Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Justice League: Gods and Monsters by J.M. DeMatteis - Book Review

From the publisher: The prequel tales for the acclaimed feature film, JLA: GODS AND MONSTERS is here! In this alternate universe where Superman is Zod's son, Batman is a vampire and Wonder Woman is a descendent of New Genesis, J.M. DeMatteis and Bruce Timm take the Justice League to a new level. Featuring the trinity's origin stories that serve as prequels to the animated film!


With Justice League: Gods and Monsters, J.M. DeMatteis is providing background to the versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman that star in the animated film JLA: Gods and Monsters. Having not seen the film, I'm looking at the stories purely on their own merits, rather than supplemental to the movie.

The origin of Superman is interesting. Rather than being found and raised by the Kents, Superman (Hernan) is found and raised by Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. This puts a different spin on how Superman develops into a hero. After injuring his sister in an accident, Hernan hides his powers until he is confronted by racist men in the town he is living in. This forces him on the run, where he does some soul searching, eventually running into a powerful Mexican cartel. What results is a very different type of Superman.

The Batman tale is the story of Kirk Langstrom, who tried to cure his lymphoma, but caused himself to become a vampire of sorts. He becomes the "Batman" and very violently hunts and kills criminals to sate his bloodlust. Along the way, he runs into Lew Moxon, a mob boss, and his enforcer Joe Chill. This is also the story of families, friends, and isolation. Again, DeMatteis has crafted a very different, but somewhat familiar, take on a hero's origin.

This interpretation of Wonder Woman focuses on Bekka, a daughter of the Highfather on New Genesis. She ended up on Earth and spent some time trying to better the world during the 60's as part of a commune, where Doctor Psycho is experimenting on hippies while trying to expand people's consciousness.  After a disagreement and confrontation, he vows revenge, while Wonder Woman becomes a public hero.

Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman come together to investigate the mysterious Jackson Alpert, who has created a technology that upgrades people into the Forever People, basically better, more-super-powered versions of themselves. A conflict ensues, which results in the heroes facing Imperiex. As a result of this battle and the aftermath, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman form the Justice League.

I enjoy alternate versions of familiar heroes and villains, and Justice League: Gods and Monsters doesn't disappoint in this respect. Along with the three heroes, there are versions of Doctor Psycho, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Amanda Waller, and Steve Trevor. These inclusions help ground this new story in the familiar and give the reader a jumping off point and something with which to compare the new story.

I enjoyed J.M. DeMatteis's Justice League: Gods and Monsters. It wasn't my favorite alternate take on the Justice League, but it was entertaining. The groundwork is there for an interesting new universe of stories that are just familiar enough to hook the reader, but new enough to not feel like a retread. I would recommend this book.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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