Wow! I hated this issue!

Like, oh my god! At first I thought it was the state of mind I was in at the time of my first reading, but no – looking through it again, I could not bring myself to like this. At all! Not even the usual high standard of Justice League Dark can save this one. I can’t even bring myself to think of any dumb analogy or pseudo-intellectual nonsequiteur, so let’s just get into this.

Justice League Dark: Call of the Darkworld

Look, I’ve been singing this book’s praises for every single issue of this run, but it’s just too damn short. These ten pages breezed by more than any other in this arc so far, and while that works great for a collected edition (or even a longer issue!), it just felt like nothing when placed as a backup to a larger comic.

It especially sucks, because it’s not like this is in any way low-quality. I genuinely feel like this run of Justice League Dark is a labour of love – because if this book wasn’t made with love, then V and Kumar must be two creators who literally sweat creativity. It’s to the point where I sometimes wonder if these two, along with colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr., are making a better Justice League comic than Justice League. It’s not like the main book has an Aquaman moment as cool as this one:

Personally, though, my favourite part of this chapter is a lot more subtle. There’s a moment that discusses the origins of magic, and it’s presented in a way that feels very sinister – not explicitly Lovecraftian horror, but reminiscent of these concepts. I love seeing powers drawn from the deep and incomprehensible, and exposition presented like this is, in my opinion, great storytelling: answering one question by making your audience ask fifty more, and inspiring them to use their own imagination.

But it doesn’t matter. The backup is criminally too short, and while this was a good read, it wasn’t enough to salvage the other story in this comic…

Score: 7/10

Justice League: United Order

I can’t. I can’t review this.

I haven’t been able to get this review up in several days. I’m not sure if that’s because of my depression or the quality of this book, but if I’m honest, I’m not completely sure they’re unrelated.

I just– look at this! Really look! Read the page, and tell me if there’s anything you like about it. Maybe I’m being too harsh.

Because if you ask me, there’s plenty to criticise! Eight pages of this comic – that’s four double-page spreads – involve Bendis and penciller Phil Hester introducing members of the United Order on the left side of the page, giving them a personal bio and exposition dump about what each of their deals are. Does this gel with the action of the scene? Nope! Do the characters or creators make any attempt to make it feel natural and seamless? Nope! Instead, the characters just obonxiously talk about themselves while we’re trying to keep up with the nonsensical action of the story, littered with incredibly cringeworthy dialogue like Bendis’ attempts at Plastic Man humor. I know Bendis can be a funny writer! I’ve seen it happen! How come it’s falling completely flat with perhaps DC’s most hilarious character?

And then there’s the art, which… I don’t know. I sometimes feel like I’m a little lenient on the art department – I’ve practiced drawing myself, and I’m just not very good, so I understand how difficult it is to draw a complicated comic with a lot of characters and even more moving parts. But I’m sorry, I don’t think Hester’s pencils are up to the challenge here. The action feels stilted, unwieldy, like when you’re looking at someone who doesn’t know how to properly pose their action figures. What’s really disappointing is the inconsistency, though. Sometimes, we get genuinely emotive panels, like this moment with Superman that does a great job of capturing his mood at the time of the comic:

But then other times, you get this, and it feels like the latter is the more common ocurrence.

I feel nothing positive towards this arc now that it’s “concluded”, from the completely uninteresting villain and barely-relevant scenes with Naomi… not to mention the Checkmate tie-in content, which I’m not even going to bother bringing up lest I get myself even more worked up. There’s a part of me that wants to calm down and think of the positives of this issue – like the interesting dilemma Clark has about the Phantom Zone – but it’s overshadowed by an overall feeling of sickness towards two arcs that have spent their time meandering and leaving, at best, a middling impression of how Bendis writes the Justice League. At worst? See this issue.

Score: 2/10

Recommended If: 

  • I dunno what to tell you here.
  • Maybe you’re impatient for Justice League Dark content?
  • It’s possible that good Justice League sales will give JLD another shot at its own series. Make it happen, DC. I can’t stand these books being lumped together anymore.

Overall

Please, Lord, give Ram V and Sumit Kumar their own book. I can’t recommend their story if it means you have to buy the rest of this comic.

Score: 3/10

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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

P.S. Oh my god, the disclaimer had “movie” instead of “comic” for a bunch of my articles and I never even noticed. Sorry about that.