Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #72
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Colors: Szymon Kudranski, Hi-Fi
Letters: Josh Reed
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League #72: The Royal Flush Gang has hatched one of the most elaborate plans in the history of the DC Universe, and now we know that all of it was a prelude to the crime of this and maybe even the next century. What in the Multiverse could the Royal Flush Gang be after? How does it connect to Black Adam’s trial? Find out here!
So Brian Michael Bendis’ final storyline on Justice League begins. For this final arc, Bendis teams the main League up with the Justice League Dark, whose backup feature concluded last issue. I am glad to see that Bendis wrote his own original story for this crossover rather than attempting to conclude Ram V’s stellar, but unfinished story. Quite frankly, I doubt that Bendis could come up with an ending that did Ram’s story justice, so I’d rather see it go unfinished than risk Bendis bungling the job.
This issue opens with the Justice League hosting a charity event at the Hall of Justice. This allows for a brief Plastic Man appearance. However, it’s a shame that all Plas got was a cameo, as I would really love to see DC give him another shot at his own title again.
The artwork in Justice League #72 is fantastic. I especially love the striking difference between the segments featuring the main team as opposed to those focusing on the Justice League Dark. For example, we see the latter team at their meeting table. The scene is moody and dark, with the characters shrouded in shadows. And the artwork has a more realistic, detailed edge.
There are some interesting ideas in this story. The encounter between Khalid Nassour and Etrigan with Nabu is very intriguing. And it appears that Black Adam will play a central role in the conflict with Xanadoth, as we see him facing off against the villain alone. However, Bendis has a habit of coming up with some cool ideas, but failing to deliver on their potential. But he has two chapters yet, so perhaps he will deliver this time.
Compare this to the main team’s meeting just upstairs. The scene is bright and colorful, and the art is slightly cartoony. Despite the fact that these two teams meet in the same building, the art makes it clear that they metaphorically live in different worlds. However, in this story, those two worlds collide.
Enter the story’s antagonist, Generic Bendis Villain #7. Well, actually his name’s Xanadoth. We are told that he is “the original Lord of Chaos”, but he looks like Rogol Zaar, but based on magic. It looks like Bendis took a generic villain template, threw an Ankh symbol on his head, gave him a name that sounds vaguely similar to Madame Xanadu’s, and called it a day.
Actually, the similarity to Xanadu’s name might factor into the story, as Madame Xanadu also guest-stars in the story as well. But I would lay even odds that Bendis fails to give any meaningful explanation to the similarity in names. I think that DC might be better off teamed with a more capable co-writer. Bendis could come up with some broad ideas and his co-writer could make them into a workable story.
Justice League #72 is very much like other opening chapters in Bendis stories. A number of ideas are introduced. Some have strong potential, but others are problematic. It now remains to be seen if Bendis can deliver on the former while skirting the latter.