The solicitations lead you to believe, among other things, that more will happen between Bruce and Lex this issue. The great cover by Ivan Reis is terrific imagery for the Lex/Bruce situation as well. But if you come to Justice League #32 looking to further that particular story  line, you may be disappointed. What we have here is nearly an entire chapter devoted to The Doom Patrol appropriately entitled “Birth” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The issue kicks off with a reminder that Superwoman is still pregnant and hanging out in a guarded cell as if to say, “Hey remember these guys from the Crime Syndicate are still around.” There’s a catchy rhyme that you might find yourself humming later on if you’re not too careful. If you’ll remember at the end of issue #31 we saw Jessica Cruz a.k.a. the new Power Ring rampaging around when the Doom Patrol rolls up. This issue takes us back a week ago to see what led the Doom Patrol up to that point. I’m personally cool with the bouncing back and forth between times to tease where we’re going and then showing us how we got there. It’s something that will read well in a collected edition. It also allows for those big reveals at the end of issues and gets you curious.

We know from last issue that Element Woman isn’t dead and is hanging with the Doom Patrol. We’re shown how Dr. Caulder a.k.a. “Chief” interacts with each member of the team. He is consistently a “want to be needed” person, twisting the members of his team to work for him. The new Doom Patrol lineup, after the events of Forever Evil, is Element Woman, Robotman, Negative Man, and Elasti-Girl. Johns handles these interactions between the team very well, revealing hints at each person’s characteristics, especially Chief’s.

Fast forward to Power Ring. The Doom Patrol are trying to take her down but again, the goal here isn’t necessarily show all the fighting, but rather reveal further the character of each member. Element Woman has a conscience. Negative Man is powerful but afraid to use his power. Robotman is bold and a fighter. Elasti-Girl is emotionally on edge. And Chief is a jerk. He has a lot in common with Lex, but is missing Luthor’s charisma. The Chief is wants so bad to be “Chief” and the team as a whole follow him, but not completely in earnest.

Flip over to Luthor. His charisma, planning, and more effective manipulation is put on display in following pages. This is where the solicits get it right. The similarities and differences between Lex and Caulder are made for us to feel they are important, and I feel like it is. I’m just curious to see how the three-way between Lex, Caulder and Bruce is going to affect the stories to come. The three men are all very intelligent, good fighters, and very human; though Bruce is the only one with a secret identity problem.

We’re given a sneak peak into the “mind” of Power Ring via the Swiss Army Knife that is Cyborg, as well as key points for the future of Justice League and the entire DC universe. The layout of the sneak peak page confused me and I read it out of order. Warning: do not read it like a clock. You do start at noon and go clockwise to 3, then hop over to 9 and counterclockwise to 5. Ahh, it’s not that deep, just dive in.

Recommended if:

  • You’re a big fan of the Doom Patrol.
  • You want to be introduced to new characters because you haven’t had your fill of them in Futures End. 
  • You enjoy Mahnke’s pencils.

Overall:

Johns does a good job “birthing” the Doom Patrol into the picture. It’s interesting, though not wildly action-filled. Bruce isn’t featured at all this issue, so don’t get you’re hopes up. It’s still a solid issue that furthers the story line, and you can’t go wrong here. Read it, ask questions, and enjoy yourself.

SCORE: 7.5/10