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Infected with fear after a battle with a mysterious foe, the Justice League has gone a bit haywire. As Lantern Cruz regresses toward her prior cowardice, Superman decides it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with Batman—or at the very least, murder him in his cave. Will fear prevail and finish tearing this team apart? Answers—maybe—in this week’s Justice League #7.

Make it stop

Here’s a fairly succinct summary of this issue: League members whine at and talk with both themselves and others. I don’t think I’m underselling it. We get a bit more on the villain, but even that is just a boomerang back toward angsty introspection.

I was not pleased with the first part of “State of Fear,” but sadly, this conclusion is even weaker. In addition to the series’s dialogical and narrative problems that have been present since July’s #1, this installment brings the two-part arc to a grinding halt without any satisfying resolution. It is possible to resolve plot threads for the reader while leaving characters in doubt and turmoil, but Hitch unfortunately fails at the former for the sake of the latter—and he wastes an awful lot of words along the way. But I’ll touch on this lack of resolution a little more later.

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Jesus Merino returns on pencils, and while he does a serviceable job, his work just isn’t up to the standard I have for Justice League. There’s a lot of facial inconsistencies, but even putting that aside, his best work looks weird to me. It’s usually a detail or two, like Wonder Woman’s chin and neck/head position in the panel above. You fix those details, and she looks a whole lot better. There are other things, like eyes improperly spaced or weird neck shaping, that seem more like poor execution (or poor fundamentals) than deliberate design choices. By and large, I find the artwork more of a distraction than an aid to storytelling, though to be fair, the best artwork would still have to contend with this script.

Overdone

You can blame it on the lingering effects of the anonymous black goo that fought the League last time, but this issue is basically a chorus of overwrought whining. “You’ve done something no bad guy ever really did,” says Superman to Batman. “You’ve pissed me off.” Wonder Woman and Aquaman commiserate over some tiresomely familiar problems—namely the surface’s threat to Atlantean safety and the world’s seeming inability to live in peace, what with governments and religions and all. And Jessica—Jessica is the worst, reverting to her New 52 self and running against significant character growth in the Green Lanterns book.

Spoiler

The problem is compounded by her decision to leave the team. Sam Humphries took this character that nobody cares about and showed her journey from cowering quitter to triumphant Lantern, and Hitch has pretty much ignored all of it. Maybe it was a lack of communication between editorial teams, or maybe they should have waited to put Jessica on the team until she had been fully established in her title, but Justice League’s Jessica mess is a pretty massive mess for continuity, as well.

So what happened?

If you haven’t read this, but still plan on doing so, you may want to check out now. I’m about to spoil the plot, such as it is. For the rest of you, expand the spoiler section to keep reading.

Spoiler

What happened? Why did Superman stop pounding on Batman? How did Jessica and Barry get control and walk away? Best I can figure, Hitch intends for Jessica’s triumphant ring explosion to break the black goo’s hold on the whole team, but 1) how did she even muster the resolve to fight it off herself, 2) why does she still quit after such a victory, particularly since that victory contradicts her picture of herself at the end, and 3) how does Jessica’s action in Seattle also break the hold on League members in Gotham and (presumably) in Detroit and in San Diego?

Still a colossal letdown

It just gets harder and harder to read this series. Here’s hoping someone at DC has a plan to right the ship, but for now, Hitch has another arc starting in two weeks. I’ll see you back here when “Outbreak” begins on November 2.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve enjoyed Hitch’s run thus far. I know some of you have.
  • You prefer to have key details stated directly rather than discovered in dialogue.

Overall

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Justice League #7 offers an unsatisfactory conclusion to a mercifully-short arc. There’s far too much text, and much of it consists in unbearable whingeing. Substandard artwork doesn’t ruin what is already a storytelling failure, but neither does it help. If you’re on the fence and reading this review hoping to be swayed one way or the other, let me save you the time and the three bucks by telling you to steer clear of this one.

SCORE: 3.5/10