Justice League #2 - Review: "Good morning, gentlemen, the temperature is 110 degrees"
Justice League #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Tom Napolitano
It's really great that this was just good. I will admit that expectations for Scott Snyder on Justice League are bombastically unrealistic. Even in my own mind's eye, I kind of have a demand and an expectation for every issue to be spectacular. But that is simply unrealistic and unfair. And it shouldn't even be that way. What many of us should want as comics fans is a creative team that can consistently put together good, solid issues for as long of a streak as possible. With peaks here and there. To expect Snyder to turn out gold every issue is just setting ourselves up. And so I walk away from Justice League #2 feeling that it's really great that this issue was just good. Because it tells me that there is a planned, methodical, drum-beat and pace to this and that the bend is not to make every issue an over-the-top blockbuster, which would just get boring. As Lorne said, a note that is held forever eventually just becomes noise; it's the change that makes music beautiful.
I lost a drumbeat or two between the end of last issue and this one, because I thought we were on an imminent, 3 minute countdown to the universe imploding or something? It could be I read that wrong last issue and that led to my confusing entry to issue #2. It's fine. So if we are still days or weeks away from impending doom, then this issue is what you would expect. Further expansion on the machinations of Luthor, the League developing new strategies to probe and eventually deal with the threat, and so on.
This story did not entirely grab my attention. There were some landmark touches in the opening issue. J'onn J'onzz's introspection and inner-monologue. Everyone doing their own rendition of a Batman impression. The astral plan counsel. There is less of that in this issue, but Snyder still finds places to make the dialogue snappy. Kudos to the asides written in sotto voce and the really smart job on letters by Napolitano to convey that that was what was going on. And I really like that it's the League and everyone is participating, but the creative team elects to not have them all on screen at one time; such as when Bruce mentions that he and Ray Palmer whipped up a "size-transmutable protective vehicle", but Ray is off-screen. The best character moment is Barry getting PO'd that J'onn is sidelining him and not having him enter the Totality. After all of his years of sacrificing himself going all the way back to Crisis on Infinite Earths, it's a nice touch that Flash is suddenly pissed when he is asked to NOT potentially throw his life away for the good of the League. The only problem here is that it is taking a lot of verbiage to get some of these character moments. I felt like this emerged in the final pages of issue #1, where for a large part of that issue I was digging on the extra prose, but in the final 3 pages or so it felt excessive. Issue #2 also feels particularly wordy and if I were reading a novel, I would be eating this stuff up. But I find myself wanting Jimenez to just get a few silent panels where he can just emote faces and convey some of this without as much dialogue. Not because I don't like reading or because it's not well-written. But because comics are a combined art medium, and I feel like there's so much verbiage that the art is getting buried. Kudos to Jimenez and Napolitano for finding space to put it all in working some particularly challenging panel layouts.
And so we come to the art. Jesus Marimba!!! Has Jiminez been doing this the whole time? The guy just jumped into the same pool where I sort Del Mundo, Larroca, and Ribic. And Sanchez' colors are perfectly in sync as well. There's just too much to give credit for here, so let me try a bit of rapid-fire. Facial emotes. Jimenez' Lex Luthor portraits redefine the meaning of shit-eating grin. The faces of the veterans at the Legionnaire's club are incredibly detailed. The story-telling when John Stewart pops Greelok in the face was enough to evoke a laugh from me as if I'd seen that scene in a movie. There are two things in the artwork here that bear more specific mentioning. One is a business / political note in that Jimenez has silently backed out all of the interior lines and separations that arrived with the New 52 costumes. Superman's costume is the classic-classic, complete with the red outer wear. Second, Jimenez' creature work in this issue says that he should clearly be on something like BPRD, Hellboy, or Harrow County. I would just love to see him do something like a comic version of Pacific Rim or just let him do monsters and horror. Swamp Thing, mutant Killer Croc, Cheetah...all of these just look amazing.
So, look. The truth of the matter is that I have some favorite writers; I've always been more of a writer-oriented comic book reader than an art guy, and when someone is in my pool of favorites, my curve with which I view their work may very well be a bit unfair. I'm looking for great things from Soule, King, Tomasi, Bunn, Ellis, Duggan, Rucka, Abnett, Simone, Pak, ...and Snyder. And that's just the way it is. This is a solid issue and there is no question that I am staying on Justice League. These first opening issues are, very much, what I want from a Justice League comic. We're getting at the heart and soul of the relationships that make the League great. So you can take my comments as nits or whatever, but they are honest and true. Maybe the truth is a 7.0 for this book with this creative team is something different for a different team. The League is tough because there have been a LOT of great runs by a LOT of great creators. This is headed for being another one. I'm just looking at it through that lens and trying to surface small things that will make me like it even more.