Up, up, and away! Superman attempts to escape his lonely prison planet, but the grass isn’t really any greener on…FUTURE APOKOLIPS! The League is caught in straits most dire, and their greatest mind—the Dark Knight himself—seems poised to betray their ideals. What the heck is up with that? I mean, really? Find out—maybe—in Justice League #23SPOILERS AHEAD

Heroism, craziness, and a small amount of impenetrable gobbledegook

If you’ve been a fan of Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez on Justice League, this one is right in the sweet spot. We’ve got heroes in impossible situations, asked to set aside their values because “it’s the only way.” We’ve got the purest of those heroes refusing to compromise, refusing to give up and give in. We’ve also got Batman looking like a humongous jerk and playing the World Forger’s game, but we’ll get back to that in a bit.

The stakes here feel incredibly real. We know that good will prevail in the end, but we don’t know what it will cost. Snyder is a writer who doesn’t fear taking a substantial player out of the game and replacing him with an aging cop in a robobatbunny suit, so the idea that anybody is safe doesn’t hold up.

But the new Snyder—the post-Metal Snyder—is also not afraid to have fun. From a handsome and impossibly tall future Jimmy Olsen to Old Man Sinestro and Darkseid the getaway driver, there’s plenty here to make you laugh and smile, too. None of it undermines the seriousness of the conflict, but it helps take some of the tension out and reminds you that this is a big super hero comic book, and that you are intended to have some fun with it, too.

Unfortunately, Snyder also isn’t afraid to keep yammering on about the “Justice formation,” and he says it twice this time around. Thankfully, they are but moments, and they pass. But please, Scott—no more formation talk.

Jimenez: Still handsome after all these years

If you can believe it, Jorge Jimenez has managed to get even better in his tenure on this title. He’s always been insanely good, but he’s refining his aesthetic in ways that I think ultimately make it more appealing. He’s making characters like Superman a bit more angular, adding some more line detail instead of leaving as much to Sanchez as he has in the past. Sanchez’s colors have always added so much texture to Jimenez’s work, and they still do, but now Jimenez is adding a lot more inky texture of his own, and I love it. I mean, look at handsome, grizzled, textured, future Lieutenant Jimmy Olsen:

Credit: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano

The visual storytelling is excellent, as well. There’s so much dramatic weight when it’s needed, but Jimenez can pull back and give us the most enormous, most ridiculous, two-interdimensional-imps-duking-it-out splash page, as well. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: there is no better artist for Snyder’s Justice League than Jorge Jimenez. His aesthetic and his sensibilities are such a perfect fit.

Batweasel

Before we wrap up, let’s talk about the elephant in the room—”the elephant” being the Bat, and “the room” being that posh, open-air penthouse where Alphaeus decides which realities to put back in his cosmic stock pot. Two issues ago, I complained that Batman had gone from asking the right questions to simply accepting the rose-colored reality presented to him by Alphaeus. Several readers commented that they thought Bats had some master plan behind it all. I didn’t necessarily disagree with that, but after reading this issue, Bruce’s shortcomings are so exaggerated that I’m now certain those commenters were correct. I’ll be very interested to see how his decisions today fit in with that plan, but yes, he’s still Batman, and there’s something else going on that we can’t yet see.

Recommended if…

  • Joooooooorrrrrrrgggggeeeeeeeeee!
  • Fun, funny, dramatic, heroic—if you like these words, you like this comic
  • You, unlike me, really like it when a character says that horrid phrase “Justice formation”

Overall

Justice League #23 reminds us afresh that Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez were made for each other, and that together, they were made for us, we who love comics. There’s plenty of heroism, humor, and big comic book action to satisfy our cravings, and all of it is realized impeccably by Jimenez, Sanchez, and Napolitano. When this book is on, it’s on, and you should be reading it.

SCORE: 8.5/10


DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance copy of this book for the purpose of review.