Review: Justice League #31 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Justice League #31 DC Comics New 52 Batman Lex Luthor 1

Justice League #31

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Doug Mahnke, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, and Rod Reis

 

The short of it:

 

Jessica Cruz, a victim turned shut in, is chosen by Power Ring’s ring, and she’s not interested. It taunts her, pokes her with her deepest secrets, and it wants her. Thing is, she doesn’t want it…but that really doesn’t matter, it’s an evil power ring, it’ll take who it wants. Speaking of taking what it wants, Lex Luthor is sitting in Wayne Manor trying to get Bruce to admit to being Batman. He doesn’t come at him with the reasons why he knows Bruce is Batman, rather, he opts to focus on why Bruce needs to just own up to it so they can move on to the next phase of the talk. But this is Bruce Wayne, he’s not about to roll over and let Lex know that he’s right, Lex is going to have to get unique with this. Like pulling a gun on Bruce and saying he knows Batman is just human, which just gets Alfred to pull a gun on him, and it’s a whole thing until he realizes that the draft he feels is coming from the clock, and he blows it up to reveal the entrance to the cave. Again, Lex just wants to talk.

Speaking of talking, Shazam is on monitor duty with Cyborg and can’t shut up. He’s THAT bored, and Vic tries to suggest ways for him to be helpful instead of letting his mind wander. Shazam talks about how he didn’t really get an instruction manual with his powers, but that he’ll try something. Vic obviously thinks he’s going to get some sort of hint to the Power Ring, but instead they get a ping pong table with lightning bolts on it. Next on task is a stop in Metropolis, where Len Snart is paying a visit to Lexcorp as Luthor’s personal guest in the city. He meets Luthor’s assistant, tells security guards that he has a gun that he won’t give up, and then poses for pictures. Lex isn’t even there, but Mercy, his assistant, lets Len know that Lex wants to give him a real job and let him go legit.

Back in Gotham, Lex starts to explain to Bruce how he figured it out, but Bruce just wants to know what he wants. He tries to explain that, despite everything seeming like he has blackmail in mind, that he’s not blackmailing anybody, and then Bruce tells him about the Frog and the Scorpion, and then about the Frog, Scorpion, and BAT. Bruce expects Luthor to stab them all in the back, and he isn’t sure what to do. Superman buzzes in about then to say that they found the ring…so Bruce lets him know about his problem. Speaking of problems, though, Power Ring is ripping up Portland while Jessica tries to beg it to stop, no such luck, but maybe that’s what the Doom Patrol is for.

 

What I liked:

 

  • The Ring of Volthoom is just an amazing fantastic thing. That false sense of giving the girl a choice that never actually mattered. She’s just another puppet, and the ring is the sort of asshole that doesn’t care if she wants to be or not.

  • MERCY GRAVES! Best Luthor bodyguard/assistant EVER!

  • Lex and Bruce. Bruce being as coy and cool about “I’m not Batman!” and going through the motions as if he had practiced the speech a thousand times. Lex being insistent in having the conversation and not believing Bruce’s lines at all. Forcing Bruce and Alfred’s hands, and blowing open the cave. The whole sequence is amazing.

  • Shazam is just hilarious. I know he’s a fourteen year old kid in the body of an adult, but Geoff does a great job of making him feel like one. He’s bored, impatient, and excited at the concept of doing ANYTHING. Best part? His end result is the ping pong table; “We might as well play since it’s here.”

  • Ooooh, Doug Mahnke drawing glowing green rings. I will never get tired of that.

 

What I didn’t like:

 

  • Save for the Shazam/Cyborg bit, this felt more like an issue of Lex Luthor than Justice League. This is a problem because I would buy a Lex Luthor ongoing and now I want one.

  • If Lex didn’t already know Bruce Wayne was Batman, he would have figured it out from the crazy kick he threw. I mean, yes, Bruce had to try and save Alfred, but he went full Batman before he even knew that Lex had identified the cave entrance.

 

Final thoughts:

 

Captain Cold goes legit! Geoff made me a lifelong fan of the leader of the Rogues during his run on Flash years ago, and it’s great to see him return. His version of Lenny is confident and a bit of a dick, but he’s not evil, and that goes a really long way. He’s a bank robber who could feasibly be just as happy stopping them if he’s making ends meet.

Maybe it’s because I watched Justice League: War, but I like Vic and Billy as buddies. They’re the kids of the group, so to speak, since Billy is fourteen or fifteen and Vic…well, he’s probably in his early twenties, but he was only seventeen or eighteen when he went full Cyborg. That movie is really throwing me off, I keep superimposing that version of Shazam into the history.

How do you take back Lex knowing that Bruce is Batman? I don’t foresee it being something that bites them in the ass in the near future, but long term? We saw with prior takes on Lex in the New 52 that writers aren’t beyond taking him full crazy supervillain, but if you go that angle with him knowing that Bruce is Batman then it just creates oh so many issues.

So is Flash off of the team?

So that’s what happened to Element Woman! Alright, back to not caring.

Project: Wannabe. Lex looking for the metagene? My first thought was 52 and the superbeings he created…and then mass annihilated.

Seeing Doug Mahnke draw these characters just makes me wish he’d drawn Forever Evil. David Finch wishes he was Doug Mahnke.

I wonder how many fables that Bruce has “…and the Bat” versions of.

I look forward to the day when Lex and Superman actually team up, that is going to be very interesting.

 

Overall: 8.5/10

 

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