Justice League of America #42 review

Ah Geoff Johns, you know how to win me over.

Set up a war between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor? Great.

Have Batman gain control of Metron's chair? Yay.

Reference Golden Age Wonder Woman villains Red Panzer and Minister Blizzard?

Geoff Johns, I bow down before you.

Such nods to continuities past have always been a Johns trademark, but in recent years such small joys were overshadowed by the excesses of the New 52 - big, rambling stories with mucho mutilation.

Well, there's a bit of slashing in this issue (poor Mr Miracle) and the Darkseid War is certainly set to go on awhile, but Johns really seems to have recaptured his mojo.

If you missed last issue, know that Darkseid's daughter, Grail, has shown up on Earth to herald the coming of the Anti-Monitor. This issue her mother, former Amazon assassin Myrina Black, attempts to recruit Mr Miracle - Darkseid's adopted slave-son - to her cause ... killing Darkseid, even if it means the deaths of billions on Earth. The Justice League, meanwhile, are whisked away from the battlefield to the Rock of Eternity by the Boom Tube of New God Metron.

A fatalist, Metron suggests the heroes say goodbye to their loved ones now, but that's not the League's way. Diana uses her Lasso of Truth, which leads to Batman sitting in the chair and a reveal of next issue's title ... Bat-God.

Which is a nice gag for those of us who recall Grant Morrison's Justice League tenure, during which the Gotham Guardian could defeat the likes of Darkseid with a paper clip. It won't be so easy this time, with Johns imbuing his Apokolips scenes with real danger. 
The different approaches of flunkies Desaad (odious but not stupid) and Steppenwolf (straight-talking, most likely to get blasted with the Omega Force) are fascinating and fun. Darkseid bristles with danger, as much due to Jason Fabok's artwork - atmospherically coloured by Brad Anderson - as Johns' words.

Fabok really brings the grandeur this issue, from the burning cities of Apokolips to the Mission Temple of Myrina Black. It's here that we get the Second World War references that had me giggling gleefully.
So Myrina Black could have had some of the Golden Age adventures of the original Princess Diana (OK, Red Panzer was a Seventies creation for the comics version of Lynda Carter's TV heroine, but still...). Admittedly, Black being a killer - it seems that instead of sending defeated foes to Transformation Island she kept them as souvenirs, see Cyclops skeleton, the stuffed cheetah and pickled Mer-Man - means her world would have lacked the whimsy brought by Diana creators Marston and Peter, but at least it puts the characters in place.

And check out that Spirit of Victory-style hero outfit.
Other things I really like this issue are Hal Jordan's understandable suspicion of Metron, the presentation of Diana as warrior for peace rather than war-crazed zealot
 and Batman's reaction to a bit of information the chair gives him. The only thing I don't like is the new spelling of Mr Miracle's forename we were introduced to last issue - 'Scot' rather than 'Scott' Free ... an apparently tiny thing, but after decades of the Jack Kirby original, it just looks wrong.

Overall, the current Justice League is DC superhero high adventure at its best - it's big and it's clever, full of sound and fury, signifying a return to form for one of DC's biggest name writers.

Comments

  1. Geoff Johns is obviously a very talented writer, but his version of Wonder Woman has always been absolutely terrible. So I'm pleasantly surprised to see that it seems like he finally, FINALLY gets the character now.

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    1. Isn't this a huge improvement? And I'm so glad we don't have to look at the odious new costume in this book.

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  2. Yeah, that Scot name. Urgh. (Although I think it said last issue that he spells it Scott on Earth.) But the other thing that bugged me this issue is that Wonder Woman & Steve Trevor are casting shadows on the very page where Johns says they aren't.

    On the other hand, this was a fun issue, and promises more to come. Who IS the Joker, anyway?

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    1. Good point about the shadows, I missed that (obviously!).

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    2. Strangely enough, the shadow problem didn't bug me as a continuity error, so much as a missed opportunity. It's such a cool detail, and it would have given Fabok the chance to craft a really unique-looking action scene, without using some of the standard tools for depicting depth and spacial relationships. It would be quite a challenge, but super-memorable.

      My guess is, it was a cool line Johns thought of at the scripting stage, after the art was completed, and they just ran with it and hoped no one would notice. Maybe he'll have another chance later in the story!

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    3. I'd love to see that shadow scene you posit, Rob - unusual things on the page, I'm all for it. I remember the first time Perez due his Escher Olympus - just a tiny bit mind-mangling.

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  3. This book certainly feels big. It is the first time in a while that I have looked forward to a League book. This reads like an event book just tucked neatly into a simple title.

    The nerd in me wonders 'when' this is given Diana's costume and Superman's powers but I think I will just sit back and enjoy the ride.

    And as you say, Myrina is a fascinating character. especially given the peek in her lair!

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  4. That is SUCH a weird name for an Amazon, Myrina Black. Yet very common in the DCU, apparently.

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