Justice League: Gods and Monsters [Blu-ray]
In an alternative history Zod is Superman's father, Batman is a vampiric Man-Bat, and Wonder Woman is the child of Ares, God of War. When these dark heroes form an alliance, the question everyone asks is will they save the world, or rule it?
Also available on DVD.
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Cover date: February 2013
"Teen Scream" ("Death of the Family" tie-in)
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Fabien Nicieza
Penciller: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
This issue finds us with the Teen Titans now in Gotham city in search of Red Robin. They have enlisted the help of Batgirl, with clues left by Red Robin about how to contact her should anything happen to him.
The team (Wonder Girl, Solstice, Kid Flash and Bunker) meet up with Batgirl. Kid Flash is star struck, Bunker is in awe and Wonder Girl doesn't seem too impressed with the female member of the bat family. After some amusing back and forth banter, Batgirl splits the team in half and sends them to locations of the Joker's previous crimes, in a vain effort to find the missing team leader.
We cut to Red Robin waking up in what appears to be an abandoned warehouse (one of thousands I'm sure, it is Gotham after all!), knowing full well that he is a captive of the Joker. He finds that the Joker somehow has placed him in his old Robin suit/armor. The Joker reveals his plans to make Batman great again, by killing his "family" of sorts, who he believes make him weak. He also reveals that he is one step ahead of Red Robin's every thought. And that if Red Robin is counting on the Teen Titans to come help him, he's mistaken.
Wonder Girl asks Batgirl of Red Robin's chances of being alive, with Batgirl reminding her of how clever Red Robin really is, and how much the Joker likes to talk. Batgirl then leaves to complete her own mission, leaving the team to complete theirs.
The first team of Kid Flash and Solstice head to a destination given to them by Batgirl, having a nice moment on the way, as well as stopping a mugger with a gun. Kid Flash scouts the location and comes up with nothing.
We cut to the Joker and Red Robin once again, with the Joker revealing his plans on using the Teen Titans to get to him as well as further cause some chaos in Gotham, as only the Joker can. Using Kid Flash to spread his "Joker Dust" at super speed, which he has conveniently dispersed through the sewers and storm drains, infecting the people of Gotham and essentially making them into Zombie-like killers in the image of the Clown Prince of Crime himself.
We end with the team of Wonder Girl and Bunker trying to contact Kid Flash and Solstice after coming up with a dead end at the location they were sent to by Batgirl. They see a flare of sorts in the sky, which looks a lot like Solstice's energy signature, telling them that Kid Flash and Solstice may be in trouble. As they head toward their teammates, they are over come by the Joker infected people trying to kill them.
We are left on the last page with help arriving from former Teen Titans, Arsenal and Starfire of the Red Hood and the Outlaws team.
To be continued in "Red Hood and the Outlaws #16".
Story - 4: I've stated this before, and I don't mind saying it again, I really feel that this book is getting better every month. The last two issues with Wonder Girl's origin were great, and even though this issue is a tie-in to the crossover happening in the Batman family of books, it doesn't get lost in all the hoopla surrounding the "Death of the Family" event.
I know there are some that may disagree, but I think Lobdell is a great writer. I feel that in the last few issues the stories have gotten stronger. Though he is writing tie-in issues for the next couple of months for this crossover, he is doing a great job of keeping the story progressing at its natural pace.
Fabien Nicieza also deserves accolades, for his dialogue in this issue as well as his contributions in issues past. The Joker's line to Red Robin, "As if your absurd Bieber-Band could pose any threat at all - to me!" made me laugh.
Red Robin's narration, as a play-by-play of how the events will play out and which member of the team will do what, was a great insight on how well he knows his team, as well as how smart he is. This I feel is excellently complimented through the Joker's monologue, as he reveals to Red Robin that he is one step ahead of him. Red Robin is smart, but the Joker is smarter!
Batgirl served her purpose well as a guest star. Page 6, with her hand over her mid section reminds you just how much pain the Joker had caused her in the past, both physically and mentally! It was a great scene.
Wonder Girl's question to Batgirl, on what the chances were of finding Red Robin alive, was an excellent reminder of the love triangle between her, Red Robin and Superboy (who is not in this issue, but has his hands full with all "H'el" breaking loose in the Superman family of books).
The Kid Flash and Solstice scenes were really good. Not only furthering their relationship of sorts, but also a welcome return of the "happy-go-lucky/run before you can walk" Bart Allen! I had severely missed this version of Bart, happy to have him back! Though Bunker and Solstice had minor roles in this issue, they were not simply dumped in the background, they still had a presence, and that to me is important in a team book. Even if characters don't have prominent roles in an issue or story, it's important they don't just fade into the background.
The only aspects that kept the story from getting a 5 were not just problems with this issue, but rather the crossover as a whole. Firstly, how did the Joker have access to Red Robin's old Robin suit/armor? When did the Joker have the time to set up such elaborate traps for the Teen Titans, and why does the "Joker Dust" turn everyone to Joker-ized Zombies who target the Teen Titans, and why doesn't it affect the team as it does the normal citizens... Shouldn't Kid Flash be affected at least?
Art - 5: I was wrong last issue, I assumed that Ale Garza had taken over the art chores for the book, but Brett Booth was just taking a couple of issues off. He did an exceptional job with this issue.
Booth's style, though similar to Jim Lee in detail work, is very kinetic. He has a great sense of page layout. There are 4 splash pages and a double page splash in the middle of the book, but you don't seem to miss any aspect of the story throughout the issue. I have a great deal of respect for him as a penciller. He seems perfectly suited to doing a team book. Every character has his/her own personality, and he doesn't skimp on the backgrounds either.
The Joker's chalk board diagram's were very detailed and quite cleverly done! It brought a sense of fun to the issue, especially since it has a very dark under tone.
The Joker's face looked both classic and creepy at the same time. Though at times it didn't look like he was wearing a mask at all, but it's just a minor nitpick. The eyes were especially creepy looking, it gave him a very psychotic feeling.
The animated feeling in each character's face, really gave this issue personality, and brought the book to life for me. Lastly, I loved seeing a Pre New 52, Robin suit. That version of the suit always takes me back to "Batman: The Animated Series" fourth season.
The inks are great. Rapmund compliments Booth's pencils really well. They are not too heavy or too light. Just the right mix! I imagine it makes the colorist's job a lot easier!
Speaking of colors, Andrew Dalhouse has outdone himself again this issue. I had an issue when he colored the trunks area of red Robin's suit/armor red, as Brett Booth had clearly drawn them in there. But I realized that it would have been an editorial mandate, and that the New 52 must remain trunkless!
All in all, I really enjoyed the art in this book. The team has really kicked it up a notch, and as an art guy, I really appreciate it!
Cover Art - 3: The cover to this issue by Gregg Capullo and FCO Plascencia, is basically the same as the all the "Death of the Family" books, with a half shot of a characters face (Red Robin), with a carded die cut second cover of the Jokers skinned face mask. So I don't really have much to say about it. Ties in with the crossover really well, but otherwise has nothing to do with the issue. The colors on the Joker face are great though!
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2013.