Most of the active Justice League roster are on the parallel Earth that was once home to ‘mega power’ Naomi McDuffie. Flash, though, is back at the Hall of Justice, in charge of the technology which allowed his friends to cross dimensions. Then, another hero arrives.
An interesting conversation ensues between the Flash and Hippolyta, but it’s nipped in the bud as Barry Allen realises that he didn’t get his calculations quite right. Which may explain why Aquaman ended up apart from Naomi, Batman, Black Canary, Hawkwoman, Superman, Black Adam and Green Arrow.
The rest of the team, meanwhile, are battling Brutus, a massively powerful bully who sees the League as the only obstacle to his taking over their Earth. On the one hand, given the hundreds of heroes of Earth 0, hardly. And on the other, Justice League resistance is far from futile.
Now that’s a sonic scream. Something about this world has supercharged the powers of Black Canary and Hawkwoman, while making Black Adam and Superman respectively weaker, and out of control. Naomi is having problems staying physically focused. As non-metahumans, Green Arrow and Batman may be aces in the hole…
Fun and surprises abound in the latest chapter of Prisms by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist David Marquez, colourist Ivan Plascencia and letterer Josh Reed. From Hippolyta’s touching vulnerability to a final page that amps up the threat level, this is a riveting read. Bendis has fun with a panel or two of ‘who’s on first?’ style banter by Aquaman’s reluctant hosts, while Marquez cuts loose with multiple spreads of visually arresting action.
I’m not too enchanted by Brutus, who’s a pretty one-dimensional sort so far, but the characterisations of the League members make up for it – who says heroes are only as good as their villains? As regards baddies, I wish Bendis would have confidence in the melodrama – even the Bigger, Scarier Last Page Guy manages just one line of doom-laden dialogue before getting folksy.
As usual, I’m wondering how we define Naomi’s abilities, and the idea that she’s a ‘mega power’ is now supplemented, on the much-appreciated recap page, by the classification of Superman and Black Adam as ‘uber powers’. Do they drive pimped-up cabs? I could see Brian Bendis bringing in the old Supermobile – seen recently in Super Sons. I suppose ‘uber’ makes sense for Superman, but unless someone is going to spell out the differences, it seems a wee bit pointless.
The art of Marquez and Plascencia is once again a treat, with my favourite visual being the point at which Dinah lets loose – talk about a Canary yeller. The (much) quieter moments are also worth a nod, such as Hippolyta’s chat with Barry – the immortal Amazon Queen, openly questioning her life, is so believable. And the six battle spreads, punctuated by circular panels, work together to convey the scale and power of the conflict.
Josh Reed’s lettering adds to the visual appeal, though I’d still like the Asgardian font given to Hippolyta to disappear – Diana doesn’t have it, why would she? It makes her dialogue look like it belongs in a fairytale.
I don’t know if this first arc wraps next time, indications are it does, and I look forward to the official unveiling of the new League line-up. Give me a proper, old-fashioned roll call, guys.
The ten-page Justice League Dark back-up continues to make a convincing argument for DC to give the team its own book again. Honestly, couldn’t the series have been this compelling when it was a standalone? The art was always excellent, and Xermanico keeps up the standard, but Ram V’s writing just gets better. This time, as Constantine, Beppo and co try to survive in the Library of Babel long enough to learn what evil Merlin is up, the wizard himself is, frankly, showing off.
Back at the library, Ragman Rory Regan learns that he may be the hero of his own story.
It’s a fascinating fun ride, with Xermanico’s expansive artwork given a glorious extra dimension by colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr. The illustrator adds extra value to the library-set pages by placing the panels on a border of books, and adding images of the JLD crew, like the mounted heads of animals. And the paper doll stylings of the librarian – a terrific cameo character – are so right for him. I’d love to see this fella, who always talks so much sense, brought to life on screen.
Letterer Rob Leigh gives the librarian a fun font, and doesn’t get a letter wrong when it comes to Zatanna’s backward spells.
Marquez’ beautiful cover drawing, coloured by Alejandro Sanchez, is perfect for a first issue, or the one in which individual heroes declare themselves a unit. So, not this book. Still, it’ll look great on the collection for this arc, I like it more than the shadowed figures of this run’s debut issue.
Of all the DC books that have recently added back-ups, Justice League is the most successful. The main story is a blast, while the secondary strip is thematically connected but different enough in tone to add something extra.
If you’re a fan of DC superheroes, you can’t go wrong with this book as talented creators take captivating characters and make magic.