Justice League: Last Ride #2 review

So I wasn’t the biggest fan of #1. The creative team was making too many references to things that happened off-panel, and mainly because of that the first issue failed to hook me. But, since it was just the first issue, I’ve approached #2 with an optimistic mindset, hoping that things would improve. So, without further ado, let’s have ourselves a look!

Ah, this is more like it! There are still things in this issue that I’m not sold on, but there are also things here that I enjoy. For one thing, this second issue has a much stronger opening sequence than #1, and I’m wondering why this wasn’t used in the opening pages of the first issue. This time we open with a chaotic battle of epic proportions. At times I think the chaos is a bit too much, where the creative team almost loses focus, as we bounce around from panel to panel and the whole sequence is just all over the place. But, at the same time, it’s also incredibly dynamic as we shift between characters, and everything is just so damn action-packed. The fact that it’s such a chaotic mess also adds to the stressful moments that our heroes find ourselves in. While this stuff isn’t perfect and rambles a little bit, it is the kind of stuff I want from a Justice League book.

The issue still relies a lot on exposition, and I still feel like I’m missing pieces of information here and there in order for everything to make complete sense. This still bothers me slightly, because comics that don’t visually show me events almost always rub me the wrong way. Like I said last time, it’s okay to refer to things that have happened off-panel occasionally to create suspense or mystery, but a creative team can only do this so many times before they lose me. Comics is a visual medium, so creators better show instead of tell!

That being said, I think the exposition is handled a lot better here than in last month’s issue. For example, during the opening sequence, we see team mates actually informing each other about important things that they need to know and it helps readers to follow the events more smoothly. If a writer is going to use exposition, I think this is one way to pull it off successfully, even if it’s still not my favorite thing to see in comics.

I also want to take a moment to discuss Diana’s characterization. Some writers portray her as a paragon of love, compassion and empathy, while others write her as a badass warrior that just cuts off heads, ripping and tearing through hordes of enemies. There are times that I feel like Zdarsky is trying to balance these two takes on the character, although he seems to lean more toward the badass warrior than the compassionate truth seeker. I’ll put this bluntly, I am not and never was a fan of the warrior take on the character. This version just seems too aggressive to me, and it just feels off to me. It’s a tough one, though. I wonder at what point Zdarsky’s take becomes out-of-character. This is something that I will pay attention to as the series continues, but for now I can say that I’m slightly doubting the way he writes Wonder Woman.

Yet, I think that Zdarsky does a great job writing the other characters. We see Superman rushing off to save innocent aliens aboard a spaceship while the League is in the middle of escorting Lobo to Apokolips, and that kind of impulsive, heroic stuff is actually what Superman would do. I don’t quite enjoy how grumpy Batman is in this book, but as we slowly learn more about what’s going on, it starts to make sense, and it’s a good contrast against the other Leaguers’ attitudes. Hal Jordan, for example, is super confident and cocky but also a good guy at heart who just wants to do the right thing, and Wally is less confident but keeps pushing on despite that. All in all, Zdarsky writes a fun mix of personality types that makes this a dynamic and colorful book.

However, I am not onboard with the idea that there’s beef between Batman and Superman. I want the World’s Finest to be the World’s Finest. They are supposed to be best friends and they are supposed to trust each other blindly. Perhaps I will appreciate this more when we actually get to see the event that caused this rift between them, but until the creative team finally decides to show this stuff to us, I’m simply going to resist it. To me, as it stands, this just feels so fabricated that it’s obvious that it’s a plot point rather than something that’s organically integrated into the narrative. My outlook on this could change, but the reveal will have to be really good for it not to feel superficial. So far, I just can’t think of any reason why Batman and Superman need to be like this in this story, because it adds nothing for me.

Last time I said that the art was good, but could have been better. This time I’ll say that the art is excellent! No, really. Angiolini’s colors are so smooth and easy on the eyes, even when we see big explosions or larger-than-life battles or interstellar adventures. The palette is layered and colorful, and yet it doesn’t take away from the somber tones that Zdarsky is going for in his writing, much like last month, with the exception that the colors are even better here. They blend incredibly well with Mendonça’s pencils and inks, too.

Speaking of Mendonça, he’s outdoing himself here. He’s able to capture epic scope and hard-hitting action, and especially during those opening pages everything is in motion. The quieter moments, when the League is traveling through space to Apokolips, are also quite good. The emotions on the characters’ faces reveal a lot about what they are feeling and thinking and match what they are saying, so in that sense there’s good synergy between Zdarsky and Mendonça. In the previous issue the face-work was less consistent, with faces morphing slightly, or eyes being a bit far apart at times, but that isn’t the case here at all. It’s nice to see artwork improving from issue to issue, and I hope that that will continue to be the case.

Recommended if…

  • You love epic battles!
  • You don’t mind if there’s quite a bit of exposition.
  • You are okay with Batman and Superman not being on good terms, even if we still have no idea what’s going on.
  • You’re just here for some damn good Justice League art.

Overall: As I’ve said, I like this issue a lot more than #1. I feel like the creative team is slowly starting to win me over, although we’re not quite there yet, as I still have several doubts and concerns. But the artwork went from good (in the first issue) to very good (in this issue), and I’m definitely curious to see what issue #3 has in store for us.

Score: 6.5/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.