In many ways, it’s hard to believe we’re only three issues into Brian Michael Bendis’ run of Justice League.
I can’t say I’m complaining! Reviewing two Justice League comics a month wasn’t my favourite thing to do when the books were only occasionally delivering an issue I genuinely really enjoyed. That said, there are downsides to this new release schedule too. The story can feel like it’s going at a snail’s pace – which is good in the long run, but makes it difficult when reviewing things issue-to-issue. While I am the one who cried for this book to go back to being a monthly (and I stand by that!), it creates a scenario where this story will likely be better than the sum of its parts. So, what do we think of the parts?
Justice League: Prisms
I’ve been a fan of Naomi every time I’ve read the first few pages of her titular comic – she’s a nice blend of relatable and fun to read, and her mini-series hit a fun genre within the superhero world that’s a little less regularly explored. That said, I never finished it – and I’m going to need to do that, because it feels like this comic is essentially designed to be a soft follow-up to that book. While other characters have their importance, this is Naomi’s story – the villains are from her planet, and she acts as the audience window for a good chunk of the issue. While other members of the League have their own problems (Aquaman’s page is my favourite of the issue), Naomi’s are the most personal, combining a strange new environment with her still-developing powers and the anxiety she suffers from.
Unfortunately, it’s a little spoiled by how Bendis chooses to mitigate the conflict. It took three issues, but we’ve finally seen our first definitively Bendis-ian series of panels… and it’s about as sigh-inducing as you might expect.
I understand the principle of what Bendis is attempting here – anxiety can sometimes be eased by distractions, even if they’re nonsensical ones. The way it reads, however, mainly takes me back to the days of “random XD” humour from the early 2010’s. I mean, what if I just interrupted my review by suddenly inserting the wikipedia entry for
The Goonies is a 1985 American adventure comedy film co-produced and directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by Chris Columbus, based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. In the film, a band of kids who live in the “Goon Docks” neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon, attempt to save their homes from foreclosure and, in doing so, they discover an old treasure map that takes them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate. During the adventure, they are chased by a family of criminals who want the treasure for themselves.
Oh, I’m sorry. I blacked out for a second there.
Anyway, Bendis does a good job of managing the team dynamics in particular here. It’s tricky for a book to have 8 characters working as a cohesive unit, while still retaining their individuality within the team. He’s had experience with this, so it doesn’t shock me that a team book fits him well – I particularly like the “World’s Finest” channel that Batman and Superman share for best-friend-related emergencies. The villains of the story are getting more and more interesting, too, on account of Brutus being a part of a larger group of individuals, stranded on a planet that looks like it’s long-dead.
What you really should be buying this book for is Dave Marquez’s art, coloured impeccably by Tamra Bonvillain. With every issue, I find less and less to nitpick about this art – and here I struggle to find much of anything, save for a confusing sequence where Batman rescues Naomi. It takes a lot of effort to make a dead city look lively enough to feel exciting, and the deep pinks and purples that Bonvillain uses in these panels really seal that deal, framed beautifully by how Marquez draws a Superman that spirals and pirohuettes through the sky – intentionally or otherwise.
That’s what you’re getting this book for right now: some really pretty imagery, coupled with a continuation of Naomi’s story. The problem is, it isn’t able to provide much of that story – being a slow burn is all well and good, but you don’t want to see your readers turned off by how slow it is. Still, there’s something to be said about consistent quality and knowing not to rush your book
Justice League Dark: Enter Ragman
Meanwhile, we actually get a lot to sink our teeth into with this entry of Justice League Dark, and it allays some of my fears about the book’s place as a backup! Despite the limited page count, Ram V and Xermanico manage to give readers quite a lot to enjoy in the short amount of time they have to show it. It’s still a shame that ten pages is all we get every month – and again, this really should be its own book – but at least I’m having a good time with what I’m reading.
Xermanico and V work in tandem like a well-oiled machine – and once you start seeing these two hitting their stride, you don’t particularly want them to stop. The way Xermanico depicts Zatanna in particular is a standout among all of his characters on this team – portraying a powerful woman in conflict with herself, struggling with both her abilities and her skill as the leader of a fractured group. I also love how he depicts Ragman, though there’s a little less of a focus on him this time around. Really, the issue is a little more concerned with moving on with the plot, rather than checking in with each character every five seconds. That said, it does spend some time focusing on one character – and I’m really glad it did.
Ser Elnara Roshtu, the thirteenth knight of the Round Table, was one of the coolest parts of what we saw in Justice League #59, and I was initially very disappointed to see her killed off immediately. To see her returning so soon in the book leads me to believe she’ll be a major character – and as someone who has grown up loving Arthurian aesthetics, it excites me to see more of that in modern superhero comics!!! Could she be the breakout star of this book? Either way, I’m excited for where this story might be going.
- You’re a fan of Naomi, but can’t wait around for the next season that Bendis keeps saying he’s gonna do.
- Arthurian Legend speaks to you, and you’re curious to see how that might fit within the world of DC.
- You like seeing a flagship DC book have not one, but two consistently fantastic artists at the helm.
- You prefer floppies to trades. More expensive, but it’s rewarding to have those covers, isn’t it?
I haven’t been giving Justice League outrageously high scores, nor have I given it low ones – overall, I’ve been pretty favourable towards them, even if I haven’t been particularly blown away by what I’ve read. There’s a value to that consistency, though – and sometimes, a book that has good issues from start-to-finish can be a lot better to a read than a book that fluxuates in quality with every chapter. I’m holding out hope for this to be a fun run, at the very least – and the creators haven’t given me reason to doubt me yet.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch