[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Letters: Deron Bennet
Darkseid wants some sort of alliance!? No way! But before our heroes can take Darkseid down, he disappears and they discover an ancient alien temple that seems to be devoted to worshiping… Starfire?! What cosmic forces are at play here and could Darkseid be right?! I guess we’ll see as the Odyssey continues.
Stjepan Sejic truly is one of the great artists currently working in comics. Every page and every panel are absolutely stunning. All of the character designs really fit for me, and I especially love the younger, sleeker, less powerful Darkseid look and the looks of Starfire and Azrael. Jessica’s dragon and knight constructs really capture a core essence of her character. I think she’s primarily creates constructs of leaving things because of how deep her connection to life really is. Jessica used to be afraid and anxious all the time, shutting herself off from living things. As of late, however, she has started to crave contact with living things, thoroughly enjoy talking to aliens on other planets and even talking to her ring when she has the chance. Visually, I think Sejic is dropping subtle ways of advancing her character.
I have a very negative opinion of this issue, and I would like to thoroughly explain why, so please bear with me. First, the solicit from DC for this issue is blatantly incorrect. Below is the solicit from DC’s website:
“Cyborg, Starfire, Green Lantern Jessica Cruz and Azrael debate whether so-called “God of Evil” Darkseid should have joined the team. (Too late—that evil horse has left the barn!) But before the team can resolve this conflict, they’re forced into action when Vril Dox takes an interest in the Coluan refugees, attacking their ship with a new Manhunter army of his own creation. ’Cuz more violence is always the answer!”
There is no Vril Dox or Manhunter army in this issue, and the fact that a new solicit wasn’t made or that this discrepancy exists is pretty unacceptable because, frankly, the solicit makes the comic sound a lot more exciting than it is. DC is misinforming readers here.
Onto my main points, I have found that a comic book writer usually has one of three main purposes when writing a comic. The first is universe expansion: connecting previously independent aspects of a shared universe in some way or creating an entirely new space or idea in that universe. The second is characterization: Revealing something new about a character, allowing the character to experience some sort of growth, or fundamentally changing the character in some way. Finally, the third is revealing some sort of deeper human truth, the real answer to why the comic matters. The greatest comic achieves all three of these purposes.
I don’t think Williamson’s Justice League Odyssey achieves any of these purposes well so far. As far as universe expansion goes, Williamson seems to be connecting aspects of DC’s cosmic universe with the events of No Justice and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. The connection to No Justice is clear, with the ghost sector originating when all of the worlds are released from Colu. The only connection to Kirby’s Fourth World is Darkseid and the knowledge that the temple devoted to Starfire is older than the Fourth World. That is a fairly flimsy connection, and it still does not cement this corner of the universe as being important. There is a difference between having history and having importance. Williamson is trying to establish a history with these temples and the Ghost Sector, but our only motive to care isn’t because Darkseid says we should.
In terms of characterization, I do not see any of these characters heading in the direction of growth. Once again, I understand that it has only been two issues, but none of the characters are really being tested. Yes, three of them recently discovered that they are being worshipped as gods, but that alone isn’t something that should fundamentally shape her character. Starfire gained knowledge and more questions, but that’s about it. Darkseid is also portrayed very out of character for no reason, primarily because he shows rage. Darkseid is the personified dictator of an apocalyptic hellscape. He has always been cool and calculating, resorting to equations and clear, short, cruel, statements and actions that re completely void of emotion. Darkseid resorts to rage at the slightest sign of opposition, and there is little to no explanation for doing so.
Finally, this series does not seem to have anything meaningful to say. Each character is trying to discover information about their pasts or who they are, but they are simply encountering resistance for the sake of character development can’t be that easy. I’d like to hear from others about what meaning they could find from this comic, but I cannot seem to find any.
The visually stunning artwork is only more disappointing wants you realize it is only an exquisite husk for a relatively empty interior devoid of meaning