"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Off and on throughout this series, I have wondered how Busiek, Bagley, Nicieza, et al., would spend their last few issues. Would they go all-out right up to the very end, or would they wrap things up a little sooner in order to have some time for an epilogue? Like last issue, Trinity #49 concerns itself pretty much with one plot point; and with Krona trapped and Morgaine and Despero on the ropes, the issue was shaping up to be rather pivotal.
And it was — but not exactly how I imagined.
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“This Planet, These People…” 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: Well, it was nice while it lasted.
— I don’t recognize the extraterrestrials in panel 1. However, that bridge layout looks awfully familiar (although not quite like an Apple store).
— While Batman has “reverse-engineered” the spell (thanks, again, to Luthor’s analysis), I don’t think the narration here contradicts anything I said last issue. Because, of course, I know more.
— “Cast him from reality forever” sounds pretty final; but then again, so does “reduced to disembodied energy” (as the Guardians originally treated Krona) or “trapped inside/transformed into a creation egg.”
— I understand that the Troika created the Dreambound. However, this talk of “controlling” them (and releasing them from said control) is rather superfluous, considering that Morgaine hasn’t done anything to stop their rebellion thus far. Sure, it might be a matter of Morgaine being too busy or too preoccupied to exert that control, but the way it’s played out, it hasn’t made much, if any, difference.
— Here’s Charity talking about hope. If only Faith (created by Joe Kelly, first appeared in JLA #69 (Early October 2002)) had been part of this Justice League team.
— Yay, the Worldsoul has been healed! Now let’s get Stephie better and everything will turn out great!
— And Ultraman’s heart grew three sizes that day…. Well, maybe not.
— I liked the Trinity’s discussion of its roots, especially the notion that Wonder Woman represents “ancient powers that birthed my culture.” That’s a different, but perhaps more expansive, role than saying merely she is “of the Earth” — as in, literally formed from clay. (Likewise, we could say that Superman is “of the heavens,” and Batman is “of humanity.”) It connects her more to the supernatural, whereas Superman’s powers are rooted in (pseudo-) science and Batman’s skills come from study and training.
— “We cast you out”: hmm. Wonder where Krona would have gone? Same place the Troika would have sent the Trinity, I guess. (“Suppose they went nowhere?” “Then this’ll be your big chance to get away from it all!”)
— Occasionally I have had my doubts about Morgaine being Trinity‘s main antagonist (as opposed to, say, Circe). However, this moment is the perfect expression of how irredeemably, monomaniacally crazy she is. She has nothing left to lose, so she pushes the doomsday button. It’s a fitting way for her to go.
— No annotations.
— And here, at last, is the final brazier-vision from issue #1. Accordingly, in all fairness, I suppose we should have seen this coming.
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“No Future” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Mike Norton, inked by John Stanisci, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: Insert R.E.M. reference here (and I don’t mean “Superman“).
Page 13 (story page 1)
— I hate to sound like a grump, but in the old days the Green Lantern rings were limited only by the wearer’s willpower (and, when applicable, the color yellow). In a flashback to the JLA’s first encounter with Starbreaker, shown in this winter’s Justice League of America vol. 2 #29 (March 2009), Hal whipped up a harness around the Earth so Superman could keep it in its proper orbit. More recently (DC-wise), in DC One Million #4 (November 1998), Kyle Rayner used a ring-bubble to contain an exploding star until it had burned out. Counting down the power-level percentages is fine for drama, but I liked the GLs getting to do whatever they wanted on one 24-hour charge.
— “If willpower were enough”: see?
— Also, the rings are supposed to protect their wearers from mortal injury. Considering what happens in the rest of this issue, that may be a moot point. (Still, one ring even re-animated its wearer, the “dead” Lantern Driq. Wonder if we’ll be seeing him in Blackest Night?)
— Well, I did say I wanted to see Desiree again. I guess that’s Julia Kapatelis with her?
— Looks like we’re having curtain calls. Madame Zodiac was last seen in issue #15.
— Bigger’s story was told in issue #18. The fact that he’s still around suggests either that the timeline hadn’t been entirely repaired, or that Bigger is a temporal anomaly.
— The Great Ten were referenced obliquely a couple of issues ago, but here are some of them in person. Bonded with the aircraft is Immortal Man In Darkess; next to him is Socialist Red Guardsman; then Thundermind, Ghost Fox Killer, and August General In Iron.
— Dina Avenbruch was seen previously in issue #33.
— The Sea Devils, a group of aquatic adventurers led by Dane Dorrance, were created by Bob Kanigher and Russ Heath and first appeared in Showcase #27 (July-August 1960).
Pages 20/8 and 21/9
— There’s Robin in the upper-right corner, but I don’t remember seeing him before. In fact, Hal is there too, on the right edge, just above panel 2; so I guess the ring protected his body after it fell from space.
— A few pages back, the narration asked what can be done “when gravity itself fails.” That phrase, and this page, may be subtle references to the story “When Gravity Went Wild!” from Justice League of America vol. 1 #5 (June-July 1961). The issue’s cover looked down on the Leaguers and others as they flew away from Earth, not unlike panel 3. It didn’t get this bad back then, of course; but the story did introduce longtime League foe Doctor Destiny.
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Now, be honest: haven’t we all just thrown up our hands at some point and said, “the heck with this — I’ll scrap the whole thing and start fresh!”
Obviously none of us thinks this is the end, but I thought this issue built suspense pretty effectively. As mentioned above, I was expecting things to start winding down; so I was caught off-guard by the ever-escalating series of “oh crap” moments. Despite all the power thrown around by Krona, the Trinitarians, and the Troiksters, I have no idea how this particular cliffhanger (or “cliff-shooter-into-space,” maybe) will be resolved. It could be as simple as Krona wiping the dust off his hands and saying “thanks, I found what I came for, here’s your planet back.” Perhaps the resolution will at last drain the Trinitarians of their divine power. Since the series started with inexplicable dreams, Clark, Bruce, and Diana could each wake up in their own beds, shellshocked by the tale their unconscious minds had shared.
Whatever happens, I doubt it will be a complete reset (and I don’t think Busiek will take the dream route either). Trinity hasn’t promised that “everything you know is wrong/will change,” but neither do I get the impression that it won’t matter at all. At the very least, the Trinitarians should come out of it with new appreciations of each other and of their role(s) in the grand scheme of things. How you get from the end of the world to that, I have no idea; but that’s why I read these things.