With most of the Justice League in thrall to Max Lord and the Heart of Darkness, who is left to help Steve Trevor when things go south in Washington? The Survivor tries to make it home to protect his sister and her children, but will he make it in time? Spoilers for Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #5 and this book ahead.

Simply horrifying

As you’ve no doubt seen in this week’s JLVSS, the United States are a bit of a mess. The power of Eclipso has spread beyond just Max and the League, infecting ordinary citizens and magnifying their resentments. Amidst the chaos, Steve—who seems unaffected—sneaks and fights from the office to a residential area to try to save his family.

Like Justice League #12, this tie-in doesn’t have much to it, but I feel like it’s a stronger story, and a much stronger component of the event. Instead of taking us out of the flow of things for a flashback, it provides a closer look at the wreckage wrought by Eclipso, leaving main event writer Joshua Williamson with ample space to wrap up the conflict in next week’s finale, without having to spend any pages on fleshing out the gravity of the situation.

On my first pass, I found Justice League #13 wholly unpleasant—not poorly crafted, but rather disturbing and distressing. Seeley and Eaton do an excellent job of establishing just how terrifying and bleak is the state of things, and my initial read put me in Trevor’s shoes, with twenty pages of fresh terrors before me.

Seeley also drops some particularly deft turns of phrase. As his office staff yell after him during his escape, Steve describes them as “kids playing in the dark, excited and scared in equal measure.” When he enters the room where his sister, niece and nephew are, he grieves the loss of perceived innocence: “they’re gone. My sweet niece and nephew…I’ll never be able to look at them again. I’ll never be able to unsee the darkness.” I think Seeley does an outstanding job on Nightwing, but after reading this, I would love to read his take on a character with a moodier, more contemplative nature. Batman is an obvious choice, but there’s also a gaping, Martian Manhunter-shaped hole in DC’s line right now, and if there is a character whose very soul is the poetry of loss and longing, it’s J’onn J’onzz. Make it happen, Dan and Jim.

A minor confusion

The ending might take a few passes to sort out for some of you—it did for me, and I still couldn’t say “this is what happens and why.” But, best I can tell, Eclipso tries to break Steve by showing him the worst that might have become of his family, and while Steve resists initially, he also exposes the source of his hope and resolve. Armed with that information, Eclipso taints the source and ends up breaking Steve anyhow. However you interpret the particulars, Eclipso wins, and the outlook is entirely bleak.

 

Effective artwork

Eaton’s style doesn’t distinguish itself—you can’t look at a panel and say “that’s a Scott Eaton.” But he’s a good storyteller, and his finishes don’t distract. In fact, I like his rendering of Eclipso far better than Robson Rocha’s in JLVSS #5, even though Rocha has a far more recognizable aesthetic. Part of that might be the plurality of inkers on the event book this week, but my point remains the same: a great finisher is not automatically an effective storyteller, and Eaton plays to his own strengths well and then gets out of his own way. It won’t win an award, but it makes for a fine comic.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see the depths of Eclipso’s grip on the world.
  • You want to read some fine writing by Seeley.
  • You can appreciate good storytelling and comfortable aesthetics—Eaton delivers.

Overall

I may not love what’s happening, but I love the way Seeley and Eaton present it. Great writing and solid visuals raise the stakes for this event by making it a lot more personal, elevating JLVSS even as the event issues themselves have been a mixed bag. I think his one’s worth picking up, even if you aren’t reading the event.

SCORE: 8/10