This hurts to admit, but I’m starting to get over my anger at the new 52. Now, this is accompanying my new attitude towards the new 52. In the past, I collected dozens of DC comics every month. I kept meticulous attention to my favorite characters, mostly the JLI-era leaguers and their supporting characters.
Now, with the new 52 a few years old, I find myself as an interested observer. I will read any new 52 stocked by my local library. I have no interest in OWNING any of these comics. They don’t need to be added to my 75 long boxes. But I’m happy to read them for free and judge the DCU that left this old (38 year old) man behind.
And you know, it isn’t all bad! As I’ve said before, Geoff Johns is quite good at getting to the core of his characters. These leaguers feel close to what I remember from my older comics. This is like a cartoon version of the DCU, where everyone is angrier and more innocent bystanders die in order to up the stakes of each story.
This is a DCU for fans of the Dark Knight, where seeing the heroes suffer is a big part of the fun.
The book opens with a very classic-feeling story starring a new 52 version of Cheetah. She works much better as a League-wide threat thanks to a massive power upgrade from Johns. Tony Daniel draws her as a sleek, nude murderess. She’s able to snatch Flash mid-stride and repeatedly slash his hamstrings to slow him down. She chops at Wonder Woman’s throat and is basically tremendously dangerous. I liked how Johns used a “personal” villain of Wonder Woman’s to show the league growing closer together. This is Diana’s villain, but her friends are happy to help her deal with the situation.
The rest of the book is the titled “Throne of Atlantis” story. Including issues from both Aquaman and Justice League, this opens with multiple coastal cities being flooded, including Gotham and Metropolis. There are many comments made about how many people died in the tsunami, once again showing that if I were living in a fictional comic book universe, make mine Marvel.
Johns gets a lot of mileage out of Aquaman’s torn loyalties between the surface and Atlantis. Ocean Master in particular seems obsessed with revenge, but not entirely unjustified in his actions. It’s a nice turn to make the villain somewhat sympathetic.
One of my favorite things about the new 52 is the use of Mera. She’s arguably more heroic than Aquaman now, who is too busy being angry and pouty to be a good hero. She gets a lot of nice moments throughout the story, including a big rescue scene where she arrives with the Justice League cavalry. I think she belongs in the league full time.
Especially since this trade includes the expansion of the Justice League ranks. Atom, Vixen, Black Canary, Element Woman, Firestorm, and long-time favorite Hawkman all join up to help repel the Atlantians. We know some of those folks are just here short term, as they are destined to split off into the JLA.
With nice callbacks to early Aquaman stories (both pre and post new 52), this feels like an epic story that pays off a lot of subplots. This GOOD comic is by far my favorite in the new 52.