Review: Justice League #39

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

Writer: Christopher Priest

Artist: Ian Churchill

 

Summary

“The People vs. Justice League” part six! An environmental disaster unites both Justice League teams as Cyborg faces the first test of his leadership while still being overshadowed by Batman. Meanwhile, the Green Lanterns struggle with internal conflicts while being recruited by a mysterious visitor for an unspecified deep-space mission.

 

Positives

One thing that will please a lot of Justice League fans is that the Martian Manhunter makes an appearance in this issue. It’s only a brief appearance, but perhaps it might lead J’onn rejoining the team. The team could definitely stand to add some fresh blood.

Batman seems to be keeping himself occupied during his hiatus from the team by working with the other League. The Justice League of America appears this issue, facing a potential cataclysm. They feel it doubtful that they can save everyone, so Batman puts out a call to the Justice League to help.

This seems to show how recent events have shaken Batman’s confidence in his own abilities. He is notoriously bad at admitting he needs help, but now he is calling for assistance before his team even attempts to handle the situation.

Also, while the two teams handle the situation, they overlook a poorer neighbourhood while working to save the people of a richer area, which leads to further public outcry against the League.

The Fan shows up again, not as a direct foe, but rather as a continuing annoyance, stirring up trouble for the team. In a flashback, he explains to Aquaman, “you people need to do better.” And he intends to help the League do so. He also explains that the League is powerless to act against him. Since he knows too many of their secrets, they can’t hand him over to the authorities, as he might reveal them in court during his trial.

Also, we get to see how Aquaman came to be wearing the blue costume seen last issue. To save Aquaman dying of dehydration in the desert, he gifts Arthur with a “hydration suit” to allow him to survive. The suit is a nice nod to DC’s past, as it is remarkably similar to Aquaman’s short-lived new costume introduced in the 80s.

The Fan indulges in more Justice League cosplay, this time dressed in one of Aquaman’s previous outfits. It is amusing that in that outfit, he strongly resembles the movie version of Aquaman.

And there is the mysterious woman we are introduced to as Regina Cole, the Justice League lawyer. But is she really? The moment Cyborg leaves her unattended on the Watchtower, she pulls out what appears to be a weapon and says “Well…let’s get on with it…” But it looks like we’ll have to wait until next issue

 

Negatives

There is a lot of interesting things going on, but maybe there is a bit too much going on. For instance, we see that there are a large number of “Batmen” outside while Cyborg faces the House of Representatives committee. But other than this quick glimpse, we are told nothing about them or what they are doing. Are they protesting? And if so, are they protesting in support of or against the League? But the main question is whether they are of importance to the story. We only see them briefly, and are left wondering if they will figure into the plot later on.

Also, the story tends to jump around time wise, so it’s often not clear what the timeline of events is. For example, Cyborg is talking to the Martian Manhunter in Washington, yet further down the same page J’onn is on the satellite talking with Green Lantern Jessica Cruz. There is no cue to inform us that any time has passed between panels, which makes it appear that J’onn is in two places at once. At first I thought that there was someone impersonating J’onn talking to Jessica until I figured out that there must have been a gap of time between the two incidents.

Also, I couldn’t figure out why it was that the League overlooked the poorer neighourhood in Estes Park West and focused on the richer North part of the city. Cyborg specifically told Wonder Woman and Flash to evacuate Estes West. Yet both Leagues are shown going directly past the West part of the city, with no clear indication of why they would do so.

 

Verdict

Despite storytelling method being a bit confusing at times, this storyline gives us a fresh take on the League, adding a layer of realism in how the members of the team work with each other and how the team deals with public opinion and governmental interference.

 

 

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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.