Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #10
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Dan Abnett
Pencils: Daniel Sampere
Inks: Juan Albarran
Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Andworld Design
Reviewed By: Ari Bard
In Justice League Odyssey #10, Cyborg, Starfire, Azrael, and Jessica Cruz pair off to collect Apokoliptan relics to save the Ghost Sector and the Multiverse. One must be wary, however, because this is Darkseid’s plan and he cannot be trusted. With Starfire’s growing power levels and Azrael’s new voice, allegiances may be more fragile than we know.
Justice League Odyssey #10 is an exceptional one-shot that gives a glimpse of the limitless potential a book like this can have. If there was an Eisner for most improved comic, Justice League Odyssey would take the cake. Ever since Abnett came onto the serious, this book has had an undeniably cosmic feel that hasn’t been seen in the DC universe for a long time. Morrison and Sharp’s The Green Lantern also shares this descriptor but carries a procedural tone that keeps the series grounded. Justice League Odyssey, however, follows a team of unlikely heroes through the from planet to planet dealing with aliens, monsters, mystical creatures, and mystical alien monsters. Every issue is a wild ride from start to finish, and that’s really refreshing to see.
One of the most striking elements of Justice League Odyssey is its use of third-person captions. They’re a rarely used tool in today’s comic scene, and many writers struggle to uses them effectively rather than just for telling the reader what happens. When used with care to convey a tone, an atmosphere, or story elements that can’t be seen on the page, however, they can achieve a significant impact. Abnett’s captions in Justice League Odyssey #10 are perfect examples of using this tool effectively. The narration has an inescapable eeriness to it that reels you in as the creative team explores the cosmos. It describes planets beyond just what you can see so that you feel you’re right there exploring beside them. It describes scenes with gravitas while the dialogue is filled with more impulsive reactions so that you can see the fight from the omniscient and limited perspectives. You are simultaneously all-knowing and a part of their world which is a great position to be in.
Sampere, Albarran, and Plascencia clearly find themselves right at home in this issue as they bring phenomenal and undeniably cosmic art to this issue. Sampere’s pencils bring an unparalleled amount of movement and depth to the issue as the actions sequences come to life with such ferocity and intensity. The rainfall especially makes Azrael and Jessica’s fight appear particularly brutal and Albarran’s inks bring some horror elements into the fold as the tentacles, miasma, and large beasts are enough to provide a good scare. Plascencias’s colors bring a pop and flare that cannot be matched. The way explosions occur differently on different planets, the lights from the spaceship shining in your faces, and the unsettling glows surrounding the Apokoliptan artifacts and certain planets are what cement Justice League Odyssey #10 as a truly cosmic story. We also can’t forget about the spectacular lettering from Andworld Design, who gives each speaker, whether it be a hero, villain, monster, or alien, their own unique voice that fits seamlessly with their appearance and identity. We’ve seen what Sampere and Albarran can do with horror when they filled in for a few issues of Justice League Dark, but horror in space? What could be cooler than that? The biggest thing to come from this issue is the desire to see a weird, nonsensical crossover between the two properties just for the spectacle alone. Can you imagine the visuals?
All of these elements combined give Justice League Odyssey #10 a level of grounded importance you don’t always see in cosmic stories. The aliens feel dangerous and are given a sense of purpose beyond just being mindlessly hostile. The narration often implies the existence of a premise beyond their control. This is a mission that gives off the vibe of being more important than anyone on this team knows. This tissue takes an idea that could have been represented by a simple montage and injects it with life, emotional, and a remarkable combination of supernatural and cosmic effects.
Make no mistake, however, a beautiful corner of the universe is nothing without the characters you care about that wander it. Cyborg, Starfire, Azrael, and Jessica Cruz may have seemed to be an unlikely paring in the beginning, but Abnett has turned these beloved characters with a ton of potential into an exciting team with an interesting dynamic. At the helm of this team is Jessica Cruz. A Green Lantern deeply rooted in humanity and who faces crippling anxiety at times, taken somewhere way out of her element and presented with a daunting task. Cruz took charge and stood up for what was right against heroes with a lot more experience than her. She is rightfully concerned about the power levels and Darkseid’s influence of her other teammates and has let them know that. She communicates these concerns openly and has a level of genuine care that’s seldom explicitly stated among heroes. It’s enough to make you a little worried when you aren’t in awe. The other heroes’ personalities shine through loud and clear when depicted next to her. A book struggling to find purpose discovered its mission and more in a phenomenal issue.
The dialogue can come off as a bit clunky sometimes, especially coming from Cyborg, but it’s only enough to take you out of the story in one instance. Also, considering Cyborg and Starfire are characters with a huge history yet little definition, there would ideally be more feeling from their dialogue and scenes, especially with each other after sharing a past.
Justice League Odyssey #10 is a stunning and mystifying build to what is sure to be an intense confrontation with Darkseid.