Comic Book Review: "Justice League #7"
The Justice League returns to the battle to protect the Earth in issue #7, “The Villain’s Journey: Prologue”. This issue, written by Geoff Johns, with guest artist Gene Ha, brings the team, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green lantern and the Flash, into the present day. This story gives us the broader view of the Justice League through the eyes of government, bureaucrats, and the media. It shows us how “normal” citizens view the team and gives us the behind the scenes minutiae of what it is like for a team like this to exist away from the glamour of the battlefield.
As the issue starts in Baltimore, Maryland, Colonel Steve Trevor, the Head of A.R.G.U.S. and liaison to the Justice League is fighting a group of monsters running rampant through the street attacking citizens. Crowds of people are running and reporters want to know where Justice League is. Suddenly, they show up and save the day; Steve Trevor isn’t happy.
Cyborg looks up info on their main target: Dr. Samuel Street, an army biological warfare specialist. He was delivering spores to A.R.G.U.S. when he was attacked by the “unknown intruder” who broke in to the Black Room and stole the Orb of Ra, leaving Street exposed to the virus (now he’s Spore). He is mutated and can spawn the monsters they were fighting early, by excreting seeds through his skin. He is at his ex-wife house (he was an abusive husband, and is enraged that she left him).
Batman comes up with a battle plan to stop Spore, but Green Lantern and Flash hastily run off saying they “got this”. Batman is angry at them, and just tells the rest to, “just go”. Green Lantern and Flash arrive at Street’s ex-wife’s home. Suddenly, dozens of monsters attack both of them. Then Spore attacks saying this between him and his wife. He is overpowering them, when Green Lantern is saved by Wonder Woman’s lasso and Aquaman attacks Spore with his trident. Superman finishes him off.
One hour later, at a press conference, Trevor tells the reporters that they are looking for the intruder who broke into the Black Room. The press changes the subject. They start questioning why the Justice League can’t just do the government’s job for them, since they can do everything better than the government. They could fix the economy and all the stuff the government is bad at: they are prefect heroes. He ends the press conference quickly; he’s heard this line of questioning before.
Afterward, Trevor is speaking in front of a congressional panel. They want to know if his relationship with Wonder Woman makes him biased toward protecting the League. He says, “No”, their relationship is strictly professional. Congress wants more control and access to the League and their orbital space station, The Watchtower. He scoffs at the idea, saying if Congress doesn’t trust them, then they won’t return the trust. The public already wants the League to do congress’s job and questioning the league loyalties and intentions will just make things worse; what would Superman find if he X-rayed these people’s offices? The panel is shocked and quickly starts apologizing for being offensive. Trevor leaves in a tiff.
Later, he calls The Watchtower. Wonder Woman (Diana) answers. He’s checking up on them to see if they need anything. In the background, everyone is bickering amongst themselves. Batman’s mad at GL and Flash for not listening to him. Also, they want more stuff from A.R.G.U.S. Diana is a bit ashamed of how they are acting like children. She asks Steve why he is still dealing with Congress for them. He says it’s because someone has to. There’s an awkward silence between them, then she signs off. He is a bit crestfallen.
His new aid, Etta Candy, overhears most of the conversion and notices the tension between Wonder Woman and Steve. She asks about it. He says he’s in love with Diana. He’s told her, and that’s it; Nothing.
Somewhere, someone is writing in a journal about how to destroy the Justice League. It’s not a weapon. The key to destroying the Justice League is Colonel Steve Trevor.
In the backup story, “Shazam!” by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, 37 other people around the world have had the same experience: go work, get in an elevator, and was in a bolt of lightning, are suddenly transported in front of an old man on a throne. He is asking them questions and then suddenly he gets mad saying “No! Not you” and then, “Shazam!” Suddenly, they’re back in the elevator. Doctor Sivana believes that these mystical abductions are related the legend of Black Adam: he was a slave who was able to go to the Rock of Eternity, learn from the world’s first sorcerers, and save the country of Khandaq from the Seven Sins. Sivana needs to save his family. Science has failed him and now he needs magic to save them. Seven months later, in Philadelphia, young Billy Barton is trying to get into a new foster family. He meets with his current caretaker, Mrs. Glover, and couple interested in him. They agree to take him in. Everything is all smiles and good cheer until they leave. He thinks they’re idiots. Mrs. Glover tells him not to screw it up. He tells her to relax; they had a deal, he stays out of her life and she, his life. The “Voiceover” says that Billy Barton is a trouble kid. He’s running through the streets when a lightning bolt strikes. “But to save the world from evil he must become Shazam!”
This issue is a really interesting take on the inner workings of an organization like the Justice League. Most comics gloss over the dirty issues of politics, money and trust issues among the government elite and nigh-unstoppable superheroes. It’s funny to see Green Lantern, Flash, Batman, and Cyborg argue and complain like little children about things like more food, because, “I took some home because I forget to go the store,” or, “Tell my dad to stop bugging me” or “you were supposed to do it MY way!” This story, which takes place in the present day (five years after the first six-issue story), still show their disdain for each other. They still have a hard time getting along, working as a team or sometimes even acting like adults. The back-up story is the prologue to a Shazam monthly series in the pages of JL. It is an interesting setup for Billy Barton, now a troubled kid, will be interesting to see how it plays out. As with every issue so far; can’t wait for the next one.
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