Quarantine on the Watchtower! An infestation has the League (and a few guests) stuck 22,300 miles above Earth. Can they neutralize the threat without any casualties? And can they do it in time for Lois to make her deadline? Find out in Justice League #22! Mild spoilers ahead.

A whole lot of fun at precisely the right time

Justice League has been in bad shape for a while. So it was an absolute delight for me to pick this up and see a fresh creative team—even if they’re only on board for this one issue. And the delight only grew once I read what was inside.

Shea Fontana’s name may be familiar to those of you with children: she’s the author of the popular DC Superhero Girls comic series. Those of you without kids may have recently heard her name attached to Wonder Woman—she’ll be taking over that title very soon, once Greg Rucka departs. Fontana’s debut with the League strikes me as a perfect bridge between these two very different series. The conflict is very entertaining, but also very low-stakes—I suspect most kids could read this without much anxiety or tension. But the characterization hints at Fontana having a good understanding of this team, and of Wonder Woman in particular. So while there’s plenty of fun to be had, it’s with characters that we know, all well-represented.

Some of the character work is simultaneously very subtle and very astute. Jon gravitates toward Simon and bonds with Cyborg, and I think both of these relationships make perfect sense. Simon is the only person in the League besides Jon’s own father who has a normal, healthy relationship with a kid (his nephew). Victor, meanwhile, is a man whose youth was interrupted by the events that turned him into Cyborg, and so his demeanor and interests tend to look more childlike than those of his teammates. Fontana never overtly reveals her thinking behind these connections, but I would be surprised if this were an accident—it works too well.

The context elevates the art

Briones and Eltaeb have done a fair bit of work together on Aquaman recently, but I haven’t been overly fond of it. Eltaeb tends to make things pretty shiny, an effect which I think works against Briones’ often imprecise anatomical detail. I can’t say that their work is much different here, but I found that it does not bother me all that much in this context. A focus on warm relationships and fun over and above gravity and “epicness” places a much lighter burden of expectation on the artwork. For me at least, this also made it easier to appreciate those moments when Briones’ character work and layouts shined brightest. Far from giving the art a pass on the merits of the story, I found that I was able to enjoy it more because it is such a good match for the story.

A welcome break

In short, this is a great one-and-done. I’m still waiting for a new direction for Justice League, but it was nevertheless so, so good to have such a nice interlude this week.

Recommended if…

  • You like Justice League stories that are less about catastrophe and more about fun with these characters
  • You liked the team of Briones and Eltaeb on Aquaman, and you want to see them play with the rest of the League
  • You’re interested in Fontana taking over on Wonder Woman, and you’d like to get a taste of what she may do with the character

Overall

An excellent break from the norm, Justice League #22 provided plenty of fun and action, with lots of nice character moments gluing it all together. Fontana makes a good case for her new assignment on Wonder Woman, and Briones and Eltaeb are elevated by the context. Show the team some love and go buy this book.

SCORE: 8/10