Thursday, February 17, 2022

Review: Justice League 2022 Annual

The Justice League 2022 Annual came out last week and was a sort of fun, done-in-one, maybe has implications for the bigger universe, Silver Age pastiche story that I enjoyed. Sometimes I just want to have an action-packed, roller coaster ride of a story to provide me some smiles and this one did that. I don't know if I totally understood it all. But it held together well.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis gives us a story that Gardner Fox would be proud of. The League hears about a threat and then splits off into mini-teams to confront the villains. In this case, it is to confront the villain who is appearing from different points in their own timeline for a mission of some import. Throw in a big guest star and some good character beats and you have a story worthy of an annual.

The art by Sanford Greene is really a revelation. Wildly energetic throughout, over-stylized when it needs to be, and big when deserving. I would love to see him on an OMAC mini-series or monthly given what I saw here. But I also think this would work for almost anything Kirby 4th world or DC Sword and Sorcery. Dazzling stuff throughout.

On to the particulars.

We start out in OMAC's future where the one man army corps is battling his way into a citadel of some sort. We get lots of massive panels showing just how much of a bruiser the hero is.

When he bashes his way in, he stumbles on Hawkgirl embedded in some sort of stasis. That is a decent hook for the story. How did she end up there? And why?

Seriously, the early pages here really showcase Greene's ability to just bring it.

Back in the present, we see the League holding a surprise party to welcome Wonder Woman back from the dead and into the fold.

I really love scenes like this ... heroes hanging out as friends and family and doing non-superhero things. How fun is it to see heroes walking through a buffet line at a party? 

I do wonder if Bendis scripted who needed to be there and/or everybody who is there. Jon Kent, Stargirl, and Plastic Man are interesting choices. 
Of course, no superhero party can go off without a hitch.

Suddenly OMAC is there, disoriented and in need of some medical attention.

I do love how in stride this stuff is taken in a way. It's all time travel shenanigans. 

As usual, Bendis has a flair for dialogue. While I don't know if Superman would say 'sucks', Flash saying the OMAC acronym is cool is right on the money. Heck, what comic reader hasn't said 'One Man Army Corps' is cool. 

I really loved this moment. Like really loved it.

Wonder Woman introduces herself to Naomi and says she is looking forward to seeing why Naomi is on the team. 

Naomi responds first with a 'bring it' then with a 'I didn't mean it'. That is such a natural response to first say something to try to impress then realizing you maybe overstepped.

I think Naomi needs some mentors in her life. I would love for it to be Supergirl but Wonder Woman is a great choice. 

Wonderful moment.

The League's computers sense some chronal disturbances throughout the globe so the team breaks up into squad's to investigate.

Wonder Woman, Hippolyta, and Naomi head to the Bayou and the Legion of Doom's old 'Darth Vader head' headquarters.

There they meet this time traveler searching for something. He is pretty pumped to meet Wonder Woman and 'Queen Naomi'. Hmmm ... nice little foreshadow to whatever Bendis sees ending up with that character.

But this person is looking for something and says he is the Lord of Time.

Jon, Aquaman, Black Canary, and Green Arrow head to Blackgate Prison where a riot has broken out. They also run into a different aged Lord of Time.

Black Adam heads alone to an abandoned Leviathan stronghold to once more find the Lord of Time, at another point in the Lord's lifetime. Here he is out of armor and just in clothes.

How interesting that he calls Black Adam 'the Great Adam'. Perhaps a name change is about to happen.

And I am thankful that Bendis keeps bringing Leviathan back into view. Mark Shaw might be dead but surely the majority of his army is intact under the new management. 

The individual teams all skirmish, including one where Hawkgirl is flung into the future by the Lord of Time (explaining her being there at the beginning). We see how each Lord is a bit disoriented because all four versions of him, all from different points in his personal timeline, are there concurrently.

Wild art by Greene. Love the bombastic nature of the action. 

And I like how the Lords are basically having one conversation in four different places from four different eras in his life. Well done.

The Lord keeps trying to stall the Leaguers, saying he needs them to leave him alone so he can find something.

But this League only has so much patience. After a bit, the two biggest hotheads, Hippolyta and Black Adam, lash out.

As I said before, I liked the concept of bringing in different opinions into the League. I liked the addition of Hippolyta and Black Adam.

Eventually, Hawkgirl comes back from the future, in new armor, and using some device sends all the Lords of Time away.

Turns out The Lord was looking to stop something bad from happening by finding the Gold Lantern.

Now we know Gold Lantern is in the Legion and is somehow tied the The Great Darkness.

I don't know why The Lord of Time wants to stop the Lantern, why he keeps trying in this time, and how all the versions get sent away. 

Nothing left but the wrap up.

Was sort of sad to see this transition. Diana is back. Hippolyta is out. Too bad. I was enjoying the dynamic of Hippolyta on the team.

I also like how the initial friction between Hippolyta and Adam as softened. The Queen sense greatness in Adam's future. I don't know if we will ever learn the two's complete backstory. But it is interesting. 

As someone who grew up with Legion and League teams splitting up in to smaller groups, as someone who loved the time when Annuals were often standalone and mostly big action, fun stories, this was a complete treat.

Definitely would love to see Greene on more things soon. 

And hope we get to see some of the hints here - Queen Naomi, Great Adam, and the Gold Lantern - played out.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

I believe Hippolyta and Black Adam's long history was laid out in flashback sequences in the Endless Winter crossover from December 2020. I remember nothing of it except that they have a difficult history. That series is in a box somewhere and I probably couldn't even find it if I wanted to.

Scott Godlewski, in interviews regarding the Legion, said Bendis's script does specify all the characters in a panel, but the artist figures out how to place them. But he is open to ideas and probably some artists do come up with some of the characters in group scenes.

This was a good story from Bendis, drawn by a fantastic artist. A lot of annuals are a waste, but this one wasn't.


Martin Gray said...

Nice review, sir! I love the Lord of Time, he’s proper Old School, even if he was rather plan-free here.

It’s nice to see Hippolyta saying Black Adam is improving, she wasn’t a fan in the flashbacks during the excellent Endless Winter story.

I doubt Brian will ever get to Queen Naomi, we’ve not even got to her powers yet, I think it’s just a fun tease.

Martin Gray said...

Ha, Snap with TN, who got in first with Endless Winter as I was typing.