In Review: Justice League #23.4
The cover: Three members of the Secret Society are attacking the reader in this 3D Motion Cover by Mike Janin. The villains look great, but don’t miss what’s behind them: above are two helicopters that are shining their lights down and to the right are a beaten JL, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. This is an exceptional 3D cover that looks fantastic if you want to spend the extra buck, and I did. Overall grade: A
The story: “The Wild Card” is co-credited to writers Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates. This issue is narrated by the Crime Syndicate’s Alfred Pennyworth, telling how he and Thomas Wayne lived before traveling to “our” Earth. The issue opens with the death of our title character’s parents and quickly transitions to the present as Owlman is in pursuit of someone. Talon, Richard Grayson, isn’t answering his comlink after learning from Owlman the truth about his parents, Barbara, and “the rest.” Owlman finds the nemesis he’s seeking but things don’t go his way. Talon is discovered, the nemesis has a surprise for Alfred, and the police don’t help in the way planned. Most of the story on this alternate world isn’t really surprising but there are a few moments that are (Page 9, panels three and four and Page 13, panel two). However, once the story moves to our world we’re given some background as to what happened before Forever Evil began. This was only four pages but it was terrific, especially in the reveal as to whom the hooded character from Forever Evil #2 is, and the accompanying narration makes is all the creepier. An average story with an excellent closer. Though, if you think about it, there really isn’t much of the promised “Secret Society” in this book, so did this book lie about its contents? Overall grade: C+
The art: This artwork sadly puts style before substance. Case in point, Page 1. Panels one, two, and four look good, but three and five are terrible. I think the colorist had to finish in toning what artist Szymon Kudranski didn’t do. There’s also some layout issues: Page 3, Alfred looks as though he’s in some sort of monstrous exo-suit that runs on two gigantic humanoid legs. And there’s a major blooper: On Page 8 a character loses some fingers, yet miraculously has them back on Page 10. Pages 11 and 12 are in silhouette, I think, for style, but it comes off as an easy out for the artist. Too much of this book is in silhouette or tight close-up leaving me wondering if Kudranski can draw. The last four pages of story provided ample opportunity for him to do so, but he doesn’t. To create a dark looking story this artist has sacrificed reader recognition. A classic example of style before substance. Overall grade: D
The colors: I felt sorry for John Kalisz whose back was pushed to the wall with where to put the color in overly dark book. The first pages look good, but his options are limited by a night’s downpour on Page 3. Page 4 is the only clear image of Owlman in the book and it looks okay, but on 5 the first two panels again return to too much darkness. Page 10′s final panel is supposed to be a dramatic moment, but “normal” coloring left at a loss as to what I was looking at. Maybe if it had been “white, ” I would have been understood what had occurred. Disappointing. Overall grade: D+
The letters: Some absolute brilliant sound effect, in addition to good narration and dialogue, from Taylor Esposito. In fact, this is the only stellar contribution to this book. Overall grade: A
The final line: The old bait and switch on the cover. This could have been something, but instead all we’re left with is a pretty cover for $3.99. Just pass. Overall grade: D+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.