In Review: Justice League #51

An excellent stand alone issue revealing Robin's first outing with DC's heavy hitters.

The cover: All the members of the Justice League are in action on this cover as they battle cybernetically enhanced wolf-like creatures. From clockwise are Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, and Green Lantern. In the center of the action is Robin, who looks as though he’s feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the fighting. This is a great preview of what lies within this book. This image is by Paul Pelletier, Tony Kordos, and Adriano Lucas. After the multiple issue saga that just concluded, it’s nice to see all the heroes together on the cover fighting baddies. Overall grade: A

The story: Six months after the formation of the Justice League, Batman has brought Robin to Justice League headquarters. His appearance is greeted by denial (Wonder Woman: “This league is no place for a child.”), questions (Aquaman: “Is he your son?”), and humor (Flash: “Is this like Bring Your Kid to Work Day? Is it?”) This makes the Dark Knight more grim than ever and makes his young apprentice feeling more awkward than he already felt. Changing the subject, Cyborg points out how weird weather is appearing across the nation. The Flash feels such calamities are beyond them, “Can’t we just pass this to Zatanna to investigate? Or the other guy? The nutjob Brit?” Flash is silenced when Cyborg brings up how the situation has upgraded to “crisis-level” when some cyborg canines appeared in Metropolis five minutes ago, engaging Superman. The group speeds there to help their peer, with Batman taking Robin. This is a straight forward one-shot complete story from Dan Abnett. It’s refreshing after the seemingly endless Darkseid War saga that wrapped up in the previous issue and Abnett is able to have every character get their moment in this book. Robin is the central character of this story as he sees DC’s big guns battle and tries to figure out how, and if, he fits in to such a skirmish. I enjoyed seeing that Green Lantern and the Flash seemed to be the most comfortable pair, creating the bond that they had decades ago in comics. Cyborg was really impressive, as he is the newest member of the JL he gives Robin some terrific words on what it means to be a hero and part of a team. Even Wonder Woman broke her stoic composure to give some words to the young hero. The villain of the issue was also good, who has a nice turnaround. The true threat of the issue is logical, though very similar to the threat of Season 2 of The Flash. Abnett is sowing the seeds of possible villains’ appearances and, if the stories are as good as this, I’m looking forward to more. This is worth checking out just for the last bit of spoken dialogue. Overall grade: A

The art: With Peter Pelletier on pencils and Sandra Hope on inks, this book looks really good. The book opens with a two paged flashback to the birth of the League and their battle with Darkseid. The first page is an impressive splash of Superman battling the despot of Apokolips. The third page is a major change in tone visually, as the League is at rest when they meet Robin. Granted, everyone is in their typical super hero pose, with arms crossed or hands on hips, but the Flash shows some strong characterization with how he’s posed and Green Lantern quickly becomes a fleshed out character with his reactions, such as in the third panel on Page 4. Robin is only in two panels on Page 3 but how he’s illustrated creates his character, just behind Batman and feeling slighted. When the action moves to Metropolis Pelletier and Hope bring their A-game with some great monsters in the robo-dogs and moving the point of view around to show how each character interacts with the beasts; for example, look at that incredibly long second panel that goes across 5 and 6: it shows Superman dealing with the threat and how Green Lantern is going to have to rethink how to combat the creatures. Both artists do a really good job on the details of the mechanical portion of the monsters and the facial reactions on the heroes as they battle them are great, as shown with Cyborg at the bottom of 6. The villain that’s teased on 8 is well done, with the full reveal on 9 excellent. The third menace of the book looks great and has me hoping that others of this character’s race will appear in other DC books soon. The final page is an excellent visual coda with the Dynamic Duo, returning the focus to the youngest of this tale, with the last panel having one character in practically a silhouette to match the foreboding last line of dialogue. I would welcome seeing other books illustrated by Pelletier and Hope. Overall grade: A

The colors: This was also a very welcome change of pace to the Justice League: a fight in the daytime colored brightly. Though this battle is just as deadly as any the heroes have faced, the colors are bright throughout this book. The first page that Adriano Lucas gets to bring to life has an immense amount of energy exploding from the blow Darkseid is receiving from the last son of Krypton. Aboard Watchtower, the colors remain excellent with cool blues to show the station’s metallic nature and providing an excellent backdrop for the bright colors of the heroes’ costumes to stand out. Backgrounds get some nice punching up from the colors, as in the final four panels on 7. Green Lantern’s constructs have a nice emerald hue to them and Cyborg’s blasts have a vivid crimson. The coloring on the third threat is what identified this character’s origin and had me extremely happy. Coloring is also a key component on an unseen character’s thoughts, also being crimson that progress to blackness. An excellent job. Overall grade: A

The letters: Carlos M. Mangual is responsible for narration, thoughts by an unrevealed opponent, the opening title and story credits, scene settings and character identifications, dialogue, ring speech and transmissions, sounds, groans, and the tease for the story’s continuation in Titans: Rebirth #1. The thoughts by the unrevealed villain look wonderfully evil, making each word drip with menace. There’s a tremendous amount of dialogue that Mangual has to put in several panels and he does so without the action of each panel being interrupted. Mangual has also done a good job on this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: An excellent stand alone issue revealing Robin’s first outing with DC’s heavy hitters. It this is what’s to come after Rebirth, I’m on board for the long run. Overall grade: A

To learn about this series and other titles featuring these heroes go to http://www.dccomics.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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