Comic Book Review: World War III Part Four: United We Stand

World War III Part 3 was another good read. We got plenty of nasty brutal Black Adam action and more character development for Martian Manhunter. I expect plenty more of the same in World War III Part 4: United We Stand. This certainly should be a fast pace action packed read. Let’s hit the review.

Creative Team
Writer: John Ostrander
Penciler: Jack Jadson
Inker: Rodney Ramos

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Week 50, Day 7: We begin with the large collection of heroes gathered outside the border to China. We cut to Black Adam laying waste to the various members of the Great Ten. Martian Manhunter comments how Black Adam is nearly impossible to stop. That Black Adam is a god with nothing left to lose.

Martian Manhunter watches his fellow comrades talk to each other about their lives, their hopes and their fears. Martian Manhunter thinks that with out Clark, Bruce and Diana that the heroes may not be able to stop Black Adam.

Martian Manhunter sees himself reflected in the face of their humanity. To live is to doubt, to fear, and to fail. Human nature is to stand up and try again. Martian Manhunter thinks how his place is with his friends. Martian Manhunter then turns visible and is greeted warmly by his fellow heroes.

Alan Scott then tells the heroes that the Chinese government has decided that they can enter China. We see our heroes valiantly rush into the battle scene. Black Adam and the heroes then begin brawling with each other. Martian Manhunter thinks how no one is more ferocious than Black Adam. That he has no fear of death, not even his own. We see Black Adam mowing through all of the heroes.

Martian Manhunter is humbled by his friends’ determination. It is time for Martian Manhunter to accept who he is and what he chooses to be. Martian Manhunter then attacks Black Adam. Martian Manhunter comments how he could not bear the pain and Black Adam’s mind from earlier. Martian Manhunter asks Black Adam if he can stand beneath the weight of Martian Manhunter’s pain.

Martian Manhunter projects into Black Adam’s mind the death of everyone on Mars. Martian Manhunter comments that Black Adam’s loss is a grain of sand held the next to Martian Manhunter’s loss. Martian Manhunter then projects the emotions of the millions of innocent people that Black Adam has killed.

Black Adam retorts that Martian Manhunter has earned a mortal enemy this day. That Black Adam’s actions are justified. We then see Captain Marvel holding the lightning of Shazam and blasting Black Adam. Martian Manhunter blacks out.

We see Martian Manhunter regaining consciousness. Martian Manhunter thinks how in the moment of heat and pain during the battle when Black Adam was defeated that Martian Manhunter was reborn. That he is no longer exactly what he wants. And that he will no longer deny what he is. He is J’onn Jonzz, the manhunter from Mars. Martian Manhunter says that the time has come for a beginning.

We cut to a Monitor satellite far above Earth. One of the Monitors comments that this chapter is closed and one man’s war against the planet has ended. Another Monitor comments that they all must evolve or they will not be prepared because their darkest hour has not yet arrived.

Comments
The Good: World War III Part Four was a satisfying ending to a solid story arc. Ostrander delivers a nicely plotted and paced issue. Once again, Ostrander manages to craft an enjoyable blend of hardcore action with J’onn’s thought provoking monologue. It is always nice to get an issue that is well balanced in terms of character development and action.

I enjoyed how Ostrander continued to frame the issue around J’onn and his running monologue. J’onn’s interesting observations gave more weight and impact to the various scenes. Ostrander continues to push the members of the JSA into the spotlight as a source of inspiration for all heroes.

I dig that despite all the issues that J’onn may have with humankind that he is still in awe of the integrity and honor of his comrades. That despite J’onn being unsure of who he is and his role on Earth, one thing that he isn’t confused about is that his place will always be next to his fellow heroes ready to battle evil.

Ostrander delivers some monster action scenes and a great showdown between J’onn and Black Adam. I love J’onn’s grit and determination that he displays during this epic battle. And it was pretty cool how J’onn turned the tables on Black Adam and poured all of his own pain into Black Adam’s mind.

Of course, that wasn’t enough to bring Black Adam to his knees. Ostrander does an excellent job handling Black Adam’s character. Ostrander displays all of Black Adam’s hubris and pride. That even up until the very end, even after having experienced all the pain of his innocent victims, Black Adam still insists that he is justified.

Black Adam even issues a warning that J’onn has now created a mortal enemy. It is Black Adam’s indomitable will and his absolute refusal to yield that makes him such an appealing character. Black Adam is more and more a pure force of nature and less and less of a man. Black Adam is without a doubt an angry god.

The ending to the battle was nicely done. Ostrander shows the reader the rebirth of J’onn that brings his character to where we find him at the beginning of his recent mini-series. J’onn’s transformation makes perfect sense. I have been waiting for the full explanation for J’onn’s drastic change in appearance and personality that we got over on his mini-series. Even though I think J’onn looks far cooler in his older form, this new look for J’onn makes sense and works with his new view of himself and the world around him.

I love that DC used the events of World War III to evolve J’onn’s character and personality. Martian Manhunter is a great character that has plenty of potential. It is unfortunate that most writers have never really known what to do with his character. As a result, J’onn has never really had a well developed, unique and interesting personality. Ostrander took the necessary steps in this storyline to grow J’onn’s character and to give him a new and more interesting personality.

The final scene was a great ending. Ostrander teases the reader with the appearance of the Monitors just outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Evidently, Infinite Crisis and World War III are not the darkest hour that our heroes will face. Wow, if those two events are not the darkest hour then I can’t wait to see what is!

We also get teased with one of the Monitors commenting that some of our heroes need to evolve in order to survive. We know that we have Monitors watching several characters in this new DCU including Dick Grayson and Donna Troy.

I have been intrigued with this Monitor storyline from the beginning. This final scene only increases my interest in this storyline. I think that DC has something pretty cool in store for the reader with this storyline.

DC has done an excellent job tying Identity Crisis into Infinite Crisis into 52 into World War II and now to Countdown. I love that DC took the time and effort to plot with long term plans in mind. Instead of doing separate and unrelated big events like pulling off House of M and then Civil War, DC decided to make all their big events natural progressions. I like big events, but it is a lot more fun when all the big events build on each other in order to form an even bigger story.

Jack Jadson provided plenty of solid artwork. None of the artwork on any of the four issues of World War III has been incredible, but it has been better than average. Each issue has a pleasant look to it. The art on World War III has certainly been more dependable than the artwork that we have had over the course of 52.

The Bad: I thought Geo-Force was way to calm about his sister’s death. I mean, I know they are getting ready for a huge battle with Black Adam, but some type of emotion from Geo-Force would seem to be natural.

I liked the four issues of World War III, but I have to admit that it was a bit anti-climactic. I was just expecting more from this storyline. In reality, all we got was the same fight scene that we saw in 52, some obligatory deaths of various C-list characters, an explanation about what happened to Aquaman and the character development of Martian Manhunter into what we see in his mini-series. That is it.

I was expecting to see World War III have more of an impact on more characters that just Martian Manhunter. World War III came across more as a prelude for Martian Manhunter’s mini-series than it did a lead up to the end of 52, the Monitor storyline and Countdown. Other than the final page of World War III Part Four, there was nothing of real importance that a reader needed in these four World War III issues in order to enjoy the events over in 52. We got a lot of fluff in these four issues and I think it could have easily been delivered in two issues.

Also, Tenzil and I were talking about why DC didn’t just go ahead and release World War III as one trade instead of four separate comic books. That is a great point. It makes more sense to release these four issues together as one since none of the issues are complete and independent stories from each other. I can’t imagine a person would buy just World War III Part Three and not any of the other issues. It seems you would either buy all of them or none of them.

My guess is that DC felt people are more likely to purchase four comic books at $2.50 an issue which is lower than the standard $2.99 price for a comic rather than buying one large trade for $10.

Overall: World War III Part Four was a good read that provided a nice ending to this storyline. DC treated the reader to plenty of brutal Black Adam action as well as some great character growth for Martian Manhunter. If you are a fan of either of those two characters then you are sure to enjoy these four issues of World War III. If you aren’t then I don’t think I’d waste my money buying these four issues. You don’t need to read them in order to enjoy the events over in 52.

3 Comments

  1. I’ll check in with my thoughts on WW3 a little later, but one quick question. How is it Aquaman goes through his Dweller transformation in week 50, but Ralph and the Helmet of Fate walk by him all those weeks ago, when Ralph left his ring in place of a chainlink?
    Did they flash forward, or am I missing something?

  2. Ilan the Portlander Rebbe April 21, 2007 at 12:04 am

    Wow, four posts in one day You Rock, Rokk!

  3. I was distinctly underwhelmed by this whole story.

    First and foremost, this has been hyped as “World War III” for months, but it comes down to one guy versus a legion of superheroes. Yeah, that’s not a world war. Given Adam’s status as ruler of a nation, and all the political stuff, I was expecting an actual war.

    Even moving beyond that, the idea that Black Adam alone is powerful enough to do all this is ridiculous. He’s roughly equivalent to Captain Marvel or Superman; he’s tough, no doubt. But the writers expect me to believe he can shrug off three Green Lanterns, one Flash, Wonder Woman II, Power Girl, Captain Marvel, and a whole army of lesser-powered characters? No. I don’t care how angry he is; I have the same problem with Marvel’s upcoming “World War Hulk” event, but at least the Hulk has an army of aliens and sympathetic heroes.

    The heroes come off as total chumps in this fight. Why does the Martian Manhunter decide to take on Black Adam one-on-one, rather then do what he normally does and coordinate a global response? Where’s Oracle in all this? Why is Wonder Woman merrily holidaying in Nanda Parbat while Teen Titans are getting slaughtered (Supes and Bats were depowered/not much use, respectively, but she’s ready for action)? Why, after more than a week of rampaging (since issue 49 ended on the first day of week 49), has the JSA et al. not come up with an actual plan beyond “dogpile Black Adam”? Scott, Garrick, and Grant are supposed to be the old wise men of the DCU, and that’s all they could think of?

    But, beyond any complaints about World War III, I will admit that I love a good fight sequence, and this issue has that; the ending with the magic reprogramming is quite clever.

    The final problem is that, by Didio’s brazen admission, “52” utterly failed to do what it was supposed to do: explain all the changes OYL in a logical, coherent manner. Indeed, we’re now told, they recognized almost immediately that this wasn’t what the writers were going to do. And so all the changes were packed into four specials released two weeks before the series ends. I’m sorry, but that’s not what I signed up for; they lied about what this series would deliver. They had 52 issues, and they couldn’t keep their word. And so we get all these one- or two-page explanations in a separate series of specials (completely invalidating the “52” thing). Not only that, but most of these explanations don’t make any sense in the context of previous “52” issues or OYL issues, or don’t explain what happened at all (poor Batgirl). Basically, I spent hundreds of dollars on this product, which almost from the start never intended to do what it repeatedly promised to do. Marvel’s “Civil War” miniseries had its own disappointing elements, but it was only seven issues long.

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