Major "Justice League" #50 Revelations, Changes Lead Into "DC Universe: Rebirth"
Quite a few transitory in this issue, as old plot threads are wrapped up and new ones are set up. Actually, I thought it spent a good bit of time on characters, which was nice amongst all the energy-blasts and reality-adjusting. Plus, the issue ends with the potential for the greatest squirrel-versus-dog battle of all time.
Nothin’ up my sleeve…!
* * *
“Our Rightful Realm” was written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: The Trinity saves Metropolis, this time for sure!
— Is it just me, or does the big board place Metropolis and/or the epicenter of the rift somewhere around Norfolk, Virginia?
— We left Metropolis last issue under clearing skies, a crowd of heroes cheering the Trinity, and the Trinitarians themselves musing about how to handle the “malefactors.” Now, however, the sky is purple and the two sides are still ready to go, despite it appearing that very little time has passed. I suppose last issue ended on an overly optimistic note.
— Dark Arcana members include Sparx (unless that’s Prysm), Cheetah (who can now fly, presumably thanks to the godlike power to which she’s been exposed), and Giganta. Justice Arcana members include Skyrocket, Hawkman, and Green Lantern Alan Scott.
— Remember Castle Branek from Act One?
— More Dark Arcana: Ra’s al Ghul, Shrapnel, Eclipso, Grodd, and Cat-Man. You know, it’s a minor quibble, but I really don’t see Ra’s and Eclipso as team players. Maybe in this reality, I guess. Actually, Ra’s could be leading a team of unseen assassins….
— More Justice Arcana: Panel 1 depicts Mr. Terrific, Ragman, Beast Boy, Booster Gold (?), Plastic Man, Starfire, Vixen, and the Flash (Wally West). Firestorm can be seen in the corner of panel 2.
— Panel 5 shows Cyborg, Solomon Grundy blasted by Black Lightning, Hourman punching Eclipso, Nightshade shooting a shadow-energy burst, and Power Girl punching Deathstroke. I would have had Power Girl switch with Hourman, but that’s just me.
— Ah, no wonder I couldn’t find anything on Sky-Knight! Well played, Trinity team … well played. In the altered timeline, extraterrestrials were definitely unwelcome, so apparently Hal Jordan gave up being Green Lantern fairly early on. Assuming that John Stewart took over (after Guy Gardner was incapacitated?), I take it from Interceptor’s comments in issue #18 that he was forced to work off-Earth. Looks like Hal wouldn’t be denied an heroic career, though. Now that the Trinity’s energy corona has restored his real history, Hal’s GL look is the updated one popularized by artist Ethan Van Sciver.
— That one Metal Marine looks more like Stark technology than Magnus’.
— “Society scientist William Magnus”: this must be part of the altered timeline, because I don’t recall Doc Magnus being quite so well-socialized.
— “Responsometers” are the gizmos which give each Metal Man his or her personality.
— Panel 2 shows us Gold, Platinum (“Tina”), Lead, and Iron.
— The kid in the jacket is Armando Ramone, brother of Paco “Vibe” Ramone, who shares his sibling’s vibratory powers. After Vibe’s death, Armando took the codename Reverb, and later was known as Hardline. Armando was created by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton and first appeared in Justice League of America vol. 1 #233 (December 1984). He first appeared as Reverb in Justice League Quarterly #1 (Winter 1990), in a story written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis and penciled by Chris Sprouse.
— The kid with the hood is Isaiah Crockett, who has heat-based powers and has fought crime under the codenames Joto (Swahili for “heat,” but an anti-gay slur in Spanish) and Hot Spot. Isaiah was created by Dan Jurgens and George Perez and first appeared in Teen Titans vol. 2 #1 (October 1996).
— “You’re aging, visibly”: will this be important later? I might be reading too much into this, but Jay, Alan, and Carter were de-aged by the magic in Carter’s ancient-Egyptian scroll. That magic isn’t a direct consequence of the Troika’s actions or the Trinity’s absence. Instead, it was part of Khufu’s plan to have his future self fight the evil gods which had taken over the world. While Khufu wouldn’t have needed the scroll in the regular timeline, its effects are still independent of the Troika’s and/or Trinity’s powers. Therefore, instead of pushing one omnibus reset button, could the Trinity be rewriting history, one person at a time?
— “And he was gone”: I take it Trinity takes place before Barry Allen came back from the dead. Barry’s physical body crumbled into dust in Crisis On Infinite Earths #8 (November 1985), but Secret Origins Annual vol. 2 #2 (1988) revealed that Barry was transformed into energy and sent back in time, becoming the lightning bolt which gave him his powers. Barry’s later posthumous appearances in the Speed Force, and his return to active duty in Final Crisis, seem to pick up at least on the transformed-into-energy part. No doubt the upcoming Flash: Rebirth miniseries will clarify everything.
— I’m glad to see Khyber and Brainiac skulking off into the shadows, because it gives me hope they’ll contribute more before the series is over.
— Speaking of contributing, Triumph is about to embrace his regular-timeline destiny….
— As you probably know, everyone on this page is dead in the regular timeline.
— “I’m going to find my own”: It seems a little too convenient for Cheetah to head to Washington, D.C., since that’s Wonder Woman’s most recent place of residence. Barbara Minerva is a British anthropologist from Nottinghamshire, and the Cheetah is affiliated with the African god Urtzkartaga. However, it’s probably too late to introduce any new locations.
— The Joker, naturally, will go home to Gotham. I still say that’s bad news for Bigger Melvin.
— “All this violence”: I’m not surprised the Trinitarians have this attitude, after what the Godwar did to their adopted planet.
— Panel 2 gives us Trans-Volitional Man, Vandal Savage, Aquaman, Flash, Black Adam, and the Parasite.
— “Metropolis [is] safe”: see, I thought it was safe at the end of last issue.
— However, as we see on this page and the next, the sky’s still full of energy, so it’s not totally back to normal.
— “You have your lands back”: well, even if the Cheetah’s not going to D.C., it looks like the Trinity is (with another stop in Gotham, of course).
— “Without discussing our next goals?” Ha! I like Bureaucratic Hawkman, even if he is a doofus.
— “All of humanity’s dreams”: emphasis on “humanity,” I suspect. That looks like an evil twinkle back in Lex’s eye, and it suggests that he’s been reminded that he has always hated Superman. Much as I’ve enjoyed Morgaine, Despero, Enigma, Kanjar Ro, and Konvikt, it’s good to see the Joker, Brainiac, Luthor, and Khyber getting some time to shine.
* * *
“His Hunger” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Tom Derenick, inked by Wayne Faucher, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: A god and his dog.
Page 13 (story page 1)
— The name “Erdammeru” first appeared in JLA #111 (April 2005), which of course was written by Kurt Busiek. Considering that the Qwardian Weaponers and Thunderers look like space-age Vikings, “Erdammeru” sounds appropriately similar to “Götterdämmerung,” a German translation of “Ragnarok.” (Did Gil Kane, who designed the Qwardians, have a thing for Norse mythology? He also drew an adaptation of The Ring of the Nibelung.)
— In addition to the aforementioned issue #111, the Void-Hound’s history was revealed in JLA #114 (July 2005), also written by Mr. Busiek. Those two issues tell pretty much the same story as this one. In JLA #114, Wally/Flash explains that “[w]hen the electronic comm-web around Qward got complex enough, it formed a mind, like the Construct […].” Dialogue in issue #111 had already revealed that the Hound’s “machine-mind [was] swifter and more complex than any other known to Qward. Those who built the Hound, though, did not build the mind. They found it – enslaved it. Some fear it was the mind of the dark god Erdammeru itself. That was the Hound’s great flaw. None could command it. Any who tried were driven insane.”
— At least superficially, the Void Hound reminds me of Fenris/Fenrir, the great wolf from Norse mythology who is foretold to kill Odin and be killed by Odin’s son Víðarr. Because the gods knew about the prophecies, they bound Fenrir as a precaution. (The legendary Erdammeru was never caught, but the Void Hound was.) As a result of the binding, the god Týr lost his hand; perhaps not unlike the Qwardians driven insane by trying to command the Void Hound.
— “The Green Glow … spoke of freedom and respite and peace”: In JLA #114, the Justice League sought to tame the Void Hound by using a fragmented version of the Construct to “befriend” it. (I know I’m glossing over the subtleties.) This “Construct-mind” was eager to reach out, saying that “[the Void Hound] is not-us, but is like-us. Like-us but tortured, angry, in pain. Can speak to it, can let it know as [Flash] let us know — that we need not be alone –!” Thus, with the Construct-mind already inside John Stewart’s power ring, the Green Lantern absorbed the Void Hound’s machine-mind into the ring as well.
— Again, in JLA #114, the problem seemed to be that the Void Hound, like the Construct, developed in isolation. GL observed that “[i]t’s got no concept of anything like itself.” However, from the VH’s internal monologue, I get the impression that any desire for friendship has been way overcome by more violent impulses, albeit mediated by a general lack of direction.
— Also, in its first appearance the Void Hound appeared to be an energy being inhabiting and controlling the war machine the Qwardians built. Since that machine (which survived the loss of the Void Hound) was nowhere to be found when the Void Hound started manifesting itself back around issue #2, I presume that its current body was created with the help of the power ring.
— No annotations.
— No annotations.
— “Khund smugglers”: we’ve already seen the Khunds back in issue #19, as part of Desiree’s memories of Wonder Woman.
— “Something that is soft and thick”: okay, get your minds out of the gutter. I think John may be sending out his “energy-twin,” which is basically the GL’s consciousness transformed into energy and set free to fly around the universe. I tend to think of it as an Oan-powered version of Dr. Strange’s astral self. An energy-twin was first seen in Green Lantern vol. 2 #1, when the Guardians introduced themselves to Hal Jordan by summoning his energy-twin to Oa.
— No annotations.
— “Something of the Greenglow”: usually, the energy-twin is a glowing green specter of the person, but I suppose it could also be the blob of energy shown here.
– “Sector 1014”: since John is assigned to Sector 2814, I take it this indicates his current location. Sector 1014 contains the planet H’lven, which was home to Green Lantern Ch’p and his successor B’dg. No offense to B’dg, but I really hope Ch’p is still alive in this timeline. The more I think about it, the more I want to see him stare down the Void Hound.
* * *
Even though Trinity still has a lot of old business to mind, here’s hoping the Joker, Luthor, Brainiac, and Khyber each have some heretofore-unknown part in the grand finale. They’re too good as standalone villains to be seen simply as part of a crowd. Honestly, I’d like to say the same about the Cheetah and Giganta, but they’re not in the same class. Both Circe and Doctor Psycho are scarier, but we haven’t seen much (if anything) out of them here. I’d have thought that, like the Joker with Batman, Circe would take issue with Morgaine erasing Wonder Woman from history. Still eleven issues to go, though.
Since we’re headed to D.C. and Gotham, it would be nice to catch up with Desiree, Julia, and Bigger Melvin (the latter while we still can, of course).
I liked the spotlight on the Void Hound mostly for its “mythological” feel, but also for the way in which it recast the Hound’s role in the JLA storyline. Clearly it’s another version of the story related in JLA, but unlike the mythologized versions of the Trinitarians’ lives, it’s more primal and less specific to a familiar character. It’s good (in a way) to see that John has given up trying to change the Void Hound’s mind, at least for now, because that would either have been too predictable or it wouldn’t have ended well for John.
Besides, I wouldn’t want to be the Void Hound when Ch’p gets through with it….