Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE INCARNATE #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Joshua Williamson, Dennis Culver
Artists: Kyle Hotz, Andrei Bressan, Paul Pelletier, Norm Rapmund
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League Incarnate #2: As Darkseid’s quest leaves a bloody trail across the Multiverse, the Justice League Incarnate ventures to the dark world of horror known as Earth-13. They must enlist the aid of Super-Demon and his League of Shadows against not only Darkseid but also the evil power couple of Asmodel and the Sheeda Queen! While on Earth-11, the Batwoman Who Laughs begins her schemes.
Joshua Williamson and Dennis Culver’s story continues in Justice League Incarnate #2. Orion has arrived, wanting to use the Hall of Heroes as “the ultimate weapon”. However, he is followed by Kalibak and Grail, who are seeking the same thing. I like that more Fourth World characters are being brought into the story besides Darkseid.
I’m also glad that they look to be more along the lines of Kirby’s original designs than the updated New 52 versions of the New Gods. I’ve long been a fan of Kirby’s Fourth World, and I’d love to see DC greenlight a new New Gods or Forever People project. Perhaps Tom King’s work on the canceled New Gods movie might provide the basis for a new series.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team visits Earth-13, which proves to be a very interesting world. President Superman describes it: “nothing is ever what it seems on Earth-13. The magic and the mystery of the supernatural is a way of life here”. The heroes enter “the Tavern of Mystery”, an establishment run by Cain and Abel, and frequented by versions of DC’s magical and supernatural characters.
The password to enter the Tavern reveals a major influence of this world “Ogitrev”, namechecking DC’s defunct imprint in reverse. This also hints at the backward-spoken spells cast by Zatanna, or Annataz as she’s known on this Earth. Their contact on this Earth is Hellblazer, who is an especially interesting character. He appears to be John Constantine as he would be if he went full superhero. I’d actually love to see DC bring us more of this ersatz Constantine.
There are also a number of delightful characters making cameo appearances among the customers of the Tavern. There’s Raven as she appeared originally in the New Teen Titans, the monster from Stanley and His Monster, Black Orchid, Man-Bat, and Manhunter (Chase Lawler). And there’s Fate, who sided with Darkseid in Infinite Frontier. Fate and his friends threaten a fight with the League, but Super-Demon (a mashup of Superman and Etrigan) intervenes.
I especially love that in one panel, we see Cain brandishing a knife behind Cain. The horror host is undoubtedly about to murder his brother, as is his wont. The whole sequence is a loving tribute to Vertigo and DC’s classic supernatural/horror comics in general.
When the heroes catch up with Darkseid, they also encounter an interesting new character creation: The Batwoman Who Laughs. However, this villain is not from the Dark Multiverse like her male counterpart. Instead, we find out that she is the Batwoman from Earth-11, the world where every character is the opposite gender of the main DCU. This, according to Doctor Multiverse, reveals that the main Multiverse is now being corrupted. Which certainly is a bad sign for the League.
The confrontation ends with Batwoman being flung to the Hall of Heroes, while the League is scattered across a number of different worlds in the Multiverse. It’s not revealed which Earths these are, but each is rendered in a different art style, which I suspect hints at the nature of each Earth.
In general, the artwork’s well done, with each Earth shown so far having an appropriate artistic style and coloring that is well-suited to that world. And I have to add that I just love the full-page tribute to the classic “Crisis On Earth-One” cover from Justice League of America #21. That was the perfect touch to cap off the team’s visit to Earth-13.
After Dark Nights Metal and Death Metal, Infinite Frontier, and much of Snyder’s Justice League run, there are likely some readers who are getting sick of the Multiverse and parallel Earth stories. I can understand that, especially considering the countless levels of complexity Snyder put into his overarching Multiverse story.
However, I personally can’t get enough of this type of story. I love this kind of story, but I get why others might have had their fill of the Multiverse. And honestly, I feel Williamson and Culver’s story is much easier to follow than Snyder’s and is proving more enjoyable so far.
Justice League Incarnate #2 not only moves the main story forward but provides a loving tribute to the Vertigo Comics era. This series is proving to be a treat with an exciting story peppered with nice surprises pulled from DC’s history. I can hardly wait to see what surprises the rest of the series will hold.