This series is slowly growing on me. Every issue reveals more about what’s going on and I’m beginning to understand the story better. As such, I think this will read better in trade, because then the story’s momentum won’t be interrupted by a whole month of waiting for the next installment and everything can be appreciated in full context. For now, though, the new issue is here and it’s about time we have ourselves a look!

Yes, I think I’m on board with this story now, for the most part at least. It took a while for me to warm up to the book, because a lot of stuff was too unclear for me to really decide whether things were working for me or not. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still think there are a couple things here that aren’t working for me at all, but the reveals in this issue are good reveals, and they make me want to keep reading.

Back in issue #1 we learned that one of the Leaguers died, maybe because of Batman. In this issue we find out that this Leaguer actually committed the ultimate sacrifice to save everyone else. It’s a true heroic moment for the character, although I doubt that new readers, who don’t know much about this character, will feel the full emotional impact of the situation. What I appreciate about this is how the character’s death affects most of the other heroes, because this shows, in an organic way, how much the others care about their fallen friend and, by extension, each other. However, at the same time I’m not happy with the way that Superman reacts to it. He entirely blames Batman, as if it’s all Batman’s responsibility and he could have stopped their friend. I think Superman should absolutely be heartbroken, as that’s a strong way to show his loss, but the way that he acts it out on Batman just feels childish to me. That is not how I see Superman, and the frustrated, negative dialogue that comes from this keeps on rubbing me the wrong way. I prefer a Clark Kent who is more mature about these things. Emotional and sad, yes, but unjustly blaming someone else for the death of his friend? No. That isn’t Clark. That isn’t Clark at all.

On the flipside, Batman blames himself, and I think that’s much more in line with how Bruce thinks and feels, as Batman is all about preserving life. I just wish that Superman and Batman would comfort each other in this time of need, like the super friends they are supposed to be, rather than bicker on and on. I hope that this plot point will be resolved sooner rather than later, because the more I see this, the more I’m resisting it. I’m not interested in this type of conflict. The fact that they have to deal with the loss of their friend is enough, in my humble opinion. Their beef adds nothing for me whatsoever.

In this issue we also see two additional, heavy-hitting villains appearing. While it’s great to see them on the page, as this promises more action and suspense next month, I do wonder if perhaps having both villains appear at the same time is a bit much. That said, now that the flashback story thread seems to be resolved, we can start moving forward with the main plot and, in order to do that successfully, new villains need to be introduced. What exactly their role is going to be and why they are here remains yet to be seen, but I’m looking forward to more narrative focus in the next episode to keep me hooked and entertained.

I find Mendonça’s art to be particularly strong this time. Together with Angiolini’s colors, the weight of the emotional scenes can really be felt. When our hero commits the ultimate sacrifice, the bright colors of Apokolips’ flames and the mixed expression of pain and determination on our hero’s face really sell the moment. I know this character isn’t dead in regular continuity, and there’s some comfort to be found in that thought, but still, this scene is powerful enough that I wish it didn’t happen, that it could be reversed somehow. This feeling is enhanced by the expressions and postures of the other heroes: Batman looks defeated; Superman is despairing; Wonder Woman is shocked, etc. They all feel the same heartache, but their reactions are all slightly different and unique to their personalities. Despite questioning the writing for Superman, I think that the artists nail who he is in that very moment, and it’s powerful.

Not only the personal scenes are great, though. The action is bombastic and larger-than-life as our heroes fight against Darkseid and his forces on both Oa and Apokolips in the past, and the art team doesn’t let up when we return to the present day, where we see Wonder Woman and John Stewart battling a fleet of starships. The designs of the ships are detailed but solid, and the lush artwork really captures the scope of it all. Mendonça and Angiolini are great choices for the art team—the book looks epic, like a true Justice League tale, all thanks to them.

Recommended if…

  • You want to know what exactly happened to the hero who died on Apokolips in the past.
  • You don’t mind how Superman deals with his loss, blaming it all on Batman.
  • You are looking for truly epic Justice League art to add to your collection.

Overall: It’s a good book, but this still needs more focus and more plot development in the present day parts. I don’t like how Zdarsky writes Superman at all, but I do appreciate that he writes the fallen hero’s ultimate sacrifice with so much respect and reverence, and that the other characters all feel like themselves. The artwork is fantastic this time around and truly something to behold. I recommend this book if you’re looking for a different kind of Justice League story and can put up with Superman’s antics, although I suppose that if you still aren’t reading this, it’s best to just wait for the trade at this point. You’re really going to want to have the full story, rather than jumping on now.

Score: 6.5/10

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