Justice League: Generation Lost #21
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Fernando Dagnino
Two issues ago, Maxwell Lord shot Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle, in the head. Last issue, amidst a lot of Max backstory, Jaime was declared dead by Rocket Red and Skeets. This issue….this issue the team has to deal with it. He was a friend, a teammate, and above all else, he was only seventeen. He was a kid who started running around with them to save the world, and he took a bullet in the head from Max Lord. Victim number one thousand and fourteen.
Booster opens the issue, recounting the death toll that’s accumulated in the title so far, from the cops Max had kill each other, to Magog, to Chicago….to Jaime. Booster is at a crisis, Max killed the last Blue Beetle with a bullet to the head, he killed Booster’s best friend in the entire world. He did the same to Jaime, one bullet to the head, and now? Now Booster has to return the body, and it’s just one thing on a list of issues he has. He doesn’t just want to call his parents and tell them on the phone, give them some cold ‘your son is dead’ message, he wants to get him out of the suit and return him, as Jaime, to his family. And it comes across as him using this frustration, this looming issue, to mask the insecurities he shows as the issue moves on. He blames himself, this is his fault, that his ego and desire to be a hero has caused more harm than good. He doesn’t feel like he can lead this team, like everything he’s done has amounted to more pain and suffering.
Captain Atom and Ice share an encounter as well, with Tora trying to snap Nate out of the funk he’s in…the funk that includes him watching the coverage, monitoring the death toll, blaming himself for Chicago. They aren’t just numbers to him, these deaths on his hands, he’s learning who they are so he can fully feel the guilt for his mistakes, but Tora? She never wanted to come along in the first place, she didn’t want to die, and while she’s still alive so many others have died and he just wants her to remind him him that she told him so. It’s really just set up though, as the topic moves to Nate’s mortality and the fact that he’s barely even human anymore. He can’t feel anything, he doesn’t think he’s ever going to die, he has all this guilt building up inside of him and he doesn’t feel like he’s ever going to pay for it. Tora is the best shrink the team could hope for, however, as she reminds him of a key detail he’s leaving out….he’s been saving their lives despite everything.
Gavril and Bea are the final pairing, and I just have to preface with how much I love the new Rocket Red. Gavril was the one who declared Beetle dead last issue, using his ability to talk to machines to come to that conclusion. Here we see him talking about the way Russian’s handle death, how they celebrate life instead of mourning death, but how he was just a boy…how it doesn’t make sense. He’s dedicating himself to his work, trying to make sure there are no problems with returning Jaime’s body home. He can not allow himself to screw up, but he also wants to leave the rest of the team time to process their emotions and get their heads together. The moment that follows up with the two of them is spontaneous, out of nowhere, and something I completely support.
Fernando Dagnino hits all the right tones with the art. The character maintain iconic stances, and they look like super heroes, but you can feel the sadness coming out of them. These are heroes, but they’re in mourning. The pain on Booster’s face everytime you see him, the fear and frustration from Captain Atom, the determination and….the spoilery reactions from Gavril. Dagnino is a face man, and he does an incredible job with this issue. The issue look amazing, and despite the overall downer tone for it, he doesn’t forcefeed it to us with the art like many other artists have in the past.
Five to go! This issue of mourning turned out to be one of the biggest issues of the title yet as the team finds itself shaken to its core in the wake of the death of the Blue Beetle. Everyone got character development here, and Winick does an amazing job with the characters in the aftermath of the murder, showing their various methods of grief, as well putting them all in a position to reflect how much things have changed since the book began. The last page is something of a shocker, and it’s the morale boost that the JLI needs going forward.
If DC doesn’t account a Justice League International ongoing series by Judd Winick to spin out of this book, then they’re a bunch of idiots. This is the best the League has been since Mark Waid followed up Grant Morrison.
Tags: Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Brightest Day, Captain Atom, Fernando Dagnino, Judd Winick, Justice League International, Justice League: Generation Lost, Max Lord, Reviews