New 52 – Justice League #16 review

As a Batman fan it sucks to see the Dark Knight get slapped around and Gotham get devastated the way they do in this issue but as a reader who needed a good action comic after reading Catwoman #16, this was awesome.

I think I might start listing how well the League members do in each issue. Like this:

Batman – Not a good issue for him, but he was way, way outmatched. It doesn’t exactly make sense how he could survive what happens to him and the rest of the league here either.

Superman – It looks like he’s going to get a cool moment, but gets whooped

Wonder Woman – Gets a nice “back off my man” moment, but gets whooped

Flash – Where was Flash? What’s happened to Flash? I don’t remember him quitting when Green Lantern left. (Good friend and longtime reader @KyleLofton says that Grodd is taking over Central city so I guess Flash has his hands full)

Aquaman – Of course he comes off great, it’s his event.

Cyborg – Probably his best issue yet. He’s very proactive here as opposed to simply being used for his teleporting ability like he’s the Justice League’s talking bus.

As for the overall story, this is part 3 of the Throne of Atlantis Saga. If you haven’t read Aquaman #15 yet then you should. It’s terrific. If you didn’t, then you didn’t exactly miss a whole lot of plot progression because we’re still having an argument between Ocean Master, Aquaman, and The Justice League. In fact, that rather aggressive discussion doesn’t wrap until the end of this issue. However, even though we haven’t advanced that much since talks began and many readers who read Aquaman as well might find that a bit of a drag, the issue at hand was never, ever a slog. And yes I did just use slog and drag in the same sentence and that feels kind of odd but I’m sticking with it. The issue feels very brief. Both the main feature and the Shazam backup flew by and you’ll be done with this comic in no time at all, BUT you will be done and have a smile on your face because it is very fun.

The only thing I can foresee readers taking issue with is how the Justice League gets manhandled. Again. It happened against Cheetah and it happened against…otherguy– what was his name? Had ghosts? Was all boney looking with red eyes and a dracula cape– Graves! Just like when the League first confronted Graves and Cheetah we have this scene where the new bad guy cuts through our heroes like a hot knife through butter so that we get the feeling they are a major threat. As much as I was bothered by it in those other two arcs it might surprise you to hear that I was alright with it here. Why? Because Ocean Master has an army and some pretty bad ass powers, as far as I can tell every Atlantean is as strong (or almost as strong) as Aquaman and if Aquaman is stronger than Superman (which is what I’ve heard) then I can totally believe that the Justice League would get their butts kicked. And if I’m right and every Atlantean really is as tough as Aquaman, I don’t see how the League stands a chance.  Still, when Aquaman says in this book that Superman is “pissed” I expected more from of a powerful display from the big blue boyscout.

The lightning that brings down Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman will raise some questions. I’m not sure how Batman could live through it but if Superman can fly into the sun, why can’t handle some lightning? And don’t give me that “It was probably magic lightning.” crap. I hate the supposed Superman weakness to magic. If he’s got such a soft spot for hocus pocus, then why isn’t Lex Luthor taking the time to learn a few spells? And wouldn’t the magic spell have to be proportional to a real-life thing that would harm Superman, and if that was the case here Batman would totally be fried…unless the magic lightning adjusts to its victim or…I’m writing an essay about the feasability of magic lightning. I’ll stop.
Oh, and another thing that made me accept Ocean Master as being bad enough to bring down the League? The artwork.

This book is stunning! First off, I like the unique look of the Langdon Foss variant. As for the interiors, there are some really jawdropping images in here. When the Atlantean army rises from the sea, I actually said “Whoaaaaa” –not loudly, but I said it. It is iconic artwork that’s engaging and draws a response from the reader. Great color work as well. You’ll swear you’re cold and soaked as well by the time you’re done reading this.

But the most important thing about Justice League #16 that will get everyone excited is that, well I’ll call it right now: Justice League #16 is the true birth of the DC New 52 Universe. Up until now things have never felt that interconnected. The final page of this comic changes all that.

When it comes to the Shazam backup I was a little more disappointed. I’m still loving the story and Frank’s artwork is as glorious as ever, but it’s far too brief. We gain a new baddie, Shazaam takes a few punches, and it ends. It’s great, but really short. It’s like I have a favorite TV show but I only got to watch 2 minutes of it this month.

You want to see more great action? How about top-notch artwork? Then go buy this. Look, if I’m willing to call this comic book THE BIRTH OF THE NEW 52 UNIVERSE, then obviously some pretty big things happen in it and I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s a heck of a good time, worth every penny, and I can’t wait for next week’s Aquaman to see where the story goes from here. My only real complaint with this comic is that it took some time to advance from the 3-way argument and the book as a whole goes by too quickly, but that has a lot more to do with Geoff John’s writing style which is more suited for a collected TPB as opposed to a single issue and this will definitely be one epic trade paperback.

SCORE: 9/10