Justice League #61 – Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V, Writers; David Marquez, Xermanico, Artists; Tamra Bonvillain, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorists
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Brian Michael Bendis is one of the most instantly identifiable writers in the industry, and that’s really clear this issue from the opening page. When we last left off, the League and their newest recruits had been catapulted into the doomed realm Naomi comes from in search of the mysterious Brutus. From the opening dialogue, as Brutus’ gang talks (in an oddly Yiddish tone at points), it’s clear that these aren’t the same monsters as the world-destroying Zumbado. Rather, they’re essentially a group of refugee punks looking for a new home after theirs was left in ruins—even if they have to take it by force. And the Justice League isn’t exactly happy to see them or vice versa.
Much of the main story focuses on the League, scattered to the five winds, dealing with attacks from this gang. But the new realm has also seemed to kick their powers into overdrive—Superman’s heat vision is out of control, Black Canary’s scream is stronger than ever, and Naomi seems to be fading away at different points. There are some good scenes and Marquez’s art is fantastic, but it’s three issues in and it doesn’t seem like this story is advancing fast. Brutus is still way too casual of a villain to really work as a main foe, being essentially a minotaur beast with the personality of a Jersey guido. Overall, it’s quintessentially Bendis on a team book—you like all the characters, but you’re not sure if they gel as a team.
The backup, Justice League Dark, is stronger. The addition of Merlin as the new villain has sent this story into overdrive. The opening action scene finds the heroes fighting off an army of horrors derived from books, and the banter between the oddball heroes is a lot of fun. The story really takes off when the team arrives at an ancient library that contains the key to possibly stopping Merlin—and the two-page spread by Xermanico is one of the best visuals I’ve seen in comics in a while. The short-form storytelling isn’t ideal, but it’s a very enjoyable story arc.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.