Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 2 Is A Desperate Hunt For Wonder Woman (My 100th Graphic Novel Review!)

The Good: Engaging story, Decent artwork, Intriguing end, What character development there is.
The Bad: VERT light on character development, Follow-up
The Basics: Maxwell Lord appears on track to completely destroy the DC Universe by killing Wonder Woman and restoring the OMACs to dominance.

A few years ago, I began reviewing graphic novels because they have increasingly become the subject of movies I have an interest in. Since that time, I have grown to appreciate the medium for what it is: alternately a truly neglected art form or a dumping ground for the most commercial, base and low-mentality schlock. But, as this milestone – this is my 100th graphic novel review! – approached, I began to think about what I actually liked about graphic novels and who my favorite characters are. Wonder Woman has been a favorite of mine and as I have been engaged in Justice League: Generation Lost, I was thrilled to see her having a more prominent role. So, despite this being my Daredevil year, my 100th graphic novel review allows me to read something that has Wonder Woman as a principle character.

Following on the heels of Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 1 (reviewed here!), Volume 2 picks up the story of Maxwell Lord’s arc during the Brightest Day. A large part of Lord’s purpose is to ensure, as charged by the Entity as the price of his life, that the events of Kingdom Come (reviewed here!) do not come to pass. This happens exceptionally early in the narrative, which frees Lord up to pursue his personal vendetta against Wonder Woman. Unfortunately for him, the tools at his disposal are somewhat limited. Justice League: Generation Lost began before J. Michael Straczynski took over Wonder Woman, but the storyline there – begun in Odyssey (reviewed here!) – forced a different direction in volume 2 of Justice League: Generation Lost. As a fan of both series’, I had been intrigued about how the book would deal with the fact that no one knows Wonder Woman in the Odyssey-altered DC Universe. Because Justice League: Generation Lost has involved itself with alterations to the DC timeline already, the changes made to accommodate this work surprisingly well.

Manipulated by Maxwell Lord, Magog hunts down Captain Atom. During their conflict, Captain Atom struggles to stop Magog while absorbing the energy from his altered lance. Lord uses the fight and Magog’s weakened state to overpower Magog’s mind and have him turn his lance on himself. Unfortunately for him, what the world sees is Captain Atom lance Magog through the head, a savage act for a superhero. As Captain Atom struggles to catalyze the energy, he is thrown over one hundred years into the future, where the world is shattered and Power Girl informs Captain Atom that the defining event that triggered the bloody hundred years was arguably Wonder Woman’s death at the hands of Max Lord.

Captain Atom returns to his appropriate time where he discovers that Fire, Ice, Booster Gold and him are the only ones who recall who Wonder Woman is. Maxwell Lord makes that same determination and, after setting the Creature Commandos upon the tattered heroes (including Blue Beetle, Rocket Red and Skeet), he begins an intensive search for Wonder Woman. Even as Lord moves to find Wonder Woman, the heroes move to find Diana and save her, not knowing whom they can trust or Maxwell Lord’s vicious endgame.

My only real complaints with Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 2 are the lack of character development and the poor follow-through on the concept that ended the book. The latter is not the fault of this particular volume, but it is pretty irksome that instead of giving the weight of the final panels of this book a chance to resonate and become something, DC took the DC Universe in a completely different direction with this summer’s fairly mindless Flashpoint event. So, perhaps the big letdown here is that there is nothing more (yet) to read to follow-up on the bold ending to this book. I’m still hoping there will be an action figure line, but I know it’s not worth holding my breath for at this point.

Outside that, Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 2 is very much an intense romp from beginning to end with little in the way of actual character development. Max Lord is vindictive and an amazingly brilliant tactician and he does not become any less so with the events of this book. His plan is both intriguing and consistent with his character and promises more menace in the future. But the methods he uses in this book, utilizing the heroes as the tool he needs to track in the right direction is clever and it is smart that Booster Gold and Captain Atom seem frequently to be aware that this could be Lord’s very plan.

That said, the heroes do not truly develop or grow. Booster Gold tries to convince Batman and others of the need to find Wonder Woman and of her very existence. With the world turned against him and his team, he perseveres, which is pretty much the definition of hero. Ice continues her arc of self-discovery, but given the demands of the overall plot and the fact that the Justice League is more of an ensemble piece, she makes explicit more what readers might suspect from Volume 1.

The artwork in Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 2 is homogenously good and elements like the new Wonder Woman work well because the artwork is on a consistent quality with the Odyssey work. The colors in this graphic novel are vivid and the character designs are all recognizable. Rather nicely, this book features both the common-release cover art and the variant cover gallery.

In short, Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 2 is dependent upon reading Volume 1, but the story is entirely engaging and for a story that follows one of the most back-bench teams in the DC Universe going up against one of its most impressive, mostly-human, villains, it is not only engaging, it is a real page turner. That is what the medium can do when it works and Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 2 works!

For other Brightest Day works, please check out my reviews of:
Brightest Day - Volume 1
Brightest Day - Volume 2
Brightest Day - Volume 3
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns
The Black Ring - Volume 1
Green Arrow: Into The Woods


For other graphic novel reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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