Justice League #55
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciler: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Justice League continues its Death Metal crossover, with the stand-in “Justice League” joining Lex Luthor on a quest to free the Legion of Doom from Perpetua. Back in Scott Snyder’s Justice League Perpetua used the powers from the Legion of Doom in order to power her throne. While The Justice League here (Hawkgirl, Cyborg, Detective Chimp, Nightwing, and Starfire) have no love for the Legion of Doom (or Lex Luthor) they have no choice but to save them in order to stop Perpetua. It is a team up of unlikely heroes and villains fighting for a common interest. While Lex and his former companions have a selfish interest here, the super heroes are doing this for the common good. The previous issue left our protagonists in the Valley of the Starros…
This story opens on the Martian Manhunter fighting a Dark Batman, but most of the issue deals with The post apocalyptic Justice League on their adventure towards Perpetua’s throne. The story itself moves at an extremely fast pace. This is part of the mono-myth (that influces everything from Star Wars, to The Matrix, to Finding Nemo) on fast forward. The team escapes The Valley of The Starros, gets a sea vessel, and then confronts The Omega Knight all within 20 pages. This story might have been 3-4 issues in modern comic book story telling but is condensed in a tight action packed romp. But the book is not solely focused on getting from point to point as it also allows the new team to find their dynamic and flesh out their relationships. The rag tag group of unlikely heroes are still on the same side and their only real issue is with Lex Luthor. Lex is arguably the reason Perpetua has taken over the world in the first place, and the League here has no real reason to trust him other than the information he offers. Even with the relatively low stakes story, the comic does end on one hell of a cliffhanger that makes the next issue fairly important to read.
I think this issue has as many strong points as it does weak. The pacing of the story simultaneously allows us to get through the slog (that is often tie in comics) while at the same time not allowing us to actually care about the hardships of the team. I honestly, don’t know if Williamson could have plotted a better comic, with the restrictions of a tie in, but I also don’t know if it reads particularly well. It also suffers from the fact this is a tie-in arc coming off a bunch of filler arcs, and The Justice League comic has been without a clear voice for a long time now. While this is probably the best it has been, it is a low bar to clear. However, I love the character dynamics here. The way this odd group reacts and interacts with each other makes me wish there was some standard team book with this team. Also, I am always ready for more Detective Chimp and I will take that character where ever I can get him. The Valley of the Starros is also a nice touch (brought forward from the last issue) as it creates some new wrinkles and changes in Starro’s abilities and threat level. But once they leave the valley everything moves in such a fast paced way it is hard to care about any of the moving parts. The team gets a boat, finds Martian Manhunter, and faces The Omega Knight far too quickly. But on the other hand, I understand this tie-in book can only last so long and soon enough Williamson will be writing a normal Justice League book (I hope), so the drawbacks make sense for the serialized nature of the title. What we have here is a book that is better than it should be but still falls victim to the circumstances surrounding it.
The art team has changed here with Robson Rocha and Daniel Henriques pulling penciling and inking duties (respectively). Romulo Fajardo Jr’s colors help keep the book consistent between these issues (he was coloring the previous books as well). Thankfully Rocha has the “Metal” style that fits with the theme and the previous art team, so in a trade, this will not be as jarring as some art shifts have shown in DC. They still have the detailed line work and creative panel layouts that Xermanico was known for in the last two issues. And as a stand alone issue, there is some really beautiful work here. I really have nothing bad to say about the art in this book.