Scott Snyder’s reign over Justice League is over. Long live Robert Venditti, as he takes over this week! Joining him is Doug Mahnke for a story about an army of Superman characters who want to take over Earth. No big deal. Can Venditti carry the story forward even though Snyder left us on a major cliffhanger? Let’s dive in.
As far as team book first issues go, Venditti more or less delivers. He allows us to get to see each hero serve their role on the team, throws in some banter for each member, establishes some new directions for characters, and gets the conflict underway. I don’t want to call it run-of-the-mill, but I do think this is standard superhero stuff. If you were drained from Snyder’s take which involved the multiverse, verbose points of view, and crazy idea after a crazy idea, you might just see this new direction as a breath of fresh air. Snyder’s finish is a hard act to follow and Venditti and Mahnke establish a more standard superhero story.
That involves an unknown threat popping up out of nowhere, a mysterious figure falling from the sky and pronouncing doom is coming, and plenty of grumpy Batman too. The book is rather economical with character wrinkles, as Venditti gives us a Batman who is gruff and always planning, a Flash who is having some trouble with his powers, a Wonder Woman who is a bit high and mighty but helpful, and a Green Lantern who is all about hope. Considering every one of these heroes is dealing with something huge in another title, there’s a lot to juggle–including Superman outing his identity to the world–and Venditti more or less keeps everything understandable and aligned with characterizations elsewhere.
Mahnke delivers that standard superhero art style we all know and love. Inked by Richard Friend and colored by David Baron, there’s a darkness underneath it all, yet the colors are bright and hopeful. Green Lantern’s energy powers look fabulous, and a character Batman meets up with has some crazy magical powers that are showcased well. The big bad villain is also well done and he’s incredibly foreboding.
Like I said, this is a very standard superhero comics story. The heroes are all accounted for, a threat–that they should have all seen coming considering they were just in space–is adequately deadly, and there’s enough action to wet your whistle. Unfortunately, an adequate and somewhat basic superhero story pales a bit by comparison to many other stories coming out right now. Maybe when the threat begins to reveal the stakes the story will become more interesting, but as it stands this is a decent popcorn fodder superhero tale.