Comic Book Review – Justice League: The Darkseid War

Justice League: The Darkseid War Essential Edition (2018)
Reprints Justice League #40-50, Justice League: The Darkseid War Special, and DC Sneak Peek: Justice League
Written by Geoff Johns
Directed by Jason Fabok and Francis Manapul

The New 52 came in with the Justice League and ended with it too. After fifty issues, Geoff Johns capped off his run as Rebirth became the banner on every comic. With this final arc, Johns could wrap up most of the threads laid out over the last four years, more or less. The Darkseid War brought back the titular menace from the first arc and expanded on DC lore. Now it did so in some highly confusing ways and clashed with other points, but this is sort of a thing for DC Comics ever since Crisis. The continuity just doesn’t quite fit. But you just get used to it and move on, I suppose.

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: Forever Heroes & Injustice League

Justice League: Forever Heroes (2014)
Reprints Justice League #24-29
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke

Justice League: Injustice League (2015)
Reprints Justice League #30-39
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke and Jason Fabok

Last week, I shared the big Justice League event of the time, Forever Evil. While that event was happening in its mini-series, the main Justice League book changed a bit. The heroes readers were familiar with were caught in a pocket dimension prison, so the Justice League comic devoted its pages to telling the origins of the villainous Crime Syndicate. For the unfamiliar, the Crime Syndicate are villainous versions of classic DC Heroes. They are:

Ultraman (Superman)
Owlman (Batman)
Superwoman (Wonder Woman)
Johnny Quick (The Flash)
Power Ring (Green Lantern)

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: Trinity War & Forever Evil

Justice League: Trinity War (2014)
Reprints Free Comic Book Day 2012, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1-3, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #11, Justice League #22-23, Justice League Dark #22-23, Justice League of America #6-7, and Constantine #5
Written by Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire, and Ray Fawkes
Art by Ivan Reis, Dough Mahnke, David Finch, and Mikel Janin

Forever Evil (2015)
Reprints Forever Evil #1-7
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by David Finch

DC did a good job of not having any major events in its shared universe for the first three years of the New 52. But we all knew that wouldn’t last. Things kicked off with Trinity War, an event being teased for a while that brings together the three Justice League ongoing titles that were being published at the time. It seems ARGUS, the government organization working as the Justice League’s liaison, was secretly building a team behind their back. This ties back into Green Arrow’s failure to be inducted early in the series’ run. Now Oliver Queen is in the Justice League of America alongside Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Katana, Green Lantern (Simon Baz), Stargirl, Vibe, and most surprisingly, Catwoman. 

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: Throne of Atlantis & The Grid

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2014)
Reprints Justice League #13-17 and Aquaman #15-16
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, and Tony S. Daniel

Justice League: The Grid (2014)
Reprints Justice League #18-20, 22-23
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Jesus Saiz, and Joe Prado

Despite its title, the Throne of Atlantis begins with a two-part story, “The Secret of the Cheetah.” It concerns Wonder Woman’s nemesis, The Cheetah. At this point in the New 52, the Wonder Woman ongoing title was written by Brian Azzarello and was primarily concerned with Diana’s relationship with the Olympian gods. Her non-mythic villains were available, so Johns attempted to develop what The Cheetah is like in this reimagined DC Universe. The Cheetah as a solo villain against the Justice League is very unbelievable as she hasn’t quite proven to be a physical powerhouse against Wonder Woman. There’s some extra magic curse MacGuffin added to the story. I get the sense a lot of this story came out of the image of Superman receiving the curse and taking on cheetah features of his own. It’s reminiscent of those Silver Age covers that promised wild transformations of your favorite heroes. I find the constant push to create some sort of love triangle between Superman – Wonder Woman – Steve Trevor, or Batman really annoying and so unnecessary.

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: Origin/A Villain’s Journey

Justice League Volume 1: Origin (2013)
Reprints Justice League v2 #1-6
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee

Justice League Volume 2: The Villain’s Journey (2013)
Reprints Justice League v2 #7-12
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee, Gene Ha, and Ivan Reis

In 2011, DC Comics shook up its titles by returning to square one and rebooting the universe. The first book published under the moniker of the New 52 (there were 52 ongoing monthly books) was Justice League #1. In this book, we are introduced to altered versions of classic superheroes. Batman. Superman. Green Lantern. The Flash. Wonder Woman. Aquaman. Cyborg. Through this title, we were meant to see a more modern interpretation of classic characters and narrative arcs. Unfortunately, by 2016, the series would be canceled, and the Justice League title continues to struggle to find its footing. Nevertheless, the series should be a grand slam; it features some of the all-time most iconic American pop media characters. As we look at these books, I hope to figure out if there is anything from this era that should be recognized and re-explored or if this is merely a misstep in editorial decisions.

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Comic Book Review – Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus Volume 2

Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus Volume 2 (2022)
Reprints L.E.G.I.O.N. #69-70, Legion of Super-Heroes #40-61, Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #4-5, Legionnaires #1-18, Legionnaires Annual #1, Valor #20-23
Written by Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Tom McCraw, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, and Tom Peyer
Art by Stuart Immonen, Chris Sprouse, Darryl Banks, Joe Phillips, Christopher Taylor, Nick Napolitano, Adam Hughes, Colleen Doran, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Gardner, Frank Fosco, Curt Swan, Ron Boyd, Mark Farmer, Wade von Grawbadger, Craig Hamilton, Jeff Moy, Ted McKeever, Paul Pelletier, Arnie Jorgensen, and Derec Aucoin

The end of an era was just around the corner. The 1989 relaunch of Legion of Super-Heroes was a bold move, taking the beloved team of future teens and aging them into young adults. Some were married with kids, and others had become estranged or started new relationships. It all played out against the Dominator’s takeover of Earth. Eventually, series writer/artist Keith Giffen transitioned off the title and handed it over to Tom & Mary Bierbaum. They were a fan dream come true, starting as Legion fans in the 1970s and contributing to fanzines. Keith Giffen had become aware of their passionate devotion to the series and was impressed with some of the text stories they’d written. He and Mark Waid, editor of the title at the time, brought in the Bierbaums as Giffen’s co-writers for this new era.

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Comic Book Review – JLA/Avengers

JLA/Avengers (2022)
Reprints JLA/Avengers #1-4
Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by George Pérez

Not a hoax! Not a dream! The Justice League finally crosses the omniverse and meets Marvel’s Avengers. This was the dream project of comics creator George Pérez for decades. He was there in the 1980s when the first project started. It fell through due to the infamous Marvel EiC Jim Shooter’s interferences, but Pérez constantly made it known that he was drawing this comic if it ever came to pass. When Pérez entered into an exclusive contract with independent publisher CrossGen, he even carved out an exception if this comic was finalized. In 2003, it finally happened, and Pérez got his wish to draw EVERYONE in a single story that crossed companies. On May 6, 2022, Pérez passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer. He had announced he was terminal in 2021, and comic fans had entered a state of mourning. I want to look at his dream project and talk about his influence on my life as a kid, reading and exploring the scope of American comic books.

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Comic Book Review – Batman: The Caped Crusader Volume One

Batman: The Caped Crusader Volume 1 (2018)
Reprints Batman #417-425, 430-431, Annual #12
Written by Jim Starlin, Mike Baron, Robert Greenberger, and Christopher Priest (as James Owsley)
Art by Jim Aparo, Ross Andru, Norm Breyfogle, Mark Bright, Dave Cockrum, Dick Giordano, and Pablo Marcos

Jim Starlin had established himself as the new main writer for the Batman title by this point following a spotty run by Max Allan Collins. While Collins chose to play loose with the timeline, setting some stories earlier and others closer to present day, Starlin shrugs all that off and firmly plants his feet in the present. Robin (Jason Todd) is about 15/16 and Batman has an established lengthy history. If you compare this to John Byrne’s work on Superman that series feels like it is starting fresh with the hero, reintroducing his villains. Starlin came from a place that all of Batman’s rogues’ gallery is well-known already. That didn’t mean he was just going to play with the toys he was given and this collection begins with the introduction of a villain who is still around today.

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Comic Book Review – Batman: Second Chances

Batman: Second Chances (2015)
Reprints Batman #402, 403, 408-416 & Batman Annual #11
Written by Max Allan Collins, Jo Duffy, and Jim Starlin
Art by Jim Starlin, Denys Cowan, Chris Warner, Ross Andru, Dick Giordano, Dave Cockrum, Kieron Dwyer, Mike DeCarlo, and Jim Aparo

Batman: Second Chances collects the issues just before and following Frank Miller’s iconic Year One arc. The stories here focus mainly on establishing a grittier tone for the post-Crisis Batman while developing Jason Todd, who served as Robin. The result is a jumble of small arcs and one-offs that aren’t brought together for any thematic purpose. Instead, this is just a means to collect some stories that would never have a place otherwise. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it as a historical artifact, a record of what Batman comics felt like in the late 1980s before other creators like Alan Grant and Chuck Dixon became the architects of a new Batman mythos.

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Comic Book Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Volume 1

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Volume 1 (2018)
Reprints Detective Comics #568-574, 579-582
Written by Mike W. Barr, Joey Cavalieri, and Jo Duffy
Art by Alan Davis, Paul Neary, Jim Baikie, Terry Beatty, Norm Breyfogle, E.R. Cruz, Carmine Infantino, Dick Giordano, Pablo Marcos, and Klaus Janson

At the same time, Frank Miller was reinventing the Batman mythos in the pages of the titular book; very different things were happening in Detective Comics. It was a very different experience and an example of how DC Comics editorial had not thoroughly planned out the post-Crisis period, much like how the New 52 reboot wasn’t as coordinated as it could have been. Things begin messily with Joey Cavalieri penning a Legends crossover. If you have read the Legends storyline (one I highly recommend), you’ll quickly pick up that this crossover is entirely unnecessary and not coordinated with the actual event. You can see this in G. Gordon Godfrey, who looks like this in Legends and looks like this in Detective Comics. I thought there’d be some sort of editorial guidance for artists when using characters from crossovers so that they would, at minimum, look the same. 

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