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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 38,539
Subj: Justice League #27 - A Dip into Tomorrow.
Posted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 at 07:53:21 am CDT (Viewed 645 times)

It instinctively feels wrong. Wrong that given such a generic and much overused story idea Bryan Hitch's latest storyline defies the conventional assumptions about such a storyline to prove itself as a thoroughly intriguing and absorbing look at what the children of the Justice League might be like, and how the League responds to the arrival of their offspring and their desperate pleas for advice and support.

And so Bryan Hitch's latest Justice League storyline revisits the highly familiar ground of having our heroes facing their potential futures, and by relation the next generation of heroes some years hence... Brian Bendis has done it for his Avengers and All-New X-Men, Marv Wolfman Geoff Johns and others used the concept for the Teen Titans, Grant Morrison used the concept for his Justice League 1-million amongst other stories, and of course the most famous such story, arguably the one that came first and stands as the the definitive - Claremont & Byrne's Days of Future Past. And these are just random examples, in its essence Hitch's story is firmly rooted in the fertile soil of the Days of Future past model, a time travel tale with select refugees from a dystopian future arriving in the present to attempt to forestall that future. It stands as a testament to strength and originality Claremont & Byrne's original that the idea still holds such a considerable power and appeal then these near four decades later. As Justice League #27 opens with its Hitch-like visuals courtesy of artist Fernando Pasarin the children from the future are introducing themselves proper and thanks to the very sharp visual designs of Pasarin gelling with Hitch's deft scripting and distinct voices for the new arrivals the new arrivals are immediately an engaging and largely likable bunch.

Perhaps the success of Bryan Hitch's take on this overused story concept can be found in the fact that rather than split this issue into a standard format of interlacing action set-piece and character moment he opts instead for a calm-before-the-storm approach and devotes the entirety of the issue to character. There is no immediate threat on the door here, no violent confrontation to be dealt with, just a group of awestruck yet mature teenagers finding their way around how to introduce themselves to parents they apparently never really knew. As Green Lantern Jessica Cruz understandably struggles with the situation before her and a claim that she will have three children we can well imagine our own responses mirroring hers, but in a moment of emotional breakage when one of those children is overcome with tears and confusion as Jessica's momentary rejection our confusion rapidly shifts to sympathies at the girls plight. As does Jessica's. The scene is manipulative certainly, but then all of these children from the future share similar levels of understandable joy and trepidation at meeting the parents they barely knew, and the deftness of Hitch's work here is that all of it feels remarkably authentic in its array of responses and what the likely reactions of the Leaguers themselves would be to seeing a future laid out before them that is, if not without concerns, at least filled with the promise of successors and children who are everything they could ever hope for.

Not that Hitch fills this fascinating scenario with uniform love and acceptance. While Simon Baz learns that none of this bunch is any relevance to him as he will(?) kill Sinestro and assume the mantle of leader of his Yellow Lantern Corps the equilibrium of the floorspace of the Justice League watchtower is disturbed by the response of the visiting Hunter to what his relationship with mother Wonder Woman is - and to say there is an estrangement would be being diplomatic.
A Male Amazon is not a new invention. Who Hunters father is is left undivulged, but the idea he was apparently rejected at birth by his mother because he was/is male is a disturbingly confusing accusation. Certainly this antipathy to male children was an element of the post-2011 Amazon culture, as brutal and callous a concept as anything the bleak New-52 landscape of the DC Universe conjured forth, but with the revisionism of 'Rebirth' it seems most unlikely that deeply wicked attitude is still any element of the more familiar Amazon culture of which Greg Rucka reintroduced as Diana's true heritage. Questions of true history don't appear to be a part of the responses Hitch gives to Diana though, the bitterness of Hunter is all too understandable once one accepts his reasons for it, and that bitterness is then carefully counterweighted by Hitch as we learn that Clark/Superman adopted him as his own and brought him up alongside Jon Kent. Apparently a fiery but respectful arrangement of which Hunter grudgingly admits helped him adjust to the reality of his parentage. But what then are we to make of the response of Diana to Hunters damning claims? Her silence can be seen to be confirmation his claims are true, that this antipathy to a potential Son would be a likely reality, and yet... perhaps the subtext in these scenes and what we see in her apparent admittance can be interpreted in another, equally valid way. After all Diana has no personal experience of what it is to give birth, nothing on her Paradise Island has prepared her for the possibilities or the emotional responses to suddenly being responsible for a child, or what that child might be. Taken in these terms is Diana's silence on the subject of a possible male child not therefore likely to be more based on personal confusion and uncertainty over the subject rather than any absolute reality that would come to pass?

Of course, heart-warming as it is to see the League members come to connect emotionally with their newly arrived offspring the cynic has to come forth on occasion to note the convenience of Bryan Hitch's chosen methods for breaking down the League's initial ambivalence. Or alternately find themselves wondering, possibly intentionally on the writers part, as to whether this convenience, as seen above with Jessica and her just introduced daughter, whether the convenience is fully deliberate. A tactic and method being cynically employed by the visitors from the future purposely designed to break down any natural hesitance and distance on the emotional level. Certainly throughout his work on the series Hitch has carefully defined the members of the League as a band of what are essentially a cast of outsiders and loners, some are even pariah's, or at least feel as such at one time or another in their lives, so of course if one were cynical and motivated then this Justice League is wide open for a tactic based on such well researched and acted emotional manipulation....

On the face of things it is a meeting of generations free of enigmas. Any possible untruths or hidden agenda's are being left deliberately off the page at this juncture as the writer devotes the entirely of his issue to introduction and developing a firm emotional connection between the visiting children and their curious parentage. The way in which Bryan Hitch weaves these new characters into the lives of the Justice Leaguers as he develops their bonds is done with such a skill that Fernando Pasarin's detailed and capable skill has plenty by which to work with. Victor Stone learns that his daughter is a living extension of a Mother Box, and that her name came from him personally. For those who have followed Cyborg's development this meeting and the emotional connection of learning he has the real potential to still have a family is as lifting for us as it is for him.

It's a credit to both Hitch and Fernando Pasarin that the finished result of their work blends so well together, that Justice League #27 carries off a rehashing of a very very overworked story idea and yet still manages to demonstrate the real potentials still left in such seemingly now threadbare narratives. This issue isn't any attempt at nihilism or dark forebodings, all of this will no doubt, probobly at least, come later. The fact is not a punch is thrown or a weapon discharged until the final two pages, which tellingly shift away from the focus-point of the Watchtower headquarters to the far far away deep bowels of the Batcave, where a studious Batman comes under unexpected attack from a surprise source. The book then is entirely devoted to introduction and development of character. And therein lies a good deal of its success. As by sacrificing a chapter in the storyline like this Bryan Hitch is ensuring that his visiting cast will be accepted by audience and Justice Leaguers alike and that we will have an emotional investment in what comes next. All of the next generation visitors having been sufficiently sketched out and given a degree of sympathy and depth that we can care about where they take us and how their actions will impact on the hopes and dreams of the Justice League whom they have successfully connected to...

In a book filled with fine work from artist Fernando Pasarin there are many a finely crafted scene to enjoy and choose from as being worthy of discussion, but for me let me point to the above as a favourite panel. In it Pasarin translates the script from Bryan Hitch and manages fill the one panel with such a degree of information and reading that it put many an artist working in the Superhero market today to shame. Few could illustrate such a scripted scene and make it resonant with such a degree of information and characterisation - from the obvious regret and aain of Diana turning her face away from 'son' Hunter, to Hunter's own response, part self-satisfaction and clearly telling us a good deal of his ingrained anger and powerful self-motivation. Superman meanwhile is caught between the two's confrontation and unsure of how to react... this is but one scene in the book, but it demonstrates perfectly why the story within works so well, and why whatever comes next the marks it will leave on both reader and Justice Leaguer will continue to have relevance and lasting value.

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