Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Comics: Throne of Atlantis

If you're like me, you were very excited when it was announced that Geoff Johns was going to be writting the Justice League comic, but you felt that it had not yet lived up to its potential.  The stories were large in scope but lacked a certain depth that had been found in most of Johns' other books.  And while characters like Chetah are interesting, they don't warrant an entire JL story arc.

Well all that can finally be put behind us with Throne of Atlantis.

This is a crossover with John's other book, Aquaman.  The story is very straightforward:  Someone from the surface world hits Atlantis with nukes.  Atlantis retaliates with a full on invasion of the surface world.  They are led by Orm, the brother of the rightful king, Aquaman.  And Aquaman is the only one who can thwart the invasion plans... because he designed them.  But does he want to?

This story puts Aquaman front and center while making this a full Justice League story.  All of the League members have their moments.  Cyborg, for example, has to give up his last remaining shreds of his human body if he wants to be able to breath underwater and save his allies.  That story line was both sad and moving.

But the action was fast and furious.  Artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado provide art worthy of a Justice League story.  Their A-Game can be seen not only in giant, chaotic splash pages, but tender moments of humanity as human beings cower before the power of the ocean.

As crossover stories go, I felt a harmonious blend between the two books.  This is natural since they have the same writer.  But the Aquaman issues felt like his story, not a JL story inside of his book.  But the action in JL was so large that the League had to open up their roster.  I loved watching 2nd tier heroes react to being draft by the JL.  Some are over the moon excited.  Others are too overwhelmed by the crisis at hand.  Johns' shows us the great diversity of heroes and their skill and experience levels.  There is an old writing adage: show, don't tell.  If the question was ever why the Justice League doesn't have more members, showing the bumbling nature of some heroes is the answer.  It reminds us that the Justice League is an elite not because they are snobs, but because they are the best of the best.

I also love John's version of Orm, also known as Ocean Master.  He is not a petty, bloodthirsty tyrant.  He is someone who genuinely loves Atlantis.  And saddest of all, he genuinely loves his brother Aquaman.  This makes the lead up to the final confrontation not only dramatic in terms of action, but emotionally compelling as well.  The end of the story left me incredibly sad, which I'm sure was Johns' intention.

But my favorite part of the book is the fact that it actually changed things in both Justice League and Aquaman.  Too often a big event occurs and there is a lot of hype and a lot of action, but in the end, everything is back to status quo  (I'm looking at you "Batman: Death of the Family").  But with Throne of Atlantis, I felt a noticebal shift in the Aquaman's world and in the Justice League itself.  Aquaman's choices change everything, maybe for the entire DC Universe.  The Justice League also has to shake up their roster and figure out how to respond to these threats.  And this attack leads directly into the formation of the new team: The Justice League OF AMERICA.

Throne of Atlantis is the Johns' Justice League we've been waiting for.  I have a feeling it will only get better from here (fingers crossed!)

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