REVIEW: Justice League #10

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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!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #10
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…

LOTTA GIANTS IN THE NEW 52…

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.

SECRETS, LIKE SPLINTERS UNDER A NAIL.

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.

THE VERDICT: STILTED

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: ★★★☆☆