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Mild Mannered Reviews - Justice League Comics

Justice League #4 Justice League #4

Justice League #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 21, 2011

Cover date: February 2012

"Justice League - Part Four"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams

Ralph Silver Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

Justice League #4 Justice League #4 Inside S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit, Victor Stone howls in pain as he continues to suffer from the effects of the explosion, and his biological tissues endure the painful integration process with his new high-tech hardware. As the integration proceeds, essential software is downloaded, crucial data is assimilated, and Vic's senses suddenly go digital. His damaged tissues are replaced by the promethium hardware, which seems to grow and adapt as it forms to Vic's body. When two of the demon robots break into the lab, Vic's left arm reconfigures into a white-noise cannon that serves as a powerful deterrent, sending the demon-bots fleeing. Vic is still in shock, as he struggles to understand and accept what has happened to him. When he learns that his father was responsible for the extreme changes to his body, Victor runs off despite his father's protests.

In Metropolis, at the water's edge, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Wonder Woman are meeting Aquaman for the first time. Initially, only Wonder Woman has the grace to give him a warm greeting. The other heroes are polite but somewhat reserved at first; except for Green Lantern, who is irreverent and rather rude. Aquaman asks who the leader is, suggesting that he would be a good choice. When Batman asserts that he is the leader, Green Lantern mocks Batman openly.

Aquaman suggests that they need to get inside the tower where the demons are taking the citizens. He suggests that a diversion would be helpful, and asks Green Lantern to provide one. But Green Lantern thinks Aquaman is trying to boss him around, and gives Aquaman some lip.

Green Lantern, continuing his arrogant, ego-driven rant, brags about his powers and those of the other members, and challenges Aquaman to prove his usefulness and worthiness to be part of the group. Just then, some demon-bots attack, and Aquaman commands some giant sharks, who essentially make lunch out of the attackers. When another demon attacks, Aquaman takes him on personally, and vanquishes him with his trident, showcasing his enhanced strength and agility. This quiets Green Lantern, who has now definitely been convinced of Aquaman's worth to the team.

Military helicopters arrive and begin shooting at the heroes. Colonel Steve Trevor is on board one of the copters. He attempts to protect the heroes, particularly Wonder Woman. But Trevor is overruled, and the firing continues. Superman and Wonder Woman go into action, deflecting bullets.

Cyborg is still on the run. When he encounters a woman being attacked by a couple of the demons, Cyborg instinctively jumps in to assist. One of the demons pulls out a box; the weapon we are already familiar with. As the weapon detonates, Cyborg appears to be caught in the explosion. But the digital voice in his head says "transporting"; so maybe he gets away in time. For the moment, it is not clear.

Superman and Flash are debating their current course of action. Superman wants to shut down the men who are shooting at them. Flash protests, saying the military members are only doing their job. But Superman is not convinced, and jumps into action. As Wonder Woman asserts that the heroes need to get the military men and women out of the helicopters and somewhere safe, Green Lantern embarrasses himself by admitting that his motivations are more about showing off than about true heroism. This brings laughter from Batman, who enjoys seeing Green Lantern with egg on his face. It is Wonder Woman's lasso that has caused Green Lantern's moment of brutal honesty.

Cyborg did in fact get away from the explosion in time, and materializes in front of the heroes. Green Lantern begins to attack him, when Batman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman all warn him that he is attacking the wrong guy; not one of the demon-bots.

Cyborg's central processor has intercepted and translated information about the demons' plans. What they do is locate inhabited worlds, harvest organic materials, process and then repurpose the organic materials, all in the name of Darkseid. This all sounds pretty ominous; and Cyborg shares this information with the other heroes.

Meanwhile, Superman and Flash are disarming the military folks in the helicopters who were shooting at them. Flash removes their weapons, while Superman rips the tail right off one of the choppers. They are careful not to harm any of the passengers; just prevent the shooting.

Suddenly, the loud noise of a boom tube is heard. Darkseid emerges from the portal, and appears before the heroes. Upon his arrival, Darkseid causes a violent explosion that engulfs the heroes. Having made his grand entrance, Darkseid sneers and introduces himself in menacing fashion.

5Story - 5: I continue to enjoy the "relaunch" version of the Justice League origin story. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are producing a book that is consistently fun to read, month after month.

The pattern continues of slowly building the new League as they coalesce to face the threat of Darkseid and his minions. Each issue has included one or two new heroes meeting the rest of the group. Issue #1 featured the meeting of Green Lantern and Batman. In issue #2, we added Superman and Flash to the mix. Issue #3 was all about Wonder Woman. Now we have the introduction of Aquaman to the group, and the last part of the origin story for Cyborg. I presume that next issue will see the inclusion of Cyborg as a member of the team.

Johns continues to write Justice League stories that are character-driven, which is the perfect approach for a team book like this. I remember the early days of JLA, back around 1960 when Gardner Fox was writing terrific stories that were heavily infused with science fiction concepts and fantastic situations. As a young boy, I sat there mesmerized. But as good as they were, those stories were solidly plot-driven. The heroes never argued, or showed any real emotion. What differentiated them was their powers and their costumes, not their personalities. This current book uses a much different approach. It is much more realistic. The character interactions are what make this book great.

This team does so much bickering, it is hard to imagine that they will form together as a cohesive and effective team whose members encourage and support each other. But that is precisely what we expect to happen.

Through four issues, a picture is starting to form of the dynamics of this team; their individual personalities and the interrelationships that are beginning to develop. Here are some of my impressions so far.

Green Lantern is cocky, arrogantly confident, and brash. Trash-talking is how he relates to anybody who he perceives is inferior to him. Up to now, he has been quite disrespectful of Batman. But this issue, he really lets Aquaman have it. When GL says "Hey, I'm not a fish, Aquafresh. Don't order me around like one.", he is really showing utter contempt for somebody he has just met; somebody who has done him no wrong. I suppose that green ring makes him feel powerful enough that he can say just about anything to just about anyone and get away with it. But he is not making any friends right now. He is polite only to Superman and Wonder Woman because he is in awe of their powers. When Aquaman uses his abilities to stop several of the demons, GL is sufficiently impressed that he backs off.

GL has always been cocky and impulsive; but since the relaunch, this arrogant behavior has been taken to a whole new level. He is really smart-mouthed. I hope Green Lantern develops some manners over time.

In contrast, Flash appears modest and polite. When Aquaman easily vanquishes that demon in hand-to-hand combat, Flash puts his hand on Aquaman's shoulder in a gesture that shows approval and a willingness to seek friendship. Flash seems like he is trying to get along with everybody. Right now he is Green Lantern's only ally on the team. Flash tries to be a moderating force, to keep GL's irreverent behavior in check.

Superman is very quiet and reserved so far. He lets his actions speak for him, and tends to stay out of arguments. Superman exudes a quiet confidence. If things in the New 52 go the way that they did in the past, Batman and Wonder Woman will eventually become his closest friends and allies on the team.

Batman appears outwardly stoic, but inside, I think Green Lantern's insults really bother him. As the only member of the team without any real powers, I surmise that Batman is very eager to prove his worthiness. Batman is certainly a very valuable member of the team due to his intellect and analytical skills. I think that will be clear to everybody before long.

Wonder Woman is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand, her behavior has shown her to be compassionate, kind, and charismatic. On the other hand, she is an unparalleled warrior; and seems to be energized when the battle comes to her. Like Flash, she tries to get along with everybody on the team.

Aquaman, as a king, expects to give orders and be treated like royalty. But with this crowd, his royal status does not carry any weight. It makes sense that Aquaman and Green Lantern would initially butt heads, as they do here. It remains to be seen if they will get along as things move forward.

We have yet to see the full picture from Cyborg. We have seen that he has some Daddy issues. And we have seen grit and determination on the gridiron. But otherwise, his full personality has yet to be revealed. This issue, we mostly see panicky behavior, which we would certainly expect from anybody in his shoes right now. I expect him to take a more prominent role beginning next issue.

I must mention that I enjoyed the scene where Green Lantern embarrasses himself while under the influence of Wonder Woman's lasso. That scene really had me laughing. Batman thought it was pretty funny too.

The question of leadership came up again this issue. While Aquaman feels he is entitled to lead, I predict that Batman and Superman will perhaps share the leadership. They are the two most qualified; Superman for his raw power, and Batman for his intellect and analytical skills. If this does not happen, then I predict there will be rotating leader, as was done in the past.

Geoff Johns and Jim Lee have another fine issue under their belt.

5Art - 5: Jim Lee's artwork is strong this issue. I really like the scene where Aquaman calls forth the giant sharks to feed on the demons, and the next page where Aquaman vanquishes a demon single-handedly. The shots of Darkseid are really powerful too

5Cover Art - 5: Aquaman stands over a defeated Green Lantern, his trident pointed at GL's throat. Batman is also down, and so is Superman, if you look carefully at the water below Aquaman's fist. None of this happens inside the book; although symbolically it represents the tensions between the team members right now. Behind Aquaman, a powerful wave rises up dramatically, adding to the dynamic energy on this excellent cover.

3Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 3: The heroes launch themselves towards an unseen enemy. This is an average cover. The original cover is much stronger.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2012

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