Tag Archives: Flash

Justice League: Doom

Justice League: Doom (2012)
Written by Dwayne McDuffie, based on “Tower of Babel” by Mark Waid; directed by Lauren Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Snapshot: An exciting adventure reuniting most of the creative talent from the Justice League animated TV series that is almost derailed by major plot holes at the end.

Major spoilers ahead!

The story opens with Batman (Kevin Conroy), Superman (Tim Daly), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly), and the Flash (Michael Rosenbaum) thwarting a jewel heist by a gang of thieves who seem to have a little more high-tech than expected. It turns out that they were supplied by the immortal Vandal Savage (Phil Morris) as part of his plot to destroy the Justice League and take over the world.

It turns out Savage is focused on the big picture. Little things like Batman’s secret identity don’t interest him (and anyway, he already knows it). Savage uses his “Legion of Doom” to discover and carry out the Dark Knight’s “contingency plans” for stopping any rogue Justice League member. This leads to a second act filled with nonstop action and suspense as the Justice Leaguers are knocked off, one by one by their rivals: Bane (Carlos Alazraqui), Cheetah (Claudia Black), Metallo (Paul Blackthorne), Star Sapphire (Olivia d’Abo), Mirror Master (Alexis Denisof), and Ma’alefa’ak (Carl Lumbly).

The third act is also filled with exciting action as the League regroups and fights to stave off Savage’s ultimate end game: the literal destruction of half the world’s population along with all technology utilizing electricity so that he can become the undisputed ruler of what’s left. Here’s where, for me, the plot goes off the rails. I realize that movies like this have to up the ante, especially with superheroes as powerful as the Justice League, but really, what kind of crazy does a super-villain have to be to think that ruling a decimated Earth would be any way fulfilling?

And the way Savage plans to wreak this havoc is mind-boggling, even for a comic book story. OK, he demonstrated that he has super-advanced technology earlier in the story, so I can kind of give it a pass that he can launch a rocket from the Earth that will crash into the Sun causing massive solar flares that will destroy anything in their path. But come one, it’s the fracking Sun! There’s nothing manmade that could possibly cause the Sun to explode this way.

If this were the only plot hole, I could forgive it. But the bigger plot hole is that the rocket takes only about a minute to reach the Sun. Even at the speed of light, it would take eight minutes, a fact that they repeat several times in relation to how long it will take the solar flares to reach Earth. A rocket would take months, if not years (it took the MESSENGER probe almost four years to arrive at Mercury) to reach the Sun. This could have been easily explained away in the movie if Savage had simply stated that he launched the rocket months ago in preparation. The climax could still have been as exciting, with the heroes attempting to activate the rocket’s fail-safe rather than attempting to cancel its launch.

Nevertheless, Justice League: Doom is well worth seeing. The chemistry between the returning voice actors is fun, as the they have grown into their roles over the years. Bumper Robinson as Cyborg is a welcome addition to the ensemble, and I hope we get to see more of him in future installments. (This movie just reinforces my desire to see a resurrected Justice League TV series.) There are many nice character interactions between the heroes and their villainous counterparts, as well as some pointed humor between Batman and Alfred (“You’re dripping blood on my clean floor.”) There is also some wonderful poignancy in the second act when it looks like our heroes are done for, especially when Green Lantern thinks he’s killed a civilian and momentarily loses his nerve.

Justice League: Doom is an exciting yet bittersweet end to Dwayne McDuffie’s prolific career as a writer for the DC animated universe (he died unexpectedly a year ago). I wish that the live-action movies were even close to the quality of the animated movies.

The New 52: Aquaman, Flash, Firestorm, and Hawkman

The final four titles in the “Justice League” group of DC’s New 52.

Aquaman

Aquaman is a hero in the DC universe who is inexplicably popular despite there never really having been a good Aquaman series. DC apparently wanted to increase his stature by assigning their premier writer Geoff Johns to guide this latest version. Unfortunately, Johns seems to have little to work with, and at least the first issue is reduced to rehashing a lot of the standard Aquaman punchlines, such as he’s the lame-o guy who swims around and talks to fish. Johns is a better writer than that, and I hope that he is simply setting the stage for Aquaman to reveal himself as a kick-ass leading man, to revitalize the character in the same way he’s done for Green Lantern. Artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado have done a great job of interpreting Aquaman as clearly a young man, much more than any of the other New-52 superhero redesigns. Aquaman could turn out to be cooler than we think, and the tantalizing monsters we get a glimpse at may hint at awesomeness to come.

The Flash

Barry Allen, police scientist by occupation and the fastest man alive by avocation, has been one of the mainstays of the DC universe since the Silver Age renaissance in the late 1950s. Killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 and replaced by Wally West for two decades, Barry Allen’s Flash has been given a new lease on life in the last few years by none other than Geoff Johns. Writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato hope to continue this rebirth. Manapul was, after all, the artist that worked with Johns, so should know what direction to go in.

What we get in the first issue, though, is a pretty insubstantial introduction, with Flash foiling a standard high-society heist at a gala event Barry was coincidentally attending. Then there’s some perfunctory background information about Barry’s coworkers and an old college buddy, which looks like it will lead into a larger story. Manapul and Buccellato’s artwork is clean and elegant, but so far their writing is not enough to keep reading.

The Fury of Firestorm : The Nuclear Men

In its original concept, Firestorm was a hero that combined the brute physicality of teenager Ronnie Raymond with the telepathic guidance of aged Professor Martin Stein. Somewhat surprisingly, after a bit of a rocky start, the series lasted for well over a decade. It’s been retooled once or twice since then, the most recent version replacing Stein with Jason Rusch, a young black intellectual. In the newest twist, Raymond and Rusch are high school students at opposite ends of the spectrum—Raymond a football star and Rusch a reporter for the school paper. Rusch, for some unexplained reason, is hiding a canister of unknown power given to him by Dr. Stein. A terrorist group finds out he has it, but to save himself and Raymond, Rusch opens the canister transforming them into two Firestorm beings. The two finally merge to create an entity called Fury.

As co-plotted by Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone, scripted by Simone, and drawn by Yildray Cinar, a lot of story gets packed into a short space, but it never really seems plausible (or as plausible as two teenagers turning into elemental nuclear beings can be). This is the kind of character transformation that went out with the Hulk and Fantastic Four fifty years ago. There are enough crumbs strewn about to indicate that the story will become more developed, so this is a title worth keeping an eye on, but don’t hold your breath.

The Savage Hawkman

Hawkman is another character that has gone through countless incarnations over the years. In this one, archeologist Carter Hall is an expert in lost languages who is called upon to decipher what appears to be some alien ruins. As the story opens, however, Hall is in the process of trying to destroy the “Nth metal” wings that make him Hawkman, but which somehow have ruined his life in the unspecified years he has used them. The metal explodes, mysteriously transporting Hall back to his apartment with perhaps some newfound powers. So it’s kind of like Indiana Jones meets super science meets demonic alien monsters.

The script by Tony S. Daniel and art by Philip Tan are murky, both literally and figuratively. There’s no explanation of what the Nth metal is, the personality of Carter Hall, or much of anything else. Presumably, it will make sense as the story continues, but for now it’s muddled enough not to care.