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Review: Justice League #59

Justice League #59

Although the Rebirth numbering is intact, both the Justice League and Justice League Dark titles get a bit of relaunch in Justice League #59. Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, and Tamra Bonvillain bring large scale action and a sequel to Bendis, David Walker, and Jamal Campbell’s Naomi in the lead story. While in the backup “Justice League Dark” story, Ram V, Xermanico, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. tap something a little more mystical as Merlin makes his return, and John Constantine and Zatanna investigate cults and prophecies in rural New Mexico. One of these strives to be modern mythology with all of the biggest toys in the DC Universe toy box while the other one might actually succeed with its riffs on Arthurian legends, the conflict between Heaven and Hell, and the senselessness of human existence underneath it all.

Justice League #59 is a 20 page story, but it feels a lot shorter thanks to an abundance of double page spreads from artist David Marquez. He and Brian Michael Bendis throw readers right into the middle of the fray as a mysterious interdimensional invader named Brutus lands in Kahndaq and confronts its king and protector, Black Adam. This later escalates into a kind of, sort of team-up between Adam and some of the members of the Justice League, which doesn’t thrill a monarch that is more into isolation than cooperation. However, this tension only really shows up towards the end of the battle when Black Adam immediately ejects the Justice League from his land and finally towards the end of the story. Having Black Adam has a wild card is Bendis’ smartest plotting decision, and he definitely fits Green Arrow’s idea of a “dissenting voice” when Oliver talks to the other members about doing “more” as a team.

But, for the most part, this initial Justice League story is lots of punching against a villain that is generically enough called “Brutus”, and the only interesting thing about him is that he’s most likely from Naomi’s home world giving her a reason to appear in the comic beyond being a Bendis co-creation. If you’re familiar with Bendis’ run on the Superman books, there’s a Rogol Zaar vibe to him in that he’s not an interesting character except in his connections to pre-existing characters or lore. You can definitely tell that he’s going to be forgettable character when he decides to peace out in the middle of the battle through an interdimensional portal before

Justice League #59 doesn’t really much to draw readers in beyond being a kind of sequel to the excellent Naomi comic, but it does have its bright spots. David Marquez and Tamra Bonvillain really embrace the wide screen nature of the book and make a middling script gorgeous with Bonvillain contributing deep blues to the bubble-shaped panels when Aquaman and his army of sharks battle Brutus. She also uses really intense red and blues to match Marquez’s speed lines as Superman and Black Adam race to grab Brutus before he disappears. This page is pretty busy, but it drives home the point that Black Adam thinks he’s beyond the Justice League and doesn’t respect Superman unlike the other heroes. (Even the edgy, cocky Green Arrow just wants Superman to agree with him.)

Justice League #59

To go along with the blockbuster visuals, Brian Michael Bendis’ writing is at its best when characters are ribbing or arguing with each other a la New Avengers. He seems to have a lot of fun with Green Arrow and Black Canary, who debate both sides of the Justice League’s current status quo and adds a little extra reverence when Superman opens his mouth. Superman also takes lead during the fight scenes, and you can tell he’s the team leader without any kind of exposition about it. We’ll see what Bendis does with them in future issues, but for now, Flash and Hawkgirl are exposition spouters while Batman just reacts to things. As the one non-powered hero during the fight scene, he may have been trying to make Batman a POV character, but few readers can react to an (ex) billionaire and genius strategist/martial artist. Thankfully, Naomi is coming soon to fill this role, and hopefully, she brings a hook too.

Ram V and Xermanico’s “Justice League Dark” doesn’t have a problem with hooks and opens with the return of Merlin to the mortal plane. If you’ve read V’s work on Future State: Justice League, then you know that his take on the mythical wizard is more nefarious than kindly, and Merlin definitely sets himself up as the Big Bad in the pages of this issue. His actions on the final pages definitely set up a need for a Justice League type of team to take him down as Xermanico’s lovely cathedral window layouts and Fajardo’s warm color palette turns bloody and scarlet. Also, V logically connects the John Constantine/Zatanna plot to Merlin’s rise through the appearance of a fan favorite character and basically shows that their mission was just a symptom of a larger disease. It’s tension and escalation all in ten pages.

However, as well as setting up a big-time enemy for this disassembled team to face, Ram V and Xermanico still find time to explore the relationship between John Constantine and Zatanna. There’s a real softness to their interactions even as Constantine does his usual con man hijinks to get them out of a bind as the narration goes slightly nihilistic and focuses on humanity’s stupidity and willingness to place their lives in religions and cults while there’s literally bigger fish to fry. I love how Constantine cares about Zatanna’s feelings after the loss of her father and the disbandment of Justice League Dark, and Xermanico shows this through a beat panel where their hands nearly touch. Constantine and Zatanna will never be a stable couple, but V and Xermanico know they have great chemistry and use it to carry this initial installment of “Justice League Dark” because while Merlin is quite metal, we need someone to root for.

Thanks to a one-dimensional baddie and the usual Brian Michael Bendis decompression issues, Justice League #59 only gets a slight recommendation for me. However, David Marquez and Tamra Bonvillain’s take on DC’s A-list is truly awe-inspiring, and their Black Adam exudes power and contempt as well. Hopefully, there’s more Naomi, Green Arrow, and Black Canary in future issues and less alien punching bag. But the real reason this comic crosses the line from trade wait to a purchase is Ram V, Xermanico, and Romulo Fajardo’s “Justice League Dark” backup, which features both Arthurian legends and supernatural hijinks and has a formidable villain plus witty, yet emotionally honest writing for its leads, John Constantine and Zatanna.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V Art: David Marquez, Xermanico
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain, Romulo Fajardo Jr. Letters: Josh Reed, Rob Leigh
Story: 7.1 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Around the Tubes

Origins #4

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you all get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic-related news and reviews from around the web.

The Beat – RIP Vertigo and 2000 AD writer Si Spencer – Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Reviews

Geek Dad – Future State: Shazam! #2
Collected Editions – Justice League Dark Vol. 4: A Costly Trick of Magic
That Hashtag Show – Origins #4
Monkeys Fighting Robots – Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1

Preview: Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1

Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1

Written by: Andy Lanning, Ron Marz
Art by: Brandon Peterson, Marco Santucci

“Endless Winter” chapter eight! Seeking to bolster his nation’s place in the world, Black Adam arrives in Gotham City demanding action to end the threat causing an endless winter across the globe. But Black Adam isn’t telling the world’s leaders everything-especially not that he’s faced the mysterious Frost King before and won. Find out what Adam’s hiding in the penultimate chapter of “Endless Winter.”

Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1

Preview: Justice League Dark #19

Justice League Dark #19

Written by: Andy Lanning, Ron Marz
Art by: Marco Santucci, Amancay Nahuelpan

“Endless Winter” chapter seven! The past holds the key to surviving the Endless Winter, as the Justice League Dark seeks to resurrect both Swamp Thing and the spirit of Viking Prince. Queen Hippolyta reveals a shocking secret to Wonder Woman as the past and present collide. Buried secrets are unearthed as the Justice League and Justice League Dark must come together with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Justice League Dark #19

DC’s Future Post Future State Becomes Clearer as Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing, Teen Titans Academy, Green Lantern, Wonder Girl, and Justice League Dark Announced

Wonder Woman #770

After January and February’s Future State mini-event for DC Comics, March and beyond will see a mix of new and returning series as expected. Many of the series will feature their Future State creative teams continuing on to the series.

Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad will take over Wonder Woman with issue #770 in March. The two will be joined by interior and cover artist Travis Moore. The series will pick up after the events of Dark Nights: Death Metal which has put Wonder Woman at the center of events leading the heroes in their resistance.

Orbiting Wonder Woman will be Wonder Girl from writer and artist Joëlle Jones. That series will star Yara Flor who is getting a major push by DC as Flor will possibly be getting a television series at The CW.

A new Green Lantern series will launch written by Geoffrey Thorne with art by Tom Raney. They’re the creative team behind “The Last Lanterns” story in the Future State: Green Lantern comic.

Justice League Dark will return in March written by Ram V. who was also writing the series before its break due to the “Endless Winter” event. It will feature art by Xermanico.

Wonder Woman #770 variant

Tim Sheridan and Rafa Sandoval will launch Teen Titans Academy. The series will focus on the launch of a Teen Titans Academy by members of the New Teen Titans. That series spins directly out of Future State: Teen Titans which tells a future tale of the academy.

With a film on its way, it’s not surprising that the Suicide Squad returns. Robbie Thompson, who will take on their story during Future State, will write the ongoing series with art by Eduardo Pansica. We can also see the DC live-action and comics aligning a bit more as Peacemaker (played by John Cena in the film) takes center stage. The character will not only be in The Suicide Squad film but is also getting his own series on HBO Max.

Swamp Thing is back courtesy of writer Ram V. and artist Mike Perkins. That duo is also the team behind the Swamp Thing Future State comic.

James Tynion IV with artist Jorge Jimenez will return to Batman and Tynion has another Batman series in the works with artist Guillem March.

Preview: Justice League Dark #28

Justice League Dark #28

Written by: Ram V.
Art: Amancay Nahuelpan

No greater cost than this! As the Justice League Dark’s losses continue to mount, all of Zatanna’s training and adventures have led to a spell that will defeat the Upside-Down Man. But there is always a price. Wonder Woman, Detective Chimp, Doctor Fate, and Man-Bat must contend with their choices and decide how they will move forward after such an explosive ending.

Justice League Dark #28

Preview: Justice League Dark #27

Justice League Dark #27

Written by: Ram V.
Art by: Amancay Nahuelpan

Welcome to the Other Place, where the Upside-Down Man rules without equal, and where all the odds are bleakly stacked in his favor. Wonder Woman will tap into the darkest recesses of power, but can she control it? What sleight of mind will Zatanna reveal to her greatest villain, and what sacrifice (or three!) must be made? This issue features a battle so costly that the team’s roster will be forever changed.

Justice League Dark #27

Preview: Justice League Dark #26

Justice League Dark #26

(W) Ram V. (A) Amancay Nahuelpan
In Shops: Sep 22, 2020
SRP: $3.99

This is it, the moment you’ve been waiting for! The entire Justice League Dark team storms the Other Place, with a little help from their friend/enemy John Constantine. And at what price his aid? With the Upside-Down Man in their sights, the team witnesses the true manifestation of his power, and the agonizing cost of his anger.

Justice League Dark #26

The Justice League Faces An “Endless Winter” This December!

This December, the Justice League learns firsthand the meaning of “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” in Justice League: Endless Winter, a nine-issue event taking place throughout the month of December.

1000 years ago, a disparate group of heroes – Hippolyta, Black Adam, Swamp Thing and the Viking Prince – banded together to prevent the world from freezing at the hands of the Frost King, an exiled Norse god with the ability to control entire ecosystems. The heroes triumphed, but victory came at a terrible price, one that has been kept secret until now.

Justice League: Endless Winter spans a total of nine titles, all co-written by Ron Marz and Andy Lanning.

The title lineup for Justice League: Endless Winter includes:

Justice League: Endless Winter #1 (on sale December 1) with art by Howard Porter and Marco Santucci and cover by Mikel Janin

Justice League: Endless Winter #1

The Flash #767 (on sale December 8) with art from Clayton Henry and Marco Santucci and cover by Clayton Henry

The Flash #767

Superman: Endless Winter Special #1 (on sale December 8), art by Phil HesterAnde Parks, and Marco Santucci and cover by Francis Manapul

Superman: Endless Winter Special #1

Aquaman #66 (on sale December 15), with art by Miguel Mendonça and Marco Santucci and cover by Mike McKone

Aquaman #66

Justice League #58 (on December 15), art by Xermanico and Marco Santucci, with cover by Francis Manapul

Justice League #58

Teen Titans: Endless Winter Special #1 (on sale December 15), featuring art by Jesus Merino and Marco Santucci, and cover by Bernard Chang

Teen Titans: Endless Winter Special #1

Justice League Dark #29 (on sale December 22), art by Amancay Nahuelpan and Marco Santucci, cover by Kyle Hotz

Justice League Dark #29

Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1 (December 22), art by Brandon Peterson and Marco Santucci, featuring cover by Dale Eaglesham

Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1

Justice League: Endless Winter Special #2 (December 29), with art by Howard Porter, Carmine Di Giandomenico and Marco Santucci, and cover by Mikel Janin

Justice League: Endless Winter Special #2

The action all begins on December 1 with Justice League: Endless Winter #1.

Preview: Justice League Dark #25

Justice League Dark #25

(W) James Tynion IV, Ram V. (A) Kyle Hotz (CA) Yanick Paquette
In Shops: Aug 25, 2020
SRP: $3.99

It’s their greatest crisis-and the Justice League Dark is a team divided! Wonder Woman, Zatanna, and Swamp Thing are outmatched and defeated at the hands (and endless teeth!) of the Upside-Down Man. But Detective Chimp, Doctor Fate, and Man-Bat will do anything to save their teammates, even turn to the man they swore never to trust: John Constantine!

Justice League Dark #25
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