Review: Justice League #16

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

 

JUSTL_16_3“Timeless, Part Two” (20 pages)
Writer:
Bryan Hitch
Artists: Fernando Pasarin (p), Matt Ryan (i)

Summary
While Superman and Batman work with three mysterious youths to weather the end point of a concussive time blast blowing through all eternity, leaving unknown changes in its wake, the other Justice Leaguers find themselves transported to points in the past and future where those timebombs first blew, having been dispatched there by a fourth mysterious youth and charged with preventing the destruction of all known things.

But as presumed planters of those time bombs arrive in massive mother ships which hover over each Leaguer’s position, Superman seeks an audience with their leader, only to find what appears to be a giant green space baby.

Yes, I said “giant green space baby!”

 

Positives
Well, first off, this book looks AMAZING! The artwork by Pasarin and Ryan is absolutely everything I want my DC super-team book to look like. In fact, when I find my magic lamp and spend my first wish on a chance to write the Legion of Super-Heroes, my second will be to have it drawn by Mssrs. Pasarin & Ryan. I can’t tell you what my third wish will be. That’s just for me. Well . . . me and Karen Gillan.

It is worth noting though, that Pasarin’s style is not at all dissimilar to the equally amazing renderings of writer Bryan Hitch, when he mans that side of the credit box. Frankly, I’m not all that familiar with the name “Fernando Pasarin,” and half wonder if it might not be a pseudonym for Hitch, designed to draw him a double paycheck.

The story itself is also pretty faboo. Admittedly, we cover next to no plot ground this issue, but the dialogue is crisp and compelling and more than holds my attention. This time travel story is the kind of thing that ably awakens my inner 12-year-old (the kid who developed the deep and abiding love of comics that lasts to this day) and promptly blows its mind. Meanwhile, the side trips to ancient Atlantis, the era of the Power Plague, and the 30th century world of the Legion (a first Rebirth glimpse!) sends my fanfic writing brain into a feverish frenzy of speculation.

And then there’s that ending. Did I mention the giant green space baby? Because, and I can’t stress this strongly enough: GIANT GREEN SPACE BABY!!

JUSTL_16_4Negatives
Well, as noted, we really don’t cover any ground we did not already dance around last issue. Superman and Batman wonder at their predicament and debate the nature of time with the young time trio, but they did that last issue, and here do more expounding upon what we already know than adding much to it. The same goes for the Aquaman and Lanterns vignettes (Wonder Woman, Flash, and, to a lesser extent, Cyborg, all get short shrift this outing), which show us new sides of the LEGO plot block we saw last issue with stacking any new bricks on top of it. I mean we get a little more of a nail down on the exact when GLs Simon and Jessica got thrown to, but all we really get is references to some futuristic “power plague.”

[Aside: The power plagues ring a bell, but I can’t seem to remember if I read of such a thing in Justice League 3000, in some recentish LSH comic, or somewhere else. The Earth Lanterns are not unlike the Justice League Earth of Geoff Johns’ LSH arc in Action Comics #858-863. However, the Leaguers were supposedly each sent to far distant time periods, and all of the above scenarios seem pretty close to the 30th century Cyborg landed in to be quite right.]

Anyway, the bit with Karen Gillan . . . er, I mean “Molly,”  revealing how and why she dispatched the League to various times also hits a similar note from last time out. We saw how she did it last issue, and could have easily surmised the why. All we really get from her this issue is a name for enemy — The Timeless — and the revelation that the various times the Leaguers were sent to are known for spikes in new energy use.

That revelation could have been given last time, leaving more space this issue for some good ol’ fashioned fisticuffs with the Timeless — who, by the way, remind me a great deal of The Planet, that Thing analog from the old Image Comics’ 1963: Mystery Incorporated miniseries. I don’t know why. They also have a very Brainiac feel to them. In fact, didn’t a giant green space baby feature in several issues of L.E.G.I.O.N.? This may be why Brainiac 5 is the one Legionnaire Cyborg has met thus far.

JUSTL_16_5My other issue with this issue is that, while there’s much less of the then/now storytelling style in Part 2 of this story than in Part 1, there’s still some needless juxtaposing. Here, we see Batman interacting with the Mysterious 3 both before and after he did last issue. We then add a dash of Superman and jump to after his scenes with Bats and the 3 from #15. Even in a time travel story there’s nothing wrong with linear storytelling and I’m not sure there’s a real narrative purpose to bouncing back on this portion of the story.

Finally, a few minor quibbles. While I love Pasarin’s art, there are two pages with poor panel placement. We generally read panels across, then down, and on both Page 8 and 11 I did just that, only to suss out from the dialogue was I was meant to have read down and then actually gone back up to the right-hand panel. Cunningham should have corrected that because we are almost never meant to read word balloons above the ones we’ve already read.

Also, Cunningham could have thrown in a few editor’s notes to give me some hint of what the characters refer to in places. The Zodiac Crystals are clearly something familiar to Aquaman, but they don’t have a listing in my personal Funk & Wagnall. And I’m fairly certain I have not met the Young Time Masters before and don’t know anything about the battle with Rao they mention. That one might be from Hitch’s first Justice League of America series that got so behind schedule I eventually gave up waiting for issues and never finished it. So, a little “See issue X of title Y,” or even “tpb Z” would have been appreciated and at least made be feel like I had a chance at eventually catching up with what has gone before.

Verdict
This is a great looking issue with a lot to offer in the story, even though I almost feel like this entire issue could be cut from the eventual collected edition to come without really losing anything from the overall plot.

 

4outof5

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Duke Harrington

A newspaper reporter since 2004, Duke Harrington currently writes for the Kennebunk Post and the South Portland Sentry. He lives in Western Maine with one wife, one dog, two cats, and 19,087 comic books.