Justice League: Geoff Johns, Gene Ha, Art Lyon, Patrick Brosseau, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Shazam!: Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson, Nick J. Napolitano
Alright, so I was a little worried what the next issue would be for this series after wrapping up the first arc. It looks like we are treated to a couple of really great surprises in the beginning of the next story. First of all…the very first words we see in the issue: “Present Day.” Wow, that’s a huge step, I think. It’s definitely something I didn’t see coming. The Justice League is a different animal now, and work together as a team a lot better…but not perfectly. Of course there are moments where they don’t jive, like when Green Lantern continues to jab at Batman. This part was pretty funny…just seeing the expression of growing rage on Batman’s face. Another big surprise is the guest artwork by Gene Ha! It’s really fantastic work, too, with some excellent visuals on the faces of the people of the world, and of our Justice League as well. Everyone looks so realistic and quite different from each other. It’s wonderful. That first splash page of the League attacking the Seeds of Spore is incredible. Look at Wonder Woman’s face there! Then we get one of the weirdest moments of exposition I’ve yet seen. After chasing off the Seeds, or rather…after a splash page of the League fighting the Seeds, they all stop to talk about what they’re doing there. Cyborg pulls up some hologram stuff and explains Dr. Street and all, but it’s weird because it’s almost like they just stopped while fighting all the Seeds to talk. It’s like the only confirmation we get that they were able to beat all the Seeds is that Green Lantern says they’re on the run. We get to see Spore finally as the team confronts him, and the monster looks GREAT. I love all the crazy rock-like formations and mouths all over the guy. Green Lantern steals the show, however, with his dialog. “I hate being saved by Wonder Woman,” while being roped by the lasso of truth, and, “So, you’re divorced, huh?” while he saves Dr. Street’s ex-wife. I think some of the best parts of this issue is all the political craziness poor Colonel Steve Trevor has to deal with both in press conferences and with Congress. This is the kind of thing I think needs to be addressed in a world with superheroes. It’s really important to remember that this supposed to be a real world that these people live in, and there are always repercussions and consequences to these “gods among men” acting alongside normal people who wish to use these supermen-and-women to help them, but also to control them in whatever aspect they can. I love the mention of the Super-Friends, too. It’s just too funny. Then, with all the accusations that Trevor is hooking up with Wonder Woman, we see that Steve does have some feelings for her…and Wonder Woman may even have some back, though it’s hard to tell for sure. The video call between Trevor and the Watchtower is pretty amusing, but it’s also a little sad too, what with Steve’s and Diana’s expressions to all the background. They just want a private moment, I’m sure. I love the screen effects we see on the art here, to make it look like their faces are on the monitors. There’s actually no direct view of anyone’s faces in this sequence, just the live chat screens. Finally, after being saved by the Justice League, and praising them in his book, last issue, author David Graves is suddenly writing some pretty dark things about them. It’s been five years, so I’m sure anything could have happened to have Graves change his outlook, and I’m very interested to see just what caused the man to flip like this. Despite that trip-up I experienced in the beginning of the issue with the strange exposition technique, it’s a very good follow-up story to the previous arc. It sets up a new time and era for the superheroes, though it doesn’t fully catch us up to modern day events. We’re still left to wonder where in the respective heroes’ timelines they are at this point…and I can understand that. I didn’t expect them to just start shouting out what they do in their spare time (in their own titles). I would’ve hated that. So as the story continues, I’m sure we’ll get to understand the full picture. I like the title of this issue, “The Villain’s Journey.” It’s obviously an allusion to the classic “hero’s journey” method of storytelling in literature, but with the tale of a villain instead. I’m interested in seeing who it’ll turn out to be, and what kind of ties they’ll have to the pre-relaunch DC universe, if any. Now…the introduction of another iconic DC hero, which is now (apparently) permanently ongoing in the back of the Justice League issues: SHAZAM! So, yes, Captain Marvel is now called “Shazam.” I think it’s going to be difficult for him to have a name that transforms him back and forth between hero and boy. But hey, wasn’t it a legal battle over the name that caused the change? I can go with it. In any case…this second-issue is GREAT. I like how it starts, too, with me - the reader - going, “THAT’S NOT BILLY. WHAT THE EFF ARE YOU DOING?! DON’T YOU DARE MAKE HIM SHA—oh.” It fooled me, I’ll admit it. I like that there’s this secret dude secretly researching the secret Shazammy abductions and the references to Black Adam. Surely that’ll be really fun to see. I’m excited to see if he gets any sort of awesome redesign. Then we meet Billy…and the little kid charmed me. He’s the perfect foster child! But…there’s always a catch. I like that we get a glimpse of Shazam right here in the first issue, but it’s a little disjointed and unexplained how Billy got the powers. But I’m sure we’ll see soon. He’s an interesting character, and I like the troubled take on him, and it’ll be fun to see how he’s developed in the coming issues.
Justice League #7, the verdict: Pretty incredible. I love the hints we’re getting for the coming story, and I’m loving the Shazam stuff. Fun fact, I read my Shazam short on my new Android phone with the DC Comics app, and it was really fun watching the page move along panel to panel, kind of like a motion comic. I can definitely see how this can be a big part of the future of comic-reading. Though, for me…nothing will beat the feel of the paper in my hands. And I love Gene Ha’s artwork on this issue. The whole guest team is outstanding, and - as much as I love Jim Lee’s work - I wouldn’t mind if this were a more permanent change. Gary Frank’s pencils on Shazam are really great too. I wonder if he’ll be a staple to the second-issue, or if that team will change more often. I would definitely like to see other DC artists tackle the character, but I don’t want to get bum-rushed by all kinds of art styles in a character I’m trying to absorb and get used to.
(Photo Source: ScienceFiction.com)