Cover date: March 2012
"Justice League - Part Five"
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Reviewed by: Ralph Silver
The other heroes are reviving now, as Flash shares the horrible news that Superman has been abducted. The heroes discuss interrogating Darkseid to find out why Superman was taken. Green Lantern springs into action and attacks Darkseid. His constructs are not effective against the god of Apokolips; but GL courageously keeps trying even while being on the receiving end of several vicious blows from Darkseid. When Green Lantern shows his determination to continue the battle, Darkseid lifts Hal by his right forearm and applies crushing force, causing the arm to break in a couple of places. Darkseid sends him flying with another punch, and then walks away as Hal struggles to recover and persist against all odds.
Batman attempts to deter Green Lantern from going up against Darkseid in his badly injured condition. Batman wants to gather the rest of the team and form a strategy. He criticizes Green Lantern for wanting to carry on the fight with a broken arm. In response, GL fashions a moveable cast with his ring, and says he is prepared to die if necessary.
Batman continues to ask Green Lantern why he is driven to press on in this futile attack. Batman implies that he understands Green Lantern well because they are very much alike. After Green Lantern rejects this notion, Batman pulls a very surprising maneuver. He removes his mask, introduces himself as Bruce Wayne, and tells a short version of his origin; explaining that he was driven to train for a life of fighting crime after witnessing the brutal death of his parents at the hand of a mugger when Bruce was ten years old.
Bruce asks Hal to regroup with the other heroes, keep them alive, and keep Darkseid busy until Batman returns. When Green Lantern asks where he is going, Batman responds that he is going to rescue Superman.
Batman stands in the open in plain sight with his arms outstretched in an apparently submissive gesture. It does not take long for one of the flying demon-bots to swoop down and carry Batman away.
Green Lantern does regroup with the other heroes, and helps pull them out of the rubble. He shares his plan, that they should go as a group and follow Darkseid, who was last seen heading into the city on foot. GL explains that the heroes should stay out of sight for the moment. When they find Darkseid, Green Lantern will act as a distraction to lure him out, so that the other heroes can attack. This was precisely the plan proposed by Aquaman last issue. Green Lantern gives Cyborg the option to stay behind, since he has not yet officially declared himself as a superhero. But Vic is eager to join the battle. The heroes head towards the heart of Metropolis, to meet up with Darkseid.
We follow Batman as he is carried to another portal created by a Boom Tube. As Batman steps through, he finds himself in an unlikely place; peering out over a hellish landscape. It appears that Batman has been transported to Darkseid's home world, Apokolips.
Story - 5: The first Justice League story arc of the DC relaunch continues. After several issues featuring Darkseid's winged demons, we finally have a direct confrontation between Darkseid himself and the nascent Justice League. Initially, things go very badly for the JL heroes; except for the Flash, who successfully executes a clever maneuver to escape a deadly Omega Beam that is hot on his tail.
Since this story arc features the initial meeting of many of the DC heroes, I am assuming that this is also the first time that any of them meets, or learns about, Darkseid. It therefore follows that none of them has ever encountered a more powerful or dangerous foe. This grave and daunting challenge is truly fitting for the first mission of this new Justice League.
Since I am assuming that Batman and the others are indeed learning about Darkseid for the first time, it follows that Batman does not have a clue where he finds himself after he steps through the portal. He is certainly asking himself if this is also the place where Superman was taken, plus all the civilians who were kidnapped. Batman will have his answers soon enough.
For me, the heart of this story is the interplay between Batman and Green Lantern. Green Lantern, in a very "Batman-like" manner, continues to get up and try over and over to defeat Darkseid despite his severe injuries, risking his own life in the process. But because Darkseid has broken GL's arm in two places, Batman knows it is time for GL to take a step back and plan a more effective strategy. Green Lantern is greatly overmatched, but is determined to fight on. Batman sees quite a bit of himself in Green Lantern's behavior, and attempts to dissuade GL in light of the damage that Darkseid has already inflicted. Choosing phrases like "What are you trying to prove?" and "Who are you trying to live up to?", Batman shows some real insight into Green Lantern's motivations and psyche as they relate to his own. In fact, Batman's observations are spot-on. We know that Hal, like Bruce, had a life-changing event when he saw his father die horribly before his eyes as a young boy.
When Batman pulls off his mask, reveals his identity, and tells the story of his parents' death, he is attempting to reach out to Green Lantern by suggesting that they have common ground. Batman has chosen to share something deeply personal, and his message connects. Batman insists that this challenge will require the heroes to step outside of themselves and use real teamwork instead of individual grandstanding. Green Lantern listens deeply for once, and is finally persuaded to do things Batman's way.
By the way, I like when Batman and Green Lantern banter back-and-forth about the word "normal". GL suggests that wearing a bat suit to fight crime is anything but normal. In a moment of real honesty, Batman agrees with Green Lantern, and admits that it is actually insane! I found this admission to be startling and quite revealing.
Green Lantern is having a rough ride this whole story arc. He started out very cocky when he first met Batman in issue #1. GL was certainly used to always being the most powerful guy in the room. But after being greatly overmatched by Superman, and now taking a severe pounding from Darkseid, I must say that Green Lantern is getting some real lessons in humility. We will see if these humbling experiences cause him to temper his overconfident streak.
So far, the heroes have gathered together by accident for the most part. At some point, they will acknowledge that they actually have an ongoing team. At that point, they will officially call themselves the Justice League. We will see if that happens sooner rather than later.
Since the relaunch, I continue to look forward to Justice League with great anticipation each month. So far, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee do not disappoint.
Art - 5: Jim Lee's artwork is strong this issue.
Certain images stand out for me. One of those is the splash of Flash grabbing Superman and preparing to flee from the Omega Beam at super-speed. I also liked the near-full-page image of Batman revealing his identity to Green Lantern.
Cover Art - 3: The heroes gaze at an offscreen menace and prepare for battle. Cyborg earns the center spot this time. The heroes are drawn well, but the layout is way too crowded for my taste.
Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 5: By contrast, the variant cover features all seven heroes without appearing the slightest bit crowded. Each hero is nicely detailed and looks great. Eric Basaldua does a fantastic job!
I like the colors. The purple color in the sky contrasts nicely with the bright colors on the heroes' outfits and on Green Lantern's constructs.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2012.