New 52 – Justice League #17 review


Although The Throne of Atlantis storyline wrapped up a lot sooner than I expected it definitely went out with a bang.

Aquaman #16 Recap

Now, I never got around to reading Aquaman #16 until a couple of days ago but in that issue we found out what became of Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman after being captured by Ocean Master. And after reading that issue I kind of feel like I should’ve written a review for it because Batman was used quite heavily in Aquaman #16…because he was in a rock the whole time! Get it? Heavy? Rock? Well, it wasn’t really a rock. It was an egg/cocoon thing and Batman was confined to it for the entire issue leaving Aquaman to pack him around the ocean floor for 20 pages or so. Not New 52 Batman’s finest moment. But in the greater scheme of things, King Arthur was able to rescue Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, who could talk under water somehow… I had no trouble believing that Superman could. I mean, I can believe Superman can do just about anything after watching that episode of Death Battle a couple weeks ago, but Wonder Woman talking under water? That didn’t seem right. Anyway, other important things to note are that Cyborg got some upgrades and he enlisted the help of the Justice League reserve team which was made up of B and C list heroes that the main group as a whole had yet to vote on for official membership. The identity of the mastermind behind the attack on Atlantis who started all this mess in the first place was also revealed to be Vulko who was striking out against the land that banished him and mistreated the true king he swore to serve, Aquaman. It definitely makes Vulko a pretty complex and unique villain and I have to say that Aquaman appears to have a pretty decent rogues gallery so far. Black Manta is terrific, Ocean Master has been cool, and now Vulko? It’s a nice lineup.

The Reserves

I’m just going to talk about who the reserve members are and what I thought of them here.

This group included Hawkman, Firestorm, Vixen, Black Lightning, Zatanna, Element Woman, Black Canary, and, if you were paying extra close attention, The Atom. Now, Hawkman is a character I’ve always thought looked pretty cool and when the New 52 started his #1 issue was one of the very first things I picked up. It was also the worst New 52 comic that I picked up. You really couldn’t ask for a less new-reader friendly comic than that one. It was a confusing story, a confusing character, and the artwork was pretty terrible too. But things are looking up for the guy. He kicked a lot of ass in Aquaman #16 and that trend continues here and in today’s JLA #1. In fact, a single page of JLA #1 did a better job of describing what Hawkman is all about than that entire first issue of his own series. Then there’s Firestorm who just seems lame to me. Sorry. His outfit and the premise behind him just seems silly. Vixen is the same as ever and she’s okay doing her Animal Man thing. Black Lightning…he just shoots lightning, there’s not a whole lot going on there. Zatanna, we never see much of in either comic but I understand she has a much larger role in Justice League Dark. Element Woman is someone I’ve never heard of before and can’t say I ever want to see more of her. I think she played a part in Flashpoint. Black Canary seems to get crammed into any team book possible in the New 52. And the Atom… I think people are going to be talking about The Atom the most. It definitely took me by surprise.

The Throne of Atlantis Conclusion

This issue was pretty awesome all around. Even without the Shazam backup, it’s a terrific read. And as cool as Aquaman and several other characters are in this issue, the real hero is artist Ivan Reis. Great googly moogly, did he put some serious effort into this comic. Although he wasn’t able to illustrate all 30 pages of this epic issue, you really can’t blame him. The battle scenes in this comic are jaw-dropping and for him to have had the time to draw these pages as well as he did and get the book out on time is quite the feat. I lost track of time inspecting every tiny detail of the various splash pages and two-page spreads that depict all out war between the Atlanteans, the Trench, and the Justice League. I mean, holy crap. Look at this:


And that’s basically what it’s like for the entire book. Some panels get fairly tiny and a lot gets crammed into them but it still manages to look great. A whole lot of action gets squeezed into these 30 pages and it almost becomes too overwhelming at times, like they tried to fit too much into one page but in the end the finished product looks fantastic. Even the pages by fill-in artist Paul Pellettier look good. Just not quite as strong as what Ivan Reis had done. Those pages look quite a bit cleaner and slightly less chaotic. And oddly enough the colors seemed more pure and lighter as well. Not bad, but it’s a rather noticeable art shift.

As for the actual story… well, the time for that’s kind of over at this point. All pieces were put in place in Aquaman #16 and now you just get to sit back and watch everyone fight for about 3/4 of the book. I thought it was odd though how in one scene the Justice League are inspecting their battle armor and then in the next scene they charge into battle but without the armor and it’s never mentioned again. Once the battle reaches its climax the real developments begin and they are rather world changing. I described the last issue of Justice League as being the birth of the true birth of the New 52 universe or something like that. All of these worlds finally feel connected. There’s definitely a lot more of that here. Not only do we get a massive world-changing new direction for Aquaman, but there’s a nice lead-in to Justice League of America (which should be read AFTER this) and more hints at the formation of the Secret Society of Super Villains. And as for how the bad guys are treated by the league at the end of this book…

Putting Ocean Master into a human prison after he yields? Sure it’s fair because the US would definitely want to imprison someone responsible for the attacks, but at the same time it seems that by making this decision Aquaman would only cause a schism among the people of Atlantis who would see the act as betraying the traditions of their culture. It’s also just asking to make Ocean Master a 100% villain in the future. Definitely a complicated situation and one that I hope is addressed more thoroughly in future Aquaman comics.

Other than a few pages of some-what disruptive fill-in artwork and an overall feeling of being a bit rushed toward a conclusion, Justice League #17 is a very exciting comic with some major developments for the greater DC universe. It’s a must read if you want to get a glimpse at what sort of changes are under way for Aquaman and the Justice League. But make no mistake, it’s mostly Aquaman’s show. There are loads of superheroes duking it out in the background but all the important character moments are Arthur’s and all of the best fights are Arthur’s. So in a way it felt more like an issue of Aquaman rather than a Justice League book. Not a bad thing though.

SCORE: 9/10