Or – “Aquaman: Secret Superstar.”

The man called Graves has set his sights on the League, while Doctor Sivana seeks a mysterious treasure in the middle east.  I’m afraid that that none of the heroes ready for what’s coming.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker(s): Scott Williams, Mark Irwin & Jonathan Glapion
Colorist(s): Alex Sinclair, Gabe Eltaeb, Tony Avina & HiFi
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Justice League:  He calls himself Graves.  Once an advocate of the Justice League, he now uses some sort of arcane power against them, trying to destroy the alliances within the team.  Of course, for a team that’s been together for five years, the League really doesn’t seem to have a lot of trust for one another, which makes for a lot of ammunition…


The first third of this issue is spent on the origin of the villain, Graves, and the reasons for his hatred of the JL.  I have to say that I like the attention given to the character, and am interested in his story, but I sincerely and completely hate both his name and visual.  His monstrous look is a cross between Helspont and Doomsday, and seems pure 90’s, especially the images of his lost family etched on his wrists.  The issue reads pretty quickly going from origin to a brief solo bit with Aquaman (who comes off as adult, heroic and awesome, though people are still giving him static about his “joke hero” status in this issue) straight to the JL satellite.  Johns takes a good portion of the issue to once again showcase the uneasy interactions between the Leaguers, something that seems a bit odd after five years of adventures together.  Cyborg comes across as unnecessarily Vulcan, Hal Jordan is an immense jerk, and Superman is a vaguely threatening figure hovering in the shadows.  I suspect that all the character moments played with here are going to be important to us (i.e. there may come a day when the team doesn’t slap-fight like a batch of American Idol contestants) but I’m quite relieved when Graves arrives to end the sniping.


Of course, the villain showing up on the satellite is a problem, and when Wonder Woman takes the offensive, Graves quickly turns it into a one-sided curbstomp battle, leaving all seven Leaguers on the ground as he intones that “The Justice League killed my family,” promising that the world would know of their evil deeds.  The second story (Shazam! featuring Billy Batson) is better, character-wise, as Billy and a strangely-blonde Freddy Freeman learn a bit more about each other.  The story features appearances by Sivana, works Mr. Tawny into the modern narrative in a fascinating way, and ends with a VERY familiar face for Captain Marvel Shazam fans emerging from a tomb in the Middle East.  The downside comes in that Gary Frank’s Thaddeus Sivana looks indistinguishable from his Lex Luthor, while Freddy Freeman is a dead ringer for Squadron Supreme’s Joe Ledger.  Even that can’t kill the excitement of the last panel, which promises that we may finally get to see Cap’n Shazam in action against a character whose power kind of defines him.


Having missed issue #9 (it’s back-ordered from Diamond), I don’t know how much setup I might be missing for the events of this issue, but once again I find myself thinking that this Justice League series is the polar opposite of the 2006 book.  Where that book had too many characters swirling about in too much plot, this one seems to be all about character moments, to the point of de-emphasizing the plot elements TOO much.  Geoff Johns has clear ideas of whom each Justice Leaguer is, but if you don’t share those expectations (his Wonder Woman is entirely too passive, his Green Lantern too hyper-masculine and mouthy for my taste), the book can be off-putting.  Still, the art is quite well-done throughout, and you can’t fault Jim Lee and Gary Frank from drawing like… well, like Jim Lee and Gary Frank.  Justice League #10 isn’t perfect, but seems to be heading in a direction that won’t be as alienating, and the Shazam backup is starting to pickup steam, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  If we could get one more likeable (ideally, likeable and female) character in the title, this one shows elements of greatness…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. B.V.K.
    July 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm — Reply

    I am actually starting to look forward to the Shazam stories as much as the JL itself. If/when it becomes its own title I think it would earn a spot on the pull list. Is it just me or does the cover of this issue have a very Blackest Night vibe to it?

  2. Arbor Day
    July 2, 2012 at 9:52 pm — Reply

    Superman’s corpse has a weird expression. It feels like an homage to something but I can’t think of what.

  3. July 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm — Reply

    Issue #9 is probably available on the shelf at the nearest Barnes & Noble. That’s where I read it….

    • July 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm — Reply

      Given my employment at the local comic store, I can wait for the reorder without going to the competition. :)

      • brainypirate
        July 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm — Reply

        Ah, I see. Although I doubt B&N will ever really be much competition for an LCS–except for customers under 10. :-)

  4. Joe
    July 3, 2012 at 5:47 am — Reply

    I can’t wait until the wheel of comics turns away from Geoff Johns. I’m so sick and tired of decompressed storytelling and pithy winky wink character moment garbage. Meanwhile, absolutely NOTHING happens to advance the plot for months at a time.

    In my perfect world, a few years down the road people are looking back at Geoff Johns work the same way they look at Rob Liefeld’s today. (Except Liefeld seems like a nice guy, and I imagine Johns is a jerk. Maybe because of the way he writes Green Lantern.)

  5. Ian
    July 3, 2012 at 7:03 am — Reply

    The villain looks “90s”? Well there’s a shocker! Since Lee took over the whole freaking company looks “90s”. Fits right in with all the crappy redesigns.

  6. Ravishing Richie
    July 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm — Reply

    Is it wrong to flip to the Shazam feature first, then read the JL story? The JL story is not bad, and as mentioned by Mr. Peterson, we get to see snippets of the characters’ personalities. It seems at times quite a bit to juggle when you have multiple super heroes like the JL.

    Shazam on the other hand, seems to focus the right amount of time, but then again, it focuses on a few characters, not a whole super team. My only hope is that when Billy turns into “Shazam”, he doesn’t require multiple people to make up Shazam like they did in “Flashpoint”. Let each of them have their own power and make them the “Marvel/Shazam” Family like they did years ago.

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