Comic Book Review: "Justice League #10"
The plot for revenge against Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the “Gods Among Men” continues in Justice League #10. “The Villain’s Journey: Chapter Two: The Belly Of The Beast”, written by Geoff Johns, with art by Jim Lee, Gary Franks, and Scott Williams, continues the villain, David Graves, plan of vengeance against the Justice League (Batman/ Bruce Wayne, Superman/ Clark Kent, Wonder Woman/ Diana Prince, Aquaman/ Arthur, Cyborg/Vic Stone, The Flash/ Barry Allen, Green Lantern/ Hal Jordan) for forsaking him in his time of need. The backup story, “The Curse of Shazam: Part 4”, continues with Billy Batson’s attempt to cope with his new life with his foster family.
Justice League #10, “The Villain’s Journey: Chapter 2: The Belly Of the Beast”, begins three years ago in Asia, in the Pamir Mountains. The dying David Graves is searching for area around Mount Sumeru; it is said to by a nexus of the afterlife. As he crosses the sea in a small boat, he is weak and tired. But as he makes land at the base of the mountain, he can see giant three giant Asuras (deities shunned and banished by the other gods) waiting on the shore. He calls out to them for help. They tell him that he must help himself. They tell him to follow them or die in the snow. He painfully crawls toward the grand giant door carved in the side of the mountain.
Today: Steve Trevor is still in the interrogation room, in the chair with large bolts clamped over his wrists. He calls out to Diana in despair. His painfully breaks his own thumb to force his hand out of the shackles. As he reaches for the door odd “electrical monsters” (like lightning bolts) attack him demanding that he feed them.
Elsewhere, Aquaman is helping a moored ship during a shipwreck. He tells the authorities that he’s search everywhere and every passenger is accounted for. He is assailed by reporters with cameras begging for the scoop. The police hold them off as Arthur gets a call from Cyborg telling him that Batman’s asked for the entire team to meet at the Watchtower. At first Arthur declines, but remembers when Vulko told him he had a responsibility to be the Atlantean king where or not he wanted to. He tells Vic he’s on his way.
At the Watchtower, Bruce explains to the rest of the team the situation: The Weapons Master, The Key, Scarecrow, The Scavenger, Captain Cold, and The Cheetah have all been tortured by this person called Graves. Green Lantern doesn’t see the problem with someone else beating up their enemies for them.
Cyborg explains that, now, Graves know about each member of the team’s weaknesses; some of their enemies knows certain things about them; even stuff the other team members don't. They start arguing about how some of them know more about others as the rest. Batman and Superman doing work together outside the team, that Bruce knows Clark’s a reporter and each other secret identities. Hal didn’t know Barry had a new girlfriend or that Wonder Woman visits a friend on an Indian Reservation. “So, some of us know each other’s secrets, and some of us are still in the dark,” she muses. Awkwardly, they don’t know as much about each other as their enemies seem to know.
Suddenly, a “silent warning” goes off: All the power to the station seemed to have shut down. Cyborg says that someone is using Steve Trevor’s access code (he was given one in case someone tried to force one out of him; he’s trying to warn them.)
A voice in the shadows says that a warning won’t help them. Graves is standing at the window. His face is like a bone mask and his skin is an eerie fluid substance. He tells the team that they can’t be the gods that the world thinks they are, because he’s met real gods. Diana demands to know what’s happened to Steve. Graves says that even after all the hell his life’s become Trevor still won’t betray them; maybe it’s out of love (which Graves can understand). Diana rushes him.
Graves shoots the “electrical monsters” onto her; they tell her to “feed me your loss”. She sees the vision of her mother turned to stone. She falls backwards and Superman catches her. She’s all gray and wrinkled with glassy eyes; as if all the life has been drained from her. The rest of the team attack Graves together. He attacks them all, one at a time, with the same “electrical monsters”.
Inter-spliced with the action of the battle, are scenes of David Graves’ journey with the Asuras through the mountain temple three years earlier. As he walks through the place he sees etheric visions of his two children and his wife. He wants them back. The gods tell him that he can, and he will have his revenge. He is suddenly engulfed in the electrical monster/lightning energy, changing him into what he is now. Back in the watchtower the entire justice league is encased in his electrical field. He says that the justice League killed his family; and he will make sure the whole world knows.
In the back-up story “The Curse of Shazam: part 4” Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez are talking about what happened with Billy and Mr. Bryer at school. Mr. Vasquez says that Billy was putting on an act when they first met him; he’s not a good kid. Mrs. Vasquez, Rosa, defends him: he’s been through too many foster homes to be blamed for his attitude. Up in the bedroom, Billy is packing his bag and sneaks out. His foster brother, Freddy, wakes up, sees him leave and decides to follow him. He finds him at the zoo talking to the tiger, Tawny. Billy tells her that she’s the first thing he can remember besides his parents. He suddenly catches Freddy spying on him. Freddy tells him that he thought he was running away. He wanted to tell him that the other foster kids are grateful to Billy for beating up the Bryer kids. Billy really wants to get back at them again—Freddy says he knows where they live. Forty-five miles north of Baghdad, on the other side of the world, Doctor Sivana, (after getting electrocuted), says he can read the writing on the walls: Black Adam is imprisoned here until someone who can destroy him can be found. But, there is a word that can release him and return magic to the world: “Shazam!” There is a huge magical explosion. Black Adam is standing in front of them and demands to know where “the wizard” is.
This story arc is starting shape quite nicely. The motivation behind Graves’ vengeance is revealed (at least, a little) in this issue. At first, it seems he blames the Justice League for not healing him of his terminal disease, but it would seem he blames them for his family’s death. Whatever deal/pact he made with the gods (Asuras) have given him the ability to syphon the life from people through their fears. It is a clever twist (if not wholly original). How it will fan out it be interesting to see. As for Billy Batson, Sivana, Shazam and Black Adam, their collective and seeming interconnected lives are on a collision course. Both of these continuing adventures will be fun to reads in the next issue.
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