Justice League: Endless Winter #1 review

In Greenland, in the Arctic Circle, a Stagg Industries team is scavenging.

On an island in the Arabian Sea, a cadre of criminals are catching some sun.

The quiet moments don’t last, though. First, Catman, Rampage, Multiplex and Icicle are rudely interrupted by the Justice League of America.

The Stagg team, though, are pleased to see the JLA when they find themselves under attack by mysterious ice creatures.

It’s event time again! And yes, Dark Knights: Death Metal is still going on, but hey, Christmas is coming, it’s time for excess. And for friendship and thinking about the future.

Well, if Barry Allen isn’t making plans to propose to Iris West, I’d be very surprised. But as I’ve just read a four-parter in his own book titled ‘With this ring’, I feel safe in predicting a wedding soon. It seems to be matrimonial season for the JLA, with Aquaman and Mera having got hitched just last month, as referenced by Arthur, above.

I’m impressed that writers Andy Lanning and Ron Marz are so on point with current DC happenings – most Justice League stories exist in a metahuman vacuum. Here though, as well as the business with Barry and Arthur, we have Diana mentioning her recent stint as God of War, Superman talking about his secret identity issues and Sapphire Stagg’s recently introduced brother from the Terrifics. It all makes the adventure feel that much more vital.

Mind, when the big villain of the issue shows up, and the world starts getting very chilly indeed, I began feeling nostalgic for the Seventies, specifically Justice League of America #139, when Minister Blizzard, Captain Cold and the Icicle did something similar.

The current Icicle is in this issue, as already seen, though he’s with the B-listers. While I can see him meeting Multiplex and Catman at some sinister soirée, I’m surprised to see Rampage hanging out in her regular form – unless I missed something, Kitty Faulkner is far from a career super-villain, being a Jekyll and Hyde type. I wonder why she’s in the Giganta role of token strongwoman. Maybe her Star Labs-trained brain will combine with Icicle’s talents later in the series to do some good – and if Multiplex, another scientist, and Catman, with his nine lives, also help out, so much the better.

Endless Winter #1 is strong on classic superheroics, with plots elegantly introduced and developed. While I get tired of seeing the same JLA members over and over again – why do we only see Black Lightning in his tremendous Christmas sweater, he should join Barry on the mission? – it does allow for the humour that comes with familiarity.

The script is huge fun, it’s great to see Marz and Lanning back at DC, and on a big project at that. I could do without the recent Justice League series characterisation of Barry as semi-nitwit being carried over to here, but he has plenty of thoughtful scenes that mitigate said presentation.

And he looks great under the hand of Howard Porter, Nineties League artist and more recently one of Barry’s regular illustrators. Porter always nails the drama and the characterisation; often the characterisation is the drama. Most importantly, Porter has great storytelling chops, and his work is just plain fun to look at. Take the Frost King, who looks like a deep frozen Minotaur who’s been taking make-up tips from Lobo. Or Batman’s stylish winter outfit.

My favourite visuals, though, come with Barry’s visit to the Black Lightning family. Porter finds the beauty in the ordinary of Lanning and Marz’s smartly written scene, while colourist Hi-Fi applies the Christmas colours with gusto. Hi-Fi (a chap named Brian. if memory serves) does a fine job throughout the book, applying lots of blues to convey cold without ever making the oversized issue look monotonous.

Letterer Andworld likewise finds some frosty fonts, adding to the atmosphere.

The final two pages, a flashback to 1000 years earlier, are attractively presented by illustrator Marco Santucci, colourist Arif Prianto and letterer Troy Peteri. I don’t know why it’s not imagined by Porter and pals, but the quality remains high.

The cover by Mikel Janín is a beaut, imaginatively composed and gorgeously finished – just look at the reflections on Diana’s bracers and the palpable sense that our heroes are pushing through a blizzard. The production design is terrific too, I love the Endless Winter logo and positioning, and the interior inclusion of individual mastheads as our heroes make the scene. Congrats to editors Alex R Carr and Andrea Shea for squiring such a top opening chapter from conception to fruition.

With nine chapters, including this one, teaming Marz and Lanning with slew of talented artists, Endless Winter looks set to be a quality event that won’t break the bank.

Which is good, because I suspect we’ll need some cash to buy a wedding present for Barry and Iris at the end of it. What’s better than a winter wedding?

5 thoughts on “Justice League: Endless Winter #1 review

  1. As I read this I was also impressed by the use of Sebastian Stagg and the explanation for why he was a free man. It was an old school team up rather than an Event in that it acknowledged and respected continuity rather than forcing its continuity on the line. That said, I’m surprised you didn’t mention what I felt was the only sore point in the whole issue: Who the hell was that in the Flash suit pretending to be Barry. The whole characterization felt off and not in the usual way where a writer is doing Wally’s persona and using Barry’s name. I can’t think of any speedster who behaves and speaks like the imposter in the red suit. It almost felt like Bart but Bart as Impulse since Bart as Flash was way more mature than this…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do touch upon it, in that paragraph under the pic of Diana and Arthur, look for the phrase ‘semi-nitwit’!

    As it’s you, Steve, an outtake that I stuck to one side, having decided it was a note I’d hit too many times: ‘The only quibble I have is Barry being written to match his portrayal in Justice League over the last couple of years – as a daft lad, not so much a peer of Wonder Woman and co as an almost-liability to them. And that’s wrong – Barry Allen is the first superhero of the Silver Age, no grim avenger, but certainly a professional. He’s not Impulse, he’s The Flash.’

    You know me so well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I adored this.

    It’s absolutely the stuff I want from a JLA comic — a big threat, some continuity nods that it’s happening “now,” fun character interplay, superheroic action. As an added plus, the oppression of the global winter feels very timely, not so much for the temperature, but the fact that we’re all supposed to stay indoors for who knows how long.

    As for Barry? He’s my favorite superhero, and I’m fine with it. Sometime in the last year or so I just started letting go of needing him to be as experience (or, rather, have the same old-hand attitude) as the other heroes. I figure, we looking at Barry at a younger point in his life than when I’d first met him (married for years; he and Iris went off on a “second-honeymoon” style getaway sometime in my first year of reading his book). That’s OK by me. And in Flash, you get a great length of scientific dialogue from him, explaining some of the ecological and climate consequences of the global freeze. It’s clear-eyed and competent all the way through, but then is tagged with some second thoughts: “Am I being too bleak? Should I have sugar-coated that a little?” that’s endearing to me. Not only would Wally not have provided that science info (unless it was in the context of “Barry told me once…,” but he’d also not worry that he’d disheartened his fellow heroes by laying things out plain. Barry’s much more tentative about the impression he makes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for some great points, Rob. I thought the Flash portrayal of Barry was much more in line with what I want from the old Scarlet Speedster – too often the JLA stories forget that he’s Science Guy AND Detective, a pretty useful combo.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear we’re getting more Marz/Lanning work.

    Like

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