Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Justice League - Gods and MonstersSummary: The prequel to the critically acclaimed animated film, from an all-star lineup of creators including Bruce Timm (BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES), J.M. DeMatteis (JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL), Thony Silas (BATMAN BEYOND) and many more!

In this alternate universe, the Justice League isn’t a team of the world’s greatest superheroes who protect Earth from evil and save it from disaster. No—this Justice League is a trio of ruthless “heroes” who answer to no one and will stop at nothing to destroy their enemies. The names are the same, but not the people they’re attached to: Superman is the son of Zod, Batman is an inhuman vampire, and Wonder Woman is a tragic former resident of New Genesis. These are the world’s best and only hope.



Justice League: Gods and Monsters, by Bruce Timm, J.M. DeMatteis and Thony Sials 7.0

‘Justice League: Gods and Monsters’ is a prequel book to the 2015 eponymous direct-to-video animated title from DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Based on the same alternate reality versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, it tells their origin stories and follows it up with a prequel to the animated film.

Superman: This Superman ended up being raised as Hernan Guerra by a couple of Mexican immigrants. They worked in the United States under terrible conditions in order to give their family advantages they didn’t get and wouldn’t have been able to give had they remained back home. Hernan struggles with the injustice he sees as well as his identity, becoming a morose, brooding, irresponsible !@#$ – the perfect “hero” for our times. Sadly, he’s not instilled with any values; he reacts mostly out of ego and a sense of vengeance.

And only after a prolonged period of self-indulgence, making it rich, bedding women, …etc.

What’s annoying is that, while it’s clear he can’t be called Clark Kent, he also doesn’t look Caucasian – he looks vaguely Latino. So… what? Jor-el was Latino, too, now? It would be fine if he was white and raised by Latinos, adopted as he is, but why change him? And what a squandered opportunity, because, by making him Caucasian, he would have had a very different perspective on the prejudice he sees around him. It would have made his character more complex than merely reacting to the racism directed at his adopted family.

Batman: Dr. Kirk Langstrom (i.e. not Bruce Wayne) is a Gotham scientist who was stricken with leukemia and healed himself – turning into a vampire in the process. Now he’s superhuman but needs to feed off of the blood of others. Whoopteedoo. That’s… ahem… new.

The plot consists of him killing Moxon, a crime boss, and then empathizing with Moxon’s son, who is the perfect opposite of his father. They become friends and try to find a cure for his disease together as Batman tries to figure out who is trying to take over from Moxon.

So, um, where’s Bruce Wayne in all of this? Doesn’t he exist in this reality? If so, why isn’t he Batman?

Wonder Woman: What? Woman Woman (née Bekka) came from Apokolips through a boom tube? What is she doing here? What are her powers (other than being a bad@$$)? She appears to have some sort of mystical powers but they’re completely undefined. And she has a sword. And somehow she can switch into and out of her costume at will.

WTF. What’s going on?

The plot revolves around her falling in with a late-’60s commune and fighting off Dr. Psycho, a former MK Ultra agent who claims to want to make drugs to free people, but is in effect turning them into freaks. It’s kind of lame. I mean, of course they went with a sort occult-ish story because it’s a girl. Why couldn’t she be the @$$hole instead of Superman?

And… ahem… where’s the original Wonder Woman in all of this?

The whole Wonder Woman chapter ties into the main course, which is a three-part piece called ‘Genesis’. This serves to bind the three characters together as the Justice League, after they fight Jackson Alpert and his genetically-modified Forever People – who are basically people wealthy enough to afford his expensive super-treatments.

It’s your usual “heroes” (anti-heroes, really, in this case, given the violence and recklessness of our protagonists) face a new and unfamiliar enemy and, after a setback or two, overcome him. It’s been done to death and it really just serves as a vehicle for action sequences. At least it follows the formula well enough to be coherent.

This story discusses the concepts of responsibility and what makes a hero, in the context of a commentary from Lois Lane – writing for planetnws.com and a huge skeptic of their motives. These themes are the good part of the book, because they’re much forgotten in this day in age. It doesn’t quite redeem the book, but it gives it a modicum of depth.

Honestly, at this juncture, I wonder what the purpose of creating these alternate characters might be. I mean, they have little in common with their forbears, which makes me think that it comes down to a simple matter of branding – these characters wouldn’t sell under a different name, so we find them carrying these names and little else.

Basically, what we’re looking at is Clear Pepsi more so than New Coke.

I’m a huge fan of alternate takes on characters. A great example of one of those is ‘Superman: Red Son’ – though imperfect, it was creative and kept enough of the original characters to have comparison points. ‘Gods and Monsters’ makes the characters utterly unfamiliar in all respects, plus which they’re not even likeable or at least interesting.

At this juncture, I highly doubt that I’ll watch the animated film.

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