Justice League #49 review

Wonder Woman, Flash, Batman, Superman and Green Lantern are on the planet Trotha after rescuing its children from danger in space and freeing the people from a despotic queen. But… consequences. Having saved the planet’s two tribes from lives of slavery, the Justice League announced that they could now rule themselves. But they didn’t want self-determination, they want to be told what to do (just not in an enslaved kinda way). At this point, a rival space race arrives with plans to conquer…

That was last issue, which is still available in shops and online and hugely recommended. Writer Si Spurrier, penciller Aaron Lopresti and friends produced the most compelling issue since this series began. It had challenges, teamwork, friendship, mystery, suspense, characterisation and actual internal logic – the A to B of things was clear, and compelling.

There’s more of the same in this continuation. Well, more of the different same, as Spurrier – currently producing brilliant work on Hellblazer – doesn’t repeat himself, he builds on what came previously.

It’s four days since the Vermidiim began hovering near Trotha, after declaring themselves with a massive explosion. The League members are trying to decide their best move, and Wonder Woman and Batman examine their differences.

Personal philosophies, planet-wide politics, they’re at the heart of this issue, as our heroes try to organise the people to defend themselves when the inevitable big attack comes. The major sticking point is that the people are split into two factions, with the dividing line being technology vs flesh.

While the Relevance comics of the Seventies would beat readers over the head with heavy handed sentiments, Spurrier keeps things light, and so extremely digestible. Diana, for example, spends most of the issue telling her colleagues the story of an ancient giantess facing a similar moral conflict to themselves.

There’s no pretence this is anything other than an analogy, likely a story Wonder Woman is making up on the spot, but it works, adding an extra layer to the conflict. It’s hugely refreshing to see Diana, rather than whacking her mates with a sword because they disagree, laying out her arguments elegantly and eloquently, as someone with a goddess of wisdom as a patron should.

Aaron Lopresti and colourist David Baron emphasise Queen Ischyria’s Diana-ness by dressing and colouring her as unmistakably an avatar of the Amazing Amazon. There’s also nice humour in that panel above, with the giant’s calves full of spears, while the Lilliputian folk yell at her like Monty Python peasants.

The art is gorgeous throughout, Lopresti and inker Matt Ryan were regular partners on Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run and they’ve only got better – Lopresti’s storytelling and figurework is world class, while Ryan’s Brian Bolland-like finish is just lovely. Their Diana is strong, wise, funny… and the rest of this small squad of Leaguers looks equally good; I especially enjoy their sleek John Stewart and bemused Barry Allen.

As for the alien factions, Lopresti and Ryan’s designs will hopefully be used in other DC Comics in decades to come, because they’re truly striking. And then there are the children, blobby little things somewhere between the Legion’s Proty and especially cheeky gingerbread men. The design of the planet, from the packed streets to the near-deserted dungeon, is equally outstanding. The artists also get to design a great bit of kit for Wonder Woman, a spooky space mask.

Tom Napolitano letters with pizzazz – like all the creators, he seems to be having a ball. The cover by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Baron is sharp but, like last issue’s, needlessly misleading; this issue is full of moments that would make an enticing opening visual. Heck, there’s a full-page space battle that’s fiercely beautiful.

A feast for the eyes and mind alike, this endlessly entertaining fill-in will hopefully be viewed as an audition piece by editors Alex R Carr and Andrea Shea, because I’d love everyone involved to stick around awhile. This is the Justice League book I want.

Rating: 9/10

5 thoughts on “Justice League #49 review

  1. I am, admittedly, a massive Wonder Woman fan, and this issue reminds us that one of her patron gods was originally Athena, and that Diana certainly shares her wisdom. Loved it.

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  2. I picked up this story on your recommendation, and really liked it. Thanks!

    It reminds me, actually, of an old Green Lantern story I’d reread in preparation for a review of Far Sector I was planning to write for you. It’s past time I finally collected those thoughts and poured them down into some paragraphs. Now with additional food for thought provided by these issues!

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