There is something to be said for giving the people what they want. As storytellers, I think there’s a certain reflex against that logic. It feels too easy, or worse, too facile. True art has depth and breadth and layers and often that means concealing the full truth to be revealed when the time is just right. This is even more true in terms of serialized storytelling like episodic television or monthly comic books – providing all the answers up front or being too linear with the narrative leaves little to keep the audience coming back for more. The irony, of course, is that in concealing the truth or breaking up the narrative, one risks losing the audience completely, either through confusion or frustration.
As a rule, I try to vary the comics that I make my Pick of the Week over at Modern Mythologies. This is partly for variety’s sake – knowing that I will be reviewing said comics here at The Speech Bubble – but usually it’s not much of a problem. Week to week and month to month, different comics overtake each other in terms of my anticipation of them for a number of reasons. But lately, thanks to “The Darkseid War” – the latest story arc from writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok – it is simply impossible for anything to overtake my excitement for each successive issue of Justice League.
It’s hard to believe that a character as popular as Cyborg, who has been a member of two major superhero teams (the Teen Titans and now the Justice League) for the better part of 30 years, is only now getting his first-ever ongoing solo series. He has been featured before in a six-issue limited series, but otherwise, this week’s Cyborg #1 is a first for the character.
In case I haven’t made it quite obvious enough, I love it when a comic book’s art does more than simply depict the events of the script. For me, the real magic of comics is in seeing a relationship between text and art, where each feeds into and elevates the other. Even within the context of these weekly reviews of mine, there are a number of examples of issues (Gotham by Midnight, Doctor Fate, Action Comics #40, etc.) in which the marriage of the script and the visuals is what makes the book stand out among its peers. Black Canary certainly falls into this category.
Ever since its “sneak peek”, I have been eagerly awaiting the return of Justice League United. In its first two arcs, the title managed to capture the excitement and adventure of the big-scale storytelling that characterized the Silver Age. “The Infinitus Saga” teamed the JLU up with the Legion of Super-Heroes and the team looked poised to be an unstoppable cosmic force for good. But post-Convergence, something has happened.
The opening arc of Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang’s Batman Beyond is moving at break-neck pace, but what strikes me about this second issue is how well choreographed the writing and artwork are. Each supports and fills in for the other – as is meant to be the case in comics – in such a way that the book manages both to focus on the narrative development and action beats as well as the leviathan task of world-building a future that is unlike any in the history of the character. The concurrent goals form a powerful storytelling engine, accelerating at an alarming speed.
At the climax of Flashpoint in 2011, Professor Zoom died, stabbed through the chest with a sword by Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint Batman. Since that moment, all throughout the rebooted continuity of the post-Flashpoint era, we have yet to see Eobard Thawne. In fact, readers of Flash were given an all new Reverse-Flash in the form of Daniel West. But the 25th-Century archenemy of Barry Allen finally made his return this week in Flash #41. Robert Venditti and Van Jensen set the stage for this return at the end of their “Future Flash” arc, when Professor Zoom appeared within the Speed Force to recruit members for his Flash kill squad.
I think it really says something about the new direction of Doctor Fate that writer Paul Levitz and artist Sonny Liew are credited simply as “Storytellers”. The new series’ debut as part of DC’s post-Convergence “story over continuity” editorial move seems to take that notion to heart, calling back to the looser continuity of oral traditions and classical mythologies; essentially, to storytelling.
A new title for a comic book mythology is like a new beginning. The characters may be familiar, but their adventures and their trajectory are unaccounted for, leaving the door open to new possibilities. And for the heroes and civilians of Earth 2, a new beginning is more than earned. After years of war with Apokolips, of a brief, paranoid fear, and then a final cataclysmic defeat at the hands of Darkseid, Earth 2 saw the literal end of their world, and though two million survivors made it off-planet before the end, the generation ships were left floating in space with nowhere to go.
I’m going to kill the suspense right away: I loved this issue. In the first official chapter to Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s “The Darkseid War”, the pair throw everything they’ve got at the reader. At a special extra-sized story, Justice League #41 establishes that, contrary to its relatively simple pitch – Darkseid vs. the Anti-Monitor – this arc is going to plumb the depths of several major characters.