Review: Justice League #3

Justice League #3, cover by Lee, Williams & Sinclair

In a complete reversal of what normally happens to me when a Geoff Johns comic comes out, I’ve actually taken flak from some readers for not bashing on Justice League enough.  In fact, I’ve been fairly supportive of what he’s been trying to do, even if I see what he’s trying to do with the comic as being fairly flawed.  Despite that, I still maintain that the first two issues of Justice League are solid, enjoyable reads, confidently introducing us to the world and to the characters while setting up a threat big enough to unite them all.  Justice League #3 brings that threat very firmly to Earth, but loses the sense of characterization that drove the first two issues.

Now, this issue is essentially one very long fight scene interspersed with scenes of Vic Stone’s transformation.  And I will say, the scenes with Dr. Stone rushing his son through the lab trying to find a way to save him are actually fairly effective, though they did not seem to have much trouble getting Vic to their lab, despite a demon-spewing portal being opened mere feet away from them.  Similarly, Vic’s first view of the arc’s bad guy, Darkseid, was surprisingly chilling, a solid introduction to an iconic villain.

But everything else doesn’t quite work.  The fight is extensive, but lacks a clear sense of continuity – only Superman’s brief segment has any narrative coherence.  The remainder of the fight is just still images of people doing cool things, which robs the scene of any tension or excitement it otherwise might have had.  The introduction of Wonder Woman is handled mostly as a joke, the exact same Wonder Woman joke people have been telling for years: rowdy foreigner doesn’t understand American culture, tee hee.

Similarly, the ‘anti-superhero’ rhetoric DC’s ripped straight from Marvel for this book, feels pretty lazy.  Largely introduced via TV or radio broadcasts we catch brief blurbs from, people seem mostly furious that superheroes exist and, in fact, dare to defend them the demonic forces spewing from the ground.  Without the backing in a character or even point of view, it feels like pointless drama largely used to artificially enhance the stakes and make our heroes seem that much more heroic.  It, like much of the issue, doesn’t work.  For the cost of a book like this, I don’t just expect more content (this is only 22 pages, despite the higher price tag), I expect better content.  Hopefully, the next two issues will be a return to form.

Cal C.


Justice League #2

7 thoughts on “Review: Justice League #3

  1. I actually was a bit confused with the panel that showed the “iconic villain.” Or rather, I should say I didn’t realize that was Victor seeing him until you mentioned it and looked again. But that leaves me with the question just how would this tech – even if it is alien – allow Victor to see our “iconic villain”? I will also say that I found the constant arguments against experimenting on Victor a bit odd as Dr. Stone basically is just constantly pointing out again that his son will die if they don’t even try.

    The joke of Batman not having any powers to me is starting to feel a bit old now, though that continues in this issue, and I have a feeling will for a few more since we really haven’t gotten to see yet why Batman is useful among a team of super powered heroes.

    I also agree with you on the oddity of them being blamed. Does no one see that they are helping? All we really get out of the short clips is that our super heroes are being blamed for this invasion, but no clear reason why the blame is being tossed on them.

    I will say though that I found it interesting to see those minions being killed. Wonder Woman is tearing them up, yes, but so is Superman in ways that one would expect at least would kill. Not something I’m use to seeing or hearing about.

    • Though it hasn’t been explicitly spelled out yet, it LOOKS like Cyborg has been fitted with a MotherBox – as he sees Darkseid, you can see Mother Box’s telltale “PING! PING!”s scattered across the page.

      Which would be a MAJOR power upgrade for Cyborg, but would indeed explain why he could see Darkseid. In fact, that would give him access to the whole history of Apokolips and New Genesis, and really prime him to be the one who shows the League how to win.

    • Oh come now, doesn’t it make sense to you that she flew fighting a group she thought were demons from Washington DC to Metropolis? Oh, and lets not forget her apparently thinking everything is from Hades that isn’t human… On the bright side, I’m assuming WW is ‘current day’ and so we can hope she grew in the 5 years.

    • I didn’t talk much about Diana specifically because I’m hoping this was just a brief joke, and one that will quickly disappear when he story jumps forward in time – though I’m increasingly confused as to what narrative benefit jumping forward five years could bring. We’re literally going to ignore five years worth of adventures? Believe that the team didn’t change in five years? Why show this origin at all when the dynamics will change almost immediately?

      That said, yes, his handling of Diana was as bad as it always is. Worse, even.

  2. If Cal is a Johns apologist, then I’m a cheerleader. Hahaha.

    I fully acknowledge the things he doesn’t do well, but still find a lot of his work entertaining. I’m working (slowly) on a concept for an article that likens big comic book writers to famous movie directors (“Who’s the Spielberg of comics?”). At first, I thought Johns might be the Michael Bay … but then I realised that with a few exceptions, I don’t enjoy Bay’s movies very much. Still there are similarities.

    I obviously enjoyed this issue, as I rated it highest of all the New 52 books from the past week. As I said, it was “big, dumb fun” for me.

    • Sounds interesting. I’m assuming you’ll have a mention of Nolan? Or better yet, though he isn’t really comics, I think a mention for Bruce Timm would be good somehow as he’s a huge part of nearly any DC animated thing it seems.

    • I’ve been calling Johns the Michael Bay of comics for years. It works – he creates bombastic but shallow spectacles with a sharp populist appeal and little by way of plotting or characterization.

      Looking forward to seeing your article! It’s an interesting idea, particularly since comics is often the reverse of film (at least these days) – in comics, the writer has so much control, while in film, the writer’s vision is largely ignored in favor of the director’s. There are some exceptions (Charlie Kaufman in film; J.H. Williams III in comics), and comics are MUCH more of a collaboration than many films (at least three artists have probably already vowed to kill me over the course of this single comment), but speaking in generalities, the comic writer has, in the last ten years or so, really become much more powerful.

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