Last we checked in with Team RWBY and the Justice League they had finally come face to face with their friends, and a number of the missing people, all controlled by a mysterious force. Joined by Aquaman, and rescued by Jessica Cruz, they escaped into a ship constructed from their will and the power of a Green Lantern ring. Will the whole group together and Jessica promising answers, will they learn the truth and figure out a way to stop the threat against Remanat? Let’s see.
It says something about this series that I read this issue ahead of time, then when I went to write this review I could not remember if I had read it or not. While I don’t expect myself to remember every detail of the comic, I should have been able to at least remember I’d opened it up and knew the broad details, this one I just could not come up with anything. So I read it again, and remembered why I’d forgotten it in the first place, it is all exposition and set up for what I assume will be the big fight next issue. Even the reveal of the big bad isn’t all that exciting as any reader of DC comics (or viewer of the latest Suicide Squad movie) would have recognized the star shape features seen controlling characters in previous issues.
So what happens exactly?
Well the first half is focused on Jessica explaining who she is, how she got there and tying all the pieces together. It even gives readers an explanation for why the Justice League was born on Remnant 16 years prior. Jessica was chasing Starro through the galaxy, opening portals, and generally messing up time, the universe, and everything. This somehow caused her to arrive 16 years after her enemy and the whole event–with the universe hopping and Starro arriving acted as the inciting incident out to cause the JL to be born. The implication is that they were all born to join her and stop the threat because somewhere in a reality they were all a team, but it never really explains that, it’s mostly left for reader interpretation. And to me, I didn’t need that reason. I was happy with just a what if scenario that allowed everyone to grow and come together naturally. This ‘reason’ just feels a little overworked and adds little to the story for me.
There’s also a lot of discussion on the gradual infiltration of Starro over the years. I have a bit of an issue with is how long it takes for the story to actually say the name Starro. Like I mentioned earlier, most readers would have guessed it was the alien starfish right away, I know I did. It’s presented as this big lead up as everyone figures out where and what he is, and maybe in the digital version it worked better, but folded together with a whole second half it’s anticlimactic, I mean we’ve seen the star shaped symbol a few times before this issue already. I do appreciate we didn’t have to wait any longer, but it wasn’t the mystery it could have been.
What I did like was the group coming together to plan. There’s a lot of energy in these scenes and the writing here is very inspirational as Diana takes charge and the whole group finds deeper meaning in coming together to stop the threat of Starro. They feel like a team here, more than any contrivances of the narrative want to force them into. They’re a group who were brought together by circumstance, a desire to help others, and a shared goal.
Unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t translate super well for me into the second half. After they’ve learned who Starro is and come up with a plan the narrative grinds to a halt as the whole group takes the rest of the evening to just relax. It’s painted as them enjoying their possible last night of freedom, but the sentiment falls short in most instances.
The scenes with team RWBY work well because they know each other well and have a history together, and even readers not familiar with the show understand that. When it comes to the Justice League it flounders. I want to enjoy these scenes because in my head this is a team, I know them from other books and know they have a relationship. But realistically within this story, they also all just met that day or the day prior. The few who knew each other in the past like Superman and Aquaman really only had a brief connection that hasn’t been painted as close friendship. There’s a difference between being a team brought together through circumstance and best buds who draw pictures of one another. This all makes it hard to read these group scenes as anything truly sincere beyond perhaps being the result of pre-battle emotions. It’s a drawback of having systematically introduced each character broken up over the course of the series, because very few have strong ties to one another. I would have loved this half if the characters actually had the relationships to back up the scenes we get in this half. Without those foundations, there’s just so much here that doesn’t feel earned.
Stephanie Pepper does a good job on art. While her backgrounds are still a little too sparse for me, she consistently does a good job with character acting and emotes. This comes into play more in the latter half of the story than the start, as it’s by far the more emotional portion of the book. A lot of the softness between characters and sweet moments are best illustrated through the art. From showing how comfortable team RWBY is together in a circle, enjoying their night before the fight, to the Trinity dancing together the art alone is enough to convince me that these characters do care about each other, and do have a future as close allies.
I’ve complained quite a bit about this issue, and that’s just because I’m frustrated. This book could have been a ton of fun, but so far it’s been okay with a slow buildup, and to have all that momentum it created last issue come crashing down here was a little disheartening. I’m hoping the next will bring back some of that excitement, but I’m not holding my breath.
- You’re in this series for the long haul
- Seeing how everything ties together is irresistible to you
- Slower stories focused more on planning and character are your thing
Generally this issue didn’t do it for me. I was hoping for a different story, one that had some answers mixed with action as they geared up to face off against the threat to their world and way of life. Instead I got a lot of exposition, answers I didn’t need, and a whole lot of characters hanging out in a way that doesn’t feel earned yet. Instead of building on the momentum from the previous issue, everything kind of fizzled out a bit here, despite Bennett’s best efforts to keep that from happening.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.