Justice League #40 review

A rocket ship crash lands in a field in the rural United States. It’s not a Kryptonian baby, though, it’s a strange visitor from the planet Daxam – Sodam Yat. The former Green Lantern is here to warn the world of a threat.

According to Yat, the Eradicator’s forces don’t have the traditional Daxamite weakness to lead. Batman realises that they will have all Superman’s powers and without the traditional Achilles’ heel, and never having been affected by Kryptonite in the first place, they might be unstoppable. So yes, what does Superman hate?

Magic, he says. Hoorah, there’s a whole League B-team made up of magic users and experts. Boo, Wonder Woman says they’re busy. But she does have a recommendation.

And so off to London Batman goes, while the other four Leaguers hang around and watch for invading Supermen.

So here we are, the first issue after the conclusion of Scott Snyder’s 39-issue mega-story. Oh hang on, that never actually ended, it just got very depressing, everyone ran through yet another magical door and an advert hinted that another Metal mini-series will tie a ribbon on things. I’m not buying that, in either sense. I did decide to give this a try, though, because it’s not incoming scribe Robert Venditti’s fault that the previous story refused to land. Reading this first part of Invasion of the Supermen, it seems he wrote a story intended to follow Snyder’s, but DC plans changed. According to tweets by Snyder last week, Justice League #40 takes place before his League story; according to the comic, though, with Alfred dead and Superman’s secret ID revealed, that’s not the case.

Again, DC really is in a sloppy state right now in terms of continuity. The only way to enjoy this book without turning into a gibbering mess is to ignore the contradictions, assume we’re in a pre-next-Crisis plastic patch, a flux state. As in What the flux?

The positives! What with this decidedly not being an overblown 39-part package of sound and fury, we can reasonably hope for a tightly plotted tale. And already Venditti‘s story shows promise, bringing back not only one-time popular Green Lantern Yat, but the Eradicator, a pretty decent villain. Plus, artist Doug Mahnke gives us a London that isn’t full of thatched cottages and guttersnipes.

Having Yat becoming a benevolent isolationist is an unexpected turn of events, I like it, but his refusal to help in any coming war with the Eradicator’s troops makes no sense. He’s already interfered by coming to earth with his warning. Has he been taking Watcher lessons?

There are interesting character moments, such as John Stewart being a little snotty as regards Superman being an alien, and Clark being understandably put out and calling him on it. It’s a weird attitude for a longtime Green Lantern (apparently John is no longer a GL, but that might have changed while I was typing this). And John insults Clark and Lois’s apartment – he’s obviously not been there, it was established as all kinds of swanky.

I also like that John doesn’t stand back and wait for the ever bossy Batman to organise the League, he gives out the assignments. I hope we see more minor conflict between Leaguers, it takes me back to the good old Englehart days.

The less great… Madame Xanadu isn’t the mysterious interpreter of cards from Doorway to Nightmare here so much as just another mercurial enchantress, like Circe from Wonder Woman. Why the heck she’s acts like a pollock towards Batman I have no idea, but perhaps Venditti will tell us. I did like her sassy sorceress bit in Demon Knights back in the New 52, so it’s not like she has to stay tied to her mystic curio shop. Hand waving spells, though, seem so common.

‘There are elements here’s that don’t exist on Daxam. If he doesn’t acclimate, he’ll die.’ That’s what John Stewart says over the body of the fast-sagging Yat… can we not just say ‘lead’? I don’t think lead has become corny.

There’s also a bit of business around Flash’s powers which I at first assumed tied into the current Speed Force problems in his own book, but actually it all seems rather different. And besides, this issue is set long before such matters. Which is why Alfred is dead in it. Oh, hang on…

Sorry, sorry, I wasn’t going to worry about the continuity… Venditti gives us a decent Justice League chapter for a story that feels like it isn’t going to change the world, which at this point counts as a win.

Mahnke does his usual sterling job, providing dynamic layouts filled with inconceivably powerful people who yet seem human. The finishes of Richard Friend are enviably clean, while David Baron doesn’t neglect a single surface when it comes to naturalistic colouring, right down to the curves of Batman’s teeth. Tom Napolitano adds to the drama with his lettering treatment.

The cover comes from occasional League artist Bryan Hitch and colourist Jeremiah Skipper, and it had me thinking we were getting a Madrox the Multiple Man-style villain… those Daxamites need to get some individual style.

A little League, a clearly defined threat, neat nuggets of characterisation, amazing artwork… this is a pretty darn good issue and I look forward to whatever comes next.

6 thoughts on “Justice League #40 review

  1. Sorry but being fatally allergic to lead, succumbing in its presence as if it’s giving off lead radiation is pretty damn goofy…

    Like

  2. So that’s Madame Xanadu on the cover? I never would’ve guessed. I don’t know whether to blame her uninspired costume or the typicality badly composed, rubble strewn cover from Bryan Hitch…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the review, Mart! I won’t be picking up this run (or at least this story), but it’s something to keep in mind for the future.

    Future Rob is digging through a dollar-box of recent back issues, and thinking, “Oh, that Vendetti run was low-impact, kinda generic JLA stories! Just what the doctor ordered!” (Present Rob recently did the same thing with some JLA Classified issues, and had a fine, somewhat forgettable time with them years after they were published.)

    Liked by 1 person

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