Justice League #40
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist: David Baron
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Have you been following Justice League? If not it really doesn’t matter, as issue #40 is a brand new storyline. It is unconnected to Scott Snyder’s run (other than the lineup) as he ended issue #39 with a magical reboot. The League here is facing a new threat, and nothing from the Justice/Doom War or Perpetua seems to have carried over.
The story starts with Sodam Yat (former Green Lantern) crashing to Earth. The Justice League investigates the crash and then they fight, as super heroes tend to do on a first meeting. John Stewart makes sure that cooler heads prevail and is the voice of reason in stopping the conflict, since he is the one that has had a working relationship with Yat. It is explained to the rest of the league that Yat is a Daxamite, essentially a cousin of the Kryptonians that secluded themselves in fear of harming others. Yat explains that The Eradicator is leading a Daxamite army, one that has none of the typical kryptonian weakness but all of the strengths. Batman goes off to find Madame Xanadu, as magic is one of the weaknesses that might still be exploitable. The issue ends with Eradicator’s army showing up on Earth. There are no real major twists here, as it is just an introduction to the newest Justice League arc.
The previous run, under Scott Snyder, was a constant game of pushing up the stakes. Often each arc felt like it could have been a company line crossover event. It all culminated in a magical door that the League went through and some sort of reboot. Venditti was given a blank canvass to work on. While I didn’t enjoy the way Snyder ended his run, I appreciate how it left the book for the next team. Each creative team’s run should have its own self contained feel, and it seems the team here gets this. Also, Venditti seems to be setting up an arc that has the grand scale and threat we’ve grown accustomed to. I have to admit that I am a sucker for 90s era Death and Return Superman, so seeing The Eradicator returning has me hooked. Venditti was also on Green Lantern previously, and was able to bring some of that over here without alienating readers that did not follow him there. Robert Venditti pulled something off, the ability to have a clear through line of his work, while still allowing each title to stand on their own. As an introductory issue this is a well paced and fun comic. He explains everything (without getting too heavy on exposition), has some dynamic action scenes, introduces some new threats, and ties the title into the grander DC Universe. I was unsure how a new team would handle this title, but I am happy with this new direction so far.
I really love Doug Mahnke’s work. The way he draws a vast array of the DC Universe makes him a perfect fit for this book. I believe on Justice League they should always find A List talent, and make sure it is consistent. It also seems that he is on the title for this arc with no outside help (other than Richard Friend on inks) and this keeps me hopeful of things to come. He was able to balance the action of this title along with dialogue heavy scenes, and make it all seem exciting to look at. Batman’s meeting with Madame Xanadu, in particular, was an artistic highlight of the issue. Overall, this book has a better creative vision under the team here than it has had in a long time.