Justice League #56
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciler: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
The Death Metal crossover continues, with the makeshift new Justice League on a quest to save The Legion of Doom. The last issue rushed through their journey and left the team seemingly dead at the hands of Perpetua’s Omega Knight. The new League is made up of Cyborg, Starfire, Nightwing, Detective Chimp, Hawkgirl, and Lex Luthor (who is only along as he has information they need). In the B-plot, The Mindhunter, an evil “dark” Batman that has all the powers of Martian Manhunter, is fighting Martian Manhunter. This issue brings everything together as it gets ready for the big finale.
While the last issues were all about “adventure” this one is all “action.” The focus is on the new League fighting The Omega Knight and Manhunter (with Hawkgirl) vs Mindhunter. While the last issue was many events in fast forward, this one plays out these two fights in detail. Each battle needs to be won in order to free The Legion of Doom. While The Legion of Doom is not something The Justice League goes out of their way to support, freeing them will weaken the larger threat of Perpetua. It is not a spoiler, as it is revealed immediately, that The Justice League did not die at the end of the last issue (I don’t think anyone thought that was going to be the case), so they are able to take their fight directly to The Omega Knight. Manhunter steps back as he is effectively losing to his “dark” Batman alternative, but his partner Hawkgirl shows that she is more than enough to fight for the new antagonist. Without getting into detail of how the fights end, there is a conclusion to these two main battles which in turn leave things in an interesting situation for the new League in the cliffhanger.
I think this is a step up in quality from the last issue. There was more focus and more effective storytelling from Williamson. The two battles were written really well with many light-hearted and intense moments. Detective Chimp continues to be the VIP of this book, and this issue is arguably the best we have seen of the character. “Fun” is the simple word I would use to describe this book. It falls slightly into a trap of being caught up in a crossover but manages to read fine even without the external knowledge. Really Williamson created a book that could be read in a vacuum. In the simplest terms, there are two fights and both are introduced, explored, and then concluded sufficiently in this title. I am not even keeping up with Death Metal and I did not find a single panel of this book confusing or out of place. I can see why some readers might be turned off with the Death Metal nature of the book, but I think it is worth reading if you like fun and wacky adventures (and Detective Chimp).
Robson Rocha’s art is great. He carries the torch that the previous team (on the early half of the arc) while still making it his own. Everything is detailed, dynamic, and fits in the “metal” theme. you can tell the art team here was having fun illustrating the battles and playing with Mindhunter’s powers. The moments with Detective Chimp are a highlight (as it was in the writing), as it perfectly balances the comedic nature of the character while still making him an impressive force. This is just a stunning and well crafted book.