Review: Justice League #38

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

Writer: Christopher Priest

Artist: Marco Santucci

 

Summary

“The People vs. Justice League” part five! Alone on the Watchtower, The Flash must find a way to save an astronaut drifting out into space. Meanwhile, Batman’s obsession with redeeming himself for two critical failures feeds a growing crisis of confidence in his leadership.

 

Positives

The Justice League’s leadership crisis to a head. A meeting is held amongst the other Leaguers, concerned that Batman is obsessed with their current nemesis, “The Fan” (or as Flash calls him “Mr. Deranged Fan”). They appoint Superman, to have a talk with him, which results in Batman taking a leave from the League, but appointing an interim leader in his place.

Cyborg is Batman’s choice, and whether that counts as a positive or negative depends on whether you’re a fan of the character or not. I believe there are points for and against this idea. First, there is the idea that one of the A-list heroes should be in charge: Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman being the most likely candidates.

One benefit of this is that the big name heroes have other responsibilities. The point is made that Batman leads a second Justice League (in Justice League of America), coordinates multiple operatives in Gotham (in Detective Comics) – not to mention another strike force, the Outsiders (as we discovered in Dark Nights: Metal). Batman has been stretching himself very thin. Giving over leadership duties to someone with fewer outside obligations may be the course of wisdom.

Priest seems to be writing the League as if they were real-life co-workers – with all of the tensions that kind of relationship entails. Simon complains about being part of the “Minor League”.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash are the stars, while the rest are the supporting cast – which is almost a fourth-wall breaking observation on Simon’s part.

I also like Barry’s short diatribe on the difference between being a scientist and being an engineer, explaining why his being a scientist doesn’t automatically give him the ability to build or repair technology. However, I do think Barry overstates the case somewhat, as he has been shown to be technologically adept in the past – and he does seem to be getting the job of repairing the satellite done.

In this issue, however, Barry actually gets to demonstrate his scientific prowess. He has to go on a spacewalk to rescue a LexCorp repair tech, but ends up stranded in space when his spacesuit malfunctions. He has to calculate the best way to use his powers to save himself and the technician.

I also noticed that Aquaman briefly appears in a peculiar alternate costume. Longtime DC readers might recognize this blue camouflage outfit from his 1986 miniseries, when DC tried giving him a new look. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his classic look.

 

Negatives

The kiss Jessica gives Batman appears to be a lot friendlier than just a goodbye kiss to a friend. Since Jessica seems to be aware of Batman’s secret identity, shouldn’t she also be aware that he’s engaged? What is it with Justice League writers having Jessica flirt with teammates who are already involved in relationships? Speaking of which, I am hoping that this means that at least Priest isn’t continuing Hitch’s trying to make Jessica and Barry a thing.

 

Verdict

This is a very strong character-driven issue with only a minimal amount of action needed. The interactions between the characters as they cope with the question of Batman’s leadership of the team is so engrossing that you will hardly notice that current villain doesn’t even put in an appearance this issue.

 

 

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.