This week might have to involve a bit of “phoning it in”, as they say. It’s not that either Justice League or Justice League Dark have terrible instalments this week – in fact, both stories make clear efforts to progress the story and get their audiences excited for what’s to come. That being said, I’m not all that enthusiastic about either of them – and while I think Dark has the better story yet again, neither feel like they really portray the impact that they want to convey to their readers.
Justice League Dark: The Eternal Knight
To be clear, I don’t think V and Kumar have written a bad issue here. The Eternal Knight and Batman as a pair continues to be a really wonderful combination, and I think it’s used to excellent effect here. Putting Batman in a situation where he has to explain his science to someone who would confuse it for magic is fun, and it makes sense that at a certain point he might give up and resort to calling it “magic” himself. Really, Batman’s powers do feel like magic from time to time.
I also really like Randhir Singh’s dreamscape! Writing “dream” stories can be difficult – when nothing is real, you have to give your audience a clear reason to be invested all the same. Here, V navitages this by having Singh’s mind be spread across his dreams, allowing Kumar to experiment with the visuals of chasing someone through their own mind. As usual, Kumar’s work is sharp and crisp, and it’s clear that V trusts his visuals to tell the story without leaning overly hard on dialogue. Look at how Kumar portrays a good chunk of the action sequence in naught but silhouettes! This is not a story that relies on its violence, so Kumar finds a quick way to portray the energy and efficiency of the Eternal Knight’s movement without filling up the page with the battle.
Really, my only issue here is that I don’t feel like the ending has earned any particular weight just yet. Merlin is attacking Atlantis with a giant sea creature – one that looks admittedly quite cool, but also one we’ve never seen before this issue. Is it attacking Old Atlantis? Presumably it’s New Atlantis, right? Seeing as Aquaman showed up? But then what’s the deal with Old Atlantis? The stakes haven’t truly been established, as we’ve spent some time away from our villain, allowing him to get up to all sorts of shenanigans off-panel. This is the first interaction Merlin has with the JLD in this story, and I don’t really see what V and Kumar are going for yet. I’m sure that’s bound to change, but it’s why I don’t think this issue has as much of a punch as its opening.
Justice League: United Order
Well, looks like we’re all going to have to read Checkmate now. Bendis has decided to include a Checkmate subplot in this story, and as someone who currently isn’t keeping up with that plotline, I don’t particularly care for it. Most of this scene boils down to a confrontation between Green Arrow, Black Canary, and the Daemon Rose… who, rather unceremoniously, is revealed to apparently be Lois Lane’s brother. I looked this up, and couldn’t find anything else about the guy – so if the character is to be believed, this big retcon was revealed in a hurried exchange of dialogue between these three.
And, like, whatever. I really couldn’t care less, because Bendis hasn’t given me much reason to care as of yet. I don’t know this character, I don’t know what makes him interesting, and their chat is interrupted by a Deathstroke copycat before it could go anywhere substantial.
This is happening while the Justice League is attending to the alien threat from last issue, enlisting the help of the Wonder Twins to get the job done. My critiques of Pugh and Bendis remain relatively the same here – that being Pugh’s work feels a little rushed and inconsistent, whereas Bendis’ dialogue doesn’t feel true to many of his characters. With that being said, I appreciate the moments of comedy and levity that the two bring to the fight, particularly with the addition of the Wonder Twins. It turns a by-the-numbers invasion story into something with a little more visual humor.
The only other thing I’d like to add is that Justice League and Justice League Dark are slowly beginning to toy with the idea of crossing over – with Batman in the backup and Constantine showing up for a moment in the main story. It’s not enough, but it’s cool to see that it is something on the minds of the book’s creators. Aside from that, I can’t think of much that brings this book above an average score.
- You’re invested in the Checkmate storyline.
- Green Arrow and Black Canary are your favourite characters – they’re not written perfectly, but definitely better than the rest of the League.
- You like seeing V and Kumar take what little time they have on each comic to go in weird and intriguing directions.
The Eternal Knight wasn’t as good as last issue, but United Order wasn’t as bad as last issue (though I still felt it was decidedly mediocre). Honestly, there’s a part of me that wants Bendis to do something weird with this book, and I’d like to think he’s capable of doing that without committing character assassination in the process. I really liked his Action Comics for a time, and want to see him do that sort of thing with his Checkmate plot, if we’re really going to be following that in these pages. Let’s just hope that happens soon – and let’s hope V and Kumar can get their own damn book.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch