correct interpretations of the cards.
If you're going to introduce a character who specifically uses something like tarot - as opposed to, say, generic magic like Zatanna - then get the tarot interpretations correct or don't use them at all. It all goes back to writing from what you know. And it appears the writers here don't understand the principles of tarot beyond a cursory level.
The only thing that makes this story interesting to me is the inclusion of Jose Delgado and soon-to-be return of Gangbuster.
Back-Up Art - 4: I'm a huge fan of Jerry Ordway. The problem I have is he's not the artist on the dream. Is that really supposed to be Despero because it sure doesn't look like him. Had Ordway drawn the entire back-up, I'd have given it a 5 on art.
Cover Art - 4: Well it does look like every three issues is going to form a triptych. I think that's very clever. There's just one problem. 52 doesn't divide equally by 3.
Lead Story - 1: First off, this one-note villain is still fighting the entire Justice League AND the big three after three issues?
Second off, this issue has to be one of the staunchest, most singly awful dismissals of Wonder Woman as an equal to Superman that I've ever read. Including the Silver Age. And why is it one of the worst, compared to the "I can never be as strong as a MAN!" style stuff of the fifties and sixties? Because that stuff was a product of its times, and this is post-feminism.
We have not one, but three dismissals of Wonder Woman in the face of Superman, where she is portrayed as stupid and/or weaker, and Superman jumps in to save the day.
You all know me. Or if you don't, you can check my record. For eight years I've been writing many and varied an essay on this site, and one thematic is near-constant: I hate the cry of "THIS IS SEXIST!" where there is no sexism involved. Quite frankly, I err to the side of "Ah, it just is what it is, this isn't a knock on women, it's just a reflection of the way society is." I take a lot of arguments that show how women are given way too much power and more than the benefit of the doubt in the face of men in television and media as a result of the post-feminism backlash of women being better than men just because they are. In other words, in an argument, I'm more likely to give the artist the benefit of the doubt and cry sexism.
Here, in this comic, the sexism is obvious, palpable, and very real. I call it as sexism.
Wonder Woman and Superman go after Konvikt. Wonder Woman and Superman are equals in strength, intelligence, and Wonder Woman even has a tactical advantage over Superman, having been raised, born, and bred a warrior. Superman tells Wonder Woman to go save people, and takes on Konvikt on his own. That's dismissal number one, and it's sexist as hell.
Wonder Woman is confronted with the problem of civilians on a roof. She has the powers of super-speed, and she's exceptionally bright. She has to get the civilians from one roof to the other. She explains that she can't take them all at super-speed, because that would hurt them. So what does she do? She endangers them further by making them all walk a precarious beam, the idea being, they're safer on the other roof. The big, glaring retarded problem here being the precarious beam makes them go over extraordinarily slowly, and one at a time, where Wonder Woman could take them two (or more) at a time at a very rapid speed that is not SUPER-speed and avoid the precarious danger to civilians. Assuming it's a time thing, the time spent finding and setting up a beam would be more than enough for a super-human to ferry people. Beyond that, after the building does fall (IE, Wonder Woman fails in her mission by being stupid), Superman appears! Yay! He then catches the building. And Wonder Woman couldn't have done that? This is a second example of Wonder Woman portrayed as inept and Superman as heroic, despite the fact that both are of equal strength and mental capacity. They're colleagues.
If you look at the scene, Wonder Woman even stands idly by encouraging them as opposed to helping them across. SHE CAN FLY!
I understand this is so that we can cut to the baddies saying that she inspires, Superman is the savior. BUT THAT'S BULLS#%@. They're equals. EQUALS IN INSPIRATION AND SAVING. If there is a palpable difference between Wonder Woman and Superman, it would be that she is more battle-bred, and he has an obvious, glaring weakness. Making HIM inferior, technically speaking, and the one who should have gone to save the survivors.
Thirdly, when the duo finally do use their equality and strike at Konvikt as a pair, they are separated. Konvikt attacks Wonder Woman. What happens? Does Wonder Woman take the monster down? No. Superman appears, rescues her from the big bad monster with a slam (THAT WONDER WOMAN COULD HAVE PERFORMED JUST AS EASILY, BUT ISN'T PORTRAYED AS DOING), and stands triumphant over the l'il lady. Dismissal number three. Of the three, this is the most gray, given that perhaps Wonder Woman was just in an odd situation, and if Superman were encroached upon by a big bad, Wonder Woman would certainly rescue him by a similar method. But that's NOT the point. The point is that the writer decided to depict this scene in that way, and coupled with the other two, it makes Wonder Woman look like a blithering, weak idiot and Superman like a heroic he-man.
I like Superman more than Wonder Woman, and I'd honestly like to see him as more heroic than Wonder Woman, just because I like him as a character more than I like her. But if it's like this, you can take it back and stuff it.
Beyond that, more orders for the Justice League as opposed to showing the Justice League engaging in said orders, more pages of crap exposition from the faux Trinity, and...
This battle is still happening? The purple nineties goon is still holding up the entire Justice League? Are you nuts?
We'll end with this sparkling gem of exposition through dialogue from, yes, dumb ole Wondy, now arbitrarily smart for one chunk: "I wonder... does his species have internal energy reserves, to be called into use during extraordinary circumstances? Is he bio-engineered? Some sort of battle-bred..."
She infers this from the fact that he attacks harder and develops armor. This is like that awkward proto-feminism that occurs during television, where on the basis of seeing a water glass, you realize that Orange County is flooding, and the other characters turn to the gal and say, "Sweet Jesus, Molly! Your intellect is dazzling!"
I suppose one could thereby imply that I am foolish for now predicting that the rest of Trinity will suck on the basis of the fact that these last three have made my eyes bleed. But at least my assertion has precedent (Countdown and the Superman run), and I have previous exploration upon which to base my hypothesis. I'd say thanks for making me look stand-up, but good God, what the hell is happening to DC if this is supposed to be so good as to make us shell out almost two hundred bucks over the course of a year?
Lead Art - 4: Honestly, I'm losing how much I love Bagley's stuff in this awful story, but when you stop looking at the balloons and start looking at the art, it's just as good, if not better, than Ultimate Spidey was for me. I'm having a lot of fun here, and realizing how fast this was churned out makes it even more of an accomplishment. I'm willing to grant him a lot of leeway given the schedule, but it's seeming he doesn't need it.
Back-Up Story - 2: Again, we have the establishing of the Tarot cards, repetition with Gangbuster, stuff we already pretty much knew, but this is set before the backdrop of a pretty interesting little fight between Kangar-Ro and Despero, which I dug.
Problem is, it never really got anywhere in terms of why they were fighting, why this was so epic, or what any of this in context means to the larger plot, so as a story that has a point, it sorta fails.
I BECAME IT-THE UNIVERSE, AND MORE! (I should give this a one for that. I really should).
I fear for this storyline. Why? Because Chuckles the Wolverine/Cable ripoff (hello, 1992), Albino the Ultra-Nerd and I Was An Extra in The Dark Knight Returns are psyched to "Do subtle." I mean, look at those putzes. And this is supposed to be the BIG REVEAL SPLASH that gets you psyched to read the next issue? Seriously? Just stab me in the face with a broken bottle. Sweet Jesus.
Back-Up Art - 4: Up until the dream sequence, it was fairly typical, but then, for the Despero fight, it really took off and got awesome. All of the action was well conveyed and done to satisfaction. The only real thing that totally blew, and the reason that I didn't give it a five, is the design on those three hokey villains on the end. I mean, seriously, they're really, really bad. But if they were around before and are not the fault of the artist, this is five stuff.
Cover Art - 1: As 1/3 of a larger image, this would probably be much better if we could see more. As it stands, it's not a very compelling pose, given that over half of this image is missing. Put all three together, you probably have a five, assuming Konvikt's pose in the next is compelling, despite the fact that the character is ridiculous. As it stands, this is out of context and odd-looking. That's the price of using a gimmick like this unless every cover is amazing. I've seen it done well, but this isn't it.
Lead Story - 1: Superman seeing Wonder Woman fighting Konvikt and thinking she's not capable of handling the fight, despite being relatively equal in power and a trained warrior, Superman arriving to save people Wonder Woman was arbitrarily too stupid to save, Wonder Woman being labeled as the only portion of the Trinity who inspires people to help themselves, Batman being the only one "smart" enough to think to follow Konvikt's trail (despite him being the slowest of the Trinity by leaps and bounds), more of Enigma and Morgaine standing around expositing while they watch the Trinity who are STILL battling Konvikt for no real reason, and Konvikt's hair turns into armor all add up to what I consider a miserable reading experience. Why do we care about any of this?
Lead Art - 2: I just don't like this stuff. It feels... rushed. And blocky. And... as I keep saying, like it's 1992. Konvikt's concept (what little exists) and design doesn't help that feeling, of course, but hey... I guess the art feels as dated as the story.
Back-Up Story - 2: I don't care about this story. At all. Why should I? Who is this woman? Why do I care about her visions or what it's doing to her? She's nobody, she's nothing. To care about her we'd have to know her, and we don't. We also get excellent lines from Despero like "I'll grind your corpse to ash... and eat your corpse!" What? That doesn't even make sense. He's going to eat the ashes? Huh? Nonsense.
Back-Up Art - 3: Kind of nondescript, especially during the action, which also leads to much more of a '90s vibe. I don't know why I liked this better than the main art, though... maybe it had something to do with not seeing the three greatest characters in all of comics getting trashed with poor writing and art? Yes folks, I'm already at the stage where I'm thinking "Well it's not great, but at least it's not damaging characters I love! And for that, it gets an extra point."
Cover Art - 2: A constipated Superman grabs Konvikt's arm. Well STOP THE PRESSES, ain't that exciting. The ground and Superman's feet tearing through it is nicely done, but the rest just reeks of the boredom you'll find inside.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.