When Superman agrees with me… I don’t care about anyone else (Justice League #59 comic review)
Justice League #59
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Josh Reed
The Justice League book has been spinning its wheels for a long time now. Going from fill-in teams to crossovers, the title has not really had a purpose of its own. It was 20 issues ago when Scott Snyder left the title, and this book stopped being a central point in the DC Universe. Now Justice League has found a regular writer in Brian Michael Bendis. This is a divisive choice as Bendis has not been the revelatory force he was during his heyday in Marvel. Regardless, the title now has a direction and purpose and Bendis has some major changes to the JL lineup.
Bendis is known for packing a lot of exposition into a story, but that is not the case here. This is a fairly simple set up and introduction to the new run. Black Adam faces a new threat and The Justice League shows up to help him out. There is a light team up, but in typical Black Adam fashion he is not interested in a further friendship and kicks them out of his country. The League discovers that this new threat comes from another dimension and is afraid this is a sign of worse things to come. On team dynamics Green Arrow and Superman agree that the team has become too comfortable and static and needs to introduce some new blood into their lineup. Overall, an unexplained threat shows up and a new lineup is teased which makes for a typical first issue of a team focused book (I know it is issue #39 but it might as well be a new #1).
I reviewed and read all of Bendis’ Superman run, and it was full of ups and downs. While Bendis clearly understands the character of Superman, he was unable to create any impressive plot that had significant impact. Part of the issue was his overwrought dialogue, plotting and exposition. Thankfully, this book reads clearly and sets up the conflict and teases new team dynamics in a much more fulfilling way. We didn’t get an entire issue of backstory on the new threat, he showed up, was dealt with, and enough information was given to let the reader know the threat was not fully over. Bendis actually juggled the multiple characters quite well. Black Adam was characterized properly, and was given depth in a quick character moment right off the bat. The existing team did not get all new introductions and instead went right into relationships. Green Arrow and Superman both agreed that the team needed a new outlook and focus as they tend to be too one sided. This was my only nitpick with the book. Bendis is clearly commenting on the fact that the lineup is way too white, but dances around saying it directly. We know he is going to add some diversity with Black Adam and Naomi (who is teased for next issue). I would have rather The League directly confronted their issue with race, rather than trying to speak in such a way to make the white readers feel comfortable. Bendis has good intentions here but the execution should have been more direct. Sometimes being subtle in your message is not really warranted. However, I found myself enjoying this title, and at this point it has more promise than Bendis’ Superman man work.
Marquez does a fantastic job with this book. Bendis not being overly wordy this issue, thankfully, the art really gets to shine. There are some incredible and fun action scenes here and you can tell he was just having a blast drawing every panel. It was laid out exactly how a Justice League should be with some great team up action mixed with some real interpersonal relationship moments. The book as a real colourful and kinetic feel and it is hard not to smile when looking at certain pages.
Summary Brian Michael Bendis starts off on the right foot, on his new Justice League run. There is a new interesting set up, and The League will have a new and unique status quo. The only issue is Bendis pulls his punches when dealing with race.