The Justice League is spread across time! The quest to find pieces of the Totality hit a bump in the proverbial road last week, and what was supposed to be a simple recon and recovery mission got a lot more complicated. Can the Justice Society and the Last Boy on Earth help the Leaguers find their way? Find out in Justice League #31Mild spoilers ahead.

A slow start

The last few issues of Justice League have been pretty good, but they have each been—to varying degrees—bogged down by an excess of text. #29 was a “Justice Doom War” prelude, so it can perhaps be forgiven for the rehashed backstory and setup; however, #30 was supposed to be the kickoff to the event proper, and its delightful bookends didn’t make the saggy middle disappear—even if they did help redeem the issue as a whole.

Justice League #31 begins with 11 pages of standing around and talking. To be fair, while some of the dialogue is a bit hard to chew, not all of it is. The conversations are interesting enough, and some of the interactions between League members and the Justice Society are particularly entertaining; but from a big-picture view, there’s just a lot of chatting between moments of greater excitement, and I think this is a structural flaw that will become more apparent when these issues are collected later on.

Credit: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano

Jimenez and Sanchez do great work aesthetically in these early pages, but the script has them trapped in terms of storytelling. Jimenez varies his perspectives in (what looks like) an attempt to spice things up a bit, but it doesn’t always work, and there are panels where the composition gives the impression that something more exciting (or sinister) is taking place than there actually is.

Napolitano performs admirably given all of the text, but it’s still a lot of text. Observe:

Credit: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano; dimming and pink overlays added by Brian Warshaw

 

As you can see, he lays it out just fine, but the pink balloons highlight just how much treading water Jimenez is doing. The storytelling opens up a little bit on the bottom of the page, but still.

But things pick up

Once we turn to the 12th page, things start to get better. There’s action, certainly, but also some Fantastic Four-worthy comic book science, and I find it incredibly entertaining. We get a bit of Jarro, as well, though not as much as last time. The script gets less verbose, and Jimenez gets to do his job much more effectively. Even this splash page (with two insets) is incredibly effective with just three shots:

Credit: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano

If you have to choose a half of the book to make less verbose and more exciting, then I think Snyder and Tynion make the right call by going with the latter half. I still think the wordy first half—in conjunction with the fairly wordy prelude and first installment—will hurt this story in trade, but I’m happy to see them finish well for this issue.

Recommended if…

  • You like lots of words
  • But you also like it when those words thin out and the visual storytelling gets to do its job
  • Jarro! (even if underutilized)

Overall

Justice League #31 suffers from the same excess of standing and chatting that has plagued the previous two issues. It finishes well, though, and by the end, Jimenez and Sanchez get to do what they do best: give us beautifully-rendered, beautifully-executed visual storytelling that perfectly illustrates Snyder and Tynion’s big ideas.

SCORE: 7/10


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