In Review: Justice League #45

I can't continue to purchase a book that has visuals like this. Unbelievably disappointing.

The covers: The Main cover is by interior artist Francis Manapul. The face of Darkseid is behind a manacled Mister Miracle. Below them is Wonder Woman looking upset, holding a battle axe in each hand. The layout of this is fine, but the coloring makes certain elements stand out oddly. For example, Scot Free looks great, but Darkseid is just smudgy looking. Wonder Woman is odd looking because of the coloring on her legs, upper chest, and face. Different colors would have made this better. The Monster Variant cover by Szymon Kudranski has a bright bolt of lighting in the center of the image against a pale violet background. Emerging from the bolt, or just appearing around it, are zombified versions of the team: going clockwise from the twelve o’clock position are Barman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Superman. It’s okay looking, but I can’t tell if they’re zombies because their coloring makes them look like Deadman when he leaves his body. Overall grades: Main C+ and Monster Variant B-

The story: Darkseid is dead. Now what? The Anti-Monitor and his shadows have disappeared. The Flash has been bonded to the Black Racer, or rather he’s the new Black Racer. He is the God of Death and Scot Free, aka Mister Miracle, apologizes to Barry Allen. “..not even I could escape being fused with the Racer. Once a host is chosen, they’re bound until they–” But Barry interrupts, “I’m not like the other hosts. And I don’t want to escape Death. I want to control it.” This issue is the fallout from the New God’s death. Geoff Johns has characters become gods, such as the Flash, and which characters achieve this status and what they do with their newfound abilities is the story’s thrust. There’s some major fallout on Apokolips where a buffed up Superman is very unhappy with Lex Luthor. Both of these characters gain abilities and the what Luthor receives is the highlight of the book. However, I was surprised at how dreary this issue was. The story didn’t thrill like the preceding chapters in The Darkseid War. Basically the changed characters leave the unchanged characters, and that’s about the gist of things. In fact, there are six spin off one-shots that follow this issue up. I won’t be purchasing all of them, or possibly any. I’m not thrilled when a story expands beyond the limited series unless it’s a truly earth shattering event, such as Crisis on Infinite Earths. After all that occurs in this issue, and there are some neat moments, I thing all will be back to normal (or as normal as the DC Universe gets) when this saga is over. I don’t see any staying or lasting effects from this series. With the exception of what happens on Apokolips, I was bored. Overall grade: C

The art: Talk about a change. Yes, I am so base as to not purchase a comic because the art doesn’t appeal to me. I purchased this issue blindly because I had enjoyed the previous four chapters of this saga and was expecting it to continue. The artist on this issue was Francis Manapul and the visuals are a dramatic change from Jason Fabok’s. I just don’t like this. There’s an extensive use of Screentone on the double-paged spread on 4 and 5, and it’s distracting. The backgrounds look like sketches. The bottom half of Page 5 is Darkseid’s body, but what’s happening to it is very difficult to make out: is it energy, life fluids, fire, an explosion frozen in time? It’s a mess. Things improve slightly on Apokolips, but Superman looks terrible. His face on the first page he appears looks incorrect for the moment due to the highlights his eyes get. When the group of villains that had been forgotten reveal themselves on Page 18 it’s awful. I can’t continue to purchase a comic for $3.99 with visuals like this. I’ll be passing on the next issue and all that follow if Manapul is doing the art. Overall grade: D

The colors: Francis Mapaul with Brian Buccellato provides the coloring on this book and it does help somewhat in delineating details in the visuals; case in point, Page 3, panel three. It’s Darkseid on the ground with the yellow and red energy coming out of him. The colors help readers identify Darkseid on the left side of the panel, but what it is that’s underneath this energy release on the right side is questionable. I can’t tell. Though I am grateful for the coloring on the left side so I can make out who it is I’m looking at. Colors are used to plaster colors on the double-page spread of 4 and 5, but don’t give any details in the background. The colors are best with Batman and Green Lantern and with Luthor’s exploits. On earth, they’re not; take a look at Page 18. It’s poorly drawn and the visuals are slapped on as blanket colors for characters. I don’t want to pay for work that’s colored like this. Overall grade: D

The letters: Sound effects, dialogue, opening title and credits, narration, Mother Box speak, announcements of New Gods, screams, and teases for all the one-shots are by Rob Leigh. They look good, with the Mother Box’s text being my favorite. Overall grade: A

The final line: I can’t continue to purchase a book that has visuals like this. Unbelievably disappointing. I’ll look at the interiors before blindly purchasing next month. Overall grade: D+

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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