It’s safe to say that the Justice League title isn’t really about the Justice League anymore, but that in no way means that it’s something you should skip. The main event is indeed Forever Evil and Justice League has been turned into supplemental material for that saga, but it is very good supplemental material that offers character development for all the members of the Crime Syndicate.

Much like the rather misleadingly titled Justice League #23.4 – Secret Society #1, issue #25 is all about Owlman’s backstory. Yes, the cover may say “Justice League” and show Nightwing fighting for his life against Ultraman while a subtitle at the bottom reads “Nightwing Hunted by the Crime Syndicate!” but that’s just not what you get. Ultraman isn’t even in this and Nightwing? Yes, he’s here, but Hunted? He was caught several issues ago. No, this is about Owlman. You’ll learn even more about his Earth 3 origin, gain insight into his plans for our Earth, and better understand his connection to Dick Grayson, which will play a tremendously important factor in issues to come. But even if you aren’t terribly interested in Owlman and are looking for the sort of broader DC Universe storytelling that the Justice League title used to offer, fear not. I won’t spoil it for you outside of the tags below, but those who know their DC mythology will recognize a long-absent, fan-favorite character making a cameo appearance that I’m certain will garner a lot of discussion.

Spoiler
It’s Plastic Man. I honestly almost missed the name-drop of “Eel.” I sat there for a second and was like “I know that name… how do I know that name?” but my question was answered for me when the vat of chemicals fell on him a page or so later and the name “Plastic Man” came flooding back into my mind. Interestingly, this is actually a retcon. If you flip all the way back to issue #1 of the now-canceled Justice League International, you’ll see that Plastic Man already existed in the New 52 when the relaunch first began and the character was denied membership due to him being too unpredictable.

Overall, it’s a good, character-driven comic, but I did feel that it ran a little short on time near the end when some rather important details about the relationship with Earth 3 Dick Grayson were summed up in a caption or two on the final page rather than actually showing us how that went down. Perhaps if Geoff Johns had not spent so much time on the (albeit cool) action sequence that led to the cameo that was basically there for fan-service, the more important Dick Grayson/Owlman portion could’ve gotten the appropriate amount of attention. Still, it’s all entertaining and really well drawn by Doug Mahnke. However, some of the visuals did seem to erode as we reached the finale. The opening pages with Owlman’s childhood and the action sequence are far and away the best illustrated and most memorable scenes of the comic as they show the most attention to detail, are perfectly paced, and feature some really atmospheric color work.

Spoiler
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something missing about the confrontation between Owlman and Dick. It could be that the background wasn’t fleshed out enough, the fight wasn’t dynamic enough, or that it seemed as though Dick was convinced too easily. Either way, I felt that their conversation/fight was the least satisfying portion of an otherwise very satisfying read.

Recommended If…

  • You seek to learn more about Owlman and his relationship with Dick Grayson
  • You’d like to see the New 52 origin of a hero that has been noticeably absent the past few years
    Spoiler
    It’s Plastic Man
  • Doug Mahnke is an artist you admire. Yes, it’s a shame that Ivan Reis isn’t here, but Mahnke delivers a pretty solid issue

Overall

I definitely recommend this one. It’s good to see some character development with Owlman, plus Nightwing’s side of the story gets some long-overdue traction. To top it off, the book has two incredibly memorable moments, one of which features a character I didn’t expect to see again anytime soon.

SCORE: 8.5/10