When I first started reviewing this title, I was on the fence. Then the book started growing on me. But having read this issue, I’m having mixed feelings again. So let’s jump right in and see what this is all about!
The book opens with action, which I like! There’s no intro. No build-up. No compromise. From page 1, our heroes leap into the fray. Superman and The Flash are still on Apokolips, facing one of the two big bads that were teased at the end of the previous chapter. Wonder Woman and John Stewart are in space, fighting the other big bad. Visually, this is an impressive comic book. For example, we see a villain slamming Diana’s head into the hull of a spaceship. The speed lines, the cracks in the hull, the angry expression on the villain’s face, and Diana’s agonized look—all these things together really make you feel the impact of the blow. Movement is also conveyed very well: Superman flies across the page, leaving destroyed robots in his wake, while Flash takes out his share of the opposition. The characters are positioned well—if you follow their trajectory you will start to see their movements and a wonderful piece of sequential storytelling emerges.
Furthermore, I admire the consistency that Angiolini brings to the book. From issue #1, the colors have been outstanding. There are layers on layers here, and the colors contribute in a big way to the motion and the action, because it’s the colors that really create a sense of depth and space. Every panel is crackling with energy, and although many different tones and hues are used, all of it still fits together seamlessly. These drawings take epic proportions—just what a Justice League comic needs!
That said, I’m not too excited about the writing. Yes, the dialogue, pacing and overall structure is fine. It’s clear where all the characters are and who they are fighting, and it’s a fast and entertaining read, too. But I don’t feel a strong sense of purpose as there isn’t a lot of plot development this month; the main focus goes to the combat. There’s some plot development during the flashback sequence at the end, and the cliffhanger is cool enough to make me want to read on, but the flashback also doubles down on Superman acting like a jerk and blaming Batman, and…
Look. I get it. This story’s versions of Superman and Batman are at odds with one another. Superman blames Batman for their fallen friend’s death. It’s the central conflict for these two characters and I guess it’s also supposed to be important for the main story itself. But it’s boring as hell. Nothing about their conflict makes me excited. In fact, it’s incredibly tedious to have to trudge through this nonsense month in, month out. What makes me especially agitated this time is that the flashback scene, where Batman and Superman call each other names and act mean right after their friend’s death, adds exactly nothing to the character development or to the story overall. It’s just there, and I hate it.
To take this a step further…I don’t even feel like this is actually Superman. Yes, the character wears the same costume and has the same name, but there have barely been any moments throughout any of the issues so far that have presented a genuine Superman. Now, I don’t want to keep commenting on this, I don’t want to sound like a broken record, and I’m getting really tired of this. But it keeps coming up and it keeps getting worse. Superman is acting like a little kid, like he’s emotionally immature, and it’s all just so edgy that it’s really hard to take his struggles seriously anymore. We’re supposed to root for this character. We’re supposed to empathize with him. He’s supposed to be the harbinger of hope, someone you can rely on, someone who will always have your back no matter what, but he is none of these things here. All he is, is a jerk and an imposter and I don’t feel sorry for him at all. So, no! This is not Superman. This story’s Superman sucks.
- You like Edgelord Superman.
- You don’t care about the quality of the writing, you’re just here to marvel at that beautiful art!
Overall: Before any of you get the wrong idea—no, this is still not a bad comic. I hate how this story treats Superman, but I still think that Zdarsky writes the other characters authentically. The comic is action-packed, and the art is outstanding and only seems to keep getting better. If you don’t mind Superman being this way, and if you’ve been collecting the single issues from the start, then I think you can go for it. But if you haven’t been reading this, then I recommend that you wait for the trade, or just sit this one out altogether.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.