Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #63
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V
Artists: David Marquez, Xermanico
Colours: Ivan Plascencia, Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Josh Reed, Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League #63: The Trial of Naomi commences! After the shocking events of the last few issues of Justice League, the team is forced to confront its larger issues as a group and the responsibilities the League has to the world where they live versus the Multiverse at large. Guest stars galore as Justice League members from the past come to give guidance for the future. Naomi’s fate is revealed. Black Adam joining the Justice League becomes public, and the fallout is surprising. And what cosmic secret is Hawkgirl carrying with her?
Meanwhile, the Justice League Dark must rely on the wit of John Constantine to make their way back to the real world, which is slowly losing its grip with Merlin ready to remake it in his image. Little do they know, a knight from the sorcerer’s past is the key to stopping him once and for all. Will she survive long enough to help our heroes?
The main story in Justice League #63 shows the aftermath of the League’s trip to Naomi’s homeworld. It starts with Naomi regaining consciousness in the Hall of Justice’s sickbay. She then recounts final minutes of that adventure to Black Canary, castigating herself for losing control instead of retreating when ordered to. She apologizes to the League, who reassure her that her actions were understandable. This isn’t really much of a “trial” as the solicitation text suggests, but a quick “you screwed up, but we’re still friends”.
The most significant part of the story is that Black Adam and Naomi are officially inducted into the League. Hippolyta isn’t, but I’m sure that’s an imminent development. The exchange between Adamn, Superman, and Hippolyta shows that there’s been some character growth in Adam. He apologizes to the Amazon queen and promises to be worthy of the trust Superman is showing him. However, given how volatile Black Adam is, will his reformation take root this time?
There is also an interesting exchange between Batman and Green Arrow which reveals that Oliver is now funding the League during Bruce’s downgrade in financial status. Apparently, Oliver was able to regain his fortune since the end of his own title. And Ollie attempts to reassure his teammate that he’ll get the Wayne family fortune back as well.
I was also struck by Oliver saying to Bruce, “But you check me. You keep an eye on all of it. You see something you don’t like… you do you”. Green Arrow know well enough that he can’t really pull anything over on the Dark Knight. So, this sentiment has to be genuine. It says a lot that Ollie is trusting Bruce to keep him in line. It also makes me wonder why he feels he needs a check on himself. Does he not trust himself not to give into temptation?
Once again, the real draw of Justice League #63 is the backup story featuring Justice League Dark. While overall, Bendis delivered a solid story, Ram V is delivering a phenomenal backup story. I especially love how “meta” his story is getting. There is a brilliant scene, where John Constantine writes the story’s script, and we see the characters literally traverse Ram V’s script for the page, which describes the action on the same page.
Ram V also shows us what Man-Bat and Doctor Fate have been up to since the cancellation of the previous Justice League Dark title. Kirk and Khalid have been trying to repair the Helmet of Nabu, the source of Khalid’s powers. However, as the narration tells us, “Using science to pry open the jaws of magic. It is, however, an inherently flawed idea.
But it does give Khalid a vision about Elnara Roshtu, the knight who was shown guarding Excalibur previously. Elnara is shown confronting an unknown group in a church. Clearly, Elnara has an important role to play in this story. I have to wonder if she is destined to join the team. Also, we see Batman watching the confrontation. What role will the Dark Knight play in the story?
The artwork of David Marquez in the main story and Xermanico’s art in the backup are both stunning. Marquez’s art seems particularly suited to the story with more of a science fiction bent, while Xermanico’s right at home with the supernatural tale. Although, I am sure that both could handily turn their hand to any genre of story.
I don’t mind that Naomi has a central role in the issue, considering that the first story arc revolved around her. However, I am a bit worried that Bendis might end up making a habit of this. While I like the character, I hope Bendis doesn’t continually have her as the forefront and will give the rest of the cast their due share of the limelight. After all, this is Justice League, not Naomi, Guest-Starring the Justice League. While I’m sure he’s glad to continue Naomi’s story in these pages, he needs to remember that she’s the least prominent member in this team of giants.
Justice League #63 gave us a decent story from Bendis, but once again Ram V’s Justice League Dark backup steals the show. The backup story is worth the price of the book alone, so Bendis’ main story is just gravy.