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Comic Book Review: "Justice League #12"
The Villain’s Journey comes to a heartfelt and painful conclusion in the 12th issue of DC Comics New 52 Justice League. “Rescue From Within” written by Geoff Johns, with art by Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, David Finch, Joe Prado, and Scott Williams, delivers a string of shocking and surprising revelations and decisions that change everything that the last 11 issues (and the first year of the DC reboot) have established. The infighting and mistrust inside the Justice League has been exposed to the world and now the team members (Aquaman / Arthur Curry, Batman / Bruce Wayne, Cyborg / Vic Stone, The Flash / Barry Allen, Green Lantern / Hal Jordan, Superman / Clark Kent, and Wonder Woman / Diana Prince) have to face their own personal faults, each other and the madman David Graves in the Sumera temple in order to save the world from his diabolical plans.
“Rescue From Within” begins with a news broadcast of the battle between Wonder Woman and Green Lantern that Graves recorded and broadcasted across the world as proof that the Justice League was not a reliable team to protect the world (since they couldn't protect Graves' family and million could die) because the Justice League can’t even get along with each other and they are dangerous, loose cannons.
On TMZ there is an expose on Steve Trevor’s first meeting with Wonder Woman; how he crash-landed on the Amazonian island, how the two came back to USA and started dating. Then she suddenly ended it. Then, yesterday, he was kidnapped by David Graves (the author who penned "Justice League: Gods Among Men"). Four years earlier David was diagnosed with the same illness that killed his family and had not been seen since. It was believed he killed himself after killing his doctor, but he was seen visiting Trevor’s sister, Tracy, and her children. Tracy is seen being interviewed on TV, blaming the Justice League for what happened to her and her brother.
At Mount Sumera, in the Mystic Valley Of Souls, Diana is looking at the ghost of Steve Trevor. He tells her that she was too late—too late to save him, she needs to let him move on. Superman is hearing his dead earth parents tell him that they wish he was not alone. Batman’s murdered parents are shocked that he’s trying to avenge them--they are happy; they want him to be happy too. Aquaman’s dead father is questioning him stilling being "Aquaman", Barry’s dead sister wants him to live his life. Green Lantern’s dead father is rebuking him for not getting his life together. Cyborg is talking to his fully human-self; it's telling him that the real Vic Stone is dead--he’s just a machine that thinks it’s Vic Stone. All the ghost tell the team members that there is one way to be happy, so they can all be together. The ghosts change into demons and attack them.
The ghosts begin to latch on and envelope Diana and Superman tries to save her. But the electric tentacles monster subdued them all.
Graves walks into the fray and explains that he knows that he’s finally won. He’s destroyed the Justice League, but he’s not out to destroy all of them. In learning about each of them, of their weaknesses, he knew what would hurt them the most. Except for Wonder Woman; she needed a human death, Steve Trevor’s death, to feel that true pain. But now that the world knows they are as damaged as everyone else. Graves is going to help them all again; he's going to support them now
He plans to use the Justice League to destroy the Sumera temple and free the spirits. Then he will reunite everyone on earth with their dead loved one again; Just like him and his family.
Suddenly, Graves is shot in the neck. It’s Steve Trevor; bloodied and bruised, but very much alive. The team members, realizing that if Trevor is alive then the ghost spirits aren’t they real families and they break free of the bonds. Superman attacks Graves and Steve runs to Diana. She asks him how he survived. He explained that he escaped. Graves proclaims that Steve has to be dead for this plan to work. Diana attacks Graves and shouts that he’s the only one dying.
Aquaman asks want the spirits are. Batman explains that they are “Pretas”: spiritual parasites that feed off living people. The Pretas don’t seem like Cyborg’s white noise blast or Green Rantern ring light and the two fight them off.
Batman says they need to “exorcise” the spirits form Graves. He tells Vic and Hal to keep up the attack on Graves and tells Superman to use his heat vision. The crystal ice that encases Graves isn’t melting, but it shatters as Aquaman attacks it with his staff. Hal hears screaming children, but Batman explains it’s not Graves children, or his wife, and they need to believe that to defeat the demons.
Finally, the crystal shatters completely and Graves, reduced / returned to his fragile, sickened state falls to the ground, defeated. He cries that his family has been taken from him again. Batman tell him that they weren’t his family, and deep down inside, he knew it all along.
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24 hours later, in Washington D.C. at the Medical Care Unit of A.R.G.U.S., Steve Trevor is in a hospital bed recovering from his ordeal. Diana comes to visit him. She tells him that despite the two of them not being together and not seeing each in over a year, he’s still too close to her and the League. She’s going to ask for a new liaison for the team. He scoffs at her: “Steve Trevor dumped by Wonder Woman again” and tell her to leave him alone.
The news explains that Colonel Trevor is in stable condition and David Graves is confined to heavy security at Belle Reve prison. But the rumors about the League causing more trouble then they are protecting the earth from persist. Is the Justice League defunct?
At the Watchtower, Aquaman tells Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Cyborg that it’s time they became the team they should be, not the dysfunctional team they’ve been for the last five years. They made mistakes and Graves family died. (They defeated Darkseid, but the ash from his Omega Beam Blasts might have caused their illness and deaths).
They can save the earth every day, but they can’t save everyone on it. Green Lantern says his quitting the League. The Justice League can still do their job, but it needs the world's support to be able to protect it, and he’ll play the scapegoat. They can blame him for the team's internal problems, since he started the fight with Wonder Woman. Flash, Batman and Aquaman protest. But Hal’s made up his mind and leaves the Watchtower.
Back on earth, in Washington D.C., Superman finds Wonder Woman sitting on the roof of the Lincoln Memorial and asks how Steve is. She’s says that he’s angry. Diana tells Superman that she once thought that relationships were easy and simple, but they are very complicated; especially for people like them. Superman tell her that he has a secret identity, Clark Kent, to protect the people that he’s close to. Diana muses that they aren't like Zeus, but they aren’t like normal people either. Clark says they not like anyone. Diana asks Clark if he ever feels alone; he answers, yes. Then the two of them embrace and kiss.
At Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana at Belle Reve Prison, Amanda Waller visits David Graves in his cell, and tells him that the experience he had with spirits has slowed his disease, but he’ll still die. She brings him a typewriter and tells him to write a book for her, “How To Destroy The Justice League” or something like that. If he does, she’ll “take care of the rest”. He begins typing, “The Villain’s Journey”.
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There are a few big “shockers” in this issue. The first is that Green Lantern, one of the core members of the Justice League, has decided to quit the team. It seems like a huge personality face lift for Hal Jordan, since he’s usually the self-centered one. Perhaps this experience with Graves has taught him a strong personal lesson about what is really important. The second shocker is Wonder Woman and Superman kissing and apparently becoming a permanent couple. Anyone who has read Wonder Woman’s series and Superman’s series from the beginning of the reboot knows that neither of them have a significant other. Superman’s normal crush, Lois Lane, doesn’t care about either Superman or Clark in any real way (having a boyfriend of her own) and Wonder Woman is too busy trying to save the world from an Olympic prophesy that can destroy both heaven and earth. Some people have cried foul about Clark and Diana being together, but this hasn’t been the first time (see: Kingdom Come); although this time is seem to be planned as a long-lasting relationship. And the third shocker is Amanda Waller asking David Graves to write a book about how to destroy the Justice League. She tells him that she’ll “take care of the rest”. Whatever that may be, it doesn’t sound good. Now that the first year of the Justice League has come to pass, it will be interesting to see just how much more excitement is to come in the following year.