Haha, Batman looks funny in that picture. Anyway, would any of you mind if I copy-pasted what I said about this book last week?
I joke, of course, but I can’t deny there’s going to be a lot of repetition here. This story covers some ground that has potential, at least conceptually… but I’m not buying what Simon Spurrier and Aaron Lopresti are selling, and I doubt they’re gonna convince me in the next and final issue.
Of course, a statement like this begs the question: what is it about this premise that’s so hard to believe? On paper, it’s an interesting thought. What happens when a group of heroes, who spend their lives tackling world-ending threats, decide to run a society? We’ve seen it done before, and to great effect: one notable example being Robert Baratheon in A Game of Thrones. Simply put, heroes (or superheroes!) do not necessarily make good rulers. After all, strange supermen flying in spaceships distributing weapons is no basis for a system of government.
So, if I like the idea, then what’s the problem? Well, to me it lies in the characters. While I understand that all comics involve some suspension of disbelief – and that continuity can never be rigidly adhered to – I can’t in good faith accept the idea that none of the heroes know the lesson that’s being preached here. I mentioned this in the last review as well, but there is nothing remotely interesting about Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman alone, repeating the moral of the story ad nauseum. Spurrier makes it clear how correct she is from the get-go, so the onus lies with the rest of the League to catch up to her. The problem, though, is that the rest of the team should already know this lesson! We see a lot of stuff in this issue that just doesn’t sit right with me: Flash, for example, is quick to punch an alien in the face for participating in a mating ritual that he doesn’t understand. Batman has a scene in this story where he attempts to communicate to the planet by disrespecting their customs, before attempting to draft them into a war. Last but not least, Superman has a temper tantrum, injuring several warring citizens to try and get their attention.
Oh, Superman. First race war, huh?
These aren’t the only missteps that the characters take in the issue, but they stem from the same place: a lack of information. As Wonder Woman is keen to point out, many of the problems they faced would be resolved had they chosen to research the ways of the people they’re leading, as well as listening to their opinions and culture. Great lesson! There’s no way they don’t know it. The entire premise of the story hinges on us believing that Superman, Batman and the rest of the crew don’t understand the moral quandary of ruling a race they essentially won in battle, and I’m sorry, but there’s no way I’m accepting that.
Is there a way to make this story work? Possibly. If it took itself a little less seriously, I might be able to accept that we’re not here for a particularly deep story, so much as we’re here for a peppy and comedic one. However, I don’t think Aaron Lopresti’s art works well in this case. I mentioned how I felt his work in the previous issue was rushed, and this only furthers my suspicions: this is his second consecutive issue, an immediate week after his last, and the quality remains about the same. That’s not to say there aren’t moments that are genuinely impressive: Lopresti displays some impressive talent in his alien designs, as well as in his portrayal of the mythic Queen Ischyria. I don’t think all of this is ugly, and I liked his work in Invasion of the Supermen… but it’s definitely not the kind of style I’d want if this book is playing for laughs and style over anything of substance. Because of that, this issue has neither style nor substance; it’s a shame, but at least there’s only one issue to go.
- This is one of your first Justice League stories, and you don’t know how experienced these heroes are supposed to be.
- Wonder Woman lecturing her friends for 20 pages gets you going.
- You’re looking for stories that are, admittedly, relatively effective at portraying a new planet’s culture in a short span of time.
I can’t in good conscience recommend this book to anyone, unless you find great joy from Wonder Woman telling off Superman and Batman for things that they should already be aware of. There’s some interesting work here regarding the lore of the planet they’re ruling, and I continue to like Lopresti’s designs, but that’s nowhere near enough to carry a story that already felt old last issue. I feel bad writing that, and I’m welcome to listen to those who disagree… but to me, when a book as big as Justice League has been simply going through the motions for ten issues, it’s somewhat difficult for me to resist doing the same.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch