Justice League #44
Writer: Robert Venditti
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Venditti’s run continues, after a bit of an unexpected break (you may have noticed COVID19 has stopped the world). This issue starts a new storyline that does not connect in any way to the previous issues, other than the active members of the team. If someone were to pick up this book on a whim, because there is not much on the shelves, available for curbside pick up, or on ComiXology they could easily jump right in. All a reader needs to know is that The Justice League is a team of superheroes and they try and save the world regularly.
There is not much to this story, until the final moments. The League is in Antarctica fighting mythical beasts and monsters. That is it. Aquaman and Wonder Woman seem to be the most familiar with their antagonists, as they both have stronger ties to mythology in their origins. But, in general this is just an action-packed issue. That is not to say it is shallow as it serves as an introduction to something larger and more important. The longer break from comics helps the story as it reads better than if it had to jump back into a story mid arc after more than a month of nothing. The issue ends with a far larger threat and some intrigue that ties the book to an aspect of the DC Universe we haven’t seen in far too long.
Again Venditti brings us an issue that reads like an episode of the acclaimed Justice League cartoon of the early 00s. Simple, action-packed, with a hint of a larger narrative, are all things both the former show and this comic have in common. It has already been revealed that Venditti’s time on this comic will be short, so he is more of a filler writer than someone with a long term plan. With this in mind he is going above and beyond what writers in that position typically achieve. Often a team filling in gaps simply creates throwaway material you can skip, but this comic stands right next to Snyder’s previous run. Sure it is not as heavy as the series once was, but Venditti can throw in just enough to make the book “matter.” What reads like a simple and fun comic becomes something far more intriguing by the end of the issue. There is also something to be said about being able to pick up an issue of The Justice LEague without needing to read anything prior. When I was a kid I would grab old back issues and be able to completely understand a story regardless if it was issue #3 or #276. Also all reviewers look ar their material as a snapshot in time. It is impossible to ignore the world out of our window at the moment with COVID19 changing our lives. This simple “filler” issue is exactly what we need right now. A comic you can give to anyone and have fun reading. Without getting into spoilers too much (I know later solicitations reveal them but I’ll leave it) the final page reveal, and change in the challenge at hand, makes me want issue #45 badly,
Another reason this issue is so much fun is the art. Xermanico comes on board to draw The Justice League and I think it some of the best art we have seen on the title to date (and that is saying A LOT). He recently worked with Grant Morrison on the Black Stars spin-off book and he is showing an adaptability and range that puts the artist in upper echelons. This book is just beautiful. Every page and every layout is a sight to behold. Everything is dynamic and alive. You can tell he is having fun drawing The League fighting these fantastic beasts. In Black Stars Xermanico was emulating the more Heavy Metal and psychedelic look that Morrison’s Green Lantern was going for. Here the art is clean and vivid. It just highlights the range of his abilities. I think you could throw Xermanico at any title and he would make it shine. I am so happy he is on this book.