Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Security Detail" from Justice League of America #2 (May, 2013)

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As with Before Christ and Anno Domini, the world now considered the eras preceding and following the arrival of Superman. The White House had gone to considerable lengths to factor in the changes brought by super-heroics in defending the President of the United States. "Phase-proof technology now lines all of the outer fences." Secret Service agents wore "X-Ray Specs." Their glasses also fed them live-steaming biographies of every face they gazed upon. Supposed metal detectors now detected the presence of "super free-radicals" in the bodies of visitors, while floor sensors monitored weight and gait of those that trod upon it. Yet somehow, a Caucasian male with bogus security credentials managed to walk into the Oval Office with a high-tech pistol and aim it at Barack Hussein Obama...

Amodel Waller was in a meeting at the White House, pitching her "Justice League of America" premise to resistant politicos. What headway she made was assisted through basic telepathy and subliminal messages secreted into media at the presentation with the assistance of J'Onn J'Onzz. "Simple techniques that easily affect weaker minds. Changing minds. Gentle nudges towards proper thinking. Influencing the policy of nations isn't done with a gun or a fist. It's done with a suggestion. A gentle encouragement. A gentle hand on the shoulder. Showing the way." However, this soft push had its limits, and wasn't nearly as effective as a mind made up for itself, though that too could be manipulated...

The would-be assassin cried, "Die! For the Society!" Fingers appeared to dart bloodlessly through the man's head, causing him to collapse unconscious. What appeared to be a lean, bald, African-American male in sunglasses and a blue suit had thwarted the attempt on Obama's life. He said, "Mr. President. Your security measures are not enough." That was not entirely true, as the Manhunter from Mars had been using his own enormous powers to conceal the assassin's triggering of numerous White House countermeasures. The Alien Atlas shapeshifted in the Oval Office, making it clear "You need us." J'Onzz believed a mind changed by free will was more reliable than one bent by telepathy, and he could see on Obama's face that his ploy had worked without needing to gaze into his mind. The President backed the creation of the Justice League of America, and later presented them to the public in their first press conference.

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"Security Detail" was by Matt Kindt, Scott Clark and David Beaty. I like how it called back to another Martian Manhunter spotlight moment involving an imperiled president during a time of paranoia against super-heroes. I finally read the first issue of Kindt's Mind MGMT the other day, and wasn't won over, but he's fine in smaller, more direct doses. I think that this approach to improving the world is a lot more plausible than simply impersonating a human police officer in a minor metropolis. Had Mars been knowingly destroyed ahead of J'Onn J'Onzz's arrival on Earth, I expect he would have taken this route instead, and I appreciate the "gentle" guidance (though not Kindt's overuse of the word, nor an early use of "country" twice in one line of dialogue. Nobody checks copy anymore?) The triumph of the story was the artwork, though. I was very much not a fan of the late Scott Clark's efforts on Brightest Day, but I had at one time appreciated his style considerably, and this final effort is a visual feast. I'm sure there's some digital age cheating going on here, but the fine line feathering used on the figures is lovely, and Scott goes completely insane with the crosshatching on not-John Jones/The Manhunter. There are only three images of the Alien Atlas in this entire story, but I fully expect them to be extensively repurposed, because each one is wicked sweet. This here is a Da Vinci demigod of extraterrestrial origin, and I'll mourn for the pages of Clark art we'll never get to see. It continues a peculiar pattern of artists who draw the Manhunter very well and very memorably (Mike Nasser, Don Hillsman,) but not for very long. I can't say it hurts how blue his "purple" costume appears, either.

New 52's Day


will_in_chicago said...

I really liked this story, as it showed J'Onn showing how vulnerable those in power are in the sort of world that he lives in. The dialogue was not the best, but the art work was very impressive.

J'Onn, I believe, does care about humanity but seems to want us to make our own destiny. He is not above trying to move us in a certain direction, so I think that your excellent analysis from last week still applies.

LissBirds said...

I haven't read it yet as I'm waiting for it to ship; but the snippets here seem interesting. I like some aspects of the art, but I'll never get past the red panel loincloth (can't remember what it's called exactly); how do you fly wearing that exactly?

In my mind, real-life people (politicians or otherwise) never fit well into the DC mythos. It just feels too "Marvel" to me. I'd rather see Luthor as president; then I wouldn't mind some "nudging."

I'd rather have a superhero let humanity take its own course as far as leadership is concerned and worry about other things, like supervillans and natural disasters. The fact that this is a trend put forth by authors and received so well by fans disturbs me a little bit. Should an unelected person from another planet be making puppets out of our leadership? Eh...that just doesn't sit well with me. It makes me think of The Man Who Fell to Earth--alien benefactors never fare well themselves in these situations.

Unless there's some other supernatural influence on other world governments and J'onn is nudging back against that...