Friday, July 9, 2021

Review: Justice League #64


Justice League #64 came out last week and was another great character issue in this new run by Brian Michael Bendis.

 "Character issue" doesn't describe it fully. There is a new plot nudged forward. We do get the new United Order, a sort of Guardians of the Galaxy of the just started United Planets. And that is an interesting team to break down.

We get the return of the Synmar Utopica, one of the more puzzling villains introduced in Bendis' run. I don't think I ever quite understood its motives. 

We get the ripples of Checkmate into the League and specifically with Ollie.

But as usual, it is the quieter moments between the action where Bendis really shines. I like his Black Adam. I like the simmer of Naomi's powers and family (although I hope it comes to a boil soon). It is the on-again Ollie/Dinah romance and how cute they are as they flirt and fight. 

Steve Pugh is on art and gives a fine-lined, angular feel to the proceedings. This is a bit different from the smooth, organic offerings we have seen her by David Marquez. But the art does work. In particular, some of the panel layouts are slick. We do get several splashes as well.

On to the book.

 We start with the United Planets residing over the trial of Synmar Utopica. 

And on hand to help keep things in line is the new United Order. 

It is a nice make-up of well known DC alien races. A Tamaranean, a Dominator, a Daxamite, a Thanagarian, and a Gordanian. Nice array of powers and abilities.

But I always thought Gordanians were part of a more reptilian looking race. And a blue-skinned Daxamite? News to me. Do you think it was supposed to be someone from Talok VIII?

Turns out they don't have much to do because as he was being moved from his cell to the courtroom, Synmar went amok, attacking the guards and fleeing the planet.

If I recall, I think Synmar sort of took himself off the board the last time, just submitting to being imprisoned rather than outright being defeated. I'll have to take another look back.

Over in Coast City, Ollie pitches woo with Dinah. He talks about how on Naomi's planet he suffered a head wound and thought he would die. At that moment, he was thinking of her.

I just love this page! Great progression by Pugh.

The hand holding. The silhouette in front of the sun moving to a kiss. 

And then ... pow ... the scope sight.

That's a fantastic page moving from romance to danger in second.

Meanwhile ... at the Hall of Justice ... 

(I always wanted to say that.)

The Leaguers are trying to convince Naomi that she needs to learn combat and the best way is by sparring hand to hand. As Aquaman goes around the room to poll the audience (all of whom agree that sparring is needed), Naomi juices up and prepares to slug him unawares.

I think what I like the most is the stunned Adam telling Aquaman to open his eyes and see he is about to get slugged. But I also like the sort of gumption is shows in Naomi.

But then things switch a bit.

Naomi still isn't used to fighting or punching. But her temper flared here with Aquaman, in a bad way.

I guess she isn't used to that fire. 

But I also wonder if that will impact her power. Will she be one of those heroes who becomes more and more powerful the more emotional she gets. And will rage be the key, something she needs to learn to control.

Hmmm ...

Then Naomi's parents show up, all starstruck with the heroes and the Hall. I love that. 

And again, Adam steals the scene telling them what a good job they did with Naomi. I am telling you know Adam is going to become Naomi's mentor. And in turn he is going to soften a bit because of her.

We saw those seeds planted already. His congratulating her parents is a big deal.

But this whole backyard wrestling scene is a delight. It has the usual Bendis flare for banter. Hawkgirl has a couple of zingers even. So rare from her!

Back on the beach, Ollie tells Dinah about the marksman who has been tailing them. He spotted the guy a while back.

Again, this is such a nice progression. We go from the couple being in the scope to a closeup of the finger on the trigger to a close up of ... the boxing glove arrow?

That is just cool. The images tell the story. 

And then the end note, Dinah screaming and knocking the guy into the car. This almost has a sort of film feel to it, the profile there to denote the action happening far away. Maybe more like Speed Racer. I just love it.

The the crossover.

This is Daemon Rose. We last saw him training his scope on Lois at the end of Checkmate #1. Here he namedrops Checkmate.

So what does it all mean?

I am eager to find out.

But then the end splash!

Turns out Synmar Utopica seems to still have a grudge with Superman. So it's on.

The last fight with Synmar was pretty even so I wonder how this fight with the rest of the league present will turn out. And the art and the color here is pretty brilliant and vivid. For some reason, colorists really let it dazzle with Synmar. 

So overall, I thought this was a fun issue. With the epilogue of the Naomi-world behind us, this felt like the prologue of the next big story. But I am a sucker for good character moments so I thought this issue sort of sparkled. 

This feels almost classic.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Oh, Daemon Rose - one of the stupidest names I’ve come across in a whole - is the chap from the end of Checkmate, I never made the connection. Well, it was a fortnight ago, and he was unnamed! He’s obviously rubbish at his job.

But you’re not, great review!

Anonymous said...

Bendis really should write a Green Arrow book, as his Ollie and Dinah are just so good.

There won't be a team book with GA/Black Canary any time soon, though, since a Deathstroke/Black Canary book has been announced for September, and it's apparently going to be an ongoing series.

Pugh did a nice job here. Marquez did just a single arc, and that's what he does. He'll be continuing on covers, though - that's also what he does. I just didn't expect more. Pugh will draw a couple of issues (I'm fan), then Phil Hester will draw a couple (he's well liked but I don't get excited by his style), then Siya Oum will get September.

Siya drew Future State: Worlds of War title and is also going to draw most of the upcoming Action Annual.

This isn't a break - Marquez is off the book. Does he ever return to a title? Looking at his history, he usually draws between 2 and 7 issues of any title, though he did draw 12 issues and 16 issues of two different Spider-Man titles. The normal for him is a brief stay. It feels like he must get bored.

Speaking of the Action Annual, it was delayed by two weeks and is arriving 7/13, but for some reason there are already 4 advance reviews of it, and DC has also released a few preview pages.

There's what I presume is an unnamed Kara, wearing her cape as her Future State skirt. Set on Warworld among what I guess are the (possibly) Kryptonian enslaved peoples, they are hearing a tale about the future House of El - which leaves its provenance as unreliable as any tale told so far about that House. If she's there, then maybe she doesn't end up on the moon after all, which would be great. And if none of this is what happens, then it means that Supergirl may yet have a better idea than to dress like an upside-down tulip!


Professor Feetlebaum said...

DC must have sent out review copies of that Action Comics Annual.

Something I'd like to know is...does Kara wind up self exiled and expired on the Moon, or does she go on to become President of the UP as seen in the Legion Millennium book?

Anonymous said...

Man DC just loves that Tragic Amish Prom Gown on Supergirl....its sad & hilarious at the same time and emblematic of much DC willfully misunderstands the Maid of Steel.
Ummm I may not be up on all the continuity details but insofar as the TV Show was concerned "UltraGirl" was depicted as a Nazi Warlord, so perhaps "this version" of UltraGirl is the direct opposite, i.e. a person of decency and goodwill?
Just a counterintuitive thought from me...