I’ve made no secret of my disappointment with Justice League. For what should be DC’s best book, it hasn’t come together as one would hope. The characterization has been over-the-top and quite honestly, the heroes come across as either unlikeable or boring. The art has been inconsistent and in general overly fussy. And the plots have failed to deliver many thrills or surprises.
I’m happy to say that this issue has been the most satisfying so far! It took a while, but it feels like Geoff Johns has found his groove on this title. This issue kicks off a crossover event with Aquaman, which Johns also pens and so the Sea King steps into the spotlight for the first time in this series. (Coincidentally, Aquaman‘s art team, Ivan Reis, Rod Reis and Joe Prado are stepping over to Justice League, so the transition makes sense.)
Things kick off when the US military accidentally fires missiles at Atlantis, causing Aquaman’s brother Orm (Ocean Master) to declare war on the surface world, unleashing tsunamis upon Boston, Gotham City and Metropolis! The heroes step in but the death toll is massive.
There is some nice characterization in this issue. We finally get to see Superman and Wonder Woman on a real date and Superman’s dialogue in particular is excellent. Just as Johns takes on Aquaman’s “laughing stock” status in that title, he addresses another comic book conceit that people make fun of here, Clark Kent’s glasses. His explanation for why they work is masterful! He also does a great job of integrating Aquaman’s supporting cast with the League as Mera and Vulko aid in the heroes’ efforts. And speaking of supporting casts, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen also appear and their dialogue and characterization are spot-on! I loved Lois reaction to seeing Superman and Wonder Woman working together!
This art team already blew me away on Aquaman, Green Lantern and Blackest Night, so it’s no surprise that they deliver here. It’s pretty great all around.
If I must find fault, Cyborg still has the thankless job of basically being the team’s operator, coordinating things from their base, while the others get their hands dirty. And when Wonder Woman changes from her civilian attire into her costume, she twirls her lasso around herself to initiate the change. The problem I have with this is that she, up to this point, didn’t have a secret identity so why would she have this ability or even know she had it?
On top of that, we have the “Shazam!” backup, which shows the hero (accompanied by Freddy Freeman) thwarting back-to-back-to-back crimes. I rolled my eyes. First of all, these three crimes are used in like every movie/tv show ever and what the heck? Is Philadelphia the most crime-riddled city in the world? But Johns, who also wrote this tale, manages to explain the reasoning behind it. I’m not sure that it was enough, but I’ll let it slide. There is also a somewhat refreshing take on Shazam/Billy Batson’s adult/child dichotomy. I’m not in love with the jerky modern take on the character and the events up until now haven’t really felt that innovative, but I’m still willing to give it a chance. I understand they can’t stick to the kiddie-targeted, whimsical version of the character from the 1940s that managed to outsell Superman. I get that they have to try something different if they want the concept to work today, so I’m in wait and see mode. The art by Gary Frank is pretty nice, at least.
But the main attraction is the Justice League and their portion of the issue, while not perfect, at least lived up to this book’s potential more than any issue prior.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #15
Written by Geoff Johns
Justice League Art by Ivan Reis, Rod Reis and Joe Prado
Shazam Art by Gary Frank