Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #69
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V
Artists: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Sumit Kumar, Jose Marzan Jr.
Colours: Hi-Fi, Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Josh Reed, Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League #69: The super-spies of Checkmate poke their sneaky noses where they do not belong, and the Justice League are NOT happy about it. In fact, most of the League isn’t even happy Checkmate exists, setting up Checkmate versus the Justice League! The superspies versus the super…guys.
In Justice League Dark, Zatanna is locked in a battle with the greatest sorcerer of all time – Merlin!
The main story in Justice League #69 continues Brian Michael Bendis’ team-up between the League and Checkmate. Overall, I think this is one of Bendis’ better stories on this title so far, but it’s still not quite up to the level of quality that I’d like to see in DC’s foremost team book.
One of the biggest problems I’ve had with Bendis’ story is that he has been putting too much emphasis on Naomi and not enough on the other members of the League. However, this issue’s story is the complete opposite. Naomi doesn’t even appear in the story, just the recap page at the beginning. And she gets the variant cover to herself as well. I actually wanted Bendis to dial back on Naomi a bit, not eliminate her from the story altogether. But I suspect she’ll be back at the forefront before too long.
What else positive can I say about the story? The art from Phil Hester and Eric Gapsture is great. Even if the story isn’t that great, at least it looks pretty. Luckily, there’s another great Justice League Dark chapter as the backup story to make up for the lacklustre main story.
Ram V continues the story of his team facing off against Merlin in Atlantis. Also, the team now has to contend with Zatanna being overcome by the influence of the Upside-Down Man. However, Doctor Fate and the Eternal Knight arrive to bolster their numbers.
But Merlin’s purpose in Atlantis is fulfilled, as he manages to summon Arion, Lord of Atlantis to serve as his “Sapphire Knight”. If any mage in DC history is on the same level as Merlin, it would have to be Arion. The two of them working together would make an unbeatable team. It appears the team’s chances of victory are rapidly diminishing.
While I’m glad that Bendis is finally shifting his focus on other characters than Naomi, I wish he would focus it on other Leaguers. Instead, he’s spending more time on his Checkmate/Leviathan story. Overall the Leviathan story is convoluted, confusing, and not terribly interesting. He should keep his Leviathan story to his Checkmate miniseries and do something new with the League rather than rehashing his previous stories from other series.
There are a number of attempts at snappy and clever dialogue that mostly fall flat. And I was puzzled by Black Canary’s reference to Hippolyta being the queen of “Theramascura”. I don’t know if this is a mistake or a pitiful attempt at humour. Neither choice makes much sense. Bendis spelt it as “Themyscira” on the previous page, so apparently he knows the correct spelling. But if it’s supposed to be funny, then I don’t understand what the joke is supposed to be.
The story is somewhat better than his previous stories on this title, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Bendis has proven he can produce much better writing than this. So why is he having so much trouble doing so here?
The only issue I have with Ram V’s story is that he’s not being given enough pages to properly tell his story. His excellent story is being held back by having to delivered in bite-sized pieces. I look forward to the upcoming Justice League Dark ongoing series, which should give him more room to work. However, I’m not sure that it bodes well for Justice League. The book might flounder with only Bendis’ main story. Maybe DC can find another talented writer to start a new backup feature to replace Justice League Dark.
The main story in Justice League #69 was an improvement, but still a bit of a mess, but the art was good. So, I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. And the Justice League Dark backup story was a solid 5 out of 5 for both the story and art. I still think that Bendis puts his mind to it, he could get this title back on track. But will he?