Justice League #9: Graves

A new enemy for the heroes emerges from a wheelchair, and Billy Batson is still a bitter, surly jerk.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Justice League #9

Sadly, Justice League only seems to be a halfway decent book when it doesn't focus on the Justice League. Steve Trevor is the most interesting character in the book, and that remains true in Justice League #9.

A sickly old man named David Graves, author of Justice League: Gods Among Men and patient with some sort of terminal condition tangentially related to some mysterious thing the Justice League did, finds himself at the end of his rope and staring death in the face. So he shoots his doctor, puts on a suit with a cape and a funky head and sets out to kill the League, starting by kidnapping and torturing Trevor, who isn't hard to kidnap because he's a TMZ joke as a Wonder Woman dumpee. Also, Flash and Green Lantern are "hilarious," while Batman and Superman are pals who kick ass in Arkham Asylum as a lunch date to distract themselves from their secret identity woes.

Then, in the backup Shazam story, Billy Batson is a cop on the edge – er, sorry, he's a dark, brooding, anti-social dick who reveals a long buried streak of semi-decency when he beats the crap out of a bunch of rich-kid bully-spawn of an entitled asshole named Bryer, and Buff Sivana finds the tomb of Black Adam and gets zapped with magic power.

Two separate ongoing stories happening here, with a massive cast of super-characters, and the only one I care about is Steve Trevor. That's simultaneously depressing and slightly fun, because Steve Trevor is cool. It's too little too late for Billy Batson, he's already been turned from one of the rare incorruptibly good souls in comics to a rote cliche and it's hard to care about him at all – even in the face of transparent assholery from Bryer. You want to see Bryer get punched in the face, but you don't want Billy Bathole to be the one to do it. Mary, maybe.

As far as the A-story goes, it's at least toned down how annoying it was. Hal Jordan still can't get off-panel fast enough, but the beats between Superman and Batman are okay, with Clark needing a hero-break after listening to Lois go on about how "Superman's waiting for me!" Graves is still a question mark, but the book has burnt up so much good will that it's hard to believe he'll turn out all that interesting.

Overall, Justice League has become forgettable. Kinda the opposite of what it's supposed to be. I almost forgot to review it.