Comic Book Review: "Justice League #9"
The villain’s journey, prefaced in Justice League #7, finally begins in Justice League #9. “The Villain’s Journey: Chapter One: The Call For Adventure”, written by Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee, Gary Frank and Scott Williams, pits Batman (Bruce Wayne) Superman (Clark Kent) Cyborg (Victor Stone) Flash (Barry Allen) Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) against a man so bent on vengeance, that he is willing to use any mean necessary (be it releasing criminals, stealing memories, killing people and even using a man’s family as leverage) to destroy the Justice League. The backup story continues the adventure of Billy Barton’s new life with his foster family.
“The Villain’s Journey: Chapter One: The Call For Adventure” begins four years ago in Augusta, Maine. David Graves is wheel chaired and weak from his illness. He’s written book titled “Justice League: Gods Among Men”. He’s staring out the window. Doctor White comes in and tells him that his illness is getting worse. Maybe the Justice League can help him. He says that his past attempts to contact them have failed. He tells the doctor that they “cannot help me”. Then, White says, there is nothing more to be done for David’s illness. White knows another doctor who can help David die painlessly and peacefully. David pulls out a gun and shots White dead. “You couldn’t save me. They couldn’t save me. So I have to save myself”.
Today, in Washington DC, Steve Trevor is walking out of a liquor store when the media descend on him. Is he drinking his sorrows away over Wonder Woman? What’s really going on between her and Batman? Or Superman? Why did wonder woman dump him? He tells them off and goes to his sister, Tracy’s house for dinner. She tells him to try and have a life away from the Justice League and Wonder Woman. He’s says he’s too busy telling the Justice League what to do (since he’s the world’s liaison to the team).
In Gotham City, at Wayne Manor, in the Batcave: Bruce Wayne (Batman) in staring at a letter encased in glass. He’s remembering how he repainted his room as a child (after his parents died), because his mother painted it with his favorite color, but now he has no favorite color. On the news, the Justice League villain, known only as The Key, has caused an explosion at Arkham Asylum. Bruce tells Alfred that he won’t be making the meeting with Stagg Industries.
In Metropolis, at the Daily Planet, Lois Lane is the talk of the news room. Everyone is impressed with her. Everyone goes downstairs for lunch, but Clark Kent (Superman) is eating at his desk alone, no one invited him. He remembers as a child, he was never picked for a team sport until last. His cell phone goes off. “FROM BRUCE- got lunch plans?”
At Arkham Asylum, Batman and Superman are tackling the chaos. They need to find The Key. The lead pipes are obscuring Superman’s x-ray vision. Batman brought a map: Cyborg (Vic Stone); he teleports in to the asylum. He tells them that The Key is in the lower levels. Superman wonders why The Key would break into Arkham. Cyborg knows the layout well because of Batman’s secondary cameras and motion detractors that he secretly installed. Batman says he didn’t tell him about those. Cyborg informs him that he is plugged into EVERY computer in the world—even his. Cyborg remembers how he confronted his father about missing his game the day he was injured at S.T.A.R. labs. His father used experimental alien technology to save Vic (turning him into Cyborg). He and his father don’t speak anymore, outside his upgrades for the cybernetics. Vic still hasn’t forgiven him for using the nanites on him, even though it saved his life.
Steve Trevor comes home to find the TV on in his apartment. He takes out his gun and searches the darkened home. A voice in the shadows tells him that he hopes he’s read his book. The world may see him as Wonder Woman’s ex and the Justice League’s errand boy, but he knows better.
In Keystone City, The Flash and Green Lantern are standing in a crater created by the battle with the Weapons Master. They captured him and he’s all chained up in the van. They wonder who would want to release him from Iron Heights anyway. They decide to ask him. Flash wants to be bad cop this time—Green Lantern is always the bad cop. Hal recalls how he was always being busted by the cops and saying, “I’ve got rights”, and Flash was always telling the cops to go easy on people, “Hey, he’s got right”. Green Lantern agrees if Flash cleans up the mess. Weapons Master doesn’t buy Flash as bad cop and refuses to talk.
The guys have to call Wonder Woman to use her Lasso of Truth on him. She arrives and tells Hal, “I thought you were bad cop”. She remembers how, awhile back Steve Trevor stormed off. “If you’re not going to say it, don’t say anything”. He can’t stand how she doesn’t return his affection, but still want him around. Diana uses the Lasso on Weapons Master to get him to confess who released him. He says that, “he just wanted to know how to hurt you; each of you”.
At Arkham Asylum, Batman, Superman and Cyborg find The Key in a cell wrapped in a straightjacket. He says, “Lock The Key away. He got inside my mind. He stole it! He stole everything I knew about you!” Superman asks who; The Keys replies that, he “called himself, ‘Graves’”.
Steve Trevor sits in a chair in a darkened interrogation room, beaten and bloodied. He says that he won’t talk. His captor (presumably, David Graves) tells Steve that he will, and breaks his hand. “You will help me destroy the Justice League”. Steve will tell him how to gain access into the Watchtower (the Justice League’s orbital base), or he will kill his sister and her kids in front of him and then kill him. Steve Trevor finally relents.
In the back up story, “Curse of Shazam, Part 3”, by Geoff John and Gary Frank, Billy gets into trouble at school for defending his foster brothers and sisters from being bullied by three rich kids (he takes out all three of them). Ms. Peach, the Fawcett High principal, is on the side of the rich kids because their father gives huge donations to the school. He wants her to see to it that it doesn’t happen again. She tells Mr. Vasquez, Billy’s foster father, that Billy better watch it or he is out of that school. Outside, Billy confronts the rich guy about his kids. Tells him that he better keep them in line or he will. The father threatens both Billy and Mr. Vasquez, and drives off. On the other side of the world, 45 miles north of Bagdad, Doctor Sivana finds what he’s looking for at the dig site: an ancient door. He believes it must be the tomb of Black Adam. He tries to force the door and is hit in the face with magical electricity. The attack leaves a scar on his right temple and his right eye is glowing. He says he can see magic.
This first part of “The Villain’s Journey” is intriguing. Apparently, David Graves was once a huge fan of the League and thought the world of them, (even truly thinking they were gods, or at least god-like). He tried to reach them for help concerning his illness, but his calls went unanswered. Now that he is terminal, he plans to destroy the League. He wants to expose the truth: They are not the gods that his book professed them to be. It will be interesting to learn how he managed, not only to survive those four years, but what he did to regain enough strength to walk, steal men’s minds and break Trevor’s hands. The Justice League are at a disadvantage against a man with nothing to lose and has knowledge of all their weaknesses (it seems to be emotional weaknesses, instead of physical ones). The journey will continue in Chapter Two.
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