When a body is found in the Hall of Justice the Justice League are faced with a challenge even they might not come out of if they don’t work together! How did someone get in? Who is this person? And can the group figure it out before the whole Hall turns against them?
Hey guys! I am covering for Nick today. Since I haven’t really been keeping up with Justice League I was unaware of what was going to happen in the Annual. While that can sometimes backfire, I think it worked well here, because it meant I got to be delightfully surprised by the contents.
The annual opens up with Batman calling Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman to the Hall of Justice because a body has been found inside, resulting in a security breach. It’s not just a body as things go from strange to legitimately concerning as the Hall itself begins to turn against them, setting off various security protocols put in place to protect against each member’s various nemeses. This is troublesome, because all too often those villains have similar, if not the same, powersets and weaknesses to the heroes.
The rest of the story focuses on the team figuring out different ways to get around these protocols, reset the Hall, and figure out just who is behind all of this. It’s quite a bit of fun and while I was reading, I often felt like this could have been an episode of Justice League Unlimited, with the team stuck in one place, working together to solve a mystery.
The art helps further that feeling, as most of the characters are back in classic outfits. Lopresti and Baron come together to make the team look and feel a lot like the Justice League I grew up watching on television, and the colors match up with what I remember. Even without it playing to my own nostalgia, the outfit choice makes the annual feel set out of time which is something that I really enjoyed.
Another thing that reminds me of the old show is the major theme played with through this annual. Venditti focuses on teamwork and the strengths of each of the various members brought together for this adventure. The story itself opens with Batman calling them all for very specific reasons like, Clark finding the story behind the murder or John being able to think outside the box and continues that idea whenever it can throughout the story.
The idea of teamwork is displayed best when we are shown moments where each Leaguer tries to solve a problem on their own, and when they’ve failed, a new solution is found by working in tandem. Flash and Green Lantern break a lock this way –while using a Batarang–, then multiple members act as distractions during a fight so John can redirect attacks. Each of these are moments where it’s easy to see why they’re a team, and how they work well together.
Eventually the team does split up to achieve different goals. Batman and Wonder Woman break off to reset the building, while Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman head for the Solar Healing Generator to help Superman, who has been depowered. Through this, they encounter further complications like Wonder Woman and Batman being attacked by experimental microbots in a hidden corridor. These are things that haven’t been built into the Hall, and only help to deepen the mystery of what’s going on.
I think the mystery itself is well done, and as someone who enjoys guessing the ending, I didn’t manage to figure out who it was before it was revealed. This is possibly where my lack of familiarity with the title comes in to play, since, beyond an issue here or there, I haven’t been keeping up with Justice League so I might have missed some obvious hints. That said, Venditti does a good job of peppering a number of clues about what’s going on through the story so that readers can start to piece things together. This makes the reveal convincing when it happens, and didn’t leave me scratching my head about major plot points. It’s also enough that you can go back through and find each of those moments where an important tool or idea was referenced and have some nice “Oh!” moments.
There’s only a couple things I took issue with here. The first is that there are a number of moments where characters are injured and just simply walk it off. Just about everyone takes a hit at some point or another, which makes sense, but a few of them made me pause. Batman takes a pretty hefty hit from a robot and despite John pointing out he needs rest, he proceeds on just fine. Worse though, is a moment where Flash supposedly takes on so much radiation he could die, actually looks like he’s down for the count, then is totally fine a couple panels later. I get that this is a contained story, and no one will actually die here, but it doesn’t quite allow it’s injuries to create interesting stakes.
Secondly, while I love the style of the characters, I didn’t feel like there was a lot going on in the background during the first half of the story, as many of the backdrops felt empty or nonexistent. What there is follows the standard silvery, science fiction kind of feeling you get from bunkers or space stations. This meant there were times I totally forgot they were in the Hall of Justice and not on the Watchtower. The second half adds more detail, especially when we get to see outside of the Hall again, but I do wish Lopresti had taken some time to show off the Hall a little more, with possible trophies they might have displayed, or various details of the League’s home base we don’t normally get to see.
The ending follows the same theme the rest of the annual does, in that the team is better together than separate. So much so that Wonder Woman actually says something to that tune. I don’t mind this rehashing of the theme, because it feels less like it’s trying to hammer home that idea, and acts more as kind of a coda to the whole story. I think each piece works really well together here, and in the end I had a lot of fun reading it.
- It’s a light, fun, Justice League story
- Like me, you don’t mind a nice one shot tale every now and then
- You don’t mind stories that focus on one main theme
The second Justice League annual is an easy read and a fun mystery. It plays on my feelings of nostalgia towards the Justice League stories I grew up with, and even includes some of those themes and ideas. While it doesn’t do anything bombastic or deep, it is a solid story from start to finish that doesn’t require you to have any knowledge of what’s going on in the rest of the universe right now. That makes it great to read if you’re looking for something short, or just a fresh story with no strings attached.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.