In the far flung future, on thousand years hence, the greatest superheroes of the present day have been revived to face a new threat How successful are they as they prepare to wrap up their first big arc? Your Major Spoilers review of Justice League 3000 #6 awaits!
Previously in Justice League 3000: In the darkest days of the 30th Century, faced with a superhuman threat known as “The Five”, two brilliant scientists from Project Cadmus found a way to revive the greatest legends of a previous heroic age, The Justice League! Though initially believed to be clones, the League has discovered that they are instead parasitic organisms, rogue metahuman DNA strands bonded to human hosts, with some of the powers and memories of the heroes of yore. The Flash has even been murdered and revived (at the cost of another innocent life) and the Wonder Twins of Cadmus have even developed a Firestorm to join the core five Leaguers. Unfortunately, they’ve come up against the most powerful member of the Five, a being known as Coeval. Is this the end of the Justice League 3000?
DARK AND BRUTAL
When it comes to Giffen and DeMatteis together, people often think of the ‘Bwah Ha Ha’ days of the Justice League, but what some may not remember is how incredibly dark that series was, and how bleak the world could be even with the heroes’ goofing. The future world of JL3000 is a dystopia in the worst sense of the world, a filthy, murderous land featuring cliché after cliché, with a villainous coterie of loons in charge. The issue opens with the heroes of the League facing Coeval (and LOTS of talking), only to have the villain teleport them all away with a metaphorical wave of his hand. The League finds themselves imprisoned, with Coeval coming to each of them through the computer implants that everyone in the 30th century has in their head, to try to talk them into joining his side. While Batman, Firestorm, Flash, Superman and Wonder Woman hear the villains’ parley, the sixth member of the Justice League, Green Lantern, has been shrunken down to six inches in height by reality warper Locus and left for dead…
…fortunately, reports of his demise something something Mark Twain misquote. Hal has discovered that his cloak was only a focusing device for the Emerald Energies of Oa, but former Cadmus genetic engineer Ariel has bad news for him: The cloak also kept the energy from destroying him from within. So, that sucks.
ALSO KIND OF DULL
There is an inherent problem for me with this book, in that everyone in it is utterly unlikable. Superman is an arrogant tool, Batman an elitist snarker, Wonder Woman is dull-witted and overly martial, and Firestorm is a duplicitous, self-serving jerk. The Flash doesn’t have a whole lot of character thus far, and even Green Lantern’s moment of heroism this issue is all about sound and fury and teeth-gnashing defiance rather than about a greater good. Everyone in the 30th Century has been beaten down by the system, and The Five are simply variations on the Hannibal Lecter school of uber-villainy, with Locus brutally murdering one of our heroes in an earlier issue just because and Coeval seemingly trying to con everyone in the galaxy. From a writing standpoint, this one is predictable and dry, with reams and reams of dialogue trying to convey the seriousness of the heroes’ plight, but since none of them seems particularly interested in DOING anything, it all calls for naught. Howard Porter’s art is intriguingly experimental throughout, and I find myself interested in his attempts to create a cohesive future world and technology. The style he is using for hair and faces is superficially inspired by manga, it seems, but the costume designs aren’t working for me (especially Batman’s blunt-eared helmet and Superman’s odd s-shield) and both Superman and Wonder Woman have been intentionally given unattractive features and hairstyles. There are some visually interesting moments throughout this issue (and in the previous five) but the overly talky story-telling has overwhelmed them at every turn, and as we set up for what the teaser promises will be an “all-out-action” issue in #7, I find myself entirely disinterested in reading more Justice League 3000.
THE BOTTOM LINE: VARIATIONS ON FAMILIAR THEMES
With the New 52, I have found myself troubled by the characterizations of the core members of the League (grim, hypercompetent Batman; a kind of douchey Superman; a cipher of a Wonder Woman; arrogant, cock-of-the-walk Green Lantern), but this series reminds me how much worse we could have it. The villains of the piece are the only ones who have charisma, and I find myself wondering why they wouldn’t WANT to join up with Coeval in such a terrible world. The answer, of course, is that they’re ostensibly the heroes, but the creators aren’t really succeeding in building up the Leaguers to be equal to the threat (although they make an effort this issue with Green Lantern, it’s somewhat undermined by Ariel reverently telling him that he’s living up to all his legends, overselling their point.) In short, Justice League 3000 #6 is a potpourri of things we’ve seen before, a dystopian future storytelling kit with familiar names on all-new characters, brought down by overwriting and excessive negativity, earning a very disappointing 1.5 out of 5 stars overall. While it’s clear what these talented creators are going for, it’s just not coming together in a way that’s any fun to read or particularly clear in its voice…