In Last Ride #3, Chip Zdarsky and Miguel Mendonça finally strike at the heart of what continues to drive the heroes of the Justice League away from each other. Yes, they faced their greatest losses during their final war with Darkseid, but it’s the fear of it happening again that continues to loom large in their hearts and minds. This is the first issue of this miniseries that doesn’t provide an extended flashback to that fateful battle, and I have to say that the drama is well-served by that creative choice. Even without seeing the horrors they endured, Zdarsky shades nearly every line of dialogue with a sense of trepidation, and Mendonça makes sure that we see the weight of their choices in their every facial expression.
Of course, even with the gulf between these heroes and the hurt they’re all feeling, the briefest feelings of hope manage to shine through. Batman, for once, feels like it’s okay to leave his city behind. The next generation of heroes is poised and ready to fight the good fight. Of course, Batman’s optimistic moments still have more than a touch of fatalism to it, but it’s refreshing to see those moments of hope peeking through in a story that has been very dark. Batman also gets one of the funniest laughs of the issue, being so uptight that he can’t even properly say the word “s’mores.”
On the other hand, Batman is having nightmares — something he claims he never does. Of course, it seems as though someone is trying to send a message through Bruce’s subconscious, and they co-opt a dream about his parents to do so. The result is a haunting sequence that combines elements of all of Bruce’s failures, taking place in a cold and mechanical version of Crime Alley. Mendonça makes some interesting choices here when it comes to what he does and does not reveal head-on, and Erica Angiolini’s colors give things a slightly otherworldly tinge, particularly when it comes to a certain spectral figure that tries to deliver a message to the Dark Knight.
Angiolini really gets to shine in this issue, presenting readers with a take on Apokolips that feels very different from what we’ve seen before. The cool sunsets and a campfire sequence set against a dazzling aurora are just a few of the standout images that show us a new side to a planet we’ve pretty much always seen as “hell in space.”
This issue also gets a bit more into the status quo of a universe without Darkseid. The planets may be more united than ever, but there are still cracks. During an amusing scene in which we get to see Kilowog’s idea of diplomacy, Zdarsky cleverly tips readers off as to why some of the people in power might not want to see Lobo stand trial. This leads to more of the same arguments, particularly between Batman and Superman, but luckily it’s cut short by Diana’s intervention.
Even so, it felt like these characters were beginning to reach an understanding in the previous issue, and it’s a bit frustrating to see them all undermining each other and splitting up yet again. Things are heating up for our heroes, and it’s clear that some very difficult decisions will have to be made before the next battle is all over.
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