While still not the grand space opera I was hoping for, Justice League Odyssey makes some solid improvements this week to give me a new hope.
As you all know, I wasn’t overly impressed with the debut of Justice League Odyssey. My score for the book was still a positive one, but barely. While I enjoyed the story to a degree, there were a number of technical and structural issues with the script and narrative that grated with me throughout my reading process. Most of these opportunities stem from a manic, unfocused script, and dialogue that feels unnatural or unearned. While this chapter doesn’t completely correct these problems, it does make vast improvements in regard to the narratives overall focus.
We left off with Darkseid revealing that he led Cyborg, Starfire, and Azrael to the ghost sector, so naturally, that revelation would lead to fallout here. I was looking forward to the bout at hand but found myself slightly disappointed by the events. While the fight is engaging and illustrated beautifully by Stejpan Sejic, the script leaves something to be desired.
For example, Darkseid doesn’t attack but merely asks to speak with our heroes. Now, I understand why the team wouldn’t trust Darkseid, but before he can get another word out, Cyborg and Starfire attack. This bothers me because it feels quite clear that Darkseid has no intention of hurting our heroes and has established that he needs their help for the sake of the universe. So, attacking him feels unheroic. But alas, arguments could be made to justify the offense, especially considering Darkseid already manipulated each of them to a degree.
Then there’s the dialogue itself, which feels forced. Williamson writes Cyborg rallying the team to work together to stop Darkseid because they’re getting their “butts kicked.” I have two problems with this line. For one, at this point, Cyborg and Kori have both fired a single blast that Darkseid shrugged off. To follow this, Azrael attempted a physical attack and was thrown into Starfire. It’s at this point that Jessica tries to restrain Darkseid, and this is when Cyborg says the “butts kicked” line… The team is hardly getting their butts kicked. We’ve seen each of these heroes encounter far worse than getting thrown into another person, but alas, Williamson felt the need to write this line, when the reality is that Darkseid hasn’t actually made any offensive assault. The line is unwarranted, and could’ve been justified by having Darkseid react with more anger to the assaults.
Then we move to the second part of my problem with this encounter, and that’s where Cyborg finishes this same line by calling the team to work together if they expect to stand a chance… only for him to attack Darkseid solo, before the fight ends rather abruptly. So, we literally have a line (“butts kicked”) that doesn’t feel warranted, and then we have a clichéd, heroic call for teamwork that isn’t followed through. It’s an example of Williamson trying to create a moment without setting it up properly, or earning it. This is why I say the dialogue feels forced.
I understand this is a minor gripe – and honestly, I know it is – but it is something I tend to find more often than not in Williamson’s scripts. While technical and minor, it happens multiple times throughout the issue and is simply a lack of working the script through as far as execution is concerned. I used to comment on this in my reviews for Batgirl & the Birds of Prey, but writers desperately need to make sure their scripts and plots can answer “who, what, where, when, and why.” While Justice League Odyssey is miles better than BatBoP, it doesn’t mean that this book isn’t plagued by the same, basic problems… And that’s probably why instances such as this bother me as much as they do… They’re “rookie mistakes.” Quality, established writers shouldn’t fall victim to these opportunities, especially on a consistent basis. And beyond that, it’s small details such as this that prevent a book from being great rather than good.
This essentially sums up my outlook on Williamson as a writer. He’s a great idea guy (concepts, plots, arcs, etc), but his execution is just average. Here, he even tries to write conflict amongst the team, and it feels pointless. Following Cyborg’s call to teamwork, he has Cyborg act confrontational towards Azrael. He also has Jess act confrontational to the group as a whole. Generally speaking, none of it feels natural considering their current situation, and comes off as an inclusion for the sake of adding drama. It’s fine to create conflict, but if it doesn’t feel honest for a character then perhaps the approach should be altered.
Despite my multiple, small problems with the script, I have to admit that I’m finding myself more intrigued and interested in the plot. I have questions about the legitimacy of Cyborg, Starfire, and Azrael being viewed as gods, but I’ll trust that answers to those questions are coming. After all, Williamson did explain Darkseid’s current state in this issue – something a number of us were wondering following this title’s debut.
There are also further revelations into how these planets and races view their gods (our heroes) and why. Kori receives most of the spotlight here, and the end result will leave you eager for the next issue. I know I am anyway, and that’s with my lack of amusement in the dialogue. So if you’re not concerned with the technicality of writing like I am, then you’ll most likely find this chapter to be a highly satisfying read in a book with endless potential.
The Art: Stjepin Sejic is an incredible artist and he doesn’t disappoint here. Last month, I commented on how his lines weren’t as crisp as we’ve seen in the past, and while I’ve still seen better from him, this month’s efforts are definitely an improvement. I also love seeing how he draws action. There’s such detail in his work that I almost feel as though I’m seeing a screen capture from a film. Jess’s attempts to restrain Darkseid is potentially the highlight of the book for me, but Kori’s conclusion is also a great visual moment as well!
- You like space adventures.
- You’re curious to learn more about the prophecies pertaining to our heroes.
- You want to see if Darkseid and our heroes can actually work together.
Overall: Justice League Odyssey #2 is definitely an improvement compared to its debut, but there are still some opportunities that need to be sorted through. While the plot and narrative as a whole are quite intriguing, the dialogue and script could stand to endure a little more work before publication.