In Review: Justice League #44

This is shaping up to be one of the best Justice League stories in years.

The covers: The Main cover by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson is a great collection of images that occur in this issue. At the top are Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor exchanging blows. Below them are Steppenwulf and Grail on the left, in the bottom center is the recently amped up Superman driving Luthor to the ground with a punch, and on the right is Mister Miracle, Cyborg, Captain Marvel, and the Flash, with a gigantic bust of Wonder Woman behind them. Terrific imagery with fantastic coloring. This was the cover I purchased. There’s also a Green Lantern 75th Anniversary Variant cover from Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis. This features a super shot of Hal flying forward front and center, surrounded by (going clockwise) Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Outstanding illustration with spectacular coloring. I’m a big Hal Jordan fan, so this works tremendously for me. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Wonder Woman narrates the first page against what the newly Mobius Chair-augmented Batman sees in his mind. It’s a creepy start that transitions nicely into Batman and Green Lantern travelling to a world destroyed by the Anti-Monitor. In the process the pair have words that reflect very negatively on Hal. The reason why the pair are there leads them to travel to another world where the Green Lantern Corps’ greatest foe was once imprisoned. Meanwhile, the rest of the League, minus Superman, are witnessing the throw down between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor. It truly is a battle of the gods and their powers don’t even come close to allowing the heroes to participate. What they can do is try to participate in taking down Grail or Kalibak’s minions, but even their abilities are strong. They are really missing the strength of the son of Krypton and Hal Jordan. And where’s Superman? He’s been reborn, somewhat, on Apokolips, and he has some words for Lex Luthor. It seems the power of the planet has some dark influence on Superman. A classic New Gods character makes an impressive entrance on Page 12, who undergoes a transformation — perhaps combination is a better word. Page 16 made me gasp at what occurs, and 18 was a stunner. The title of this story is not revealed until the final page because it would ruin the ending. That said, I enjoyed this story immensely, but don’t doubt for a second that the final image of the issue will be this character’s final appearance. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals of this book are stunning. Jason Fabok is capturing the power and the majesty of every hero and villain in spectacular fashion. Without spoiling it, the first page is a nine panel sequence (of which I am a tremendous fan) that goes into an extreme close-up of one character before transitioning to Batman. It’s a cinematic sequence that sets the perfect mood for Batman’s later behavior. Hal and Batman’s journey together goes to another world on the verge of destruction and nowhere does Fabok skimp on the details in the art. His cities are the best looking I’ve seen since George Perez picked up a pencil. The double-paged splash of 4 and 5 shows how outclassed the JL is against the titans battling. The energy unleashed by the villains is awe inspiring. The two page sequence between Grail and Kalibak is great, with one of them sustaining an unexpected wound, causing one of the uber-villains to take notice during the confrontation. Fabok is allowed to create a new version of Superman, one briefly glimpsed last issue. This new Superman gets two full pages this issue and his appearance is spectacularly threatening, with his final panel being horrific. The arrival of the character on 12 would make “The King” happy, and how this character evolves on 16 is fantastic. I have no doubt that the last three pages of this book will be looked at and savored by fans for decades. Overall grade: A+

The colors: When an artist puts so much fine detail into their work I find myself wondering about the state of the colorist who has to finish the visuals. Brad Anderson rises brilliantly to the challenge Fabok has created. The close-up of the first individual’s face on Page 1 contains many different levels of coloring that make this character seem real. The first two panels of the second page have some tremendous violets, oranges, and yellows as Hal and Bruce are in space. The world that’s dying in the third panel has an unbelievable amount of detail in its shades, with some outstanding work done on the visuals obscured by smoke. I also like how Bruce’s dialogue now has a deep red color around it, reminding readers of his new mental state. The colors rightly explode on 4 and 5 as the giants wage war. The next two pages have a sweet orange-yellow tint as the son and daughter of Darkseid do battle. This harkened back to all the Crisis tales that have wound their way through DC comics. My favorite page by Anderson is the last page. The detail on the character and the rubble around him is perfect. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Rob Leigh creates narration, dialogue, sounds (PING is my favorite), scene settings, ring speak, yells of pain, issue’s title, and closing credits. Leigh does a great job on all, though I do wish that he had been allowed to design a different font for some characters’ speech, rather than it being shown to be different from others by the shape or coloring of their dialogue balloons. Leigh has always shown himself to be a superior letterer and I wish that DC had given him his opportunity. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Must reading for fans of the Justice League, DC comics, and team books. This is shaping up to be one of the best Justice League stories in years. Overall grade: A

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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