Last issue, the world of the JL3K leapt forward months into the future. I wasn’t sure how Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis would handle the jump, but the flow has not been too terribly interrupted. Fans ofJustice League 3000 will certainly be able to catch up with everything that’s been going on the last two months, but new readers may have trouble catching up with the backstory. This applies directly to the role of the Injustice League, who are without a doubt the most – and really, only – misused characters in this title.
The issue opens up with Ariel Masters, who we know is being manipulated by Lois Lane somehow, though nothing surrounding that has been explained yet, being interviewed on some kind of galactic talk show. It’s the first real time we get to see a break in the Masters persona, as Lois’ anger gets the better of her and causes her to cut the interview short. There’s a lot of humor in this sequence, which is still one of the strongest points for a series.
We also still have the mystery of exactly what or who ended up being responsible for all the heroes dying back in the 21st century. Supergirl’s arrival offers a little insight; she brings up that she was running from something and is on a mission to find Clark, but the specifics still remain lost. The more I think about it, the less I really care about what actually happened to the League of the past. This isn’t what this book is about. We’ve already seen one of the greatest villains in the DC Universe – Darkseid – reduced to basically a head in a jar. Giffen and DeMatteis aren’t concerned with some kind of continuity-shaking revelation that will require three, year-long, weekly events that will culminate in a special-cover month where every hero will have their own unique death in their own book where they then do battle with Death in the form of an arm-wrestling contest. Unless, of course, they intend to use whoever killed everyone as a major villain later on. Then by all means, make a big deal out of it. Until then, this is a funny, light-hearted, and smart look at what can be accomplished amid a company which thrives on taking even the most fantastic of people – not just heroes, people – and turning them into brooding, dark parodies of what they used to stand for. This is a business of entertainment, do some damn entertaining.
For the rest of this issue, we’re treated to a beatdown of the Starro forces with some visually-stunning pages of the team fighting together. Laced in between the scenes of pummeling anonymous baddies, we get genuine character development from Flash and Superman, who are pretty much dating now. Flash gets sent off to find Starro’s main body and instead comes across Supergirl’s ship crashing to the planet’s surface, which would have been a cool reveal if it hadn’t been plastered on the cover.
One of the things I noted last time in regards to the time-skip is that it left out tons of crucial information and passed over events that have come to shape the new universe of the JL3K. The form this comes in, however, was a little too wonky for my taste. Instead of exposition through narration or dialogue, it was like the editorial team said “Screw it, you know what’ll work? A totally random and fourth-wall-breaking (not in the good way) interview with the characters.” I don’t blame the writing staff for this, but it was really, really bad. I’d forgive it a little bit if it had been at least a little funny, but no. This was little more than an information dump that really shouldn’t be done again. We do learn that Cadmus is now being run by Firestorm, so there’s that.
Starro’s appearance in this book seemed like a formidable opponent for the new JL3K to face off against, and I had mixed feelings about how much – or in this case, how little – of a threat he really was. I’m all about lesser villains, but given the publication history of Starro and the sheer size of his brainwashed army, I guess I just expected more from the fight. The action sequences themselves were fantastic and fun to read like any Howard Porter/Hi-Fi work, but the arrival of Supergirl and her ability to end the conflict in a few pages cheapened the danger. It’s not that much of a problem though, considering that this is after all a humorous take on an alternate League. Another thing that smoothed the process over was how the Injustice League, which has been set up for what feels like seven or eight issues, is waiting in the wings. Where Starro was the appetizer, I expect an excellent arc with the powerhouse villains of the JL3K Universe. The only problem is, I can only grade these on an issue-by-issue basis, making future hopes and predictions a non-factor.
As always, Howard Porter and Hi-Fi make an excellent duo; the art team is as much of a driving force behind the momentum of Justice League 3001 as the storytelling or humor. I would say the one weakness in the art style this time around would be the closeups of Teri’s face, particularly when she’s talking to Supergirl. It just doesn’t look good in an online medium, but most of the time it wasn’t distracting enough to take away from the overall experience of the story. At this point when it comes to Porter and Hi-Fi, I have to nitpick.
- Another note about the whole Starro thing. Having Lois Lane be the force driving the conflict on both sides of the battle makes the Injustice League all that more insidious. Every time she’s on-page, she has a distinct voice that makes her both a formidable and dangerous leader for the villains.
- For anyone who played Arkham Knight’s latest piece of DLC, Batgirl: A Matter of Family, there’s a nice Starro Easter Egg hidden in one of the amusement park attractions. He’s locked away in this glass container, though I won’t spoil the hunt for you. Go find it!
Favorite Quote: “Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.” – Flash, all on one page
- You want something resembling a Starro fight.
- You like some humor with your battles.
- You’re a Supergirl fan!
Overall: Another fun entry into the growing catalogue of the JL3K, this issue highlights both the elements that make this series great, as well as the problems with DC’s eagerness to use time-skips. There’s still too much missing from the story, and while I can’t blame Giffen and DeMatteis, it’s not something that’s just going to go away anytime soon. I trust them to make the best of a bad situation, though.