Friday, May 21, 2021

Review: Justice League #61

Justice League #61 came out this week and was a standard sort of middle chapter in a long form story like this. We get some progression of the story but this is really a sort of slow roll. I don't mind it too much. I think going into a 'part 3' of a 6 part arc, I'm usually ready for this. It doesn't hurt that there are good character moments and great art.

We are back on Naomi's home world in this arc and it feels a bit different than the Earth we are used to. What is interesting to me is that it seems that Brutus isn't a native to that Earth but somehow stranded there. That makes me wonder just what has happened to that Earth before.

There also is a bit of an old school feel to this issue. The heroes land on this Earth but for some reason are separated and so need to escape some danger to reform. It gives writer Brian Michael Bendis a little breathing room to showcase his take on the different characters. 

One thing that is a bit chin-scratching is the still unanswered 'what are Naomi's powers' question. She can fly. She's strong. But why is she considered a mega-power? I hope we get some significant answers before the end of this arc.

Finally, David Marquez is on art and as usual his stuff is gorgeous. His action stuff feels energetic and dynamic. His quiet moments show good expression and body language. I hope he is able to keep up with the work.

On to the book.

Last issue, Brutus once again attempted to take over Earth but was driven back to this world.

Here he joins his clan, similarly red-chinned individuals. He has a discussion with McMurph, a brilliant female leader in the clan. She talks about how she and Brutus have been able to help their people in the past by utilizing her brains and his brawn.

Now it seems like they know about Zumbado, the tyrant on this Earth who left it devastated. But I get the sense that these folks arrived on this Earth to discover it was in this condition. And now they want off.

At that point, the JLA arrive on the Earth. McMurph detects a 'glorzas' spike meaning there has been a rise in power level.

We then see how the Leaguers have arrived but separated.

Black Canary is put upon by the standard dystopian raiders.

She unleashes her canary cry and finds it much more powerful than it is on her Earth. This is a fantastic panel by David Marquez, showing the power of the cry and bodies of the raiders tossed around.

Naomi has a different issue. She seems to be fading away, her hands almost transparent. And she also is set upon by standard dystopian raiders.

Luckily Batman is there to chase them away.

Naomi admits she has severe anxiety and it seems like she is about to spin out of control. She can't seem to finish a thought. 

But then Batman seems to ground her my making her say Ducktales.

Now look, I love Bendis and his quirky dialogue. But this was a stretch even for me.

Superman also seems to be over-juiced in the environment. He can't control his heat vision and is flying above the city looking up so he doesn't fry anyone. 

Brutus arrives and the fight is on.

I did like how Batman and Superman have their own communication line, 'World's Finest'. That is sweet. And there, Batman is trying to help Superman control his heat vision by bringing up other times it was out of control.

Does anyone know if these Phantom Stranger and Kobra King name drops reference actual stories?

We cut to Aquaman.

Unlike other heroes, he seems weakened by this place rather than invigorated. But it seems more like emotional anguish.

I wonder if the oceans were boiled away on this planet and the dearth of oceanic chatter has effected him profoundly. Or maybe the few fish who survive are so sad at the devastation of this place they are overwhelming his amped up telepathy. 

But he is out for the count.

In what I think is a nice story point, Canary's sonic cry becomes a sort of beacon for the scattered Leaguers to regroup at. 'Oh, I hear Canary. I'll head there.'

So Green Arrow (who had a skirmish with Standard Dystopian Raiders) arrives there. 

Then Hawkgirl, who is feeling pretty powerful, shows up.

And then Batman and Naomi arrive.

I do love the 'thunk' in the background showing Ollie is there. Even more, I love that Dinah can sense that he is there already.

And it seems like maybe on this world Brutus is even stronger. Because he is able to manhandle Superman more easily here than he did on regular Earth.

I do love Bendis' Superman, always the nicest guy trying to do what's right. Even here as Brutus is about to bulldog him, he is saying 'I could have been your friend!'

And Marquez kills it here. You feel the velocity of this impending faceplant.


Black Adam shows up and off screen he is also dispatched by Brutus.

Hmmm .. Superman AND Black Adam knocked out! Can these others take down Brutus?

Is this where we finally see what Naomi can do? And will this lead to some 'she's stronger than Superman and Black Adam?' arguments.

So I know that not much happened in this issue. But we got a sense of Brutus' people. We got nice solo moments of our team members. We end nicely with a good cliffhanger. And Marquez slays.

For a middle chapter, this is pretty good.

Overall grade: B/B+


Anonymous said...

Fantastic Marquez art as always. The expressiveness he puts in faces is marvelous. And, he does it without even a hint of the cross-hatching so many artists rely on. This leaves plenty of space for the colorists to add shading, and the result is beautiful.

The cliffhanger from last issue made me think somehow Naomi had arrived alone, and I was actually disappointed everyone made it but were just slightly geographically dispersed. But this story makes more sense.

The names are unexpectedly familiar - McMurph? Doesn't sound alien to me, but so specific to earth. And then some of them use Yiddish expressions, like "bubbe." Are these somehow refugees, or descendants of refugees, from our earth?

I always love how Bendis writes Green Arrow, and you can tell he has a lot of fun with Oliver too, including him whenever he can. Wouldn't it be great to have a Green Arrow and Black Canary book from him?

As for Naomi's powers, anything short of what "Berlanti Nia Nal" can do would be considered reasonable. Nia set a new bar! (And the Supergirl season/series isn't over yet. Maybe she will become omnipotence by the end.)

With Justice League, Bendis is now writing full-on Marvel-style recap pages. An interesting change in approach. I wonder how he'll handle recaps when Legion returns, and in Checkmate.


Martin Gray said...

Another fun issue, I liked the detail that as several heroes awoke, they uttered an ‘ow’. And the thing with Ollie’s equipment being tied to his fingerprint was great. As for the references to old cases, I assume that’s just fun colour.

And the art, wow! David Marquez looks to be looking to Caity Lotz for his Dinah, and does a great job.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the back-up, I’ve been liking it a lot.