In Review: Justice League #3

Things go cosmic in this issue as two members fall before the Kindred.

The covers: The giant hands of one of the Kindred rise out of the ground. The Justice League moves into formation to tackle the being; clockwise they are Batman, Jessica Cruz, Superman, Wonder Woman, Simon Baz, Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash, and Batman. This looks like a cover constructed under duress by Tony S. Daniel. He’s got to have the entire team on the cover, but there are too many awkward characters, such as the really skinny Aquaman and all the heroes flying off look as though they’re leaving the scene and not getting into position to fight — they look too calm. The colors by Tomeu Morey are good, with the light violet background being a good color to have the heroes stand out on. This just isn’t working. Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn provide the Variant cover and it’s one I had to own. This is a close up of Superman with his left fist held up as if he’s frozen mid-swing. His eyes are a little to the left, sizing up his next opponent no doubt. The background is a really detailed city, with the bottom of the image showing it’s been torn up. Naturally, the American flag is just behind his head. This is the quintessential Superman layout and it works outstandingly. Overall grades: Regular C+ and Variant A+

The story: The third installment of “The Extinction Machines” by Bryan Hitch begins in Australia, showing the Kindred joining to become a giant humanoid. The story then moves to Japan where the same is happening. In Russia, one of the giant Kindred has completely formed and is sitting placidly just outside a city, staring vacantly straight ahead. Wonder Woman appears before the creature with a thunderbolt in her hand. “I need to know who you are and what you want here. Tell me.” It doesn’t respond, so she presses the matter, “Kindred! Those people are under our protection! Release them now!” She pierces the entity’s face with her weapon and people explode from the opening. The Kindred then stands and states, “Our purpose was within all people so we would emerge from them wherever they would be. On any world, at any time. We would come to end forever.” She continues her attack, but bodies emerge from the Kindred, grab Wonder Woman, and pull her into the giant being, so that she is a part of the whole. Hitch then teases some more backstory for the Kindred by having them speak, over great distances, with each other, stating that the Purge has already occurred and they must join. The entity in Japan and Australia then begin to move. The story then moves to follow what the other Justice League members are up to: the Lanterns, Flash, and Cyborg are in different countries, trying to stop smaller aspects of the Kindred, while Batman and Superman are at a very surprising location, where the world’s first superhero is involved in an emotional conversation. The Lanterns stumble onto something very surprising. Pages 9 and 10 give readers a familiar moment that several DC comics have included since Rebirth and they’ve not gotten old yet; they are welcome scenes of humanity. The dialogue in the third panel on 12 is outstanding, because that is exactly what would be said. Aquaman makes a brief appearance, with his interaction with the Kindred near him revealing another tidbit of the Kindred’s story. Pages 17 – 19 are a cosmic moment, more so than I’ve seen in any other Justice League comic in several years, and that includes The Darkseid War storyline. This is a good League read, with cosmic beings’ actions occurring without explanation, as they should, though I wish more time was spent with each team member. Overall grade: A-

The art: This book looks good. Tony S. Daniel provides the pencils and Sandu Florea the inks. The book starts with three epic panels: the first two show people fusing into a giant being, looking like something from a Clive Barker story. The bottom image shows one of the Kindred entities fully formed, but in the most unexpected stances — sitting passively. His size, the veins on his body, and the lightning striking around him mark his as far beyond man’s comprehension — it’s a simple design but works perfectly to make him (it? them?) godly. Pages 2 and 3 is a partial double-page splash showing an extreme close up of this Kindred’s mouth and neck with Wonder Woman before him; this is a good way to crystallize the scale of the being. The expulsion of the bodies from the Kindred as the heroine strikes it is well done, but I wanted to know where the bodies went. It’s not shown, but I needed a shot of them being reabsorbed or running for the hills in fear. The bottom three panels on 4 are great at showing the princess being taken by and into the Kindred, with the fifth panel being really well done. The introduction of the Lanterns, Flash, and Cyborg are solid action shots, and are nice contrasts to what two other heroes are doing on 7. The large panel on 8 is really cool and I was hoping to see so much more of it. Daniel and Florea do action exceedingly well, but they also make 9 and 10 are also very strong because they are able to put a tremendous amount of real visual emotion on the page, and these pages are essentially just two people talking. The exit on 11 is how a hero should leave a location for a mission that could result in death. 13 and 20 have the artists having to render actions that probably sound better on a page than seen, yet they make them work, and work well. My favorite pages are 18 and 19, which are a true double-paged spread. It was probably not the most difficult to draw in the issue, but it captures the cosmic power of the antagonists perfectly: these pages showed how massive the threat is. I like the art on this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: A Justice League book should always have bright colors, not just because of the costumes of the characters, but their adventures should explode in colors. The first page has Tomeu Morey doing this excellently: the first panel uses a glowing red to show the bodies fusing into one, the second uses purple to give an unearthly hue to the proceedings, and the grey, foggy sky sets off the violet skin of the giant Kindred in the third. The splashes of purple and the yellow veins on the Kindred’s skin give it a sickly feel, making Earth’s plight seem more dark. Wonder Woman’s color scheme makes her pop off the page when she appears. When the Lanterns are first shown they’re fighting foes against an orange sky, which is the perfect color to have green stand out upon. When the emerald warriors go into space, it’s not the ebony darkness of reality, but a violet and blue emptiness, which is another background to have green shine. A reader may think that the characters on 9 and 10 are too pale, but it’s necessary so that one individual departure on 11 can have red highlight the character and foreshadow danger. As with the art, 18 and 19 have the strongest colors, because of how the Kindred are shown; their words justify their coloring. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene setting, narration, the story’s title, the book’s credits, dialogue, yells, transmissions and ring speak, and sounds are crafted by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. The first page shows the variety that this team brings to this book with four different fonts on display. Only the title of this saga dominates, as it should since it’s the title, and this shows how a variety of texts can add to the power of a page’s look. I do wish that the Kindred’s speech had been a different font, rather than differentiated by coloring, but they do have to communicate with the heroes, so “normal” speech should have to be employed. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Things go cosmic in this issue as two members fall before the Kindred. The action is good, the villains mysterious, and the visuals strong. This is what I want in a Justice League book. Overall grade: A

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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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