Review: Justice League #16
“Friends and Enemies” (and “Shazam! Chapter 9”)
Published by DC Comics
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis (and Gary Frank)
Coloured by Rod Reis (and Brad Anderson)
Vulko discusses what Dr. Shin may bring to the table with relation to Orm and his army, which prompts Cyborg to find him. Meanwhile in Boston, the conflict between Aquaman and the Justice League continues. Aquaman and Orm continue to have philosophical differences about the course of action currently being taken. The Atlanteans proceed to attack and they engage in a vicious battle with the Justice League. Orm devises a way to neutralize some of the League, which does not go unnoticed by Vulko. Orm then decides his next course of action. Over at S.T.A.R. labs, Dr. Morrow namedrops an old group while wanting to utilize his weather machine. Then Cyborg shows up and requests his father’s help. However, Cyborg also has a contingency plan, which he puts into action.
In the backup, Sivana along with Sin go to find Pride. He also reveals that he was ulterior motives (which comes as no surprise to us). Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Black Adam attacks Shazam. Black Adam believes that he is the rightful keeper of the Rock of Eternity and seeks to take all of his power. Shazam is forced to make a retreat and hides amongst the crowd, but Black Adam vows to find and kill him nonetheless.
Vulko plays a useful role in this storyline as an intermediate (verbally speaking) with the events between Atlantis and the Justice League while providing readers with some necessary exposition. He also reminds us that Atlantis is a large threat and that they’ve done damage without a single one of them emerging from the waters. It’s still nice to see Orm elevated from jobber status to being the primary threat in an arc. I also like how he’s referred to as Orm and not Ocean Master because it sounds more threatening. Orm immediately knowing about Aquaman’s plan and how the sea life leaving the coast affected that was a nice touch. I’m just really enjoying how Orm is presented as a brilliant strategist and not as a joke. Also, extra points for Reis for creating such a great visual of the Atlanteans emerging from the ocean. It was a great double page spread that looked like it was more than the Justice League could handle. The fight scenes were very nice and the panel where Superman really lets his heat vision loose was awesome. The hightlight for me though is that finally Cyborg gets his time to shine. He’s utilizing his abilities effectively and it’s all basically left up to him. The sacrifice that he’s willing to make shows his leadership qualities (that we have all seen pre-reboot) and it looks like he’s going to get some decent screen time next issue. It’s about time because sixteen issues in I’ve been feeling like he’s just been there and hasn’t been a strong presence at all. His backup plan, which involved the cliffhanger on the last page was really damn cool. I was glad that he made the call himself and went ahead with executing it. I’m seriously looking forward to the next issue now. Also, it appears that a Flashpoint character may be making an appearance in the near future (this may not be news, but I haven’t seen this character since that event). In the backup, I really like the reimagining of Sivana’s background. I know where it’s heading and I’m enjoying how it going to get there. Billy showing some damage that he endured as Shazam really put over Black Adam’s attack. The majority of this story was Black Adam doing some serious damage and this is what I’ve missed about having Black Adam around. He’s relentless, vicious, and this is what he does best. He was one of the characters that really needed the reboot to happen. The way that Shazam and Black Adam’s outfits react during their battle was a very cool visual. I was also glad to see Billy’s inherent goodness start to surface during this issue as he was concerned more about bystanders than he was himself. All in all, this was a very enjoyable read this month.
I’ve been reading both Aquaman and Justice League since the reboot and I don’t really recall the existence of Atlantis ever being in question. Dr. Shin made such a point about them now knowing about its existence yet it was never really established that there was such a question to begin with. The banter between Aquaman and the Justice League was a bit annoying. The Justice League, Orm, and Aquaman all make valid points yet the League will not provide him (Aquaman) with enough time to end the conflict before it escalates further. They could have agreed beforehand what point they would intervene so it wouldn’t create such a distraction prior to Orm attacking. Wonder Woman was a little annoying because she was so close-minded to what Aquaman was going through. I thought that if anyone would understand it would be her. Okay, one gripe of mine had nothing to do with the story itself. In the Justice League of America ad, it says, “flying the flag of justice…but where do they pledge their allegiance?” I’m going to guess that it’s probably going to end up being America at some point. Of all the taglines I’m sure they could have found something better.
Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?
Buy It. This arc has already far surpassed the Villain’s Journey arc (which I was kind of ‘meh’ on) and I like how it keeps raising the stakes. Ivan Reis’ art and Rod Reis’ colours more than meet the grand nature of the story. This is important because normally losing an artist of Jim Lee’s standing would really affect a title, but I’m impressed with how the drop-off has been non-existent. When I first heard about this crossover I wasn’t really that excited for it. However, the build-up and the execution have really made this story feel important. It’s great to see DC treating their flagship title with the importance that it deserves.