Justice League #45
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciler: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Eber Ferreira
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Tom Napolitano
The last issue dealt with The Justice League fighting a bunch of mythical creatures. It was an action-focused introduction to this new arc that concluded with the reveal of The Spectre returning. A golden age superhero himself, The Spectre has had a long and complicated tie to the DC Universe. Founding member of the JSA (now retconned), formerly tied to Hal Jordan (seems to still be in continuity) and formerly Gotham cop Crispus Allen (who is never mentioned anymore). So when he shows up in modern issues the reader never knows exactly where he stands. Thankfully this comic does clarify some things, but also opens questions about his entire history all over again.
The action does not stop in this arc. The Spectre immediately takes control of The League and surfaces their darkest feelings. It is one giant excuse to see The Justice League fight each other. They end up saying some awful things to each other and it is unclear if it is how they truly feel deep inside or if The Spectre has greater control over them. Everyone seems insecure and they act in overcompensation through proving their worth in battle. The issue is not just a battle however, as it is explained why The Spectre is messing with The League. It seems that James Corrigan (the host of the original Spectre) has quit and is in Themyscira. He explains that he has been host long enough and has seen too much bloodshed and can no longer deal with being The Spectre. The consequences of this action are not fully understood yet and the issue ends with The Justice League moving onto Act 2 of the arc trying to solve this massive issue, as God’s vengeance does need some direction.
I am torn here. On the one hand it is a fairly fun comic. Venditti has again created a quick read that serves as a fun adventure, but on the other hand it brings up so many questions about The Spectre that make zero sense. Only Batman seems to understand that The Spectre is tied to James Corrigan. Does this mean the entire history with Hal Jordan has been forgotten, because the team would have encountered that. The issue implies that James Corrigan has been the only Spirit of Vengeance for decades. I am not one to get too stuck on continuity, but this story does pull apart threads across the DC Universe. I do like the idea that James Corrigan had to go to Themyscira to “speak to God” as it has some interesting implications of the power of the Amazonian warriors that live there. Overall it is a well-written issue, and fun, in isolation. But it brings up so many questions for people who are fans of The Spectre, and I am sure they will leave with their heads scratching on this one.
Again, DC changes art teams a single issue into the arc. And again they decide to lead with an amazing artist giving the follow up impossible shoes to fill. Eddy Barrows is an excellent artist in his own right. There is nothing wrong with the art here, it just is not as dynamic or unique as Xermanico’s work in issue #45. I prefer if one team stays with a book for at least an arc. Thankfully Romulo Fajardo Jr. continues to color the book, and it does give the comic the same colorful and vibrant look of the previous issue. It is the one thread that ties the visuals of the series together and won’t make it as jarring in a trade. Like the writing, in isolation the book is beautiful. But judged with outside elements it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. And when judging a serialized medium you have to look at the whole and not just the part.