On the cover for Justice League #63, Black Adam and Naomi are despicted as standing back to back, concerned for their fates as the faces of the Justice League loom over them, casting judgment. The caption of the cover reads “Black Adam and Naomi ACCUSED”, and it couldn’t be more ominous as to what they’ve done in this comic to earn such a level of ire. It reminds me of when I’d watch advertisements for the next episode of a soap opera like Neighbours or Home and Away, because it’s really a bunch of hype for absolutely nothing.

Justice League: Prisms

Okay, where to start? Take a look at this double page spread – the one that’s there to lay out the title, introduce all the JL members for the issue, recap the previous one, reintroduce a Naomi villain, and deliver a monologue from Naomi (who’s essentially our main character), all in four panels. Clearly there’s a lot of work going into this page, on account of David Marquez’s fantastic art… but it feels like it also takes a lot of work to read it. I’ve drawn a quick scribble of what your eyes have to do to properly traverse this page and take in all the information it needs.

Does this feel like a natural way to read a comic? I find myself struggling with a similar problem for a lot of the action, which is happy to jump around at a frenetic pace with everyone screaming about at the same time. It’s chaotic, and probably accurate to the chaos of a real battle – but it takes some effort to place where everyone is in the scene because of it.

Really, it feels like Bendis has given himself too many characters to handle. The back half of the issue is completely filled with dialogue, and I didn’t care for so much of it. Check out this panel in particular:

This is a panel that has 75 words of dialogue exchanged, along with eight characters stuffed together in the image. Technically, only four of them are talking, but it’s enough to cover a significant chunk of the panel, swallowing Marquez’s art. This holds true for the rest of the page, which is cluttered with each member of the league stumbling over each other to say ostensibly the same thing: that Naomi and Black Adam aren’t in trouble, and they did pretty well over the last few issues.

Really, that’s what the arc amounts to: a test to see if Naomi and Black Adam should join the Justice League, which they inevitably pass because of course they do. Black Adam’s arc specifically culminates in a rooftop conversation between Superman, Black Adam and Hippolyta, the sky around them coloured beautifully by Ivan Plascencia. I’m a little underwhelmed by what’s actually being said – we’re seeing a version of Black Adam who “wants to be better”, yet I find myself wanting for reasons why he has wanted to change. Black Adam is a character of many layers, but is he one who is unsure of himself? I wouldn’t say so.

It’s frustrating to see that Bendis’ first arc seems to spend all its time trying to get a feel for these characters and their interpersonal relationships, yet really struggles to sell any of them. I think Naomi’s story is good enough to carry the issue, but this really is a Naomi story above all else – and it’s hard to recommend this arc outside of that.

Score: 5/10

Justice League Dark: Visions of Fate

While the main arc of Justice League comes to a conclusion, Justice League Dark is still setting up its players – the downsides to having half the time to tell your story. It’s getting really frustrating, but you already know that if you’ve read any one of my last few reviews. Fortunately, there’s some cool stuff in this book that’s enough to keep me satisfied for now. This is the kind of book that I hesitate to spoil, because it’s honestly delightful to see the sorts of things Ram V and Xermanico manage to get up to in what little space they’re given. I’ll settle for giving you a little peek at one of my favourite pages, as well as easily my favourite line from the book.

This issue also reintroduces Doctor Fate and Man-Bat into the story, and they’re welcome additions who provide a fun new dynamic to the narrative! The book is beginning to get a little crowded, but the characters are separated and spaced-out, so it doesn’t feel like it’s to the detriment of the story yet. Each character has been able to provide a unique role to the plot, as well as give their own unique flair to the dialogue. The only other thing I’d wanna talk about is the ending – it’s not a particularly clever cliffhanger, but it gives me some hope that we’ll soon see the benefits of having JLD as a backup to Justice League, rather than its own book.

Score: 7/10

Recommended If:

  • You’re really impatient for Justice League Dark, and you don’t feel like waiting for the trades.
  • Naomi’s character development has been something you enjoy: this is essentially season two of her comic right now.
  • You don’t mind a comic that really takes its time, and you can handle a lot of characters trying to talk at once.

Overall

This issue wasn’t doing much for me. My enjoyment of previous issues was genuine, but it was also built on a hope that Bendis wouldn’t fall into his usual traps: overcompensating dialogue, mostly, but also underwhelming conclusions and a story that isn’t particularly interesting. Justice League Dark is marginally more fun, but it’s also marginally shorter – I’m really struggling to see why you shouldn’t wait for a trade.

Score: 5/10

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

Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch