Monday, May 29, 2017

Justice Volume Three (2007)

"This is a costly and compromised war. You are like me, but must disguise yourself as one of them. It disgusts me to look at you." Giganta was dressing in a black evening gown for a formal celebration of the Legion of Doom's presumed victory, as Gorilla Grodd continued to lecture her. Soon enough, the Hall of Doom was raided by heroes garbed in protective armor against Brainiac's miniature mind-controlling robotic worms. Wonder Woman's was especially hideous amongst a motley collection of fashion faux pas, and further couture demerits for Giganta destroying her elegant wear in favor of growing into her usual leopard print. At least Giganta was in the fight for the duration, whereas Cheetah joined other lesser Legionnaires in being tied up with Plastic Man (literally.)

Outside, possessed teen heroes, including Wonder Girl, fought the Doom Patrol. Donna choked Elasti-Girl with her lasso. Wonder Woman spent some time tangled up in Clayface before he was called away on another matter, and Cheetah managed to evacuate to the city she controlled via transport tube.

This issue demonstrates the difficulty of juggling so many characters and plot elements. Wonder Woman pretty much drops out of the story from here, save two limp moments in as many issues, and Wonder Girl is just trotted out for a cameo.

Metamorpho, Red Tornado and Martian Manhunter all teamed up on Giganta, but she would not fall, and instead took the battle outside with Hawkman and Hawkgirl joining the fray. Green Lantern John Stewart freed everyone from Brainiac's mind controlling bugs, including Wonder Girl. Giganta persevered, until Elasti-Girl sucker punched her.

Wonder Woman didn't visibly contribute to the burly brawl, and it even looked like Superman freed her from some rubble at one point. The Armored Amazon almost tangled with Solomon Grundy, but Green Lantern's destruction of Brainiac's mind-controlling technology removed the need. Wonder Woman was consoled by the rescued Steve Trevor, but did not remove her armor. Per Princess Diana's standard operating procedure, Donna Troy was nowhere near her. Wonder Girl joined the Teen Titans and other heroes in liberating the innocents trapped in Scarecrow's creepy city, instead.

Call Justice what you like (I'd use "stupid, boring, pretentious, ponderous, and overall amateurish" in regards to the storytelling) but at least it respected Wonder Woman's villains. Cheetah was scary in earlier issues, and Giganta took on a whole host of JLA-listers. Too bad the Amazing Amazon herself was butchered in this series, overcompensating for her hawkishness in Kingdom Come through victimization here.

"I head the team that goes to Cheetah's city. Superman should not have put me in charge of this. I don't know how long I have left. How long before the Centaur's Poison undoes the blessing of the gods?" Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Batgirl, the Flash and Plastic Man went with Wonder Woman to the African-style plain, but she sent them away to evacuate. Diana sensed that they were being hunted, and wished to draw out and distract the Cheetah while the others did good.

The former Priscilla Rich lunged at the former Amazing Amazon, tearing her armor. Diana removed her helmet to show the poison's handiwork, giving her cracked obsidian "skin" like molten rock and a wicked case of alopecia. "You can't hurt me anymore, Priscilla... Did you really think I would be patient forever? Did you really think I would let you take away the very people I left Paradise Island to serve? Did you... Cheetah?"

See what she did there? See, Brainiac was going to turn everyone in the cities into Coluan organic robot thingees and Diana had all this compassion for Priscilla's mental breakdown but then the villainess crossed the line and Diana called her by her evil name and ooo sick burn! Also, Diana blocked one swipe of Cheetah's claws with her bracelets, then headbutted her unconscious, implying that Cheetah was a wimp who had only succeeded in the initial poisoning through Diana's misplaced grace. Way to neuter the kitty cat.

The Flash helped Wonder Woman walk across a Plastic Man bridge as they led the exodus from Cheetah's city. "We'll stop this curse, Diana. We always do. We'll figure out a way. You don't have to die."
"They're safe, Flash. Don't worry about me. They're safe."

Nine pages later, Wonder Woman reappeared in a spread located on a Paradise Island beach. Diana had suffered death by reversion to clay #34, so Queen Hippolyte prayed to the gods, who restored Diana as part of a fresh mound of pale clay, leaving a black ol' husk behind. If the subtext is troubling, add to it the fact that Superman had spent the prior two pages reviving a helpless Zatanna through CPR after she nearly died in outer space. Were any male heroes rescued from certain death by heroines? Heck, there weren't even any non-female heroes at the brink of death in the rest of the series. Aquaman had a chunk of his brain carved out and just grew it back while laying on an operating room table. I should also mention that Diana 2 was of course naked, and that neither Steve Trevor nor Donna Troy were present at the revival ceremony, because it's all about maintaining the integrity of the character with these guys.

I guess the moral of the story was that Diana was naive to think Cheetah's soul was salvageable, so once Diana was willing to give Priscilla up to damnation, the princess could herself be saved. All, she's selfless and stuff and things. Gods, what I'd give to re-segregate the DC Universe and allow creator's concepts to remain true to their intent. Praise Hestia I don't have to read any more of this pretty ugly self-important vacancy.

"Justice, Vol. 3," collecting the last four issues of the 2005-2007 mini-series, was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

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