The Justice Doom War starts here! Perpetua has very nearly risen, and Apex Luthor and his band of evil ninnies are getting ready to put the pain on the Justice League! Who will prevail? Who will perish? Who knows? Read Justice League #30!
Keep it moving
Justice League #30 is a very good issue. It’s not a great issue, and it’s certainly not a bad issue—neither is it a middle-of-the-road, meh issue. My overall impression is quite positive, but there are elements that weigh it down and prevent it from reaching the heights that this run has seen on its best days.
Broadly speaking, the book works best when it’s moving. We open and close with some pretty intense, exciting sequences. There are lots of interesting-looking characters, some good battlefield banter, and a few surprises and not-surprises that are as much a delight to the eyes as they are to the mind.
The middle is a bit mushy. It most certainly has its highlights—most of which are supplied by the Sensational Character Find of 2019, Jarro the Star Wonder—but we also get bogged down in several pages of either Starman or Perpetua droning on about Justice and Doom formations (though, mercifully, they avoid that word), symbology, and yada, yada, yada. I don’t mind getting educated on the guts of this whole affair, but it feels dense—barely penetrable—and it gets too much air time.
If that were all, then I think the middle would be too much to overcome, even with the strong open and close. But, as I said, there are some delightful moments of Jarro-fueled levity that help break things up. There’s the outlining of the League’s plan to head off disaster, which feels superficially-similar to the plan in Avengers: Endgame, but is nevertheless quite interesting and exciting. And, perhaps most importantly, there are
Jorge Freaking Jimenez and Alejandro Freaking Sanchez
When the dialogue sags, the visuals more than compensate for them. Jimenez and Sanchez (and Francis Manapul, briefly) are, of course, outstanding in the exciting bookends; but they also give the book life when it needs it most. I may not love the wall of balloons when Starman and Perpetua give their respective spiels, but the visual delights abound—both those central to the point, and those in the periphery. Yes, Snyder and Tynion could have and should have cut some dialogue and let the artwork speak more independently; but, my brain has no trouble skimming the words and dwelling on the artwork—especially on each subsequent read.
Napolitano’s lettering is as sharp as ever, too. If he got paid by the word, he might be the richest among his colleagues, but he handles all of that text quite gracefully, and I never once feel as though I’m missing something from Sanchez because a balloon is in the way. I really like his SFX this issue, too—both the general look (and variety) of them and the masking choices he makes. For those not in the know, masking is simply selecting the parts of an image you wish to preserve and removing the rest. With SFX in comics, this allows a letterer to give the appearance that certain parts of the drawn artwork are in front of an effect, while other parts are behind. Here’s one I’m particularly fond of from JL #30:
This example highlights several benefits of masking: you can add an effect to a small panel without obscuring necessary objects—in this case, Starman, Wonder Woman, and whoever that is on the right; you can make the effect seem more visually-integrated with the artwork, as Napolitano does by placing it “under” debris and speed lines; and, you can give the impact of the effect some spatial significance: the BOOM is blasting Starman mostly to the right, but also slightly towards the camera—and away from the BOOM itself.
Now, Jimenez could be working digitally, and Napolitano could have access to a layered image, making it easier for him to put the the SFX where he wants them. That wouldn’t be masking in the technical sense, but conceptually, the idea is the same, and I love the choices Napolitano makes throughout this one.
- You like Jimenez and Sanchez
- You like Jarro
Justice League #30 may have a verbally-saggy middle, but the overall impression is quite positive. There’s plenty of excitement surrounding that mushy center, and enough visual delights to sustain my eyes across space and time. Perhaps most importantly, there is Jarro, and I would follow that sassy starfish into the bowels of the earth—or any other bowels for that matter.
DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance copy of this book for review.