Justice League #12 review

To best enjoy the current Justice League run, it’s best not to sweat the big stuff. Moon blown up? Just go with it. Everyone on earth transformed into sea monsters? It happens. If things don’t make sense at the time, they’re generally clarified an issue or two later. I’m not so keen on outright cheats, though. This was the climax of last issue’s chapter of Drowned Earth, which sees the World’s Greatest Superheroes battling a bunch of sea gods from outer space.

Poseidon, to whom Wonder Woman and Aquaman had gone for help, is all-out evil? Here’s how that plotline was picked up in this week’s issue.

Oh come on! You can do better that that, James Tynion IV!

The rest of the issue is better, bar the odd clunky line of dialogue (‘…the awesome might of their power’) and the decision to have Batman swearing – leave that to the baddies, huh? Oh, and Flash witters away like a moron, or rather, a teenage speedster on the big screen.

Tynion skilfully picks up the baton laid down by regular writer Scott Snyder and runs with it, progressing the Drowned Earth storyline nicely. We get an expansion of the background to this storyline – Arion, Lord of Atlantis, was duped by the Olympian sea god into betraying the friendly water gods he’d summoned to Earth.

Now, thousands of years later, the space-born sea deities have escaped their prison, the Graveyard of the Gods, and are mightily annoyed. Understandably.

Back at the Hall of Justice, it’s Batman vs the Legion of Doom, who have come for the Totality, a piece of the Source Wall being guarded by the Justice League.

And at the Tomb of Arion, Mera, Flash and Pirate Superman are fighting Black Manta and the sea gods.

It’s a fun issue, thanks to such moments as Mera creating a sword with her hard water powers (‘aquakinesis’ my arse) and Batman rocking a Luthor war suit. Poseidon remains untrustworthy, he’s obviously dying to coerce Aquaman into killing the sea gods so he can pinch their power. There’s a nice scene showing just how rubbish the Legion of Doom are at getting along, and it’s a total treat to see Arion and Eighties series co-stars Lady Chian and Wynnde In flashback.

What I suspect I’ll remember most, though, is the artwork. About a third is crisply illustrated by Bruno Redondo with sterling colours by Sunny Gho, and I like it a lot. Redondo has a real knack for getting character into his villains, and he does a fantastic Bat-mask.

The rest of the book is the work of Frazer (not ‘Frasier’, kids!) Irving, fully illustrated art that takes this book into the realm of high fantasy. It’s truly gorgeous, of a quality that once upon a time would have been reserved for a graphic novel.

Actually, why isn’t Irving producing DC graphic novels? Someone is missing a trick there.

Also deserving credit is letter Tom Napolitano, for giving Poseidon a suitably BOOMING voice.

The regular cover by artist Jorge Jimenez and colourist Alejandro Sanchez is a classic concept, smartly executed, while the Aquaman movie variant by Lucio Parrillo is probably being bought by Jason Mamoa even now…. that is impressive!

Drowned Earth – for no obvious reason an Aquaman/Justice League crossover as opposed to a simple JL story featuring regular member Aquaman and recent addition Mera – ends in an upcoming special. Is a return to glory by Arion too much to hope for?

15 thoughts on “Justice League #12 review

  1. Good point about Irving being criminally under-utilized. He really is, and his beautiful artwork here clearly demonstrates that. Hopefully he’ll get work to do so for this Black Label imprint mess DC is doing now. Sounds like they’re trying to make another Vertigo imprint when they already have a perfectly fine but under-appreciated Vertigo imprint already. And yeah, Batman shouldn’t say say ass should he?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Possibly, yeah. Otherwise a talent like his needs to be on constant display in order to remain in the collective comic community’s consciousness.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bruno Redondo is such an underrated artist. I’ve been wowed by his art over in Injustice and the latter issues of Earth 2: Society (which was cancelled just when it was getting good).

    Tynion’s Barry Allen is awful. He doesn’t talk or behave this way in his own book. I don’t know why he’s using Ezra Miller’s version as a template.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Took me a while to get through this one as it felt very exposition heavy, explaining the history, the weapons, the plans. And yes, so many big things happen you have to roll with it. “They are now armed with Life and Death!” Is a bit heavy, even for this bonkers title.

    The art is stunning, especcially those surprint-esque pages.

    But Drowned Earth isn’t doing it for me the way the first Totality arc did.

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    1. I’m actually enjoying it more, this storyline is less sprawling. The thing I like best in Snyder’s JL is the characterisation, the relationships. We could still have that in smaller stories, more focused tales.

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  4. Irving’s art is amazing — but it’s so different from the rest of the comic that I wish it had been confined to scenes within the Graveyard of the Gods (and used there throughout the story), just to give the place more of an otherworldly presence. As it was, I found the difference between his art and Redondo’s distracting.

    The Aquaman cliffhanger is dealt with a bit in Aquaman 42, which was originally marked as a chapter of the story, but upon reading it seemed so peripheral that I can understand why the cover instead called it a “tie-in.”

    I’ll be glad to see this story wrapping up. I’d hoped it would be as tight and fun as Tynion’s The Witching Hour crossover between Wonder Woman and JL Dark, but this seems loose and sloppy by comparison. I honestly wonder whether I should drop Justice League altogether, and maybe go back and pick up the trades eventually. I think Snyder is really falling out of favor with me. (Even though this one is by Tynion, it’s still the Snyder League.) With Vertigo’s resurgence, and the upcoming Wonder Comics, I know the $8 I spend on JLA every month won’t go to waste.

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    1. I know what you mean, I assumed Irving was just in the graveyard, and then he wasn’t. This was indeed very Snyder, the only real difference being that Tynion tends to be wordier.

      So, what new Vertigo books would you recommend? All I’ve tried lately is the rebooted Books of Magic, which was a most underwhelming five minutes.

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      1. I really like Border Town, and Hex Wives has a promising first issue (although I suspect if it launched with a double issue I might be more solid in my enthusiasm; this week’s issue 2 will tell the tale). I haven’t read American Carnage yet, but the art is really inviting to me, so I’m looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that I’ve read American Carnage, I have to say that it’ll be on my pull list for a while, too. The art, by Leandro Fernandez, reminds me a lot of Eduardo RIsso’s 100 Bullets work, but a little less exaggerated and shadowy, which makes it more accessible but no less expressive. And this is the first thing from Bryan Hill that I’ve really enjoyed. His run on Detective left me cold…but just because I’m not crazy about someone’s take on Batman*, that doesn’t mean he can’t write!

      I particularly like how the protagonist isn’t quite on board with the investigation yet. Although if that last page is any indication, he soon will be.

      *Especially Batman in a corporate-inspired brand expansion to launch the Outsiders. And it’s not like he was completely in character when Mike Barr first had him break off from the JLA in the 80s, either, so Hill’s in good company there.

      Liked by 1 person

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