Justice League: Generation Lost #21
A Requiem of Jaime Reyes...
This is quite possibly one of my favorite covers to ever grace this titles and saying a lot considering the high quality of the covers on this series. Once again Dustin Nguyen keeps it simple and knocks it out of the park.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate character deaths, but even more so I abhor the pointless requiem issue/arc that's soon to follow. The grieving process is rarely captured believably to me in comics, especially considering they take place in a world where at best, death amounts to a 6 month-year long vacation. Judd Winick's main strength throughout this series has been his firm understanding and characterization of these characters. The way in which he shows them all dealing with Jaime's death are all believable and all organically spring from their unique personalities.
People often write Booster off as being a fame chasing, immature, jackass (a characterization that's far outdated) and Winick certainly does a thorough job of silencing these naysayers with his portrayal of him here. We open up to Booster contemplating the victims of Max's madness and wondering if the cost of pursuing him has been too heavy. Approximately 1013 people have died due to Max's actions, and now a 1014th joins their ranks, Jaime Reyes, a 17 year old kid who just wanted to do the right thing. Winick ensures that we see the full impact of this upon Booster's psyche. Booster puts a lot of weight on his shoulders as the defacto leader of the JLI and early on you can tell that he's been feeling the impact of every single death in the core of his soul. His convictions about his responsibility to return Jaime's body to his family out of his armor and in person embodies the growth that he's undergone as a man and as a leader.
Nate's been contemplating his fading humanity throughout the series, but the death of Jaime sends him hurtling headlong into an existential crisis. Like Booster, he too has been ruminating on the wanton death and destruction that's resulted from their dogged pursuit of Max. More so than Jaime's passing, Nate is haunted by the events of Chicago and the thousands of innocents that perished there during his battle with Magog. He's beginning to feel like he's nothing but a monster who leaves a wake of death, destruction and despair wherever he goes. He views his immortality as a curse, but Ice steps out of her pouting corner and lifts his spirits, albeit with a firm punch in the face. Ice has always struggled with her confidence and it was nice to see her deal so boldly with Nate, she was firm yet nurturing. Rarely is that kind of supreme feminine symmetry pulled off in any medium by a male artist.
From his entrance into this series Gavril has been the go to guy for comedy, but Winick's wisely allowed his character to grow beyond the funny man role. In recent issue's he's proven himself to be a truly dedicated hero with skills and dedication that are invaluable to the JLI. His reaction to Jaime's death was the most intriguing to me. He has such a Zen like, peace about himself. Then he reveals the guru that bestowed this philosophy upon him was Oprah. This makes Fire smile, she likes smiling and if you make her do it often enough she'll make out with you! Now considering the circumstances, having a make out session may just be the tiniest bit oh...let's say inappropriate, but it really works here. This scene provides some much needed comedy to balance out the melancholy of this issue. Fire's actions also make since considering that after Ice died she and Guy had a romantic trist.
By the end of the issue it all gets to Booster and he loses his confidence, he decides that Max has beaten them and that he can no longer lead the JLI. It was nice to see the rest of the team anoint him as leader and affirm their confidence in him.
Dagnino's artwork is the only chink in this issue's armor. It's just unappealing overall to me but is especially so this issue. I mean there are more inappropriate facial expressions in this issue than would be present in Greg Land's attempt to recreate the Last Supper with the women of Marvel. The scene with with Fire and Rocket Red is supposed to lighten the gravitas but the facial expressions in those panels makes it seem like Gavril wondered into the wrong kind of Amsterdam sex shop and forgot the safe word.
You're either gonna LOVE OR HATE the last page of this issue. Personally, I absolutely loved it, but can more than understand you hating it.
BUY THIS COMIC!!!
You know the drill by now, people. Winick routinely knocks it out of the park on this title and this issue's no exception. The 3 issue death of the Blue Beetle Arc concludes on a stellar note and despite all my personal prejudices against this kind of story it's so excellently done that I have to stand and applaud it.