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Mild Mannered Reviews - Justice League Comics

Justice League #8 Justice League #8

Justice League #8

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 18, 2012

Cover date: June 2012

"Team-Up: Green Arrow"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Carlos D'Anda with Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

"Shazam!" - Part 2

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Gary Frank
Inker: Gary Frank

Ralph Silver Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

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Justice League #8 Justice League #8 "Team-Up: Green Arrow"

Colonel Steve Trevor is again briefing members of Congress in his role as the official liaison for the Justice League. When asked, Steve explains that the Justice League is not interested in expanding its roster.

We switch to a view of Green Arrow who is on the move, evading attacks from Amazo, the android who has replicated the powers of the Justice League members. The Justice League is on the scene. They have taken Amazo down momentarily, but are concerned that nanites are already rebuilding Amazo's nervous system. Cyborg offers to use Boom Tube technology to transport Amazo to the Red Room at S.T.A.R Labs in Detroit, where the android can be decommissioned. This leads to a discussion about the Boom Tube technology, which is reliable when Cyborg makes solo jumps, but is more unpredictable when Cyborg attempts to bring other people with him.

Green Arrow is excited that he has assisted the Justice League in their battle with Amazo. The League members are not even aware that Green Arrow contributed, but The Emerald Archer points to an arrow still stuck in Amazo's rump.

Green Arrow makes a pitch to be inducted into the team. Green Lantern and Aquaman are very dismissive and disdainful, but Superman wants the team to give the proposal some consideration before dismissing it outright. As the Justice League prepares to boom out, Aquaman and Green Lantern toss out a few more barbs, and then the League is gone.

One week later, the Justice League has stowed away aboard a private aircraft to battle a group called the Talons, agents of a larger Gotham-based group called The Court of Owls. Once again Green Arrow shows up to assist. GA has been monitoring Justice League communications, which tipped him off to the location of this latest activity. Once again, Green Arrow makes an appeal for membership. The League responds with complete disinterest. Green Lantern drops Ollie in the middle of nowhere to find his way home.

Yet another week later, Green Arrow shows up at another Justice League case, again eager to pitch in. This time Aquaman is more direct, and threatens Green Arrow, telling him to stop following the team. He alludes to a confrontation that the two heroes had recently, without mentioning the details.

Steve Trevor shows up to discuss Green Arrow's annoyingly persistent behavior. They debate Green Arrow's request. Trevor reveals that he knows Green Arrow's identity, and accuses him of past criminal behavior. Green Arrow claims to have reformed. He says the Justice League needs more of a social conscience, which he can provide. His tone then gets confessional and very personal. He tells Trevor that he needs Justice League membership to redeem himself and atone for past indiscretions. Trevor reiterates that the Justice League is not interested in extending membership. However, he invites Green Arrow to join another team that could use his services. Green Arrow is very interested.

At the Watchtower, the Justice League members are still debating Green Arrow's request. Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Batman are adamantly opposed. Superman wants to consider it, and Flash seems sympathetic. Batman keeps mentioning the risk of allowing someone else onto the satellite and into the Justice League. It is revealed that in the past the Justice League almost let Martian Manhunter join the team, and it ended very badly, with the Manhunter and the League in battle. On an alien landscape, perhaps Mars, the Martian Manhunter is recalling those events, and says to himself that the Justice League is not prepared.

3Story - 3: I am a big fan of Geoff Johns' work on Justice League. Johns continues to put the emphasis on interpersonal relationships, not non-stop action. I believe that this is the right emphasis for this book, and for any team book. However, this story is not his best work, in my opinion. But there were still some moments that were interesting and fun for me.

This issue is not about a specific villain or threat; it is about a theme: the desire by some to see the Justice League roster expand, and the League's resistance to that notion. Everything that happens in this issue revolves around that theme. The Congressional oversight committee wants to see someone of their own choosing get on the inside. Oliver Queen wants very badly to get an invitation to join. But Batman is very cautious, and Green Lantern and Aquaman are downright disdainful of Green Arrow's qualifications. The team is happy to keep the membership roster as is.

Plot details completely take a back seat to the discussions about the main theme. We jump ahead one week in time, and then jump ahead again. None of the villains pose a real challenge for the Justice League. Even Amazo seems like only a momentary distraction for the Justice League. We are watching the team handle routine threats without breaking a sweat. But then, in each case, along comes Green Arrow to beg and plead to join their private club. And while Green Lantern and Aquaman found Green Arrow's persistence to be kind of annoying, I found it somewhat amusing. I especially liked the scene where he points out the arrow in Amazo's tush, as if he was the big hero. That gave me a laugh.

As the idea of membership expansion is discussed, there are a couple of teasers thrown out for us to contemplate. What exactly happened between Aquaman and Green Arrow on that island? And how did things go so horribly wrong between the Justice League and Martian Manhunter? While I think it is kind of cool that Geoff Johns can throw those teasers out without feeling obligated to immediately fill in all the details, I would really like to hear those stories at some point.

There was a big surprise in this issue; and I found it a pleasant surprise. I expected Green Arrow to be inducted into the Justice League, and was very pleased this did not happen. Although Green Lantern is pretty rude in how he chose to express it, I agree with him that the League does not need another member with no real powers. I believe that Batman should be the sole exception to the rule that this is a team of super-powered heroes. As Steve Trevor says, there are certainly other groups that are a better fit for Green Arrow's abilities.

Part of my surprise was due to the fact that in issue #4 of the original run of Justice League of America, back in April-May 1961, Green Arrow was the first non-original member to be inducted into the Justice League. I expected history to repeat itself. Thankfully not! Full disclosure says I must reveal that I have never been much of a fan of Green Arrow. He always seemed like a cheap imitation of Batman. In fact, on the Smallville TV show, they featured Green Arrow in lieu of Batman because DC dictated that Batman was not available.

I am curious about Martian Manhunter's final comment, "They're not prepared". I see two possible interpretations. Perhaps with his mental powers, he senses that a grave threat is approaching, and that the Justice League will fail without his help. Or perhaps he is just saying that some of the League members are just not ready for a green Martian in their ranks.

Unlike my bias against Green Arrow, I would be happy to see Martian Manhunter join the team. He is strongly powered, and is beloved throughout the DC Universe in most versions of the character.

4Art - 4: Carlos D'Anda, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado do a solid job as the fill-in artists this issue. The heroes look great in every panel.

"Shazam" - Part 2

Billy Batson lives in an orphanage in Philadelphia. He has been chosen for adoption by the Vasquez family. These two exceptional foster parents have made it a practice to adopt older children that are harder to place. Their five other foster children have posted a "Welcome Home, Billy!" sign over the fireplace, and prepare to greet him with enthusiasm and warmth.

But Billy does not appear to be deserving or appreciative of such kindness. Outside, before making his entrance, Billy calls his social worker, Mrs. Glover, "Old Maid" and "Prune Face"; and calls the house a "dump". Once inside, Billy is surprised to meet his new step-siblings, Mary, Freddy, Pedro, Eugene, and Darla. Introductions are made. Billy is greeted with brotherly and sisterly love by everybody in the group, except for Freddy, who picks his pocket and helps himself to Billy's wallet. But Darla makes up for this selfish act by showering Billy with an abundance of sisterly love that shows her to be an unusually loving girl. Billy responds by blowing her off with "I'm not your brother. We're not family. None of you really are!" This crushes Darla and sets her crying and heading for the exit. After she leaves, the other siblings are extremely scornful. Mary explains that Darla was abandoned by parents who never loved her or wanted to keep her around.

Given a little time to reflect, Billy feels some remorse, and wishes he did not make Darla cry. Looking out the window, he sees the face of the old Wizard in the clouds, as a strong flash of lightening is seen and a loud clap of thunder is heard.

5Story - 5: This is my kind of story!

I believe God has a special place in His Heart for people like Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez. Years ago, I knew a couple who chose to adopt a large group of handicapped children, probably the hardest kids to place. I was in awe of those folks, who made sacrifices of time, money, and energy in order to live their core principles. They made an impression on me that lasts to this day. Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez reminded me of those kind folks.

I unabashedly admit that I wept several times while reading this story. This surprised me. Clearly, this story tugged at my heartstrings by making connections to certain events in my life that I won't go into here. But I think many people would be similarly affected by the undertones of exceptional kindness and family love that permeate this tale.

At some point, we will focus on the Shazam side of this narrative. But frankly, I am in no hurry to get there. I am greatly enjoying Geoff Johns' new take on Billy Batson's backstory.

I am not crazy about the decision to make Billy Batson such a brat in this modern interpretation of the character. But I am convinced that subsequent events will cause Billy to see the world in a new way and choose kindness and respect as his new way for dealing with others. I will be watching to see who shows maturity and compassion first in these pages; Billy Batson or Green Lantern. I am putting my money on Billy!

5Art - 5: I am a huge fan of Gary Frank. He hits it out of the park here! You can see the care and heart that he put into this story! It shows, on every page!

4Cover Art - 4: A poster of the Justice League is posted on a brick wall. It is torn in several places. Someone spray-painted a big green "X" over the image. Green Arrow stands in front of the vandalized photo. He "happens" to have a can of spray paint clipped to his belt. This cover is well done, reflecting the new, "edgier" take on these characters.

3Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 3: Green Arrow stands in the foreground, surrounded by the other heroes. Green Arrow has a big smile, showing great enthusiasm for his current circumstances. But the members do not share his enthusiasm, instead revealing a kind of cautious interest.

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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