Remember that one-hit wonder song from the ‘90s, “One of Us,” where Joan Osborne croons about the Almighty being just another shmoe sitting on the subway ride home with us?
Yeah, well that just happened to Superman.
That’s because Rao, the god of Krypton just showed up on Earth… and he wants to make it a better place for everyone; a utopia, if you will. Surely nothing bad could come of that, right?
Justice League of America #2 (DC Comics)
Rao, god of Krypton, descends from his hovering space cathedral, bathed in red light. As Superman flies up to greet him, the two touch fingers in conspicuous “Creation of Adam” fashion, finger spark and all; only this doesn’t result in Superman being recreated in Rao’s image nor does it get the two of them up on the Sistine Chapel ceiling — it just makes Superman plummet to the Earth, powerless… where Rao is there to scoop him up in his arms like some silver-maned Kryptonian Fabio.
The crowd can’t believe it’s not butter either.
The hell? Red sunlight, the type of radiation that actually suppresses a Kryptonian’s superpowers is apparently what Rao is emanating. (Just like Krypton’s sun should.) I’ve always associated Rao with a bewildered looking Superman, shouting the name in consternation after stubbing his toe or cognate to Daily Planet editor Perry White exclaiming “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” or Ron Burgundy with his “Great Odin’s Raven!” You know, the Kryptonian equivalent of “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!” Over time though, Rao actually start getting personified as an actual entity — not just the god of light and life worshipped in Kryptonian myth. That notion continues here, perhaps more overt than ever before in Justice League of America #2.
In contrast to the action-packed and enigmatic nature of the first issue, Bryan Hitch scripts the second as primarily a reactive, contemplative one: Who is Rao? What does his presence mean for life on Earth, humans, superheroes and demigods alike? Hitch does a great job portraying the divergent attitudes of the Justice League members: Superman fawning; Batman’s skepticism and immediate strategizing; Aquaman’s near apathy; there’s even a nice segment that depicts Lois Lane’s reaction to Rao’s arrival via Daily Planet editorial.
Hitch’s art continues to match the book’s spirit; his style is more grounded, classic and less flashy/stylistic than most, but he really captures the essence of the characters, body language included, in a very capable manner. Alex Sinclair’s superb coloring brings flourishes such as Aquaman’s orange shirt glinting in chainmail fashion, Cyborg’s clean, metallic finish, Superman and Rao conversing amidst sunglare high above the city and the cool blue-green tones of the Bat-Cave to life in stunning form as well. The art isn’t as daring or dynamic as say, Greg Capullo’s on Batman, but top to bottom crisp, visually striking and cinematic when it comes to epic splashes and scene composition.
Is It Good?
The action and intrigue takes a backseat so that the consequences of Rao’s arrival on Earth can unfold. Doesn’t have quite the impact of the first issue, but the pieces are in place for an enjoyable, if perhaps a bit predictable narrative. Although the storyline seemed more imaginative and mysterious in the first issue, Hitch does an excellent job of characterizing the JLA members and dishes out solid artwork to boot. Worth a look.