Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #44
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Colours: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League #44: Cold war kickoff! After receiving a distress signal from Aquaman, the Justice League travels to Antarctica, where they discover an ancient prison at the bottom of the legendary pit of Tartarus. But who picked the locks within? Freed from their shackles, creatures of myth and horror emerge to battle the team, while the League must confront their own personal demons. What exactly lies at the base of this well, and what will be left of the Justice League when they discover its secret?
When Robert Venditti began his run on Justice League, he included the idea of strong resentment building among the team members. There were some resentments between members of the team that might build into serious divisions in the team. However, Venditti announced that he wouldn’t be staying on the title very long. I wondered if he would be able to resolve this plotline before moving on.
With this story, it seems that Venditti has found an interesting way to bring this plotline to a boil before he moves on from Justice League. An as yet unknown threat is exacerbating the grudges the team members harbour for each other.
Green Lantern John Stewart resents Batman’s leadership style, a feeling that Batman reciprocates. Batman also resents that Superman revealed his secret identity without consulting him before taking that monumental step. Wonder Woman dislikes that The Flash is holding back from using his Speed Force powers to their full potential. And interestingly, we find that Superman feels that as the most powerful member, feels that he has been carrying his less powerful teammates.
The story’s title is particularly apt, as “Monsters Within” can be understood on two levels. On the most literal level, it refers to the mythological monsters that the League fights in this issue. They have escaped Tartarus, which is buried within the Earth’s depths. Recapturing these monsters and re-imprisoning them is the task the League is faced with this issue.
However, on a deeper level, it refers to the resentments exacerbated by this mysterious entity. This has affected the mythological beasts, but as the issue ends, we see that the Justice League has been similarly affected, and their nursed grudges boiling over into direct confrontations.
However, the League’s argument is interrupted by none other than the Spectre. I am guessing that the Spectre has come to reveal the identity of this mysterious threat and help the League overcome it, but that will have to wait until next issue. I look forward to seeing how Venditti makes use of the Spectre as this story develops.
Although accidental, I find that a threat that heightens grudges to be ironically timely. Much of the world being quarantined at home with their immediate family. So, it’s likely that a lot of minor resentments are being blown out of proportion causing friction between family members.
At first, it seemed that the friction between the Leaguers has arisen from nowhere. It makes more sense that a malevolent entity has been ramping up the resentments that all people are prone to develop. It didn’t make sense that the League would start squabbling over stuff that had never bothered them before, but this explains it.
I have been enjoying Venditti’s run on the title. It’s unfortunate that it will be a rather short run. Justice League #44, like the previous issues, has given us a glimpse what could have been a long and successful run.