Monday, June 28, 2021

Review: Justice League #63

Justice League #63 came out last week, a sort of  ending to Brian Michael Bendis' first arc as writer on the title. I say 'a sort of ending' because it feels more like a pause. The ultimate ending, the defeat of Zumbado and the freeing of Naomi's world, doesn't happen here. Instead this felt like the first round.

But there are other goals here as well. Bendis is making a new team here with some interesting new recruits - Black Adam, Hippolyta, and Naomi. Much like the odd roster of Bendis' New Avengers way back in the day, this team is going to be filled with individual personalities and outlooks. And after a few years of the 'big seven' or a sort of DCAU JLA, it'll be good to bring in some new blood.

And, of course, bringing Naomi back into the spotlight of the DCU given her upcoming appearance on the CW as well as a 'second season' of her comic was another goal. And here she is, graduating from Young Justice to the big Leagues, pun intended.

This issue seems to accomplish those goals in a fast moving, splash page full issue. The front half is crazy action packed. The back end is the coda to that battle with one moment that stands out as excellent.

As usual, the art is by David Marquez and I have gushed about his art on this book before. But here, the battle sequences are even more spectacular. The art is eye candy and probably worth the cover price alone.

On to the book!

We start out back on Earth in the JL HQ. 

Naomi is recovering in the sick bay and quite apologetic for what happened on her Earth.

I really like how it is Dinah who is the hero to approach her. She probably is the most approachable in terms of personality and warmth on the team. Barry might be a close second. I love her line about she can't talk prognosis. She is just a fighter.

And you can imagine a kid like Naomi needs someone approachable. She probably wouldn't open up to someone stern like Batman or someone so inspirational like Superman.

A quiet scene before the flashback.

Remember, the Leaguers were suffering from the unique environment on Naomi's world. Naomi was fading away. Superman was depowered.

The Flash is yelling at the team to regroup and leave through the portal he has opened. But Naomi refuses. This is her world. Zumbado, the murderer of her family, is there. She isn't going to let this opportunity go away.

We still don't know Naomi's power. I don't know if this is some negative feedback she and Zumbado experience or them attacking each other with powers. What I do know is that this splash is beautiful. You can feel Naomi being blown back here.

The we see the other Leaguers step up.

Hawkgirl's mace has been crackling since she has been on this world (and remember it was juiced against Brutus). You can really feel the impact of her mace blow here. And nice Kirby crackle.

That is followed by Black Adam and Hippolyta slugging Zumbado a second time.

This is another great page by Marquez. These are palpable hits. It truly is amazing.

But the time has come to depart this world. The Leaguers are dying here.

They have to convince Naomi to join them. She can't imagine leaving this dystopian world still in the clutches of Zumbado.

I like that she is having some heroic intentions of her own. She feels responsible for this world and wants to save it. But standing up to the League? Pretty courageous.

She passes out as they hit Earth and so now we are caught up.

She is completely apologetic for her actions. But the League are so understanding and so wise.

First they talk about how this was just round one. Either they are going back to fight Zumbado or more likely, he is going to try to invade.

But then there is this moment which floored me. This is the best moment of the book.

The heroes talk about 'the pull', the desire to save everyone. They talk about encountering evil doppelgangers, going to horrific Earths, and seeing every evil possible. There is that pull to save the omniverse but they need to care for their own world too. So they get why Naomi is so compelled on returning.

If anything, her fervor probably makes them more confident in her motives and intentions.

Just fantastic.

Back on Naomi's world, Zumbado does indeed want to get to the main Earth to conquer. 

He knows that Brutus and his partner McMurph had built their device to teleport in. He wants her to build it again.

And Zumbado knows he'll need his own army. He'll spare Brutus so Brutus can be recruited to the cause.

No surprise that the bad guys want a more resource rich world.

And then those other goals are brought to a close.

First off, Superman asks Black Adam to join the League to share his experience. When Adam scoffs at becoming like Superman, Superman says he wants Adam to be better than him. That is about the most Superman thing to say.

It sounds like Adam is going to join, especially if it means he can mend the rift he has with Hippolyta. (I can't wait to hear that story.)

Hippolyta is a sort of proto-Diana here. The man's world is unknown to her. So seeing all of this through her fresh eyes will be interesting.

And of course Black Adam trying to lean into more 'good guy' status will be interesting.

With the healing done, Naomi decides to head home. But before she goes, she apologizes one more time.

And again, the Justice League tell her not to apologize. They have all been there. A rematch with Zumbado is going to happen. 

They welcome here into the Justice League. 

Honestly, when was the last time the League had a young member like this? I mean, Kara was in that James Robinson roster JL. But has there ever been a kid on the League with the big names? Firestorm in the Conway/Dillin era?

Hippolyta seeing the outside world for the first time.
Naomi just becoming a hero. 
Adam with his outlook on the world.

All fresh views which is going to make this League a very interesting group. And given that one of Bendis' strengths is dialogue, this is grist for the mill. 

I still wish I knew what Naomi's powers are.

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

Terrific review, Anj, I enjoyed this issue loads, as usual. I do wonder, though, what the story is with the cover, cos it certainly isn’t this one.

On the one hand, it’s a nice change for a writer not to ‘write for the trade’; on the other, this issue is going to bring the momentum to a thudding stop for anyone reading the arc in a one-er. Why start the chapter after the battle is over? It’s not great for dramatic suspense, and neither does it add anything. This isn’t the first time Bendis has gone for such an issue structure, and I don’t get it at all. I’d have been fine with all the lovely character stuff coming in the back half of the book.

‘Cows.’ Adding two immortals to the team is a great idea, Hippolyta and Adam are apart from the rest of the team in having a similar long view on heroics, while being different enough to one another so as to keep things interesting. The fact they have a pre-existing relationship, one going back at least a thousand years from last time Hippolyta was roaming Man’s World, is fascinating.

As regards the last time there was a young JLA-er, I don’t thing Kara counts as she was in a team that was all-round younger. The last kid I remember joining a team of adult JLA-ers was Maya of the JLE.

Yeah, Naomi’s powers. Shall I tweet Brian B again, he’s only had a month to answer the last tweet?