Here it is. My first review for the site. And what do I get assigned? The second part of a two-part story, of which I haven’t read the first! I looked to Max Eber’s review from last week to get me up to speed:
We open on Mars, fives years in the future. The internal monologues on page one reveals us to be at a prison “built to house the worst murderers and criminals in the universe”. The character musing is none other than Captain Atom. Apparently, some bad stuff has gone down; As in he is responsible for wiping out millions of innocent lives, to which he proclaims was for the betterment of all and to preserve the souls of billions more. This sounds vaguely familiar. Hm…
We’re thrust into the middle of a prison break, with the remnants of the Justice League and Justice League United trying to hold down the fort against such villainous favorites as Gorilla Grodd and Mongul. It appears that whatever swerves the solicitations were trying to give us about Martian Manhunter concocting a world domination plot were all just fluff. While acting as warden for the prison and using his telepathic abilities to keep the prisoners in a form of stasis, Grodd somehow got the upper hand on him and subdued him, using his own abilities to leave J’onn J’onzz incapacitated. This brings us to where we are now, a midst a full scale riot.
Captain Atom ascends to his God-like size and stature, destroying the prison in the process. The remainder of the issue deals with the Captain’s attempt to break through the force-field that envelopes the area, while what’s left of the League attempt to stop him. Standard comic book stuff ensues. We get a little switcharoo fun in and a nice little sappy tear-jerker towards the end.
Likes, dislikes and other stuff:
Jeff Lemire. Here’s a guy who is just scooping up projects left and right and ascending to A-list status as a writer. Problem is, I’m having a hard time keeping up. I have the first trade of Frankenstein starring at me, waiting to be read. I’ve only just gotten to his first Green Arrow arc. I did read his contributions to Trinity War, but that event didn’t do much for me (but it did get us to Forever Evil, which I loved). I’m curious to read his upcoming Teen Titans: Earth One original graphic novel. The guy can write. He’s good. No doubt about that. As one of the hive-mind members behind the Futures End weekly, I’m sure his contributions this month tie into that title nicely. But I’m not reading that either, nor have I had the chance to give JLU a shot. So me reviewing this in the first place is a bit precarious.
As a Captain Atom fan, it is a bit upsetting to see him depicted so mercilessly omnipotent. But, as I alluded to earlier, Lemire is rather blatantly taking a poke at Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen (for those unaware, Manhattan is based Atom. You can read about the whole early genesis of Watchmen and it’s direct ties to the Charlton characters just about anywhere on the web). I don’t know if this was Lemire’s attempt at commentary on the rather bleak finale of Watchmen and perhaps a slightly more hopeful outcome that could’ve been had. I do know that I’m looking forward to Grant Morrison’s take on similar material in next month’s Muliversity: Pax Americana, which will heavily play up on the Charlton/Watchmen ties even more so.
A comic review wouldn’t be complete without mention of the art. It’s nice to see these September issues usually giving lesser known names a shot at writing and drawing the books. Sometimes the results are quite the surprise. Other times, not so much. Here we have penciller/inker Jed Dougherty. His work is competent. He seems better at close-ups more so than wide-shots, but overall, the book flows fine.
If you read JLU: Futures End, you’ll likely pick this up. If you’re reading the Futures End weekly, you’ll likely pick this up. If you are just reading the Justice League monthly like myself, I can’t recommend this as a standalone issue, since it isn’t. Is it good? Sure. Is it great? Nah. Perhaps I’m not the most qualified to bestow final judgment. But for the sake of formality, I give it a thumbs up and three Daily Planet globes: