Justice League #43 – Priest, Writer; Pete Woods, Artist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Not Perfect But Excellent
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Priest’s run concludes in Justice League #43, and takes this incarnation of the title with it, in an issue that wraps up remaining plotlines and sets the stage for events to come. It kicks off with a segment where Jessica Cruz arrives at the Justice League meeting room for a meeting that she’s not even sure is taking place. The League seems to have collapsed, and she might be the only one left. The story then flashes back to a showdown between the League and Deathstroke, who has recently killed The Fan. As the situation grows tenser between the League and the local rebels, with Deathstroke instigating, the story cuts to Wonder Woman, who has been partially healed by Raven but is still hovering between life and death – in this case, literally. Wonder Woman’s mythological roots mean that she’s actually being stalked by Thanatos, God of Death, and this flaming grim reaper makes an imposing foe for this final issue.
Priest nicely juxtaposes the two major battles in this issue, with Cyborg going up against Deathstroke after the villain takes out much of the team, and Wonder Woman dueling Thanatos for the right to return to the land of the living. Pete Woods is one of those artists who tends to get overlooked because their art is so clean and natural that it doesn’t jump off the page, but he does some of his best work here in particular with Thanatos. When Diana finally vanquishes him, she returns to the League and takes out Deathstroke, allowing Cyborg to stand up and make the case that there are some limits to the League’s power. Political comics are very hard to do well, but Priest’s run has been consistently current and intelligent without ever feeling forced. The subplot with Jessica and Bruce kissing earlier in the arc remains the weak point of the run, but I did like Selina’s interaction with Jessica in this issue. The end of the issue has a J’onn J’onnz cameo, setting up No Justice, but the future teams have a battle ahead of themselves to equal Priest on this title.
Corrina: This finale is typical of Priest’s writing, in that any single element could be pulled out and have a story on its own, such as Wonder Woman’s near-death, the decision over what to do with Deathstroke and his murder of the fan, and the League’s final decision regarding what to do with the political mess their crashed satellite caused. (And by the political mess, I mean decisions affecting the very lives of thousands of people.)
It’s not a perfect finale, possibly because Priest has tried to squash too many things into his run but given he may not have another chance at this team, and I can hardly blame him, and I would far rather have a comic with too much to say than too little and there’s much to chew on with this run that will stay with me for a while, such as what was the right thing to do with the people who sought refuge?
I loved Wonder Woman’s reactions to all this, especially the battle with Thanatos. The final panels of her continuing to visit the refugees are perfect. (Priest makes a case for writing Wonder Woman here, so add her to that list of all the things Priest should write). Woods sells WW’s actions with limited space. Indeed, he’s the forgotten creators here and given he’s drawn everything from satellite crash to the crush of refugees to the large numbers of heroes and villains and the different sort of battles, well, it’s impressive.
And, despite not even being a full page, Selina’s appearance was welcome and provided a real sense of her personality. (“I know. He told me.” “I like balloons.”) Now I want that team-up, DC!!
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.