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Review: Justice League #41

JL 41 aThe start to Geoff John’s latest Justice League story not only manages to thrill; it also raises the stakes to become something more exciting than it’s ever been before. Indeed, Justice League #41 makes the years of previous issues all feel like build-up to what is happening now. So many characters, some warm and familiar heroes, others new to the game of fighting injustice and still to prove themselves, have made their way to this point in the story, each established as something bold and worthy of attention in their own ways. Darkseid needs defeated, and the group of people expected to accomplish that goal are more fascinating than they’ve been this entire run. Justice League #41 is an epic comic book filled with character, action, and, above all else, excitement.

There’s a load of exposition in this double-sized comic that doesn’t directly follow the Justice League heroes. This sets up the immediate story, which charms as a simple crime-scene investigation, but also the larger story that spans planets and paints a picture of a gigantic war that all of humanity should be concerned with. The interesting storytelling continued from the last issue, detailing the war of two planets, is expanded upon here from the present to set the stage for what’s to come, and it still rocks with a tale that reads like scripture. It’s also brought down to Earth some here, as a focus on a particular caped hero takes readers on a more personal route through all of that heavy plot.

Whenever the microscope is put on Batman, Wonder Woman and all of the rest, Johns takes the time in his script to remind readers why these characters are so special and worth celebrating. Grand, sweeping narration led by the team’s leading woman muses on what it is that drives these heroes, bringing things back to simple childhood moments that are emblematic of larger motivations. Once that’s finished, the fun banter one comes to expect from a blockbuster superhero story is on display, but not without more subtle and touching character beats, the best of which forcing Shazam to face mortality in a way he never has in his short time alive.

The character drama and overall interaction is lovely. The tension between Superman and Lex Luthor continues to grow and the latter’s role in the league grows ever more complicated, thanks to a twist that ties into the latest conflict. Hal Jordon slides back into this book elegantly while simultaneously serving as a crutch for the new, young lantern Jess to fit more comfortably. The only noteworthy flaw in this whole book is the unfortunate lack of Aquaman, who is almost entirely absent from the events of this book. For an issue that is so celebratory of the team and such a culmination of everything before, it’s especially problematic not to see him.

Around half of this comic is a shining example of superhero action done right, with Jason Fabok’s art exploding off of the page to a degree more than competent as a replacement to artists like Jim Lee and Ivan Reis. Splash pages are plentiful and filled with color, striking amounts of detail, and pitch-perfect movement and expression. It all has an impressive shimmer to it as well, thanks to the fine coloring duty of Brad Anderson. The villain at hands lays into each hero in battle individually, not just through specific physical attacks but also psychological. It’s even in the action that the characterization shines.

Despite all of the troubles concerning New 52 continuity, Johns has managed to craft a new wave of Justice League lore DC Comics fans can be proud of. Justice League #41 is the amalgamation of a few years’ worth of comics, and the kind of thing geeks dream of.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Jason Fabok
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

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