Huh… Would ya’ look at that? I don’t think I’ve reviewed a single issue of “Justice League” in its entire twenty five issue history. Let me check through my history—yeah, not a single review. I wonder wh—oh yeah, because that book has been a smoldering ruin of terrible plot and unlikable characters since its inception. In fact, every issue reads like how Botulism feels. I thought that I’d never have to waste time with that book on these pages ever. But I misspoke because issue twenty five of “Justice League” breaks the trend, it isn’t astonishingly terrible.
Perhaps I have a bias as I write this because my bar has been so lowered for “Justice League” as a series that almost any improvement would impress me. So here’s the issue with some minor improvement! Amidst the entire Forever Evil kerfuffle, we have an Owlman centric story. Remember who that is, I was having trouble because he showed up in the first issue and then vanished. But it turns out he has his own separate plot that directly opposes the plan of The Crime Syndicate—said every fan who read “JLA: Earth-2” ever. Yes, yes, Owlman shamelessly rips from his own retconned past, though is that really a bad thing. Since its creation, most fans have harkened for a return to the past. Well here’s our chance because they’ve ripped everything they can from stories that worked.
I’m not complaining. In fact I wish they would do this more. Lord knows “Green Arrow” could use a bit more nostalgia. But in this issue we get the big reveal that Owlman is working on his own. And you know what? I really like what he’s doing. Since The Crime Syndicate instated mandatory Super Crime, normal crime is left in a weird limbo. Geoff Johns gives us a unique view of the street level crime which is a question I never thought about. Who needs a safe cracker when the guys ruling the planet can punch through two feet of steel? Owlman is the one to take advantage of the situation, organizing them under his leadership. Except when I say “Organizing” I mean “Brutally Murdering”.
This book has some of the most incredible fight scenes, if a little one sided. Owlman has all of the martial prowess of Batman but none of the moral conviction. There’s explosions and stabbing, and one lucky so-and-so gets melted. Batman has always been a stunning hero to see in action and there’s something about seeing Owlman with all of that skill honed for excessive and gruesome murder. It’s an evil Batman that we can enjoy because we all know that it is temporary. So rejoice now because this brief respite of enriching plot and actual mounting tensions seems as if we have glimpsed into a far flung future of engrossing tales, but alas something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Yes this book is really good and holds a lot of promise for things to come, but only if Geoff Johns were using this as an opportunity to audition for a shot at writing Batman. The book has all of the pacing of a good Batman book and I can’t help but notice that the dialogue of the criminal element in Gotham is spectacular. Honestly, we’re all introduced to stand out characters that we can immediately identify with. Their motivation is clear and what’s more is that they all have the same level of tense desperation. And then they’re murdered in a big flashy fight where they couldn’t possibly defend themselves. But isn’t that the point of death in comics? We’re supposed to know that these men filled a space in this world and with their death there will be a void and we’re not entirely sure what will fill this void.
The main story is one of legacy. Owlman wants to plant seeds that will insure his vision of the world, from controlling the criminal element, to planning the end of The Crime Syndicate, to taking Nightwing as his apprentice. His goals are good but the way he plans to achieve them are dubious. Does this not reek of Omni-Man and Invincible? Nolan wanted his son to inherit the mantle, becoming the tyrant of Earth. There’s a trust and connection and it’s hard for both Dick Grayson and Mark Grayson to make that connection again once they know their mentor is a monster, though they both do when things seem desperate. This is a good book, but I don’t see it for being any more than a diamond in the rough, this book is 88% Invincible.