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Comic Book Review: "Justice League #11"
The third chapter of the villain’s journey commences in Justice League issue 11. “Atonement”, written by Geoff Johns, with art by Jim Lee, Gary Franks, and Scott Williams, showcase the degree of damage Graves’ masterful plan has rote on the Justice League. The team’s cohesiveness begins to break down as the each member (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Aquaman) starts to realize their own inflated egos, their personal selfishness and the overwhelming lack of trust in each other has eroded their ability to function as the grand force they should be. In the back up story, “The Curse of Shazam: Chapter 5”, the inevitable clash of powers between Black Adam and Shazam is finally set on its fateful path of collision.
“The Villain’s Journey: Chapter Three: Atonement” starts where the last issue left off: The entire Justice League is encased in Graves’ “electric monster tentacles”. He trapped them all in a limbo/vision/phase (where they constantly relive the worst memories that each of them has even experienced), and then he left the Watchtower. Batman (Bruce Wayne) is trying to force himself to wake up and snap out of the dream. Bruce is still reliving the death of his parents. As he awakes, he looks to Superman. He and the rest of the team are still “dreaming”. Batman uses his Batarangs to shatter the tentacles, and free them.
Superman (Clark Kent) says he was reliving watching his father (John Kent) having a heart attack: he couldn’t save him. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) was watching his father’s plane crash. Flash (Barry Allen) asks what Graves’ “Spirits” did to them. Batman tells Barry the spirits seem to feed off of misery. He asks Cyborg (Vic Stone) where Graves ran off to. Vic says he went to Tracy Trevor’s home in Washington DC. Wonder Woman (Diana) says that Tracy is Steve Trevor’s sister.
At Tracy’s house, Graves is looking at her books. He sees that she has some of the books he wrote. She asks him want he wants. He says he want to help “ease the grieving process”. There is judgment after death, but it’s not instantaneous. Many souls wait for judgment. And there are some that are simply reborn in one of the four earthly rebirths. The Asuras is one of them. Graves tells Tracy that her brother is going to help him save the world from relying on false gods to protect it. Then he will be reunited with his family. He tells her that he’s sorry for the family loss that is to come, but she won’t have to watch the demise of her family as he did. He sits down across from her and etheric ghosts of his family join him. He says that he misses them.
Suddenly, the Justice League “jumps” into the room, but Grave quickly escapes. Diana asks if Tracy is okay, but Tracy blames her for everything. With tears in her eyes she demands to know,” why couldn’t you have stayed away from Steve?” Diana is shocked speechless at her anger. Tracy says that Wonder Woman broke Steve’s heart and destroyed his self-worth, but he still dedicated his life to her. Steve could be dead, and demands that Diana bring him home alive; or she’ll hunt her down.
Flash tells Diana that this isn’t her fault; she claims it is. She should not have gotten so close to Steve. Batman says he knows who has Steve: David Graves, the author. He wrote a book after the Darkseid incident. The League saved David and his family. It made them public favorites. Graves’ family died and he disappeared. Superman has his last known address: a cabin in Maine. Wonder Woman storms off saying she’s going to the cabin, cut off Graves’ head and bring back Steve Trevor.
Batman tries to stop her. This is a League mission; not a solo Wonder Woman mission. She tells him off, and walks on. Green Lantern uses a bubble to encase Diana, asking why she doesn’t trust them to help. She says it her fault; Steve is her responsibility. Hal tells Diana that Steve is important to all of them, not just her. She demands that he let her out of the green shell. He refuses, saying she needs backup. She punches through the green shield, shattering it, pushing Hal back, and knocking him into multiple cars. Hal gets up and rushes her, despite Barry’s protests. Diana slashes at Hal with her sword. Superman steps in to stop her, but she kicks him in the face, sending him flying back.
Batman tries to get the rest of them to clear the civilians that a started to gather, but Cyborg tell him that Graves has managed to broadcast this fight across the world, so everyone can see it. He can’t stop the signal. Batman tells Vic to “boom tube” all of them out of the area; so Vic does.
After the “boom tube”, Flash manages to stop Diana and Hal from fighting. Diana, suddenly calm, asks where they are. Cyborg has transported them to Graves writing cabin in Maine. Hal, Diana and Aquaman (Arthur), agree that working as a team is better than trying go solo; regardless of the their egos. Diana apologizes to Superman for kicking him. Batman finds some papers and a journal that should help them.
Graves’ family was visiting Metropolis when Darkseid attack. Afterwards, his wife got sick, and then his children. They died and then he got sick. The doctor didn’t know what it was, but he theorized that it was something that they were exposed to because of Darkseid’s appearance. So, Graves blames the League for his family’s death and his sickness. However; if that were true, others (more than just Graves’ family) would have gotten sick as well. Graves spent his life researching the mysteries of life and that’s why he went to Mount Sumeru. He blames the League for his family’s death, and went there (The Valley of Souls) to get his family back.
The team goes to The Valley of Souls, just as Graves did: To find answers. They can’t find an entrance but Cyborg sees one (since only those on the verge of death can see the entrance). They enter the caves and are surrounded by an electrical mist. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman all see the etheric mystical images of their dead loved ones, alive, and calling out to them. Cyborg only sees himself as a complete human again. Diana sees Steve Trevor’s ghostly image; he tells her that she’s too late.
“The Curse of Shazam: Chapter 5”, begins in the excavation site 45 miles north of Baghdad. Black Adam flies into a rage, killing some of the excavators and archeologists, demanding to know where “the wizard” is. Dr. Sivana, who can speak the same language as Black Adam, says he will help him find the wizard. In America, Billy and Freddy are trying to breaking into the Bryer’s Hummer. Billy accidently sets off the alarm and he pushes Freddy into a nearby bush to hide. Billy waits for the Bryer’s (father and sons) to come out of the house and he taunts them and runs off. They give chase. He takes them on a chase though the town and down into the subway, where one of them gets in a cheap shot (right in Billy’s nose) just as the subway doors close. Suddenly, there is a lightning strike inside the subway car. The subway car suddenly changes from a modern car into a Victorian-style car. Then, it comes to a sudden halt. Billy steps out of the car and notices he is in an ancient medieval castle with huge grand doors, dual staircases, and a lightning bolt emblazoned on the stone floor, as well as the wall.
It would appear that the turmoil is about to begin for each member of the Justice League. The control of their private personal lives, and their minds, has been invaded. They have started lashing out, and turning on each other, in frustration. Graves, it would appear, wishes to torment each Leaguer with their strongest emotional catalysts. He’s using their pain against them: Bruce Wayne’s slain parents, Hal Jordan’s dead father, Clark Kent’s dead earthly father, Arthur Curry’s father, Diana Prince’s Amazonian mother turned to stone (along with her feeling for Steve Trevor), Barry Allen’s dead mother, and Vic Stone painful wish that he was completely human again. It seems that the temple in the mountain releases spiritual imagery of ones most powerful yearnings. Will these emotional urges help or hinder the League as they battle Graves? Is Steve Trevor really dead, or is that just what Graves wants Diana to believe? The next issue is sure to shed light on these questions, while adding more trouble for the team. As for Billy Batson, Dr. Sivana, Shazam, and Black Adam, it seems that a millennia old prophesy is about to be fulfilled and each of them will play a pivotal part.
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