Comic Book Review: World War III Part Two: The Valiant

World War III Part 1 was a solid set up issue. We got some background on Jason Todd and Firestorm. Champagne set the scene of rampant chaos and destruction in the wake of Black Adam’s path. I suspect that World War III Part 2: The Valiant will be a more exciting read. Let’s hit the review.

Creative Team
Writer: Keith Champagne
Penciler: Andy Smith
Inker: Ray Snyder

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Martian Manhunter recounting the ending of Infinite Crisis where the large explosion in outer space fused Firestorm and Cyborg together, sent Adam Strange, Starfire and Animal Man somewhere in the universe, blew up the Red Tornado and sent Supergirl into the future. Suddenly, we see Supergirl return to our present day.

Week 50, Day 4: We see Martian Manhunter still curled up in a fetal position in space outside of Earth. All the events that are playing across the globe are entering his mind. Supergirl comes into contact with Martian Manhunter and he can sense a darkness choking her heart and soul. Supergirl then pulls to earth and crash lands into a street in Metropolis.

Martian Manhunter regains control of his mind and reaches out to the earth to find out what is happening. We shift to Gotham City where Harvey dent is fighting crock. Harvey dent brutally takes down crock.

We see Deathstroke the Terminator and Batgirl watching the fight from one of the rooftops. Deathstroke asks batgirl how she feels that Batman left Harvey Dent to take care of Gotham and not her.

Deathstroke says that he except her for who she is. That Batman keeps her close because he knows who she is and who she was point be: a killer. As long as she tries to change and follows Batman’s rules then the Batman will put up with her. Deathstroke says that everyone needs a place to belong and that she knows where to find him.

Martian Manhunter notes that Harvey Dent enjoyed the brutal conflict. And that Deathstroke is playing on the fractured and confused mind of a child. Martian Manhunter thinks how Earth is not his home. He begins to sift through peaks of memories that arc his own. He reaches out one last time to try and find reason why he should continue to care about Earth and Earthlings.

We cut to Pisa, Italy, where Black Adam and the Doom Patrol are fighting. Booster Gold suddenly appears and comments that this is not the right time. That he is too soon. He had disappears again.

We cut to Sydney Australia where Donna Troy is crying over the loss of life and all the damage that Black Adam has caused.

We shift to Sub Diego where Aquaman is talking to a couple of undersea gods. Aquaman says that suddenly, what ever process enabled the surface people to survive underwater has ended. And that the ocean is rejecting their presence. Aquaman says that if it is. If this is the gods doing then this will be war.

The two gods say that they have nothing to do with these events. The gods ask Aquaman and he is seeking the power to help these humans from them. Aquaman retorts that he has the power in the cursed bones of his former hand.

The gods say that Aquaman will not have the skill or knowledge to wield that power and if they were to show him the way they would be a price. That Aquaman will be transformed into a person like a great and terrible enemy to his people. That Aquaman will become a vessel to a power that is strange ancient and terrible.

We shift to Aquaman, absorbing the power from his cursed bones. Lorena begs Aquaman, not to do it. That it isn’t worth it. Aquaman tells her to swim away. That they gave him too much power for one mortal mind to contain. Aquaman powers through the pain and says that he will not fail.

Suddenly, we see Sub Diego rise from the ocean. All the humans are saved as they breathe air again, and praise Aquaman for saving them. We then see how and transformed into the strange squid faced creature that we saw in the one year later storyline over an Aquaman. Aquaman says “and so it begins.”

Martian Manhunter comments how Aquaman was one of the few humans he truly considered a friend and how his mind is now lost perhaps forever. That how Clark, Bruce and Diana of all given selflessly for the good of the planet and have all paid a price in one form or another. That their valiant efforts and noble their intentions, their endless cycle of saving mankind from itself and showing them a better way never leads to progress.

That mankind refuses to learn. That mankind chooses anger over reason and hate over love and death over life. Martian Manhunter thinks about human nature and the paradox that it is and how he has struggled to comprehend it from the first moment he came to earth. He thinks how is it he is going to continue to have a place among humanity that this must change before it is too late. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: World War III Part Two was a well paced and plotted issue. By framing this issue around Martian Manhunter, Champagne gives himself a convenient literary tool to skip all across the globe and to offer a running dialogue from a person who is not an Earthling and who can objectively critique mankind. That was a good idea and gave this issue a nice flow.

Champagne also delivered plenty of good dialogue. Martian Manhunter’s running monologue was well crafted. Champagne has an excellent feel for J’onn’s character. I’m glad that DC is making an effort to grow J’onn’s character. I thought that J’onn’s recent mini-series was a good step in evolving J’onn’s personality. It is cool to now see the events that led up to J’onn’s transformation just before the beginning of his mini-series.

I was absolutely thrilled to see Supergirl back in the present day DC Universe! That is fantastic! That means that Supergirl’s reign of terror over on my beloved Legion of Super Heroes shall certainly be coming to an end soon. It will be great to get her name off the Legion’s title.

It was a bad idea from the start and I predicted that Supergirl’s hijacking of the Legion would lead to an initial sales spike but that the numbers would then drop back to normal within one year. Well, Legion of Super Heroes #15 (the issue right before Supergirl took over) sold 31,600 issues. Twelve issues later and Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #27 sold 31,387 issues. So, it is actually worse than before Supergirl took over the title.

I enjoyed seeing Harvey Dent in action as Gotham City’s defender. Champagne showed the reader how Dent was already starting to get seduced by the violence of his job. We see the beginning of what led Harvey Dent to return as Two-Face over in Batman’s One Year Later storyline.

Champagne did a great job with Deathstroke and Batgirl showing the reader the foundation for Batgirl turning evil. I like Deathstroke’s snakelike words preying on Batgirl’s confused mind as the source for her personality shift more than mind control serum. Champagne’s Deathstroke was perfect and appropriately manipulative and conniving.

It was cool to see Booster randomly appearing and then disappearing saying that it is too early. As we saw over in 52 #50, Booster is evidently waiting for the moment when Steel whips out his new weapon to use on Black Adam.

Of course, the star of World War III Part Two is Aquaman. And Champagne writes a wonderfully heroic Aquaman. It was great finally getting to find out what happened to Aquaman after the end of Infinite Crisis and before the fake Aquaman took over Orin’s title.

Champagne gives us the real Aquaman who is a fearless and ballsy hero. What we get in this issue is exactly why I dig Aquaman and think he has the potential to be one seriously bad-assed character. I love how Arthur doesn’t back down when confronted by two gods. I also dig how Aquaman willingly sacrifices himself to save the people of Sub Diego. Champagne shows the total selflessness that Aquaman has as he is willing to trade his own soul to save innocent lives.

And Aquaman displays plenty of grit as he powers through the pain when he uses his cursed bones to raise Sub Diego out of the water. And then we finally see the dreaded transformation that Aquaman undergoes as he becomes the squid faced mystic known as the Dweller that we see over in Aquaman.

That was an incredibly heroic scene. And Orin’s resignation to his fate once he is transformed into the Dweller is tragic and sad. I hate like hell to see what DC did to such a great character like Orin.

I kept an open mind and tried to give the new Aquaman Sword of Atlantis a chance, but I was so totally unimpressed. I absolutely loathe this new Aquaman. And was this switch by DC a move that led to increased sales? Let’s see, Aquaman #39, Orin’s last issue, sold 18,300 issues. In March, Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis sold 18,997 issues. Wow, a monstrous increase of 697 issues. Way to go DC. Brilliant move.

Champagne delivers a good ending to this issue. We see the beginning of the debate about humankind that J’onn wrestles with over in his mini-series. I’m looking forward to watching J’onn’s transformation into the version of Martian Manhunter that we got on his mini-series.

Andy Smith provided plenty of nice artwork. I dig his style and all the scenes with Aquaman looked great.

The Bad: I have no complaints about this issue.

Overall: World War III Part Two was a good read. I enjoyed this issue more than the Part One. It was great seeing the real Aquaman in action once more. I’m also enjoying the continued evolution of J’onn’s personality. Plus, there is plenty of action to keep the issue from being slow. All in all, World War III Part Two was a well balanced issue.