Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Justice League #12 - The Kiss That Shocked (and Aroused) The World
I know it's been a long time since I reviewed a DC comic on this blog. If you haven't killed as many brain cells as I have, you would remember that there was a time when I reviewed DC comics regularly on this blog. Hell, I reviewed the entire fucking Brightest Day series from beginning to end. There are a number of reasons why I had to stop reviewing DC comics, most of which involved having too little time and a shitty meth dealer who shall go nameless. But just because I haven't been reviewing too many DC comics doesn't mean I've stopped reading them. Hell, since the New 52 began, I've been reading more DC comics than I have since Brightest Day. I haven't had too many opportunities to review any of them, mostly because there's been so much crazy shit going on in Marvel involving cosmic parrots and red-haired, green eyed women NOT named Jean Grey. But then something came along that actually made national fucking news and I just couldn't hold my wad anymore.
A few weeks ago, I reported that DC leaked the ending of Justice League #12 by saying Superman and Wonder Woman would hook up. And this shit wasn't just big news for comics. This shit made national fucking headlines. Apparently, it's a big fucking deal with the most famous alpha male superhero of all time hooks up with the most famous alpha male superhero of all time in a way that's not some cheap gimmick. It's been pointed out by a number of major sources that the idea of Superman and Wonder Woman bumping uglies is not new. But most of the time, it turns out to be a ruse or part of some alternate universe. And in comics, alternate universes are basically glorified fanfiction minus the part where the writers don't get paid jack shit for all their work. When this shit happens in the main continuity, it tends to either royally fuck up the main series or take it in a bold new direction or a mixture of the two. Seeing as how Superman's penis has been exclusively reserved for Lois Lane since the fucking Great Depression, it is a big fucking deal when that relationship is essentially ditched so something new and potentially bonerific is introduced. As such, I'm prepared to end my long sabbatical on reviewing DC comics and post a full review of Justice League #12.
Now it would take me at least six blog posts to cover all the shit that has happened since the New 52 began. I only reviewed some of the early issues and a lot has happened since then to say the very least. So for the sake of the assholes who claim I'm not attentive to detail, here's a quick rundown of what's been going on in Justice League. The first arc was basically a prelude, a look back five years into the past when superheroes were still a novel concept and before anyone thought Apple could make a decent smart phone. The next arc and the one that's culminating in Justice League #12 depicts the fucked up logistics of having a superhero team in the world of youtube, TMZ, and a Congress with a lower approval rating than Todd Akin's support with women voters. The early issues shows how this has royally fucked up the life of Colonel Steve Trevor, who historically has been Wonder Woman's closest parallel to what Lois Lane is to Superman. While Trevor does come off as a douche at times, you can't help but feel sorry for the guy because he flat out told Wonder Woman he was in love with her and she just shrugged her shoulders and said, "Fuck, and I just thought men only loved certain parts of a woman." Okay, so maybe she was nicer about it, but you get the idea.
The point of the Steve Trevor story is that he's basically the public whipping boy for the Justice League. He's like Lindsey Lohan's publicist, having to do the impossible and give the impression that it's okay to trust the League implicitly with protecting the world without any kind of governmental oversight. He might as well be tasked with convincing the entire Catholic Church that God wants them to jerk off to gay porn for six hours a day. Well in addition to having this impossible job, Steve Trevor also makes himself a target by being the official PR guy for the League. But not to your typical bad guys like Lex Luthor, Braniac, or the Christian Coalition.
The second arc of Justice League deals with a villain that's a bit more devious and a bit more fucked up than your typical bad guy. He actually showed up in the first arc. Back then, he was just David Graves. After the Justice League took on Darkseid, he wrote a book that sold better than 50 Shades of Grey and Harry Potter combined that basically made the Justice League out to be modern day gods. You would think this guy would be the last person to fall in with a bad crowd and you would also have to believe that good people don't routinely get screwed over in both comics and the real world. If you sincerely believe that, stop taking whatever pills you are taking and see a neurosurgeon right away.
The past few issues of Justice League have shown how David Graves has not only lost his mind, but basically been fucked over worse than the guy who invested all his money in Facebook stock. His wife and children were overcome with a mysterious illness that killed them all. Then he got sick and was on the verge of dying as well. And in his twisted mind of illness and agony (and probably some kickass prescription drugs, he blamed the Justice League for his suffering). So he hatched this elaborate scheme that may or may not be a side-effect of said drugs to go to this mystical place called Mount Sumeru where the souls of the dead allegedly wait to be judged before entering the afterlife. It's basically what the Catholic Church thinks happens when you die, minus the part where Jesus drop kicks gays into Hell. From there, he somehow managed to tap into the power of this mystical place to become this walking death cult. He used his power to kidnap Steve Trevor and torture him so he could get to the Justice League and lure them to Mount Sumeru. It actually worked remarkably well, once again vindicating Dick Cheney's justifications for torture.
Justice League #12 doesn't start off with Superman and Wonder Woman bumping uglies, but mainly continues this story with David Graves as the League confronts his newfound death-loving powers. Now at Mount Sumeru, he's able to haunt them with ghostly images of their friends and loved ones. Superman sees his parents, Batman sees his parents, Green Lantern sees his father, and...okay, you can probably figure out the rest. And Wonder Woman sees Steve Trevor, who she promised to save but ends up being too late. So not only did she break his heart and his balls, but she got his ass killed. It creates the kind of psychological torture that the League is not equipped to handle and makes for a very spooky scene that allows Jim Lee to once again show why he's the comic book art equivalent of Pablo Picasso.
But Graves isn't just out to torment the Justice League with ghostly images of their loved ones. He actually tries to come off as sympathetic by saying he plans on destroying Mount Sumeru so that the spirits of the dead would be free to reunite with their relatives. It sounds noble on paper, even if Graves looks like something Freddy Kruger shat out on one of his victims. But it also leaves me wondering if that was his goal all along, then why the fuck get the Justice League involved? I get that he blames them for killing his family, but why invite them to party before the keg has been tapped? He's just asking for trouble. So while Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make an admirable effort to have Graves appear as sympathetic, he just comes off as a dumb ass.
As expected, Grave's piss poor planning comes back to bite him. While he appears to have the Justice League under his thumb, he conveniently forgets that he didn't torture Steve Trevor enough. He shows up in the fight looking like someone who just went 15 rounds with Mike Tysons and Muhammad Ali on meth armed with only a gun. And not some magic, ghost-killing gun. I'm talking the same gun Rick Perry probably keeps under his pillow. It seems less gutsy and more batshit insane. Graves just subdued the fucking Justice League. Yet Steve Trevor thinks he can take him on? He may not be worthy of Wonder Woman's pussy, but he's still worthy of plenty of respect.
The arrival of Steve Trevor does more than just throw off Graves and remind him why good villains are more thorough when it comes to torturing innocent people. It inspires the Justice League to fight back. They now know that these ghostly forms that appear to be their loved ones aren't real. In fact, they aren't even ghosts. They're called Petras, which are essentially the spiritual equivalent of tapeworms. They feed off the spirits of their victims in the same way Jerry Springer feeds off the tears of redneck transvestite strippers. That just means the Justice League won't have to deal with a touch of guilt in crushing them. Plus, it gives Wonder Woman a window with which to beat the shit out of Graves. Even though he's a misguided old man, you don't win any fucking sympathy from a woman scorned.
It's a quick, flashy fight. Almost too quick in some ways because Graves really is in no position to put up a fight. He's not fucking Lex Luthor or Darkseid. He's a sick old man for whom senility has kicked his ass. Even though Johns and Lee still try to make him come off as sympathetic as he begs the Justice League to kill him, you still don't feel too bad when the League just watches him squirm. And any sympathy you might have had for Graves pretty much goes out the window when Batman points out that he knew these ghostly parasites weren't his family. He just didn't want to believe it. And since Batman is the one saying it, he's got no hope of arguing. He might as well be OJ Simpson speaking out against spousal abuse. So in the end Graves wasn't misguided. He was just batshit insane. And I think the Justice League has enough of those in their rogue's gallery.
Later on after the League gets tired of watching an old man whine like a little bitch, Wonder Woman catches up with Steve Trevor in the hospital. It's a tense moment, but one the readers were probably expecting after seeing the cover. In order for Wonder Woman to swap spit with Superman, she needs to set aside Steve Trevor. She tries to play up the Peter Parker angle, which became defunct after One More Day. She says just knowing her led to his torture and she just can't have that. She can't have a guy close to her who is so fragile that the muscles in her pinkie toe could sever his spine. And she's pretty cold about it too, saying she doesn't want him to be the League's liaison anymore. So not only is she dumping his ass for a second time. She's firing him as well. Even Ann Coulter would raise an eyebrow at this point.
But she doesn't come off as entirely cold. Wonder Woman makes it clear that she still cares about Steve and doesn't want him to get hurt. He then points out that he's a soldier. Getting hurt is part of the job description and he was putting his ass on the line long before he was checking out hers. In the end he's the one that tells her off, saying she can go ahead with finding a new liaison. But she's running scared in a way that isn't very warrior-like. So even though he's wounded, he sounds like the one with the balls. And against Wonder Woman, that's saying something.
Without Steve Trevor or some pretty face to keep Congress and the UN off their backs, the Justice League is stuck doing damage control on their own. If that weren't tedious enough, Batman points out that they may have actually been responsible for what happened to Grave's family. So in some respects he wasn't completely insane in claiming that the League screwed him over. Granted, it was a result of him being too close to Darkseid's omega beam, but I guess it's just easier to torment the Justice League than it is Darkseid. But in the course of this battle, the League is hit with some rather lousy press due to footage of them fighting leaking out into the media. And in the era of youtube and Fox News, even heroes/gods get belittled by the Glenn Becks of the world. They're forced to conclude that they need to get their shit together and without Steve Trevor. Green Lantern decides to use a temporary fix by having him take the fall for the fight and quit the league. It's like solving a stubbed toe by cutting it off. It's a bit excessive, but when you're dealing with government and media there's no such thing as subtle.
Now the stage is finally set for the big moment. Wonder Woman has left Steve Trevor at the hospital upset, demoralized, and saddened. So she skips the meeting with the rest of the Justice League and sets up shop on top of the Lincoln Memorial. Superman, who probably doesn't care to see Batman explain how fucked the League is either, catches up with her and tries to cheer her up. It doesn't sound like he intends to swap some bodily fluids, but it's clear they're both quite vulnerable. Wonder Woman talks about how confusing relationships are. It's easy to forget that she comes from an island of warrior women for whom men are either target practice or sperm factories. She doesn't know the first thing about how a man and a woman can get along. I'm pretty sure nobody in the history of the world has ever been able to understand that shit, but given where she came from her confusion is understandable.
Superman tries to be Superman and say all the right things. He points out that relationships are even more complicated since they aren't even close to being normal. He's an alien from another world. She's a woman from a mystical island of warrior women. They really don't have anyone in the world to relate to. There's no dating sight for people like them. Even though Superman has an alternate ego in Clark Kent, that ego is essentially a mask. In the New 52, nobody knows Clark Kent is Superman. Both his parents are dead. His relationship with Lois has been One More Dayed. He's alone in the same way Wonder Woman is alone. She's Zeus's daughter and her own sisters consider her an abomination. That and her mother fucking lied to her for most of her life. She's got nobody to turn to. So when they each establish how alone they are, what happens next is neither surprising nor unfitting.
It happens. Superman and Wonder Woman kiss. For once, the cover was not a bullshit ruse. DC is basically telling Marvel here to take all their phony Jean Grey covers and fuck off. Because in this moment where Superman and Wonder Woman come together, it doesn't feel like a gimmick or just something for fanfiction writers to turn into porn. These two characters are very alone in the New 52. They have nobody they can get close to. They have nobody they can share all their intimate secrets with. They already work together and trust each other in the Justice League. It may not be the best set of circumstances under which to hook up, but they definitely work. They work in ways that'll bring a tear to your eye while making your dick or clit hard as a slab of granite. For everything DC has done in the build-up to this moment with all the news coverage and what not, it still makes for an immensely satisfying scene.
I'll give fanboys and fanfiction writes a moment to contemplate how they can turn the previous scene into something they can jerk off to. It would have been a nice way for the issue to end, but it would have also been too fucking sappy. This is a Justice League comic in the post New 52 eras. It's not a massage parlor in Bankok where a happy ending is expected. There always has to be room for some more to stench up the story down the line and this issue is no exception. The final scene revisits Graves in a prison, who is still sick and dying and understandably pissed at the Justice League. So it's a given that someone like Amanda Waller will come along and ask him to write another book. She already gives him a title, "How to Destroy the Justice League." Speaking as someone who has been motivated to write some pretty fucked up shit in the past, I can say that when you're sick and pissed off you're not going to hold back. And with Graves, it's a given that there will be a lot less dick and boob jokes.
Whenever a comic promises to get everybody talking, it's normal for readers to roll their eyes and give it no more credence than those annoying male enhancement commercials. You wish it were true, but assume it's largely bullshit because more often than not it is. Well this time, it's not bullshit. This comic may not make your dick a foot long, but it delivers when it claims it'll get people talking. Getting mentioned by major news outlets and fucking Good Morning America definitely qualifies. It doesn't just show Superman and Wonder Woman sharing a friendly smooch at a vulnerable moment. It actually establishes that these two can and will have an actual relationship in DC's New 52 universe.
This opens the floodgates to all sorts of stories, 2/3rds of which involve the kind of damage these two could do if they start experimenting with thrill sex. Granted, Johns and Lee didn't drop a whole lot of hints regarding these two early on in the arc. However, the possibility was there. And the way it came together in this issue made it so there didn't need to be the kind of playful flirting that Hugh Grant made boring in every romantic comedy ever made. It may not be the best circumstances for a relationship. Hell, it probably would make for a better one-night stand or summer fling when you get right down to it, but the potential is still there. And fuck if the possibilities don't make my dick harder than a jackhammer in a diamond mine.
Now as for the comic as a whole, there is more at work than just Superman and Wonder Woman kissing if you can believe that. It did effectively end the arc with Graves and it moved the story forward with the Justice League, making it so they're now vulnerable in a way that's not going to work to their advantage to say the least. The world no longer thinks they're gods worthy of the same loyalty that Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber enjoy. They've also pissed off someone who was once a close ally in Steve Trevor, who has both the means and the motivation to fuck with them in the near future. The story, aside from inspiring fanfiction writers to do superpowered sex scenes, establishes an uncertain environment for the Justice League that promises to lead to some increasingly volatile conflicts at the very least.
If there is a flaw in this development, it's that it seems to be somewhat underplayed and not just because of the Superman/Wonder Woman kiss. Johns seemed to make too much of an effort to make Graves come off as sympathetic. And the whole battle between the League and these ghostly illusions of their loved ones didn't have the kind of epic feel that it should have. You never got the sense that the League was really tormented by these visions. When it was over, they basically shrugged it off. Only Wonder Woman seemed to be really effected. But in the end, the point of the story wasn't the battle. It was the consequences of the battle. It may not be as action packed as a battle against Darkseid, but it's still pretty damn awesome. For that, I give Justice League #12 a 4 out of 5.
It feels good to review a DC comic again and it feels good to see DC taking a chance with Superman and Wonder Woman. I've made my opinion on the relationship pretty clear and I pray to Odin that DC doesn't screw it up. These are two of the most iconic heroes in the history of comics. To screw them up at this point is to shit on the hearts of several generations of comic fans. Best of luck to you, DC! Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a box of Kleenexes and a bottle of lube with my name on it. Nuff said!