Justice League #12 

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Jim Lee, David Finch, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

Review by Bobby Shortle

The cover of Justice League #12 became a hot topic this week as major media outlets who usually ignore the world of comics reported on the issue’s headline making cover.  The front of the book features a gorgeous sunset orange background, upon which there is a beautifully rendered Jim Lee drawing of Superman and Wonder Woman sharing a passionate kiss. The decision to feature this image was a brilliant marketing move by DC, but those looking for an issue filled with torrid romance will be sorely disappointed. The fact is that, Justice League #12  is not really about Wonder Woman and Superman smooching, but it is a solid piece of storytelling about a group of heroes coming to grips with the fatal flaws they live with everyday.

Those readers who have used this moment to jump on the book will also find themselves at a loss. Justice League #12 is in fact the end, and an excellent one, to the Villain’s Journey arc. It features some of the strongest character moments of the series and sets up some potentially blockbuster moments to come.  It’s too early to say that this marks a return to form for writer Geoff Johns, mostly because I’ve said that a few times about this book, but it’s the kind of storytelling I’ve been looking for since the series began almost a year ago.

Johns is a master at breaking down heroes from the inside out, taking their strengths and making them weaknesses, thus giving the reader a tangible thread with which to connect to these modern day gods.  In the first arc, Origin, he seemed to forgo this tactic for a simple battle book and the result was something less than stellar. The Villains Journey, while still having its ups and downs, seems to be a return to the writer’s wheel house.  This story in particular delivers several moments of our heroes laid bare and it does wonders to pull us closer to them as people. Whether or not this is worth 12 issues of investment is up to the individual, but my continued faith in Johns leads me to keep hope alive for the future.

So, what of the the buzzed about cover image? Well, I can assure you that this isn’t a tease, the moment itself is tender with a note of sadness that gives it a sense of reality I didn’t expect. A big part of me wishes it hadn’t been given away right on the front cover, because the fact that it ends with a kiss should have been a holy crap kind of event, but instead I was waiting for it.  Lack of dramatic tension aside I think the idea of Superman and Wonder Woman makes sense in the set of circumstances Johns has set up. They are two lost souls, both from very foreign lands, that share an intense sense of loneliness.  Diana because she is still learning how to love and Clark because he is always forced to lie to protect his secret identity. So, if you are worried it will feel like a stunt, it doesn’t, but it will be the kiss’ impact on the issues to come that will really define its worth.

The kiss and everything around it is once again brought to life wonderfully by Jim Lee. The book is, in no uncertain terms, gorgeous, and although it sometimes relies to heavily on splash pages, I often find myself entranced by the bravado of it all. In issue #12 Lee is also asked to breath life into a few smaller moments and he nails them. The scene between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor is dripping with pain of desperation and you can see it in the faces of the characters as much as you can feel it in the writing. Then there is my favorite scene, a meeting of the League on the Watchtower. It should be a moment of victory, but instead it’s a crucible of turmoil. It’s in this scene that Hal Jordan, both in speech and in appearance steps up, and you can actually see the moment of revelation in his face when he comes to a rather giant decision.

Verdict

Justice League #12 is a step in the right direction for the series, but despite its attention grabbing cover art it is not a place for new readers to jump on. Geoff Johns ends his current arc nicely and also begins to give real depth and shade to his large cast of characters. The Superman and Wonder Woman scene will be very effective for those who have been keeping up with the book, but it’s only a small part of a larger whole. If Geoff Johns and Jim Lee can keep up this kind of quality for three or four straight issues Justice League will move from the back of my to read pile right up to the front.

 

 

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About The Author

Editor in Chief

Bobby Shortle is founder and Editor in Chief of Talking Comics as well as the host of the weekly Talking Comics Podcast. When he's not writing about comics he's making short films which can be found at http://vimeo.com/bobbyshortle and talking about pop culture over on Twitter @bobbyshortle.

2 Responses

  1. AvatarofLoki

    I actually just went through the series again from 1-12 for my own project, and you can really see what Johns is up to over the long game.

    A common mark of difference between Marvel and DC is that DC is gods among men, and Marvel is humanish people with relatable problems. The first six, John’s plays into every pre-established conception of these larger than life heroes; even having the book written about them being subtitled ‘Gods Among Men’.

    The second six, he has started breaking them down from that role. Trying to make them as flawed as their contemporaries; without making them simpering idgits. All of it culminating at the end of this issue as they start to become aware of their limitations as well as their hubris. The big question is if this is just the first stop on their fall from grace, or if this marks the end of that arc and this is their rock-bottom of humanization.

    Some stumbling blocks along the way of course, but overall I think this issue really pushed the story told this year onto the good side of the fence in my eyes.

    Thanks for the writeup! And poor Steve Trevor. Guy just can’t catch a break anywhere.

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