If you’re in the mood for some high fantasy, you might want to check out Justice League’s latest story arc. Appropriately titled “Doom Metal,” Joshua Williamson is digging into the weird fantasy hellscapes of Dark Nights: Death Metal as Nightwing and a few compatriots attempt to save Martian Manhunter and thwart the Omega Knight. This issue has the team escape imminent doom, set sail, and come to grips with their darkest wishes.
This issue continues the journey where we left off as the team attempts to escape a beach of Starro creatures. The mental fortitude required to escape the dreamlike nightmare is tested at the start of the book. Nightwing, Bobo, Hawkgirl, Cyborg, and Starfire all react differently, with Bobo possibly being affected the most. This issue continues to feel like a side quest to the main event, and if you’re invested in any of these characters you’ll likely dig this.
Similar to the previous issues though, it’s hard to track what it is these characters must do and where they must go to achieve their goals. The Omega Knight is a kind of giant, mind-bending character in the vein of Onslaught, and similarly, he’s impressive to look at, but the stakes are unclear. Given this is an Elseworlds style story — even though we’ve been told this is in continuity — it lacks an urgency as it barrels towards its fifth and final issue in the story arc.
Art by Robson Rocha is strong, detailed, and keeps its attention to costumes and environments well. The ship the team sails on is quite cool, as if it’s made of flesh and bone. Colorist Romulo Fajardo, Jr. keeps settings subdued, as if dust has settled on each scene. Meanwhile, costumes look bright and bold in ways that suit each character. The book could do more to show us where we are, though since this is an alternate reality of sorts there’s only so much that can be done to explain where they are and what this world looks like from above.
This issue crosses the midway point for the adventure and so far it’s been an interesting fantasy twist on the Justice League, but it lacks direction and its pace is slow. So far Nightwing and company have made it past two major threats and gotten on a boat, but the journey could be halfway, a quarter or even 80% done based on what we know and where they’re going. The bigger picture isn’t clear beyond a vague desire to save Martian Manhunter. Even the characters seem confused as to how they’ll pull it off once they reach the Omega Knight. That’s a problem.
If you enjoy fantasy you’ll get a kick out of the “Doom Metal” story arc, but Justice League #55 lacks direction and is slow in its development. I’m curious how this story arc plays out overall, but at this point it’s been an okay twist on familiar characters.
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