Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Week 12: What Drives Me to You Is What Drives Me Insane

Actually I probably should've saved that title for Week 16, but the song's been stuck in my head all day.

I'm glad to see the chapter titles return this issue, especially since this one is so polyvalent. "Mighty": one standard DCU context for that word is exactly what Adam is doing on this page. In the introduction to the Superman TV series, we're told that Superman can "change the course of mighty rivers." But the reference is more obviously to another TV show, and the words Andrea Thomas said to become the previous incarnation of Isis...

One thing a couple of 52 personnel have mentioned in the last few weeks is that they're not sure whether they're going to get to do the in-depth examination of religion in the DC Universe that they'd thought they might. This issue is the closest thing we've gotten so far, and perhaps as close as we're going to get. As Greg Rucka mentioned back at WonderCon, the DCU's religious culture has to be pretty different from ours, since gods manifest themselves all the time--Montoya's old partner the Spectre is the Judeo-Christian God's agent on Earth, Wonder Woman's got direct ties to the Greek gods, Shazam's got connections to the whole pantheistic pantheon, and so on. It makes sense, then, that popular new religions and cults would spring up all the time, based on all the signs and portents and wonders that people keep encountering. Still, I can't really think of many prominent DCU-only religions predating 52 other than the Kobra cult, unless the New Gods count.

(The one really good piece of modern fiction I can think of about the way human behavior would be changed if divine intervention were a constant, verifiable reality is Philip K. Dick's A Maze of Death, in which there's a popular book called How I Rose from the Dead in My Spare Time and So Can You. Perhaps Devem's read that one too.)

Adam makes the distinction between political leader and religious authority on pg. 5, as he's done before, and insists that he's not a god--what is his religious affiliation, anyway? Does he have one? He's got the powers of Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton and Mehen, all ancient Egyptian gods. (Some of those are fairly minor gods, or variant names--Zehuti, for instance, is better known as Thoth.) And the existence of the Super-Shaykh suggests that Islam is a significant force in DCU Iran; is it in Kahndaq?

There's a nice suggestion of the Question's Zen Buddhist background in the opening scene, and let's not forget about the Seven Deadly Sins, which are basically a Christian concept--here's a little history of them. (Note: they are not to be confused with the "Seven Deadly Finns" (RealAudio link), a fine non-album single by Brian Eno.) What does it mean to crush the face of greed, anyway?

Most importantly for this issue, it's worth noting that Isis was the center of a religion--a mystery cult, actually, that was popular in Egypt and caught on in Rome, too, from about the first century BC to the fourth century AD. If you went through an initiation, you got personal salvation: a direct relationship with Isis. (Apuleius describes an initiation in The Golden Ass.) According to this page, it was mostly based on the story of Isis and her husband/brother god Osiris, and had "rituals similar to those of Dionysus," which were eventually condemned as "pornographic." Mmm.

And the "simple prayer" Adrianna mentions? It'd be good to know what it is. "I am Isis" isn't really a prayer, even though it seems to work on the lightning principle that no longer functions for the Shazamites. ("Oh mighty Isis" isn't quite a prayer either, but at least it's an invocation.) Now, if you wanted an Isis prayer, you could always go for this or this or this, and actually Ovid had a good one too.

An important thing about the Isis-Osiris cult is that it was also a resurrection cult--along the lines of the cult of Adonis, or in fact of Cassie's one-time hookup. (Odd, also, that the Connor cult was originally supposed to be a "humanist religion," built around someone so distinctly superhuman--actually, built around anyone. I have some experience with "humanist religion," having spent my formative years being taken to services at a humanist Jewish congregation where, for instance, "Avinu Malkeinu" was sung as "We look for the right thing to do...")

I suspect, though, that the crucial point in this scene is that Dev-Em (okay, fine, let's call him Devem for the moment) has "found a method in the holy texts by which to raise the dead"--that opens up a big question of what the "holy texts" are. Just to take a wild guess: Where are superheroes' deeds documented? Comic books! We study them almost Talmudically, we cite them chapter and verse, there are endless debates over what's canonical and what's not... I have no idea if that's the direction this is going, but it does seem like a rather Morrison-esque idea, doesn't it?

The Origin of Wonder Woman: So glad to see this! Nicely written, nicely drawn, straight to the point. I don't know about the trading-card bit at the end--is it really helpful to name "essential storylines"?--but I'm looking forward to the rest of these. The one really eyebrow-raising bit here is "a uniform decorated with symbols representing a legendary Amazon heroine"; do we know who that would be? And, although it was established long ago, when's the last time we saw Diana use her tiara as a boomerang?

More notes:

Pg. 1: New York has about 35,000 police, so this number looks about right for Gotham.

Pg. 2: "I.G. 36" and "I.G. 76"? It probably stands for "Intergang," but it doesn't look like the Question-Van has room for that many boxes; a storage space, maybe? Doctor Tyme, one of the missing mad scientists, first appeared here. And Montoya's got more than beer in her fridge now; perhaps Naked Zen Charlie's influence.

Pg. 3: Montoya's got a copy of "The Life Story of the Flash" on her bookshelf. I don't have my copy of the relevant issues of The Flash at hand; can anybody tell me if it's actually been published within the DC timeline yet, or if it's an artifact from the future? And Kahndaq isn't as specific a destination as Charlie might have mentioned; its capital city is Shiruta...

Pg. 6: "'Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation' yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation."

Pg. 7: I don't think we've heard of Super-Shaykh before, although I love the name. Dark Nemesis, on the other hand, appeared here. And it looks like DCU Iran has an active nuclear weapons facility...

Pg. 11: The phrase "Billy Batshit" comes to mind. Conspicuous by his absence from the list of Cap's adversaries: Mister Mind.

Pg. 13: The conjunction of "154" and "Where R U?" makes me think of the phrase you'll hear sung when you click here... and "Donna Prince"? That is indeed a pretty obvious alias.

Pg. 15: Ralph is no longer fidgeting with where the ring used to be, although he's good enough to avert his gaze as Cassie changes into what I'm guessing might be her cultist's robe. But why would Devem's cult want to revive Sue, as opposed to somebody whose personal effects would be easier to dig up? And the magic of "connective objects" is a standard magical trope, but the DC character most associated with it is one we've already seen on panel very briefly, at the beginning of Week 3: Josie Mac!

Pg. 16: Hatshepsut appears to have actually been a ruler in the Eighteenth Dynasty, but there are lots of things in the DCU that are different from our own world (on Earth-Prime, for instance, she didn't have Isis's powers). "You want to make me like you?" You mean like like?

Pg. 17: The return of the Keith Giffen nine-panel grid! How I've missed it! (I really have.)

Pg. 20: While I love the 52 solicitations simply being lines from the story, I suspect that the pull-quote from Week 23 already indicates where this particular plot is going.

Comments-wise, I'd be very curious to hear any thoughts y'all have on non-Earth-Prime religions in the DCU, in particular...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Week 11: The Return of C'est Hay!!

Gonna be a short entry this week--not a lot to discuss, and I'm off to Comic-Con anyway.

In both of this week's storylines, 52's returning to the questions of eroding identity that I talked about in Week 4. This is pretty much the first week that the Question hasn't asked Montoya who she is, but now it looks like that's actually going to be an issue. We have it underscored for us a few times that Intergang are likely to rub out anyone who gets in their way, 401(k)s or no 401(k)s, and now that Whisper's forced her to say her name, well, I assume she's not going to be "Renee Montoya" much longer...

Much as I enjoyed the solid dose of Montoya action this time, I'm getting the sense that the series is juggling way too many threads--just to recap, there's the Ralph/Cult of Conner plot, the Montoya/Question/Batwoman plot, the Black Adam/Isis/Freedom of Power plot, the Lost In Space plot, the Who Is Kidnapping the Mad Scientists of America?/Egg Fu plot, the Booster/Time Out of Joint plot, the Steel plot, the Supernova plot, and the Oh Dear Lord I See It Teh Fifty-Toooo plot, and not only do they not seem to be coming together, most of them are barely inching along, no offense to Mr. Mind. It'd be nice to check in with a few more of them every week, and if that means shorter fight scenes or compressing the recaps of Gotham Central storylines, I'm cool with that.

My diagram of the master plot isn't as complicated as Rip Hunter's: at the center of it are Apokolips and Intergang, who have an established relationship. Apokolips gets arrows drawn to the planet-that-might-be-Adon and Devilance the Catch-and-Releaser, and to the gun Montoya found at 52 Kane (and I like the theory Dennis Culver suggested in last week's comments that Supernova is Lightray). Also, in answer to the "why did Hawkgirl get huge?" dangler, I'm guessing that's what happens when a Boom Tube and a zeta beam overlap. Intergang gets arrows drawn to the 52 Kane warehouse, and now to whatever's going on in Kahndaq under Black Adam's watch; Intergang's also got historical ties to Lex Luthor, which gets us to the Steel/Purple & Green Justice plot. That leaves the Rip/Booster and Worm/Egg plots undealt with, but that's probably enough for right now.

I'm happy to see the assurances that everything will fit together, and there are some hints of it here. It'd be easier to believe if not for the little gaffes and inconsistencies that make it harder to put my faith in the series' controlling intelligence: this issue is the first one that doesn't have a title, for instance, which is not consequential except inasmuch as it suggests that somebody's not crossing the Ts.

Similarly, J.G. Jones' cover is once again pretty awesome, and once again is inconsistent with the interior art. The creatures on the cover are not the creatures inside the comic, and although there's a gun pointed in the general direction of Batwoman, it's Montoya's Kirbytech gun. You'd think the Powers that Be would deal with this stuff the easiest way: if the cover is drawn before the interior, send a copy of it to the interior artists so they can get it right, and vice versa.

History of the DCU: "To Be Continued in the DC Universe Everywhere!" You know, I also wouldn't mind a bit if this plot thread got quietly dropped, then dispatched in a done-in-one issue of Superman or something eight years down the line. I can dream, I guess. Next issue we lose two pages of story but get Waid and Adam Hughes' Wonder Woman origin: hooray!

More notes:

Pg. 1: Grim Ralph is regrowing the facial hair again. Can't wait to see what his blog has to say about this.

Pg. 3: Good to see Montoya's finally got her cast off. And what is the image on Charlie's shirt? It looks like the cover of The All-New Atom #1. (Which, for those of you who haven't read it, is not bad at all--neo-Silver Age fun!) "Lead... the stuff that'll drive you insane"?

Pg. 4: "Her name's Mallory. She's a doctor." Is this anyone we recognize? "Ridge-Ferrick": rings no bells for me. Anyone? Also: what's up with the "Gordon Back?" headline? The first One Year Later issue of Detective Comics had Gordon saying it was "Three months since my return. Six months since Harvey Bullock made his discoveries. Nine since the rot within GCPD first shone as more than a glimmer." In other words, the rot should be more-than-glimmering right about now...

Pg. 5: I dig how that tape of the theme from Love Story starts up every time Kate and Montoya are on panel together.

Pg. 7: The Question-Van! Love it. I see he's got files on big tobacco, Ohio 2004, Checkmate (in a box lifted from Gotham's police department) and Hub City (just one box for the whole city he used to live in)--but "Luthor 986"? Anyone want to suggest a connection between Luthor and that number?

Pg. 8: I like the little gesture of the eight cig stubs on the ground as a measure of how long Montoya's been waiting. "HSC": now what could that stand for? Whisper A'Daire, of course, is a Rucka creation--she first appeared here--and Abbot is her confederate's last name (his first name is Kyle).

Pg. 14: It takes a special kind of crimefighter to twist such that you can check out her rack and her butt at the same time. Plus it's not clear where she stores Batarangs the size of Montoya's forearm in that costume. Or where the grappling-hook gun she's rocking on pg. 17 is holstered. And: she is fighting in high heels. How does she do that?

Pg. 20: Something about the setup of the attempted resurrection here--the faithful encircling the "body"--reminds me of the one returning-from-the-dead story in (former) DC canon that I actually really like, "The Super-Sacrifice of the Legionnaires"--and actually I like it even more because of the beautiful retcon in this annual (which I know other people hated, but I thought it was a great idea). Of course, all that stuff is noncanonical twice over now...

Still, a couple of odd things here, which I hope will be cleared up in the fullness of time. Wonder Girl insisted that her branch of the Conner cult had nothing to do with the spray-painted symbol on Sue's grave, but it appears that it was responsible for the breakin at the storage space. And if they're trying to dress the Sue-doo reanimation doll in her stuff, pillbox hat and all, wouldn't they want her wedding band instead of Ralph's? Second-worst-case scenario: this has something to do with Brother Power, the Geek. Worst-case scenario: this has something to do with Giffen creation C'est Hay.

See you in San Diego.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Week 10: You've Got Me? Who's Got You?

Alternate title: "Clark Kent, you're a mean drunk."

Somebody gets called a "terrorist" twice in this issue: Adrianna throws it as an insult at Black Adam, and Clark Kent straightfacedly mentions a crew of "Bahdnesian terrorists" who've stolen an ATV. In the first case, it seems questionable; in the second, it seems kind of ridiculous. "Terrorist" gets used as an all-purpose bogeyman these days, not least in mainstream comics, and it's worth pointing out what's wrong with the way it's being used here.

A good working definition of terrorism is the one that's currently at the top of the (contentiously edited) Wikipedia entry: "a strategy of using violence, or threat of violence to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, to bring about compliance with specific political, religious, ideological, or personal demands. The targets of terrorist attacks typically are not the individuals who are killed, injured, or taken hostage, but rather the societies to which these individuals belong." In other words: terrorism is a tool used in the service of an idea about the way the world should be, and it's intended to make a society conform to that idea out of fear of violence. (The first comic I read that actually involved somebody explaining that they were a terrorist in the name of a political goal was this one--Plastique was then a Quebecois separatist.)

So. Is Black Adam a terrorist? The only person he's committed violence upon in the name of his ideology (at least in the current storyline) is Terra-Man, whose post-COIE, pre-IC incarnation (sigh) was more or less an eco-terrorist himself. So what's the society that's supposed to be fearing future violence from him? The Secret Society of Super-Villains and the Monster Society of Evil don't really count as societies in that sense, do they? Adam also appears to have killed Terra-Man on what's effectively Kahndqian soil (at least their embassy), for acts committed in Kahndaq's airspace, and what he's putting together in this issue sure seems like a legitimate, if scary, political coalition. If someone can offer a good argument that what he's up to is terrorism, I'd love to hear it, but it doesn't seem like it to me.

As for Supernova's punching bags: Bahdnesia is a tiny little country. It's sort of an analogue for Tibet, but not really--for one thing, it appears to be an island. (It's where Johnny Thunder was born, and picked up his Thunderbolt.) So what are "Bahdnesian terrorists" doing trying to steal an American ATV in the U.S.? How would that be terrorism instead of theft--what kind of fear might it inspire? What sort of political goal would a Bahdnesian terrorist want? ("We demand a monthly Johnny Thunder comic, or... we'll steal more cars!") If Bahdnesian terrorists are doing destructive stuff in the U.S. in the name of the Bahdnesian government, aren't they more or less begging for an American military response? And, more to the point, if you're stealing a military ATV in the middle of Metropolis, what the hell are you going to do with it, anyway? Drive it onto the next boat heading to Bahdnesia? Again, if somebody can make a case for this being a believable terrorist act, I'm all ears.

Greg Rucka, in particular, is very good with geopolitical stuff--he's been dealing with it beautifully in Queen & Country, and Checkmate is at least sorta promising so far. So it bugs me to see 52 using "terrorist" as an all-purpose synonym for "bad guy," without going at least a little deeper into means and motives.

As for this week's "History of the DCU," I have three things to say: "It all fits together..." may be the most inaccurate thing anybody has said about the entire run-up to Infinite Crisis; to say that "Wonder Woman killed Max Lord for his crimes" totally misses the point of that storyline; and "to be concluded next week!" is the single most promising line of this entire backup series.

More notes:

Pg. 1: So we know that saying "Shazam" doesn't do anything to Black Adam any more. Has he tried "Kimota"?

Pp. 2-3: Wizard identifies the August General in Iron (not "General August"...), a Rocket Red, Cascade from the Global Guardians, a version of Ibis the Invincible, some woman in a Kobra-related outfit, Sonar, and somebody called Lady Zandia (can anybody tell me more about who she is?). Nobody yet from Bahdnesia, although it's mentioned later in the issue, or Vlatava, Santa Prisca, Bogatago, KooeyKooeyKooey, Bhutran, Austanberg or Gorilla City--thanks to this page for reminding me of some of those names--and we already know that Bialya isn't happy about Black Adam.

Pg. 4: Panel 2 has the return of surprise lines, which I don't think we've seen in a while; panel 8 looks a whole lot like a Kevin Maguire drawing, esepecially Adam's face and jaw-line... As for Spittin' Isis-To-Be:Wizard says her name is Andrea Tomaz, and that's the name that appeared on Giffen's layouts for #3 (and in the early script for #3 that I saw). But in the actual printed comic, she's Adrianna Tomaz. (One name gets Google hits for a real person, the other doesn't.)

Pg. 5: But 912 isn't even evenly divisible by 52!... It's not clear what story, exactly, the Daily Star got. "An exclusive on the investigation"? Maybe it's just the first photos of Supernova, but shouldn't he hassle a photographer about that instead? If there hasn't been an interview with Supernova yet, there's not much of a story to tell anyway.

Pg. 6: I can believe that Perry might have pulled this as a motivational stunt to get Clark back on the case. But if his pink-slip letter is just lorem-ipsum text, as it appears to be, you'd think Clark would have called his bluff...

Pg. 7: Clark is a star reporter and a bestselling novelist! His name sells papers! The worst Perry would actually do, most likely, is tell him to take a break, yes?

Pg. 8: "Great Caesar's Ghost!"

Pg. 9: J.G. Jones says on his Wizard 52 blog that he made careful notes about the cover's color scheme, and this image indicates that the tie's supposed to be dark blue with yellow and red stripes--the same colors as his Superman costume, which is a nice touch. (On the final cover, it's black with yellow and red stripes.) So couldn't somebody in the path of this issue's production made sure that Clark was wearing the same tie on the outside and the inside, or that his jacket could be unbuttoned on the inside too, or that the pants he's wearing aren't standard dress slacks but khakis?

Pg. 10: More surprise lines!

Pg. 12: Perhaps there will someday be an explanation of why a woman from Cairo is named Adrianna.

Pg. 13: I wish there were a clearer explanation of what exactly the Freedom of Power Treaty is supposed to do--it's still awfully nebulous. But I do like the Cary Grant/Kate Hepburn-but-with-the-constant-threat-of-dismemberment tone of their banter. "You're not just a terrorist, you're lonely!"

Pg. 14: Anger lines! I know Lois falling out a window and being caught by Superman is an iconic image, but I'm trying to think of any comics where it's actually happened, other than "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" Anybody in the audience want to point me to more examples? I don't think we've ever heard of "Meta-Human Journal" before--and it's very odd that "metahuman" gets a hyphen; as I recall, the standard superheroes-and-their-doings magazine in the DCU is called The Brave and the Bold. Also, if Clark's just been chopping the vegetables, why did he put the knife down with the blade pointing toward himself?

Pg. 15: "Sweetie, hot!" Love it.

Pg. 16: "A peculiar eyebeam."

Pg. 17: Is Lois left-handed? She's holding her fork with her left hand.

Pg. 18: More anger lines!

Pg. 19: Yes, "sivanium"--it originally appeared here, in a story that's been reprinted a couple of times. And I really like the idea of hybridizing that witth the Metal Men. Also great: the name "Tuesdays with Morrow" that Stephen Wacker used last week in his Newsarama Q&A. Looks like Morrow's been allowed to have some books again: a classic futurist-dystopia, a classic mad-scientist story whose title is set in old-school Macintosh Chicago, and a dreadful but cheap one-shot with a pretty good Atom story in it.

Pg. 20: "Mad Docter Sivana" (sic)? I'd write this off as just a typo, and maybe it is, but one of the first Google hits for "mad docter" is this page, which (once you click to expand) cites "a worm with a white coat, nuke goggles and a pipette." Which at least suggests Mister Mind, who is pretty obviously what went into the cocoon--and, to paraphrase that Wacker interview, probably not what's going to come out.

Next week is likely to be a little late, since I'll be heading to San Diego for Con on Wednesday. In the meantime, why not pass the time by leaving a comment here, especially if you've never commented before? I'm curious to find out how many people are reading.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Week 9: In Paradise, Everybody Speaks English

There's a pretty neat essay in Umberto Eco's book Serendipities: Language and Lunacy: "The Language of the Austral Land," about people's attempts to imagine an ideal or divine language, in which words would directly represent what they mean according to some logical system. (There is, of course, the problem that "heretical" ideas, or ideas outside the internal dictates of the system, would then be impossible to express in that language, but that's another issue.)

In comics, the ideal language seems to be English, which everybody speaks everywhere. Oh, there have been occasional attempts to explain it away with things like Rannian translators and the Thanagarian Absorbascon, but let's face it: the language DC Comics are written in is the lingua franca (oh, hey, another Eco reference) of the DC "U."

What's weird, though, is that Adam, Buddy and Kory don't seem taken aback at all that the gigantic being that's attacked them on Planet X (I am no longer sure that it's Adon, although I still suspect so) is talking English to them. Now, it's not news that Devilance speaks English, as all the residents of New Genesis and Apokolips seem to. He said things like "Taste the power of Devilance---and perish! HAHAHA!!" in his first appearance. Although here he's actually speaking archaic, idiomatic English--"the two score and twelve walls of heaven" is a 52 reference, but it's also something somebody with only basic English would never say.

Still, before I remembered that he's been an Anglophone all along, I imagined that it'd have been cool to see Kory translating what Devilance and her companions were saying to each other--I believe it was established in one of her first appearances that she can absorb languages through physical contact. (Here's how she learned English, for instance.) If the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is true for Tamaraneans, they have to have the broadest world-views of anybody anywhere.

The other notable development this issue is something that might tie the outer-space storyline together with the Montoya/Question plot: the "targeted by Intergang" bit on the last page. It's not like Gotham City doesn't have enough trouble with organized crime already--and it's curious that Metropolis's mafia would be trying to move into Gotham, or that they'd need Kirbytech to do it. On the other hand, it now makes sense that Renee's gun is indeed Kirbytech. Intergang first appeared here--in one of the first comics Kirby did for DC during his '70s stint there--and they were acting as Darkseid's agents, trying to dig up the Anti-Life Equation for him. That first appearance of Devilance that I linked above was, of course, in the final issue of Forever People, one of Kirby's other "Fourth World" series.

I've honestly never understood why the Fourth World stuff has become so much of the core of DC mythology (well, aside from the fact that Infinite Crisis avoided it beyond a one-panel cameo by Shilo Norman). I mean, it's lovely-looking stuff in Kirby's hands, but Kirby's particular command of spectacle let him get away with the fact that most of it either makes no sense at all or is blitheringly obvious, and almost everyone who's played with those concepts since then ends up either doing watered-down Kirby or missing the point entirely. If there's anyone who's qualified to mess around with Kirbyisms at DC right now, it's Morrison--the scene with Metron at the beginning of his Mister Miracle really did give the sense of encountering something too huge to understand--but this version of Devilance just makes him a great big dude with a spear, some ropes, and eyes that are more consistently the same color than Adam's.

The other curse of Kirby in mainstream comics is the thing that afflicts this issue: endless, tiresome fight scenes with great big panels. The four- and six-panel layouts in the John Henry/Natasha fight this week are a holdover from Kirby-style page design (in his Fantastic Four as well as the Fourth World comics; when Kirby did them, though, they were dynamic and exciting, which these really aren't (although I bet they look better when we get to see Giffen's layouts for them at And a ten-page fight scene? If there were some plot or character advancement here beyond an argument between uncle and niece that could've been dispatched in a page, or even if we'd been introduced to the other members of the Luthor League, I wouldn't be so annoyed. But in a series with this many plot threads that are struggling to find space, it's a bummer. With a little more recompression, we probably could've seen what Ralph, Booster, Adam, Rip Hunter, Casey the Cop, Air Wave and the Frogmen were up to.

As far as this week's title goes: "Dream of America" is a strange phrase--the only direct source I can find for it is a political dot-com I'm not going to link here whose home page quotes Pat Buchanan approvingly--although it made me think a little of Allen Ginsberg's poem "America." (Well, maybe the last line of it relates to the gay-bar scene this issue.) It'd have been more appropriate for the Fourth-of-July-week issue--but the Fourth was day 7 of week 8, yes? We've already established (via Montoya's "Sunday was Father's Day" speech a few days ago, and the day-by-day timeclock on the official 52 site) that we're following the same timeline as this year on, um, Earth-Prime...

I wonder, though, if Luthor's quasi-patriotic rhetoric about "every man becomes a super man" being the new "a chicken in every pot" might suggest that the operative concept of his Justice League of America is that they're somehow American--hence, perhaps, the word being spelled out in the forthcoming series' title. I actually sort of like the idea of Luthor's group being the American answer to the Great Ten, and I wish we knew who any of them were besides Natasha and Herakles. Plus isn't Herakles, you know, Greek?

More notes:

Pg. 2: Did John Henry shave off his facial hair between last issue and this issue?

Pg. 3: It looks like several bystanders have gotten hit by the ricochets off John Henry's skin, and he's not looking at all concerned about it. Not like him.

Pg. 4: As you can see here (hey, Terra-Man!), here (scary!), and here, the new JLA is wearing Luthor's favorite color scheme. And I see why Natasha went for Luthor's plan--he gave her a costume with a pocket! Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a superhero costume in a women's size with a pocket?

Pg. 6: I'm willing to accept the possibility that Luthor's machines made Natasha age, or her body change its general appearance, but the character in the lower right-hand panel is simply not the teenage girl we've come to know. Dept. of Wishful Thinking: the fact that Natasha's chest doesn't have the metal burns she got last issue could mean that this isn't really her. (Unlikely, I know.)

Pg. 14: Adam has no eyes right now, yet he seems to know the exact moment to trigger his jet-pack. Or, to be more linguistically specific, his glispach. (And here I thought I was the only person who'd been fool enough to translate that whole storyline into English.)

Pg. 17: "Dixieland" is such a perfect name for a gay bar, I'm amazed it hasn't been used already somewhere. Or has it? And wait: less than a week ago, Green Arrow was vehemently denying that he had any intention of running for mayor, and now Oliver Queen's leading the seventh-inning stretch as a candidate?

Pg. 18: I don't know that any friend of Vic Sage's calls him "Charlie," although his real name is Charles Victor Szasz. But maybe we haven't seen him in much of a friendship-type situation before. Anyone more up on the Question want to correct me? Also, Montoya sure seems to be giving the reader the stinkeye in that last panel... Plus: the return of the "Vic asking Montoya who she is" meme, repeated on the next page. WE GET IT.

Pg. 20: Once again, the Batwoman costume would've been a lot more surprising if it hadn't been spoilered from here to, um, Adon. Although it looks like next week we get Clark taking a dive, the Great Dismemberer putting the moves on someone I'm guessing is the young woman from Week 3, and--oh, man, who'd have thought of this? Booster angry about something!

As for the backup story: Donna Troy Weeps Again! Two more weeks of this left to go. That's bearable, right? (Right...?)