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You’ve seen him speaking ominously and bleeding from his nose in the pages of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, but now, HE GETS. HIS. OWN. BOOK. Sort of. Strap in for the wild ride that is Max Lord: Rebirth #1Justice League #12!

A mama’s boy runs into nobody’s mama

With the big fight over in JLVSS, this week, we get a double dose of…talking. You can read my thoughts on the event book, but let me say up front that Seeley’s skills as a writer give Justice League the edge this week. I still find it boring (other than a few highlights I’ll get to in a moment), but I can at least appreciate that the script doesn’t make me cringe.

So, oops, I spoiled everything and told you this was boring. Why? Because it’s basically just Amanda Waller interrogating flashbacks out of Max Lord while he sits in a Task Force X black site. These flashbacks are mostly sequential, leading us to the present(ish) day, shortly before Max infiltrates the Catacombs and frees the prisoners. The memories aren’t unrelated, and they help provide some motivation for Lord, fleshing him out for those folks who might not have met him until JLVSS #1; however, the bouncing around prevents any single narrative from gaining steam, and the whole thing feels more like an encyclopedia than a comic book.

But there’s still some good

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This is the stuff dreams are made of.

That said, it’s a well-written encyclopedia, with good storytelling from Duce and Lopes that makes this far more visually interesting than it deserves to be. Duce’s scenery contains lots of nice detail, even on inconsequential elements (news flash: there are no inconsequential elements). His figures look great, and some of these pages are pretty special—it’s only a shame that they’re stuck in this book.

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Lopes keeps the colors refreshingly simple, and I can’t help but wonder if he would have been a better pairing for Jesus Merino on JLVSS this week. Alex Sinclair’s realistic, detailed lighting looked great on Jay Fabok and Tony Daniel, but unfortunately only served to accentuate Merino’s flaws. I like Duce’s lines better, too, so I’m not saying Lopes could make Merino’s work something it isn’t—I just think it would have been noticeably improved.

So who is Max Lord, anyway?

I’m ultimately grateful to know more about what makes Max tick, and this was definitely a refreshment after JLVSS. Seeley did the best he could within the bounds of his premise, and while I can’t see myself revisiting this more than a time or two, it at least distinguishes itself from the event book by its level of quality and polish.

Recommended if…

  • You want to know more about Max Lord.
  • You want a reason to care about Justice League vs. Suicide Squad.

Overall

There’s not a lot of meat in Justice League #12. A few flashbacks and some fun in the present with Waller round out Max Lord a bit, but there’s no strong narrative to hook you in, and the character work establishes Lord as a fairly simplistic, power-mad villain. Still, the book looks good, and the quality of the writing and artwork outshines this week’s installment of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, as well as any issue of Justice League in the past two months. Pick it up with reasonable expectations, and you’ll get some enjoyment out of it.

SCORE: 6.5/10