In Review: Justice League #50

Very enjoyable but $5.99 for 42 pages is too much for what's given.

The covers: Darkseid is in the top center of the illustration on the Regular cover by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. He’s flanked by Lex Luthor on his right and Grail on his left. Below him are the Justice League (clockwise, Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel, Flash, Mister Miracle, Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan, Jessica Cruz, and Cyborg) racing above the Earth. Good cover by the interior artist and interior colorist, but doesn’t have the pizzazz of previous covers from this story line. The Variant cover is the John Romita, Jr. Variant, and this is the one I purchased. Scott Hanna and Alex Sinclair help finish off this terrific image of the League racing to the right. Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Green Lantern are flying forward, with Superman doing so on his side. Below these heroes the Flash is running to the right, while Batman is on a Batcycle going like a bat out of hell (I’ve been waiting so long to say that!). This image captures the speed of the team extremely well. Overall grades: Regular B and John Romita, Jr. Variant A

The story: So much has occurred in previous issues that writer Geoff Johns needs the first page just to bring readers up to speed. After that, the action begins with a double-paged splash on 2 and 3 as newly super powered, turned evil, Steve Trevor, who’s under the influence of Grail, leaps to attack Wonder Woman as the rest of the League looks on. Flame streaks out of him like a Dark Phoenix and energy leaks from his eyes like Darkseid. He throws the Amazon to the ground, yet begs, “Di-Diana…You need to stop me.” She replies, “You can stop this yourself, Steve. The Anti-Life Equation is all about control. Don’t let it control you. I believe in you, Steve.” With his teeth clenched he answers, “I can’t…” and the energy pours out of his eyes. Diana is able to turn his head so that the blast is diverted, but the fight rages on with the rest of the League attacking Grail. This is the monstrous conclusion to this monstrous saga and Johns has several surprise inclusions to the cast, such as on Pages 6 and 24, and some good character development, with the best things happening to Lex Luthor and Jessica Cruz. Lex really showed his true colors toward the end of this story and his actions on 8 officially will have him kicked out off this team. Where Luthor ends up at the end of this issue is fantastic. This is a location and a position where he can do a lot of interesting things. Since he’ll be the lead in the Rebirthed (Wow, does that sound so wrong) Action Comics, this will have him occupying the late Sinestro title as the only villain to have his own book. Jessica Cruz will also be in her own title, Green Lanterns, along with Simon Baz, and after what happens to her in this issue I’m really looking forward to what she’ll do. However, before she gets her own title, something major goes down with her on Page 14. This was an unexpected turn, but completely justifies the action that later occurs on 31 and 32. The device that’s used to take away the heroes’ god-like abilities was an extremely clever turn by Johns and the reason for doing so also very smart. What’s revealed on 20 was a low point: too soon, too soon. However, Johns rightfully has a way out of this moment and uses it quickly so that this plot line is left dangling for him or another writer to revisit at some point. The drama between the characters that meet on Page 25 is really good and will leave readers wanting more of that. The surprise that Diana learns about is right up there with the appearance of Sybok in Star Trek V; it goes too far. So far that, and this is saying something for a comic book, it’s unbelievable. This is not a plot line that compels me to follow it. The final twelve pages set up all the spin-off titles that will come from DC’s Rebirth; which is fine, though they could have been omitted to give this saga an ending, and lower the cover price by at least a dollar. Overall grade: B+

The art: Having one artist be responsible for this final chapter gives the book a solid conclusion, as opposed to be taken in and out of the story by jarring changes in visuals. Jason Fabok does a good job on this book. He’s incredibly strong with his character work and with so many characters in play — and in a panel — that’s quite an achievement. The double-paged splash that comprises Pages 2 and 3 is an exciting way to start things up, with Steve souped up and flying at Wonder Woman, who’s in the foreground, while the rest of the JL is behind her. Fabok is good with the fine details in the art, but they make the action so much more realistic; so though one might skim over them, a reader should take the time to appreciate the brick and rock work on these pages. That’s right, look at the walls and ground, comic reader. The power that Trevor is using is impressive as it leaves a fiery wake behind him and explodes from his eyes. Rain is falling at the beginning of this battle and it’s also impressive that Fabok puts droplets on the characters. The first panel on Page 10 will be showing up for several decades as a “Wow!” panel for how it’s created and its dramatic effect. The close ups on characters are extremely strong, making the story much more intense which makes the reader truly feel the power of each person’s dialogue. The double-paged splash on 16 and 17, sadly, doesn’t have the emotional wallop that it should; the characters, though well drawn, are too far from the reader. If they had been closer to the reader they would have make the action seem more immediate. Realistically, the characters would be about this far apart, but in such a dramatic gathering reality should have been sacrificed to have them in the reader’s face. The full paged splash on 20 also isn’t is as strong as it could be; here, the details should have been minimized on the setting to allow the focus to be on the character revealed — coloring could have helped, too. Pages 22 and 23 are extremely dramatic with art making the tension explode off the page, both at the bottom of 22 and the fifth panel on 23: it’s a powerful sequence. The arrival on 24 is exactly what 16 and 17 were lacking — several characters in essentially the same poses, but because of their proximity to the reader and one another, it’s a fantastic moment. When paired with the first panel on 25, no dialogue is needed to communicate what that individual is feeling. The second panel on 28 is a terrific showcase of how each hero’s power looks when shown side by side. 32 is beautiful — should be a poster, as should 36, though its content is so dreadful. Powerful art for a powerful story. Overall grade: A

The colors: Brad Anderson does a good job on this book; with so many characters fighting in downpour this could not have been an easy job to do. Pages 2 and 3 are a showcase for the Anti-Life energy that Trevor possesses as he flies at Diana. Considering that there’s a raging fire that’s smoldering behind the characters in orange, it’s a nice differentiation from Anderson. However, on 4 Anderson is playing too real with colors: there’s so much orange-red on the page that the art seems to meld with the colors, becoming a blob. Given the genre of comics, changing up the color scheme would have been fine. Case in point, the final two panels on 5 have a different colored background, though the fourth panel clearly shows that this pair of characters have leaped before an orange backdrop. The explosion of white and red on 8 is outstanding; with the colors this different from all that’s been previously shown it’s a powerhouse panel because of what Anderson’s done. The first panel on 10 really needs the colors to work to make it pay off and Anderson does a sensational job on it. 16 and 17 hits a bit of a snag because of the orange used for a backdrop, plus the bright yellow center makes the Mobius Chair disappear. 20 is also caving into the reality of the situation, as the dark colors don’t show off this individual enough, and the first two panels on 21 are also too dark. The arrival on 24 is outstanding with violet used for background; this is the type of change in setting that should be occurring more often. The final page of the book uses a minimal splash of red for a spectacular effect that leads readers into DC Universe: Rebirth #1. The colors are good, but often surprisingly held to the reality of the story. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Narration, character identification, dialogue, story title, story credits, yells, screams, sounds, the unique font of Grid, a scene setting, the weak font of someone dying, and the tease for Rebirth all come into creation from the talented Rob Leigh. Given the number of characters and actions occurring, his job was also not an easy one, yet he succeeds well. I always stand and applaud a letterer that uses a different font for a character’s narration and I do so here. There’s a lot of yelling in this book and each time it’s done it perfectly matches the visuals and the dramatic moment. The first time is when Luthor makes a proclamation to Superman. And the slight change in the Mother Box’s PINGs at the story’s close left me filled, rightfully, with dread. My favorite creation by Leigh for this book is in the bottom panel of 11; having this said without a dialogue balloon makes it leap off the page. Overall grade: A

The final line: Very enjoyable but $5.99 for 42 pages is too much for what’s given. The final 12 pages were set ups for spin-offs and don’t contribute to this saga, even for a coda. This was a story that did go on too long, but is wrapped up well. Will probably have a stronger appeal when read in one sitting without ads. Good, but pricey! Overall grade: B+

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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