THIS WEEK: The ongoing Justice League series comes to an end with its 75th issue, “The Death of the Justice League”! Did our heroes die in vain? Plus, the conclusion of Trial of the Amazons, and a check in on a heist-in-progress with Rogues #2.
NOTE: The following discussion contains spoilers. For a spoiler-free verdict for each of the issues being discussed, skip to the end of each section.
Justice League #75
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Taragona
Colorist: Matt Herms
Letterer: Josh Reed
Cover Artists: Daniel Sampere & Alejandro Sánchez
Joe Grunenwald: Friends, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to the world’s greatest superheroes. The Justice League really truly actually for real no take backsies died in this week’s Justice League #75. What did you all think of this Dark Crisis prelude?
Cori McCreery: Honestly, just felt kind of there? It certainly didn’t have the feel of either event that it was trying to emulate. It wasn’t nearly as big and bombastic as Superman #75, nor was it as epic as Crisis on Infinite Earths, but then again it’s only the opening salvo, who knows if the actual event will be able to pull it together better.
Zack Quaintance: I…just can’t believe they’re gone. You wonder if you could have done more, bought more comics, started a Let’s Talk account or something.
Joe: What will I do with all of my character-dedicated Twitter fan accounts? I guess they’re all memorial pages now. (Just kidding, Wally West is still around so I’m fine.)
Zack: Let’s Talk Definitely Dead Batman, but in all seriousness, I enjoyed this one! I thought the art was fantastic. The main cover had a really sort of “hit you over the head with it” vibe, and the book kept it simple in that way too. It did feel like pretty clearly a first step in something bigger, though.
Cori: You know the funniest part of this? The end of Green Lantern #12 promises “John Stewart and the Emerald Knights will return!” and this is the next thing he appears in.
Joe: Yeah, this one is interesting in that it’s the last step in the Justice League Incarnate series and also the first step of Dark Crisis. It felt very transitionary. But also, at the same time, as the next step towards a big event, I thought this comic whipped ass. I think readers just coming into it will really feel the League’s disorientation at being sucked into this huge thing and then just going straight into an all-out brawl. I also think this might be the best that Rafa Sandoval‘s art has ever looked. He just keeps leveling up.
Cori: The art did look great. I think I’m mostly exhausted of bridging events right now. I pointed out in another round table how none of these events actually have an ending, they are all just prologues to the next thing, and this issue didn’t really change my view on that. I hope Dark Crisis will have an actual ending so that we can get a bit of a breather before the next one starts.
Zack: I know there was a lot that came before it, but I also thought this one functioned really well as a beginning in a lot of ways. Like, I guess it’s hard for me to figure out how I’d have experienced it differently, since I read all those comics, but it did feel like you could just walk into this one blind and take off with it. Also, just generally I don’t expect any of these superhero things to really end…
Joe: Such is the nature of monthly periodical comics.
Cori: I mean, as an example Infinite Crisis may have led into 52, but at the same time it felt like it had a satisfying conclusion of its own, while none of DC’s continuous events have felt like that to me since before Scott Snyder’s Justice League. You know, the last time the Justice League died to kick off an event.
Joe: That’s valid, though I appreciate that what’s happening now feels a lot more cohesive than what happened with the end of Snyder’s JL and Death Metal. I also really enjoyed the spots where Joshua Williamson sprinkled in little character moments, from Superman greeting Captain Carrot, to Batman getting frustrated when a Shadow Demon broke his batarangs, to pretty much all of Green Arrow’s role. Williamson did a nice job keeping things grounded in the characters even amidst the chaos.
Cori: Green Arrow was a definite highlight of this book, and I think his will be the death that sticks, to be honest.
Joe: I do enjoy that Doomsday killed someone in this issue.
Zack: Definitely. I had a chance to talk to Joshua ahead of this one as part of a press roundtable, and someone asked point blank if Green Arrow’s death would be different…and the answer, however vaguely, was that yes, it was a little different.
Joe: I thought it was handled really nicely. He wasn’t even supposed to be there! The irony!
Cori: Like Dante in Clerks!
Joe: I Assure You, Ollie Is Dead
Zack: Wow, look at that bookend. Kevin Smith and Phil Hester revived Ollie way back when, and now Joshua and Rafa are killing him with a hat tip to Smith.
Joe: …Whoa. I think we should call it right there.
Cori: Next up, the twelve-issue Black Canary maxi-series by Tom King where she grieves for the entire 12 issues.
Joe: I hear all of Cori’s criticisms, and they are totally valid, but also I thought this book was a lot of fun and I’m hyped for what comes next. This one gets a BUY from me.
Cori: I think I’ll be breaking from the pack here and give this one a BROWSE.
Zack: I’m giving it a BUY, and I’d also encourage anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to the stuff that came before to check it out.
Trial of the Amazons #2
Writers: Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, Vita Ayala, Stephanie Williams, & Joëlle Jones
Script: Joëlle Jones
Artists: Elena Casagrande, Laura Braga, Skylar Patridge, Adriana Melo, & Joëlle Jones
Colorists: Romulo Fajardo, Jr. and Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Cover Artists: Jim Cheung & Jay David Ramos
Joe: From the start of one event to the end of another, this week marks the finale of the Wonder Woman mini-event Trial of the Amazons. How did we feel about this week’s concluding chapter, and the storyline as a whole?
Cori: I guess it’s my week to be the grumpy old lady in the chat because this issue felt wildly disjointed to me. The art was great throughout but I got lost in the weeds of the plot more than once.
Zack: I’m with you on all of that. I liked how it opened, but I got lost in the middle and didn’t entirely find my way out of it for this ending.
Cori: I don’t even think I realized that the threat was defeated? Was the threat defeated? I guess I still don’t know?
Joe: On this one we’re in agreement. The hook of this story was fantastic, between the trial itself and the murder of Hippolyta, but the former felt like it got set off to the side at some point and the latter was resolved with barely any buildup and a Cassie Sandsmark Ex Machina to explain it all. A lot of really cool ideas that never really came together in the end, in my opinion.
Zack: Disjointed is probably the best word. It almost felt like two stories — the murder mystery and the door/tournament — competing for space at times.
Cori: And again, it’s another DC event that just didn’t end, as we’re going straight into Nubia and Artemis.
Zack: Do we want to go right to verdicts since we’re all in such close step here? I’m going SKIP on this one, friends.
Cori: I’ll second the SKIP. The art is great but the story is just hard to follow.
Joe: I am interested to see if it reads better all in one sitting, but on a periodical basis I agree that this one gets a SKIP.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Colorist: Matheus Lopes & Jason Wordie
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Artist: Sam Wolfe Connelly
Joe: The last book on the docket for this week was a special request from Zack: Josh Williamson and Leomacs‘ Black Label Rogues book. Zack, why don’t you tell us how you’re feeling about that book after it’s second issue.
Zack: Gladly. So, I was reading this one this morning, and I just loved it. What I’m struck by first and foremost, is how this series has a real confidence and almost bold self-awareness to it. It’s a heist story featuring aged villains who have mostly been a punchline taking one last run at the hidden gold of a gorilla with mental powers in a place called Gorilla City. It knows it’s weird and goofy and, quite frankly, unlikely to have been greenlit by most editorial offices, and it feels to me like it’s leaning into its own unlikeliness — and I really appreciate that.
Cori: I think my favorite thing about this book is the character work Williamson does with them. Each of them has their own distinct voice, and all of them are fantastic. I especially love the absolute smarm of Trickster.
Zack: It really does a great job of making the characters distinct, you’re right, which is impressive too because the cast is fairly large.
Joe: I agree with you all on that. This book is just damn fun, and perfectly comic-book-y in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Most Black Label books are GRITTY and STREET LEVEL and TORTURED – you know, for ADULTS – and this book has people with fancy science guns stealing from talking gorillas. Williamson also gets incredible props for bringing Sam Simian into the story, thus fulfilling half of someone somewhere’s dream for a Black Label Angel & The Ape series.
Zack: Joe, are you someone somewhere?
Joe: I can neither confirm nor deny that I am a person in a location.
Cori: For ADULTS but with grawlix for swears, because swearing is naughtier than sex or murder.
Zack: I don’t want to do the thing where you tell people who complain about one thing that they should support another thing. However! I couldn’t help but think about all the grumbling that there are too many Batman comics while I was reading this one.
Joe: I also want to praise Leomacs, Matheus Lopes, and Jason Wordie‘s artwork on this series. It’s got a vibe that feels both silver age-y and also very modern. It’s perfect for this story and these characters.
Cori: Again I think their best work is done with Trickster’s overly plastic face.
Zack: The consistency of the gorilla anatomy is really well done, too. Not sure most artists could nail it like this.
Joe: It is impressive, and each of the gorillas also has a distinct look. It’s really well done.
Zack: I’m at the Catwoman: Lonely City point with this one where I’m just savoring every page, appreciating it being a thing in the world.
Cori: Agreed. These two series are the example of what the Black Label line can be if done right.
Joe: I think even for a reader who’s not a big Flash fan or all that familiar with the characters, Rogues would be a solid and accessible read. This one gets an unqualified BUY from me.
Cori: Yeah, I’ll stop being a grump and give this a BUY too.
Zack: I am also an unqualified BUY on this series. Get two copies and give one to a friend.
Cori: Resisting the urge for a final potshot at Joe. I’ll be good, promise.
Joe: Yes, yes, I have no friends, har har har.
Cori: I didn’t say it!
Joe: That’s it for this week! I look forward to seeing you all out and about wearing your black Justice League armbands to mourn the fallen heroes.
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