Hey guys, and welcome back to another issue of Justice League–
No, wait. That doesn’t sound right. Let me double-check something…
Okay! Good, I was worried for a second. Last month was definitely the final issue of Justice League. Clearly, there must have been a printing error. Let me check the cover again.
…Weird. That’s for sure the Justice League logo, right there. How odd! Well, maybe it was a fluke. It’s not like DC is about to release a series of Justice League-adjacent one-shots to tie in with their latest event–
Listen, I won’t go off on the exact same rant I did in my Justice League #75 review – do check that out if you want to read what’s probably my harshest review ever. I will, however, repeat what I feel is an important question: why cancel Justice League if you’re not actually cancelling Justice League?
The answer, of course, is money. Instead of Justice League #76 and onwards becoming a series of anthologies, the Worlds Without a Justice League stories in all but name, it’s more financially beneficial to end this comic, release a bunch of specials, then pump out a new Justice League #1 the moment Dark Crisis is over. It makes sense – but that doesn’t mean I can’t object to it.
Anyway, Road to Dark Crisis is a series of short stories about various characters reacting to the League’s demise. It’s exactly what it says on the tin: a little extra context for Dark Crisis in the coming weeks. I’m not gonna lead you on and pretend it’s worth the money, but some of the stories are decent. Let’s take a look!
“People don’t always come back, do they?” asks Jonathan Kent to Dick Grayson – who replies with a sorrowful “no,” his mind drifting to his parents and Alfred Pennyworth. I am bringing this up, because I expect this exchange in particular to age like milk.
Look, I don’t hate this short. I think the dialogue is stilted, and I think the art always doesn’t line up with the conversation – Dan Jurgens is a renowned artist, but why Jonathan Kent is smiling moments before he has a freakout in front of Dick is beyond me. But I actually quite like the idea behind it! Nightwing, having been in the DC Universe for some time, is well used to the deaths and resurrections that come with comic books – and when he hears of the League’s death, he barely even considers the idea that they’re not coming back. Jonathan doesn’t have that level of experience in this world, and it’s cool to see him freaking out in a way that others aren’t… even if he maybe is being a little too calm by comparison, considering this is the first(?) time he’s had his father die.
There isn’t too much else to this story, other than a little preview of Dick and Jonathan’s reactions – but seeing as these two will likely be front and centre when Dark Crisis #1 hits, it’s good to know where they stand before the true action begins. Not great in excecution, but good for laying the event’s foundations with character instead of plot.
Life of Purpose
To me, though, Life of Purpose does a better job at what Team-Up was going for. With Rosi Kämpe on art, there’s an exciting energy to the story – which it needs, considering it’s a very short and fast-paced tale. Both Wally Wests are trying to keep working despite the loss of the League, and it creates a sense of levity by showing them rushing through a day of high-octane adventure. Like Dick and Jon before them, only one of the two is used to the deaths of icons like Batman, Superman and the Flash. Wally’s way of distracting “Ace” (Young Wally) is by running around the whole city with him, stopping any injustices they might see along the way.
The premise allows for some really creative panels, including one where the two dash across a splash page, fighting multiple battles in a single frame. A little hard to follow at times, but it’s numbered in order to help better manage the reading experience. Ultimately, this one is a largely unecessary story too – probably even more so, seeing as it doesn’t do much to set the stage for Dark Crisis. However, it does a better job at speaking to the tone of the event, which appears to be “hope in the face of despair”. Overall, essentially a harmless read.
This book has a more atypical pairing, though it’s one I quite enjoy – Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern and Jackson Hyde’s Aquaman. The two are working together to tackle an interplanetary threat that their skills are uniquely paired to defeat, and the way the two relative strangers instantly find a way to fall in sync is a fun time. The book is, once again, largely pointless – but it does establish Hal’s return to Earth, the guy having spent the last few years largely off-planet. What’s really interesting (and that’s not a compliment) is Hal being alive at all. I mean, you kill the Justice League in order to give rise to Legacy characters, yet it’s John Stewart that dies and not Hal Jordan?
Maybe there are reasons behind it that I don’t understand, but it’s a strange thing to do. Mind you, Hal is a Legacy character himself – so maybe it’s fitting that one of the first superheroes to “take over” a mantle is around to see how the reast of the DC Universe handles it. Either way, this is a good-enough issue, with Fico Ossio managing to keep the action clear, despite the characters being surrounded by swarms of monsters and whirlpools.
This is easily the best short of the issue (and, ironically, the only one not about the death of the Justice League). After the events of every crisis Pariah has been through, he’d dedicated himself to hiding in obscurity. This is how the Great Darkness pulls him out and into his service – and while a little rushed near the end, it does a good job of establishing a few important things going into Dark Crisis.
The most impotant takeaway here is that Pariah has not made a sudden heel-turn towards villainy: he’s been corrupted by an evil that manipulates him into thinking he can save the family he lost to time. We’ve seen hints of that before, but it’s nice to have a more fleshed-out understanding of how it happened, especially considering his importance to the story. The art is soulful and moody, and it creates a dreamlike tone that turns nighmarish near the end of the short. More than anything, this story is good at portraying important information in a short amount of time – and is the closest thing to a reason to buy the book.
Because the Night
In this short story, Nocturna fights Batgirl before being approached by a secret society of D-list villains.
…Oh, you were expecting me to dive deeper into it? Wish I could. Unfortunately, I’m not really sure I understand the story. Nocturna tries to rob a museum, but can’t seem to go through with it without Batman there to stop her – until she fights Stephanie Brown for a few minutes. Then, Stephanie’s called away, and she tells Nocturna not to steal anything? I assume they’re establshing a friendly rivalry more than antagonism between the two, but it feels weird to me, someone who hasn’t read many Nocturna stories. It’s also accompanied by narration that I’m not huge about – talking about the night in vague, non-specific terms that bog the story down rather than making it cleaner. The art is cute enough, and I enjoy the final splash – but overall, this is a book I struggle to process. A little too messy for my liking, despite some cool art and some interesting ideas.
- You want to see some superheroes processing the oh-so-heartbreaking death of the Justice League.
- Pariah’s shift in character felt a little too sudden for you, and you’re looking for more context.
- Maybe you wanna waste a few bucks?
I can’t recommend this. The stories are fine, but they’re so vaccuous and irrelevant that I don’t get why this was made in the first place. The actually relevant parts of this of this could – or even should – be in the main series, and the rest is just fluff to pad the rest of the issue. Combine that with it being another Justice League title one month after the book ended, and you have a product that’s less than the sum of its parts. I really hope Dark Crisis surprises me, because I am not confident in where this is going.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch