THIS WEEK: The Jurassic League #1 asks a very important question — what the Justice League but dinosaurs? The DC Round-Up crew discusses whether the book works, while also taking a look at the FCBD Dark Crisis #0 special and Blood Syndicate: Season One #1.
NOTE: The following discussion contains spoilers. For a spoiler-free verdict for each of the issues being discussed, skip to the end of each section and look for the bolded all-caps words.
JOE GRUNENWALD: My Wally West fandom is well-known around these parts, so the fact that the main story of the special was a Wally West tale delighted me to no end. Beyond that, though, I thought it did a pretty solid job setting up some elements of what the world without a Justice League looks like.
CORI MCCREERY: I did like the fact that Wally was the star of the show, and that he got to tell a personal story about how when his uncle died he had to ease into being a replacement, and how now the entire hero community is going through that same thing. I do think it’s a bit odd though because again, this isn’t the first time the Justice League has disappeared. Obsidian Age and Scott Snyder’s Justice League both had the same premise. The heroes who are going to be the next League know this and are ready for this, they’ve literally done it before.
JOE: I mean, to be fair, some of the newer heroes like Jon Kent haven’t been through this before. You sort of have to buy into the premise of the story. I can see how it would be hard to get into without that.
ZACK: I thought the teaser did it’s job effectively, though. Just kind of setting the table for a big summer event, looking good doing it with the Jim Cheung artwork with Jay David Ramos colors. I am curious to see how this story sets itself apart. Most things feel like a retread in some way at this point with superhero comics, and I feel like that may be a little deliberate here, from the idea of it being another crisis to the idea that it’s also yet another time a bunch of these heroes died.
JOE: It does feel deliberate, doesn’t it? I trust Josh Williamson at this point to at least acknowledge that element of the story and try to do something new with it.
CORI: I mean I get that I need to roll with it, and we’re still at the beginning of the story, but it’s not like it’s just inexperienced heroes who don’t know how to step up to the big leagues. Wally’s entire generation has been here before. Kara’s been here before. There are seventeen other Earth Green Lanterns. There have been iterations of the Justice League without heavy hitters. We saw a mural of one in this very story (kudos to Cheung on that for really keying in to the style of each JLA era there). I just struggle with the idea that people that have been in this position before are struggling to step back into it. At the very least Wally, Kyle, Dick, Donna, and Kara have all been Justice Leaguers, and make a good foundation for a new generation.
JOE: It kind of just sounds like Dark Crisis might not be for you, Cori.
ZACK: So, is there anything else in these few pages we want to highlight here before moving onto the next book? It was pretty brief, and we’ve got two other full-sized books to get to here.
CORI: I’ll say pick this up, because it’s free, but definitely BUY something else while you’re there.
JOE: Yeah, noted easy Wally West mark here says definitely pick this up for free if you can find it. Cheung and Ramos’s art is fantastic.
ZACK: I reckon anyone taking their time to read this chat has probably already picked it up or had it pulled for them, given that it’s free and all. But I’ll say that I did have fun with this quick tease for another big DC summer event, which — feeling like a broken record here from other chats — I tend to enjoy because I like the scale of these things, regardless of whether they’re destined to be a classic or they end up being largely forgettable (my first one as a kid was Our Worlds at War…).
JOE: And hey, if they missed it, they can always grab the 2nd printing of Justice League #75, which will have this story included in it.
CORI: I’m not entirely sold on it yet. It hasn’t lost me, but I’m not all in like I was with Static or Icon & Rocket. Part of that is that I don’t particularly like Thorne’s writing in the things I’ve read from him, and I really don’t like his take on the mutant metaphor (which is that Wanda was right to nuke them) so having him do Milestone’s team that was their loose equivalent of the X-Men? Rings a little hollow to me.
JOE: Yeah, I’m intrigued by the first issue more than I’m excited by it at this point. I’m not at all familiar with the original Blood Syndicate so I came into this book completely fresh, and I like the idea off the bat of having people on the street reacting to the emergence of superpowered people in Dakota. The final pages got me interested in finding out what’s actually going on with this group, so I suppose in that respect it was a success. I also really enjoyed ChrisCross and Juan Castro’s artwork in this book.
ZACK: I thought the book looked great, really polished, and the sequential storytelling was really clear. I kind of blew through this one, and I think it had to do with a mix of really strong pacing and dialogue that felt real. I liked the way it was structured well enough, too. It’s been a long while since I read the original Blood Syndicate comics, but I remembered the concept as sort of tied more to its time than some of the other Milestone properties. This issue did a pretty solid job updating it, tying it as it did to veterans coming home from some of the recent overseas debacles we’ve been engaged in. If I had a note on this one, I kind of knew how it was going to end pretty soon, that there’d be a big reveal about how had powers with a big new threat making itself known.
JOE: There’s a Black Hawk Down reference at one point that kind of felt dated to me, but otherwise I agree that the script was really strong throughout. I do kind of wish we got a little bit more information about the relationship between the two returning vets – I couldn’t tell if they were just friends or if there was more going on there – but I’m sure that’ll be played out over the next few issues.
CORI: I actually disagree with Zack about the dialogue. There were parts that felt very much like a middle-aged man trying too hard to be write a youth’s dialogue – including that reference to a 21-year-old movie that no just back from their first tour of duty soldier who was born after it came out has probably seen.
ZACK: I imagine soldiers probably have a wider body of knowledge about military films than most people, but I did think that reference was weird for a different reason. It made me wonder too much, I think, about what the specific details were around the wars being fought in this alternate Dakota-verse. I think superhero comics tend to be better served just sort of being vague about current events (for inherent reasons), and Black Hawk Down being based on a true story muddies that.
JOE: That’s a really good point, Zack. I also found myself wondering if maybe this was a period piece set in the early ‘00s, but then characters were using smartphones to order Drvrs and I forgot about it.
ZACK: Yeah, I’d definitely take that out. Overall though, there’s enough in this issue to make me curious about where it’s heading, with that bit you pointed out about the relationships between some of our leads here being especially interesting.
CORI: I will give Thorne credit here for making some things textually queer, with Carlos lusting over Icon.
ZACK: Just realizing this now, but this was an exceptionally strong week for cool mural imagery appearing in DC Comics comics, with both of the books we’ve discussed having one.
JOE: I found Wil Quintana’s colors on that Icon mural really striking. The rest of the book I felt like had a sort of muted palette, but the colors on Icon (and, to a lesser extent, Rocket) really popped off the page nicely.
ZACK: One of the other notes I had on this one was about the coloring, especially for the extended flashback opening, which I think sort of overdid it a little bit with how washed out it was. So, I’m with you on all of that. Are we ready for verdicts on this one?
JOE: I think I am. I’m torn between a browse and a buy on this one but I think I’m leaning toward BROWSE, with a caveat to go back and BUY if the second issue develops the characters a little more. (Is that allowed?)
ZACK: I’d go BROWSE if you’re not reading any of the other Milestone books, but if you’re reading the other titles, I’d go BUY. I also enjoyed the interconnectivity here, which, fine, is basically just Rocket showing up to fight a little bit, but I like that stuff in superhero books.
CORI: I’d also say BROWSE on this. It feels like the epitome of the “Wait for the first issue to show up on the DC Universe App” kinda book to me.
CORI: Is it too early to just scream BUY at the top of my lungs? This issue was incredibly fun with a silly Silver Age concept that didn’t feel hokey at all. Just incredible work by Daniel Warren Johnson and Juan Gedeon with colors by Mike Spicer. They really made what could have been a really badly campy story into something amazing.
JOE: I for one found this book extremely derivative of other comics I’ve read where the Justice League members are all dinosaurs. <checks notes> Oh, there aren’t any of those? Okay then this book ruled. Joking aside, this comic is excellent, and not just because the Justice League members are all dinosaurs. I did not expect actual pathos from this comic, but it has it, and it’s fantastic.
CORI: That little human boy is gonna be Robin isn’t he? The Bat-Walker and Jokerzard portion of the story was by far my favorite part, and I can’t believe how well done the dinosaur version of the Crime Alley scene was done. Just incredible. Also having the Joker be a dilophosaurise is just absolutely inspired.
ZACK: That all speaks to something I really enjoyed about this comic, which is that I felt like it was just brimming with small details, the vast majority of which were really fun or clever dinosaurs-meet-DC Comics gags, references, ideas, etc.
JOE: I think my favorite detail, and it was a total throwaway gag, is that there’s a dolphin named Matilda. The Aquaman dinosaur (who I don’t think gets an official title in this issue) crying her name after she is struck in battle by BlackMantasaurusmade me laugh out loud. It’s clear so much thought was put into this comic – again, beyond ‘the Justice League but they’re all dinosaurs’ – and it comes through on every page. I loved it.
ZACK: I should be fair here, however, and note that I award this book no points for METRAAAGHPOLIS. Take another run at that one, guys. But that’s the only moment here I didn’t absolutely love. Speaking of the Aquaman dino…did we know about any of that going in? Maybe I missed it, but I thought the promo for this book did a good job hiding some of the surprises, namely that it’s going to be a full dino league beyond just the usual trinity.
JOE: I do think Aquadino was on one of the preview pages released, but most of the focus has definitely been on Bat Walker. I don’t remember having seen Wonderdon previously, so that was a nice sequence. I’m looking forward to seeing the Flash analogue.
CORI: Wonderdon is on the cover Joe.
ZACK: I also came here to point out that Wonderdon was on the cover, Joe.
JOE: And I try not to judge books by their covers. Also I forgot, leave me alone.
ZACK: Well-played. We’re getting late on time, but I have one more question before we wrap up…do either of you have other DC characters or concepts (aside from The Flash), you’re hoping we get to see played out in this world?
CORI: Actually really excited to see little human become Robin. Just hilarious that that’s going to happen. Otherwise, some of the Leaguers outside the big seven, like Black Canary could be fun.
JOE: Give me a dinosaur Green Arrow. I want to see a dinosaur use a bow and arrow.
ZACK: I was thinking dinosaur Fourth World would really be something, but, honestly, right now there’s not a DC thing I don’t want to see as a dinosaur, which I think speaks to how well done this whole thing is. Anyway, I’ll join Cori’s early call and also give this one a strong BUY.
JOE: Yeah, this gets a boisterous roar of a BUY from me as well.
CORI: I already said it but yeah. BUY.
ZACK: On that note, thank you everyone as always for following our chats about DC Comics. I’m sure I’ll be repeating myself again soon in this space, likely once more about Dark Crisis.
JOE: You’re as repetitive as DC event comics, Zack!
ZACK: Looks like nobody has anything else to add, thanks again!
JOE: Hey wai—
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