Justice League is the Michael Bay action blockbuster of the DCU. It harbors the big global events, has all the top leads, and is rife with explosions. As a critic, you have to dive in with this analogy in mind. We’re not expecting Shakespeare, but god darn it it better be well written and well paced. So far this series has been up and down, so without further ado I ask the question, is it good?
Justice League (2011-) #19 (DC Comics)
So far the Justice League hasn’t gone too in depth with any one character. Instead it’s mostly had the heroes stand around, fight and generally hold conversations as a group in their base or unmarked locations. This is the first issue where a single hero’s domain is traversed and it’s none other than Bruce Wayne’s Batcave.
I suppose writer Geoff Johns wanted to pull the series into Batman’s recent loss of Damian as if to say, “See even the big team book is aware of this Bat event!” Unfortunately it starts off a little oddly, as we are introduced to Jason Todd and Alfred discussing Batman’s equal love for every Robin.
There’s no crying in the Batcave!
I haven’t read every single Bat-family book, but I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen an outpouring of tears like this from Alfred in any of them. It’s a little odd, but I guess Alfred represents the less godly side of the Justice League here. The book then proceeds to suggest we’ll be seeing a retread of a Mark Waid story…
Look at the cute boxes Batman made up for every hero. Guy should market these.
It’s too early to say if Johns is going to be introducing the same story Waid did (Tower of Babel from JLA #43-46), and for those of you who aren’t familar — Batman has a dossier on how to beat each hero and a villain steals it and uses it for his own unscrupulous ends — but if he’s going in that direction that’s a bit of a disappointment. New stories please! Instead of developing this storyline however, we cut to a country called Kahndaq where Superman and Wonder Woman are kicking ass.
Way to tear WW’s boob cloth, bad guy.
The romance is overbearing!
Unfortunately Batman is none too happy about this, because now the Kahndaq people will assume America attacked. Thanks for starting a world war you jerks!
WW and Supes seem to think they aren’t representing the JL per se but just themselves. Wrong! Batman’s confrontation of the heroes and then bringing up their relationship as lovers is a bit of a low blow from Batman. I can’t say the drama of this works that well, partly because it’s hard to gauge what their relationship even is. They’ve kissed, we know that, but so far they appear to be acting like ten-year-olds in puppy love rather than anything serious. Johns brings up a good point as far as the public perception of the JL though and it’s something he’s been juggling since issue number one.
Now THIS is how you play video games…although how does that even work?
Johns spends time with two lesser known heroes, Atom and Firestorm, who are new members of the team as well. I can’t say they add much to this issue and their portion reads more like filler than anything. It’s obvious we’re being introduced to their personalities, aka young hip heroes just like the reader, but aside from character development it’s pointless. The fact that we don’t know why we should care about them doesn’t help.
Note Shazam’s nemesis grew up in the same location Wonder Woman and Superman fought earlier in the issue.
Once again the backup, also written by Johns, is far more interesting than the actual feature. It might be due to the story moving much slower and allowing a healthier amount of pacing to take place, but it’s always far more interesting. It’s also not juggling so many characters and has time to spend on Shazam and Black Adam. The backstory of Black Adam is quite the interesting take and connects Shazam to his villain nicely.
The art in both stories is done as you’d expect when it comes to a publisher’s flagship book. Ivan Reis composes the pages nicely, especially considering how much is going on in the story. Gary Frank draws the backup once again and even when most of the story takes place in darkness under the glow of an iPad it’s tense and clear.
Shazam’s one weakness: covering his mouth!
- Great art
- A few good convos
- Shazam continues to shine
- Shazam needs his own book!
- Retread story
Ultimately there’s not enough here to call this a slam dunk of a single issue read. Batman confronting Supes and WW is interesting, particularly because the actions of each hero speaks for the rest of them, but there’s some retread going on in this issue that will simply infuriate most fans. The opening pages with Alfred also don’t seem very genuine.
Is It Good?
Meh. Not enough happens to warrant a purchase. Next issue will most likely recap most of this.
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