The Justice league makeover in the aftermath of their latest mini-event continues as more B-list characters who have rarely been in the spotlight get prologue stories. DC fans may be familiar with the villain Killer Frost, having seen her go up against Firestorm and other members of the Justice League, but current JLA architect Steve Orlando and Jody Houser aim to reinvent and reintroduce Frost, as they did with Vixen.
Frost’s reinvention has stretched over several books. She first reappeared in Suicide Squad, then she became a power player when writer Joshua Williamson reevaluated Frost’s vampiric need to feed. During a pivotal moment of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Frost absorbs and utilizes the powers of the JLA to battle the demonic Eclipso, demonstrating the utility of her power, but also making her character more sympathetic. Frost nearly kills herself in the fight, but her willingness to sacrifice herself is part of a tidy redemption plot that carries her into the new Justice League.
Killer Frost Rebirth finds Dr. Caitlin Snow in her final days at Belle Reve before being released into Batman’s custody. Amanda Waller doesn’t want Snow released and aggressively tries to manipulate Snow into acting like Killer Frost, tempting her to suck the life out of fellow inmates, thus proving that she is unfit for release. Orlando and Houser rely on Frost’s inner monologue to move the story, but for a character that’s just undergone a reinvention, her POV helps build a connection to the character. The “prison drama” tropes, like confrontations in the yard and late-night ambushes, are handled really well, though nothing ends too unexpectedly. The writing team builds a great sense of tension when Frost is most tempted to lash out, and the prisoners she encounters are cool to look at.
While Belle Reve is not too exciting of a setting visually, it being a mega-maximum security despair hole, Mirka Andolfo’s character illustrations help liven up the comic. I have no beef with his character designs – Frost, Mr. Toxic, and Heatstroke all look awesome, but some pages are overstuffed with panels, conveying a lot of quick action, but also looking crowded. And I don’t know how funny Waller was supposed to come off in the book, but Andolfo frequently draws her yelling like a ticked-off sergeant in a renegade cop movie. I’d imagine Waller being more composed and cruel, and while the shouting gets her authority across, I think she looks kind of goofy.
I’m not blown away by these Rebirth prologues, but Killer Frost is fair job by Orlando, Houser and Andolfo. This new JLA lineup seems a bit wacky, and having the chance to warm up to new heroes before throwing them on a team book where they can’t all have equal time devoted to growing his or her character is helpful for new readers, as well as old fans getting reacquainted. I don’t know which characters will be the breakaway favorites on the roster, but the closing panels of this book already tie some dramatic stakes to Frost’s story.
Marvel NOW! Week 17
In the second issue of Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s Hulk, Jennifer Walters continues her attempts at reclaiming a “normal” life. In the wake of Civil War II – the trauma caused by being beaten into a coma by Thanos, witnessing Bruce’s death, and generally seeing your friends and allies at each other’s throats – things will never be normal, or simple again. But she has returned to the legal profession, and her first case involves protecting Maise Brewn, an Inhuman with a mysterious secret, from eviction. Tamaki – a veteran cartoonist with a number of graphic novels under her belt – crafts a crisp and humorous storyline, and Leon’s art, like Walters herself, is gentle and fragile, but with a powerful surge of energy just below the surface. I’m looking forward to both She-Hulk and Leon powering up.