J’onn J’onzz meets up with an old friend! Hawkgirl tags along! Qward is an inhospitable hellscape, and you didn’t really think it was going to be that easy, did you? One story ends, and another begins, in Justice League #28SPOILERS AHEAD

Some welcome restraint

I said two weeks ago that Justice League #27 was James Tynion’s best showing on the title so far, and while I’m not out to assign superlatives this week, the level of quality—in particular the vastly-improved dialogue—continues with this week’s Justice League #28. Tynion uses the interaction between Martian Manhunter and Lex Luthor to build some very effective tension—accentuated by Javier Fernandez’s murky, distorted character work. In earlier arcs, I have felt like Tynion took finales that should have been page-turners and turned them into slogs, but there’s none of that here. I blew through this one on my first pass, and I enjoyed it very much.

Credit: Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, Hi-Fi, and Tom Napolitano

As good as Fernandez is on pages with J’onn and Lex, I was not too impressed with his take on the rest of the League in prior issues—Superman and Wonder Woman, in particular, looked bizarre under his hand. Thankfully, Daniel Sampere handles the sections that take place in the Antimatter Universe, and his less-abstract aesthetic fits these other heroes much better. What’s more, these pages look good in their own right, and Sampere’s storytelling sits nicely amidst Fernandez’s pages.

The oh-em-gee (this is where the spoilers are)

I can’t believe Lex did it. I was following their conversation, certain that Lex was up to no good. But I never expected him to destroy the Martian. Obviously, nothing is forever in comics, and as Lex merely absorbed J’onn’s essence, there’s a pretty clear path back. But even knowing those things, I found the actual moment genuinely shocking. And I found Hawkgirl’s response incredibly satisfying:

Credit: Javier Fernandez, Hi-Fi, and Tom Napolitano

There have been a number of moments in this run where Kendra’s combative personality felt like a screen covering insecurity; but here, drawn out by a devastating emotional trigger, I think we’re seeing her core. It’s maybe the first time that we’re seeing her raw, unfiltered, and it feels completely natural. She may be unsure of where her relationship with J’onn was headed—confused as it was by the possible future shown them by the World Forger—but she clearly cared for him, and it shows. I, for one, can’t wait to see her rain hell on Lex and the Legion.

The future has never been brighter

Scott Snyder is a busy guy. I’ve loved every issue he’s written of Justice League, but I’ve mostly been disappointed when he took a break and handed it off to his protégé. But now, it seems like Tynion has turned a corner. We’ve had to very good issues of his in a row. The dialogue is becoming more natural, more restrained, and the story—which has always been grand and compelling—is at last given the opportunity to come through without interference. Here’s hoping he can keep it up—I don’t think anyone is rooting for him harder than I am.

Recommended if…

  • You care about the relationship between J’onn J’onzz and Lex Luthor
  • You like it when Hawkgirl gets angry
  • You’re excited about the Justice-Doom War

Overall

“Apex Predator” goes out with a bang, setting the stage for the future of Snyder and Tynion’s grand Justice League epic. Tynion is writing better than ever, Fernandez and Sampere pool their strengths to create an entire issue that looks good, and I couldn’t be happier. You should be reading this book.

SCORE: 9/10


DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance copy of this comic for review.