Geoff Johns (a) David Finch
I want to like Justice League of America more than I do. The first issue was fun in as much as a set-up issue can be, and the second issue was build-up for the teams first mission. There hasn’t been a lot of time to develop the team dynamic, and it’s starting to hurt the series as a whole. It’s surprising because Geoff Johns is usually spot-on when it comes to character development and team books.
Before I get into the issue proper, I want to address something that’s been bothering me since the first issue. WHERE IS SIMON BAZ? He was completely absent from the first two issues — his dossier introduction aside — and in Justice League of America #3, he appears in all of two panels, and they’re both panorama shots so he’s barely visible. Simon’s inclusion on the team is a big reason why I was interested in the title in the first place, and he’s still nowhere to be seen three issues in. A lot of people had the same issue with Justice League when it first began, but those first six issues were a complete origin story where all the Leaguers meet for the first time. The JLA is established and has yet to have a full-team mission.
Alright. Moving on.
** SPOILERS AHEAD **
Justice League of America #3 opens with a scene between Stargirl and Amanda Waller. While their conversation starts off innocently enough, it quickly takes a sharp left turn when Waller takes a hard stance against Stargirl’s wish to be a more active member of the team. The comic book trope of the youngest superhero of the bunch feeling left out drives the sequence, but Waller’s ugly attitude shows just how sketchy this team is at it’s most basic level. Courtney Whitmore — as Waller reveals her name to be — joined the team as a bright-eyed, optimistic do-gooder who is now being blackmailed into running PR for this government-sanctioned superhero team. It’s all very intriguing. And David Finch’s facial work really characterizes Waller’s ugly nature.
Vibe feels like a ‘deus ex machina’ to get the team and himself out of almost any technological quandary. Oh, there’s a security camera? Vibe can’t be photographed and neither can those around him…as of this issue. Not in his own series; only in this issue of Justice League of America. Also, I really don’t like Katana. I’ve never read any of her pre-New 52 material, and the first issue of Katana was so hideous I just put it down and screamed into a pillow for a few minutes. She just seems like such a ridiculous Japanese stereotype that I just can’t understand why people stomach her.
Green Arrow’s faux pas during an orchestrated arrest of Catwoman fantastically well done, and Ollie’s subsequent use of the privileged information about Catwoman’s true allegiances to garner a place on the team is eloquent and hilarious.
Speaking of Catwoman, I read Catwoman #19 after Justice League of America #3 because it’s supposed to be a look at Selina’s 48 hours inside Arkham Asylum before she escapes at the end of JLA #3. I wouldn’t recommend doing the same unless you’re interested in reading a story that has nothing to do with anything at all. The whole plan was for Catwoman to get info about the Secret Society whilst inside Arkham. Instead, she antagonizes everyone and really doesn’t get much in the process.
Total Side Note:
Within the pages of Catwoman #19, Ann Nocenti took it upon herself to explain that Arkham Asylum isn’t actually a historic mansion turned into a hospital, but rather a fully modern facility employing holographic technology to make it look like a historic mansion.
Two reasons why I hate this so much.
1.) It totally and completely destroys the idea that Arkham is a genuinely frightening place. The facility’s presence is juxtaposed to it’s primary function which is what made it such a compelling part of the Batman mythos. If this holds across other titles, it will mean that Arkham is just another loony bin, no different than your average high-tech insane asylum.
2.) If Dr. Arkham has the money to spend on holographic infrastructure for an entire facility, why can’t he spend more on security, overall structural integrity, and pooling of resources to achieve real results? It makes absolutely no sense. If Dr. Arkham is some weirdo who only runs the asylum to play around with the criminally insane, why does Batman trust him? And if he truly does think he’s doing the best he can, why does Batman suffer such a fool?