Ok, so first off, Injustice 2 took up much of my time last week. My wife and I have played it almost every night, and I can’t get enough. I bought Red Hood! Anyways, that took up some of my reading time. I was finally able to finish last weeks pull, and holy crap what a pull it was! We got some incredible comics like The War of Jokes and Riddles (Batman #25 by Tom King), Spectacular Spider-Man #1 (by Chip Zdarsky), and The Normals #2 (by Adam Glass). It also gave us some disappointing comics like Trinity #10 and Luke Cage #2. I will type up my review of all 23 (ok… maybe not all 23 but you get it) and post it later this week. I did, however, read one issue this week and I needed to talk about it on it’s own.
Justice League #23
I go back and forth on this title as a whole. It is a good series, but compared to some of the other titles in DC’s Rebirth lineup, it’s just ok. There will be good and bad things with any comic you pick up, and (aside from the weird relationship they are trying to shoehorn in for Jessica and Barry) this title is good. JL #23 was a great issue! The issue opens with Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz, fighting alongside Batman and Wonder Woman to take down Black Shield. Black Shield is a terrorist who fights terrorist (a pretty solid example why fighting fire with fire is just a step sideways). He has a special suit that allows him to absorb and redirect damage (like X-Men’s Bishop… only Bishop can do it without a suit). Jessica finds this out the hard way and gets her ring blast shot back her, which then launches her through a wall and into a families living room. While Bats and Wonder Woman scramble to take down Black Shield, Jessica faces the harsh reality that, as a super hero, she will see (and be the cause of) collateral damage while fighting for justice. Black Shield launches a missile filled with a gas that causes human flesh to melt off. Jessica snaps out of her trance in time to contain the blast, but Bats and Wonder Woman know something is wrong. Now this is where my issue comes in.
The Green Lantern Corp. The galactic police force that equipped with one of the most powerful weapons in all the cosmos. I love the Green Lanterns. From Alan Scott to Jessica Cruz, I love them all. For me, Hal Jordan was the character that drew me (and most GL fans) in the most. A bad ass fighter pilot with a quick wit and a healthy amount of confidence. I also have a love for the other Lanterns for other reasons. John Stewart was the GL for the Justice League cartoon series. He was a military boy who will always do what’s right regardless of the consequences (like DC’s Sam Wilson). Guy Gardner is a walking talking ego who can back it up and loves to fight. Kilowog is… well Kilowog is just awesome (I mean seriously, who doesn’t love Kilowog?!) With New 52, we got 2 new Lanterns with two very different perspectives and two very different stories to tell.
Green Lantern Simon Baz
Simon Baz, was born in Michigan and raised in a Muslim family. Simon was forced to stand up and defend himself after the events of September 11th. He was 10. Most of us remember where we were and what we were doing that morning, we remember the pictures of a ash covered New York, American flags on every truck and car, and (unfortunately) seeing Muslim citizens being harassed because they share some theological beliefs with the hijackers. Muslim became ignorantly synonymous with terrorism that day. This fact of our society echo’s through all of Simon’s story arcs. After losing his job at a car manufacturing plant, he turned to crime and started stealing cars for chop shops. When he was caught stealing a van, he was seen as a possible terrorist (again… Muslim in America) and sent to Guantanamo Bay. This is where the ring found him. Since becoming a Lantern, we’ve seen Simon do a lot. He’s struggled with his need to carry an actual gun despite having one of the most powerful weapons on his finger, he’s brought people out of coma’s, he’s done things with the ring that not even the great Hal Jordan has done! Simon is a well thought out and rounded character that we have come to know more and more since the New 52 Green Lantern line. That brings us to his partner and one of my biggest frustrations with DC right now.
Green Lantern Jessica Cruz
Jessica “J-Bird” Cruz. Jessica was introduced in Green Lantern #20 (New 52) by Geoff Johns. Jessica also has a very unique and important story to tell. She is a woman of color and deals with crippling anxiety and fear. Jessica, and some friends, went hunting one day and stumbled across some mobsters trying to get rid of a body. When the mobsters noticed them, they shot and killed Jessica’s friends, while Jessica herself, escaped. Jessica then spent the next 4 straight years locked in her apartment. Jessica’s anxiety and fear play a huge role in all of the arcs she appears in (be it Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corp, Justice League, ect.). As someone who struggles with depression, anxiety, extreme guilt (thanks Catholic church for the guilt part), I appreciate when comics bring up the topic of mental illness. Weather it is Jessica with her anxiety, or Roy Harper with his addiction, DC tells these stories with a lot of honesty and I want comics to do more of this (without becoming super preachy). Here is the problem I have. Jessica Cruz is a great character! I enjoy her more than I do Simon, and I want to see more of her. The issue is she is one dimensional.
Every issue (Justice League #23 included) Jessica is saying how scared she is, how much she wants to run and hide, how she doesn’t believe that the ring chose correctly when it found her. While I don’t discount the fact that, as a person with sever anxiety, these thoughts never go away. They just don’t. You get better at drowning them out the longer you deal with it, but they never go away. That being said, dealing with anxiety, doesn’t mean that you have nothing else going on. They tried to set up a relationship with Barry Allen, but that ended up being more uncomfortable as a reader. Also, I don’t want to see Jessica’s character hang on her relationship with The Flash. Iris West has her own story (that just happens to include Barry), Jessica should too. The have tried to expand on her character a little bit, but it always comes back to her fear, doubt, and anxiety. SHE PUNCHED GUY GARDNER!
Every DC character (and most readers for that matter) has wanted to punch Guy in the jaw multiple times, and she actually did it, and it was glorious! The issue after that… doubt, fear, anxiety. Jessica is a strong female character who deals with mental illness. There is so much room for them to play and expand on this character and it feels almost lazy at this point to keep bringing it back to the same plot of: big bad enters-> Simon and Jessica enter -> Jessica hides/ doubts herself -> Simon (or who ever is with Jessica at the time -> have to step up and pick up the slack -> Jessica argues with herself -> Jessica somehow finds the will -> Jessica saves the day. Even Batman says that she is more powerful than we know! Her anxiety should be a character trait that effects her fighting and decision making, but not the only one. I hope that in the near future we will get a Jessica Cruz that is everything we expect to see with a Green Lantern of Earth, who just happens to have this illness. I don’t want to see them burn a great female character (and role model) simply because they wouldn’t write her in a way where she isn’t the damsel.
Make sure to check out tomorrow’s episode of Read a (Comic) Book! And keep an eye out for my thoughts on the rest of this weeks pull!