That’s a Whole Lot of Starros (Justice League #54 comic review)
Justice League #54
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
The Metal crossover continues this week, but still can be read on its own apart from the main event. All the reader really needs to be clued into is that The Justice League is now in a post-apocalyptic future, where Perpetua and her alternate “Dark” Batmen control everything. Anything that is expected of the reader has been explained in previous Justice League titles or is summed up in the pages of this arc. The main League is not here, you’ll have to read Dark Knights: Death Metal for that, as it surrounds itself with a mishmash of former and new Justice League members creating a ragtag group. The book is far more concerned with world-building than moving the plot forward. So if you want to see what the future holds for the DC Universe, under Perpetua’s control, this book fleshes that out.
The new “League” continues on its mission to get to Perpetua’s throne. This new group features Nightwing, Hawkgirl, Cyborg, Detective Chimp, and Lex Luthor. While no one trusts Lex, he is their best source of information on getting to their destination. There is also a B-plot of Martian Manhunter fighting his Dark Multiverse counterpart in a Batman that has Martian Manhunter’s powers. This comic is akin to the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz, but instead, there is a field of Starros. The team succumbs to visions of their ideal world as the Starros attempt to convince the team to stop journeying forward. All this is happening while Martian Manhunter is battling his foe both in mind and body. Overall, this issue is short on revelations or new development and is just a telling of the first steps of their “hero’s journey.”
This comic sits in a strange middle ground. On one hand, it has some outstanding moments and a clear understanding of the characters. On the other hand, it is still a tie into a larger event and the story is basically in service of something that happens outside this book. It is probably one of the better tie-in books, but a tie in nonetheless. While you don’t need to read the main event to understand the book (I am behind on those titles personally) it still seems like you are reading a side story. Williamson is doing the best he possibly can with what he was given. Jumping onto Justice League as a new writer (after many fill-ins) only to be given an assignment that doesn’t let him build organically. Once the main event is over I have full confidence he can start building his arcs and carve his path with character development going forward but as it stands this is a decent story that is also disposable. The real strengths here are plotting the Starro hallucinations and showing how Nightwing (and by extension Dick Grayson) is finally back. But after just coming off a throwaway arc with “Black Mercy” retreading this same ground, the moment is squashed a little bit (it is done far better here though). I like this comic alright, I just want this title to finally start moving forward again on its own.
Xermancio is a reason to read this book. While the story is mediocre, the art is far from it. Since this is a “Metal” tie in, it makes sense to have an artist that captures that them. Everything he draws is like an incredible metal cover. And his double-page spread of The Valley of Starros might be one of my favorite pages of the year. If you simply want some fantastic art, this book is worth the pickup for that alone.