Friday, March 19, 2021

Review: Justice League #59


With Future State and Infinite Frontier behind us, it is time for DC to move forward with their next era. One of the books that I was most eager to read was Justice League by powerhouse creative team Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez.

Justice League #59 hit the stands yesterday and was a fun opening chapter, setting up the established team, giving us a peek at future members, and starting out the threat that the team will be facing. I have to say that it is the make-up of the team that grabbed me the most. I am not a big Black Adam fan so I want to see if Bendis can sway me. I am interested in seeing Hippolyta on the team, hopefully as a foil to what Diana would be doing and saying. And I have been a Naomi fan since her title hit the stands. So put them on a standard team and I am in.

I am late to the David Marquez game seeing his art first in the the recent Batman/Superman book and I was floored. So seeing his smooth polished style on the Justice League seems all win. The page layouts here are very imaginative. And the action sequences show some rough edges which standout from the otherwise perfect art giving us a sense of the power. Love this wraparound cover too! This seems more like a peek at the new universe as a whole and not just the JL.

Add to that a great Justice League Dark story (which I won't cover) and this is a very solid opening issue.

But frankly, I just want to read more Bendis Superman. So if this is where that was happening, so be it.

We start in Kahndaq. A young boy is at a grave, mourning the passing of his mother. Black Adam arrives to mourn his love who is also buried there. (I haven't been too up on Adam's history. Is this Isis from way back in the 52-ish DCU?) 

I love this little exchange where the boy offers Adam some candy and the villain refuses it because it is hard candy.

There is so much here. 

First off, it immediately had me wonder what is Adam's candy of choice? It must be something sour or tart. I am going with SweetTarts. 

Next, his panel and pose is sort of Superman-ish but his response is definitively not. Superman would have found either a different gentler way to refuse or maybe have taken the candy since the boy was so generous. 

Adam is going to be the foil to Superman in this book. Or maybe, Adam is going to learn from this boy. (I am putting money down we see these two together again.)

But then a massive horned being teleports into Kahndaq with the intent of taking over the world.

He has some knowledge of Earth, recognizing that Adam's garb marks him as a protector. The two throw down. It is a brawl and Adam seems to be getting the worst of it.

But then a bunch of Leaguers show up.

I love this splash. I love how Superman is the lead character, all primary colors. And he means business. He tells this being that the fight is over.

And then we see just how tough Superman is.

Remember, this guy Brutus just tossed around Black Adam. 

Here Superman stops him with an outstretched hand and then launches him.

The art works here. The circular energy and dust showing the impact of this punch block. And then the pencilish, rougher yellow when he is thrown is great.

Then the rest of the League joins in. When Brutus lands in water, Aquaman engages, sending a 'wall of sharks' to the guy. But Brutus is tough, taking out Aquaman. That page, a double page intricately paneled fight all done with 'liquidy' sort of panel borders is slick.

But then when Hawkgirl arrives, her Nth metal mace goes crazy.

Here is where Marquez shines. His art is so precise that this blurry mace surrounded by rough energy and swirling colors really stands out. You sense just how unstable the mace seems to be.

Brutus retreats, heading through a dimensional door. With the 'invasion' is over, Black Adam tells the League to leave his land.

I have gushed about the page layouts by Marquez. This sequence where Superman keeps a telescopic eye on Black Adam is really wonderful. I love how it is a series of square panels until we get to the telescopic vision which is suddenly round, conveying to us that this is what Superman is seeing. That's brilliant.

Black Adam was basically a good guy here. Seeing him look over his shoulder at the League, almost like he wish he stuck around makes you wonder just how lonely he is. 

And that earnest look on Superman. He is a guy who always wants to help. Maybe he thinks that this is some moment that he can help Adam.

Back at the Hall of Justice, the team is reviewing the fight with the Flash, Green Arrow, and Black Canary, the members who weren't present.

As usual, Green Arrow is complaining about the League's mission. He thinks that the team should be doing more. But he also thinks the team is too comfortable. It is an echo chamber. Maybe they need dissenting thoughts in the room.

Flash's expression let's you know his thoughts on the idea.

But I am all for it. I worry sometimes about this little site that it is an echo chamber of like-minded Supergirl fans. (I am not complaining. As Black Canary says, it makes it a supportive safe space.) Even in real life I have seen what happens when people get their news from one place which has one slant. 

Perhaps most importantly, Superman agrees. Maybe this is the opening for Black Adam to join.

But the discussion is interrupted when Kelex discovers that Brutus energy is from another dimension. The same energy they saw in Naomi.

We know she ultimately joins the team. Perhaps this is the why.

I thought this was a great issue. 

Solid characterization from all the main players. Even Flash who has nothing to do heroically is shown to be an inquisitive scientific type. I love the 'hard candy' moment and Superman's stand up nice guy mode.

The art is stunning in all phases and all areas.

And we have a plot in place to build on. 

You know it is a win when the issue was done and wished the next was already in my hands.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Great review, I enjoyed this issue loads too. I’m delighted to still have Bendis writing Superman, but just imagine if he had Kara join too. We can have two Hawks on the team, why not two Supers?

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of like minded fans on this site, but with some nuances. I guess we can think of it as something like a CBR "Appreciation" thread, where dissent is not strongly welcomed and is properly out of place. CBR has lots of forum threads that invite very spirited discussion and debate, and there are lots of divergent opinions on other sites like Bleeding Cool, too. So there's a time and place for everything.

Chances are anyone visiting here also visits other sites, and some may post to them.

In other words, keep up the good work!

This was a great review of a great debut issue.

People were nervous how Bendis would manage the Justice League, but after this outing I think the book is in good hands. People complaining about his dialog may not be reading it properly or enjoy or grasp his flavor of humor. His characters most definitely have their own voices.

I only wish the story was the full 22 pages. Bendis cut down to 20, so Ram V could have 10 (all the other backups published so far have been 8, behind 22 page main stories). The story could have easily used 2 more pages. But if cutting 2 pages means Marquez will be able to stay on schedule and last longer than 1 arc, then I'll happily take it.


Anj said...

Thanks TN.

I agree about Marquez. Hope he stays on sched!

Jim said...

A couple things... why is Barry’s hair red? It happened before on a Bendis book (Superman #2) so I don’t know if it can be blamed just on colorist. And, Black Adam was sent back to 2021 from the far future of his Future State backup story with the intent on averting the Unkindness. I hope we see that is what Black Adam is up too.

Jim said...

Also, why does Barry need a lab coat on? It made me laugh