In this chapter of Justice League Odyssey, we blow through plots that could’ve been interesting and engaging just to get from one character’s worshipers to another character’s worshipers… It’s basically a waste of a really good plot. So, you know, that’s disappointing.
I’ve been open and outspoken about why I dislike most of Josh Williamson’s work, and this issue only seems to support my stance. I’ve often found Williamson has solid ideas, but his execution tends to leave something to be desired as he never fully embraces the stories he sets up or presents. In fact, it’s almost as if he’s so concerned he won’t get to tell all of the stories he wants to tell, that he quickly and half-hazardly blows through the shallowest parts of each story before quickly moving to the next, just to ensure he gets to everything he wants to get to. Unfortunately, in the process, we don’t get much to dig into narratively of with characters, and are left with a mediocre product.
After a ridiculous set-up to bring our heroes together, we were given an interesting conflict in Kori getting infected with a foreign virus. I came into this issue looking forward to exploring this narrative, and was curious to see where this infection would lead. I was also anxious to learn more about this planet, those that inhabit it, and why they worship Starfire. While we get a brief embrace of this plot, Williamson, in true Williamson fashion, fervently leaves it behind to explore other options… And that’s disappointing. What follows feels like more, random nonsense, and yet again, nothing really adds up.
Now, you could attempt to make the argument that I’m just upset because the story isn’t unfolding in a way that I expected or wanted, but that’s not the case. I’m actually miffed because Williamson sets up a plot, then abandons it all within a matter of five pages or so total. He literally sold us on a cliffhanger to get us back in, then said “never mind” at the start of this issue.
So, after absorbing the priest’s language to understand the relics of herself, Starfire transforms into an uncontrollable energy that disrupts the planet the team is currently inhabiting. To help calm her reaction, Cyborg shoots her with a sonic blast to disrupt Starfire’s language center of her brain, and subsequently prevent her from doing more damage… But this doesn’t make sense, because the story makes a point to establish that Starfire absorbed more than just the race’s language, and that she is actually infected with a virus that is causing this disruption in her abilities. So… Which is it?
Regardless, with Kori’s powers held at bay, the team is forced to make a quick escape as the planet beneath them begins to crumble and disintegrate. Green Lantern uses her ring to create a ship that will carry the team, as well as Brainiac’s defunct ship, to another planet, while the planet that worships Starfire hardens… Which, yes, is different than the crumbling and disintegrating we were just witnessing. Basically, it’s more random nonsense.
Also, I feel it’s worth pointing out that Jessica has spent three issues now complaining about Cyborg, Kori, and Azrael entering the ghost sector. Time and time again, she’s expressed that they need to leave, but acted as if she’s incapable of forcing them to leave. Yet here she is, whisking them up like it’s nothing, taking them to another planet to support their mission, which completely goes against her will or intentions, rather than carrying them out of the ghost sector to be intercepted by another Green Lantern as she should… Because, again, this is just more random nonsense.
Which brings me to our heroes having conflicts with each other for no particular reason other than the sake of conflict. The dialogue at this point is quite atrocious as the team bickers about what their next step should or shouldn’t be. The characterization is also quite poor for every character except Cyborg and Starfire. Jessica, for whatever reason, continues to act like a raging hardass that does nothing but boss around, bicker, and nag with the other heroes. It’s… odd. I mean, what’s with the “I already have a partner back on earth” line to Azrael? What happened to the girl with anxiety? I think I preferred her better. I don’t know where Williamson got this idea of Jess, but it feels incredibly far removed from any other depiction I’ve read of her. And don’t even get me started on Darkseid… I mean, seriously? His role in this issue is complete trash, dumpster fire, poop water.
As for Starfire and Cyborg, while they do come off as being true to their character, they’re also written so generically that I can’t really say that’s a compliment. Their dialogue reads as if it’s a cut and paste scene from any film, book, television series, or play where “Character A” needs to get “Character B,” who is sick, to another location for a cure. It is essentially a paint-by-numbers conflict that doesn’t feel motivated in any way.
On top of all of this, we’re introduced to an external conflict that is rounding up the survivors of Colu and turning them into slaves as punishment for their imprisonment. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with our heroes so they step in. In the end, this is another example of a plot that I like conceptually, but when you have dialogue and execution as poor as this… It’s hard to enjoy. It only gets worse when the people of Colu begin to worship Cyborg after they rescued, not because he rescued them, but because of his role in No Justice (which, if you remember, led to the destruction of their planet), then you’ll quickly realize that this entire book is a shit show. Factor in a magical, convenient recovery, no progression in previously teased plots, and some dude named Rapture that’s wearing Azrael’s old costume (I wonder if it’s Michael Lane?) and hunting Cyborg, then you’ll probably leave this issue asking why you even bother…
The Art: Phillipe Briones takes over for Stjepan Sejic on art, and while his work is decent, he’s no Sejic. In fact, Sejic was one of the main reasons I looked forward to this book. While the art isn’t bad, it doesn’t feel as special as what we received for the first two chapters, and ultimately makes the book feel a little more generic. Whenever you already have a story and script that feel generic, you definitely don’t need to art to take a step in that direction as well…
- You’re fine with random adventures.
- You enjoy the runts of the litter.
Overall: If I had to some up this book, it would be, “Random space action with generic characters and poor execution.” Take that as you will.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.