Wonder Woman has been shot! A bullet bounced off of the Man of Steel’s impenetrable pectorals and hit Diana in the one spot that wasn’t protected: everywhere but her wrists! Can she be saved, and can the League stop the wholesale slaughter of unarmed refugees, or will they be defeated by political sensitivity? Find out in Justice League #42SPOILERS WILL MOST LIKELY LIE AHEAD.

What works?

Diana sees her life in a flash as she lays wounded, and Priest writes her narration well. He finds a fairly elegant way to answer the question that most casual fans will have: isn’t Wonder Woman as impenetrable as Superman? I also appreciate that Diana remains steadfast in seeking the welfare of the refugees. It’s very much in character for her, and Priest has gotten that right all along. I don’t appreciate that Clark would even have to be told to be heroic, but at least the bickering back and forth about whether or not lives should be preserved has ceased.

I enjoy Deathstroke’s monologue to Cyborg, as well. Priest has been writing Slade for almost two years now, and it shows. At the DC Rebirth panel at New York Comic Con back in 2016—just a few months after Deathstroke #1—Priest pointed out what should be obvious, but that some fans needed to be reminded of: Slade is a bastard. That’s on full display here, as he taunts the (apparently) helpless Cyborg. I don’t love jerkish people, but I love reading well-defined characters, and the dark humor here is very humorous, indeed. I won’t share any of his specific comments here, because it’s too hard to choose just one; but, if you’re buying Justice League anyway, or you have some extra cash, this book is worth the price of admission just for this scene alone.

Priest brings Raven into the mix, recruited by Kid Flash to help save Wonder Woman. I don’t exactly why Raven would be the most useful person in this scenario, but I do like the pull. She’s had a few miniseries lately, but other than that, half of the Teen Titans characters—including her—aren’t getting much exposure outside of that book.

As much as I poked at Red Lion in my last review, I still do think he’s an interesting character, and his charisma makes him a fun read. That said, I was happy to see Cyborg take him down a notch.

Finally, I really, really loved seeing Woods back, and having him coloring himself. His work at the beginning of Priest’s run was great, and I’ve missed it. He came back briefly a few issues ago, but he didn’t do his own colors, and it wasn’t quite the same.

What doesn’t

While I am most grateful that the arguments about the political consequences of saving lives seem to be in the rearview, and that the attention has shifted to the harder-to-duck question of what to do with those people once-saved, I feel as though Priest does not handle the argument as gracefully as he could. The whole thing feels very scripted to me. I could see Jessica thinking of the most-contested land in the Middle East as “Israel” and Baz thinking of it as “Palestine”, but I don’t buy Jessica correcting Simon with “you mean Israel” the way she does here. What is her connection to that conflict that makes her feel so strongly about it?

In the end, Priest bails the League out with a Deathstroke-ex-machina. He bails them out of their immediate squabble, but more than that, he bails them out of the threat posed by “The Fan”. In an arc where Priest seems intent on putting the League in messy situations that don’t have easy answers—situations that “forced” him to betray the essence of several of the characters—it seems like a cheap out to just shove Deathstroke in and have him clean up all of the problems. We’ll see how things wrap up next time, I suppose.

Recommended if…

  • You like Priest’s Deathstroke.
  • You missed Pete Woods’s “whole package”.

Overall

Justice League #42 is much more readable than the past few issues of the series, and it has some high-quality moments sprinkled throughout. The conclusion feels cheap, calling to question the need for the rest of this arc, but the return of Woods and a pivot away from wishy-woshy heroism makes for a favorable experience overall.

SCORE: 7/10