Review: Justice League #33 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Justice League #33 Spoilers Power Ring Crime Syndicate 1

Justice League #33

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Doug Mahnke, Keith Champagne, and Andrew Dalhouse

 

The short of it:

The Brand New Power Ring is knocked out, and Lex has Niles Caulder restrained. Lex isn’t about to let The Chief get his hands on this girl and do to her what he has to any member of his Doom Patrol…Lex needs this girls power to protect the world. That ring has knowledge of the threat that destroyed Earth 3, and that means that the world’s greatest heroes need to get it. ┬áBut, again, Doom Patrol, which means that the League has to go through Caulder’s team of victims in order to prevent Power Ring (who I’ll just call Jessica from here out) from being the next person that Caulder manipulates into giving him control. Lex knows how twisted he is, though, and tells Caulder exactly what he knows (which, in a very Lex fashion, he’s hacking from Caulder’s files while restraining him). Caulder attempts to defend his character to Lex by painting himself as a counselor for metas as Element Woman tells the League that they never looked for her (they totally did). Lex tells Caulder about their first encounter and how that was the day he knew he was dangerous; Caulder cured a village of a mysterious virus, and Lex discovered that Caulder created the virus in the first place.

But the ring needs to do its thing, so it wakes up and forces Jessica back to consciousness. It brings up her fears, her origin, the men in the woods that murdered her friends for seeing too much, who sent her fleeing into her house for the last several years. The Ring of Volthoom explodes with power, and across the multiverse…the Anti-Monitor takes notice. What follows is Luthor explaining to Batman how the ring works, and that he has a plan to stop Jessica without harming her too much. Caulder stops him (with a boom), as he disagrees with Lex trying to scramble her mind in an attempt to break the connection. Caulder intends to go into her head, literally, and fix the problem with brain surgery. Batman is the only reason that Caulder isn’t blasted to death by Luthor.

He’s also the one who fixes things, as he walks up to Jessica and talks to her. He sympathizes with her, tells her he understands being a victim, that he understands being afraid. He helps her control the ring long enough to release all of her fear through it and fully power down. Victory: Batman. Afterwards he meets with Superman and Wonder Woman to discuss the Luthor issue, and tells them that he’s of the belief that Luthor should join the League. If for no other reason than to keep an eye on both him and Lexcorp, as he’s going to continue going about his new mission of protecting the world with or without them.

That last page is a hell of a visual.

 

What I liked:

  • Lex Luthor is quickly turning into the best lead character that the League has had since relaunching with the New 52. His voice is unique, and the more Johns fleshes him out, the easier it is to truly buy into the face turn of my favorite villain.
  • Doug Mahnke is awesome, and I’m so glad he picked up this job. I know that he’s not going to be on Justice League for too long, but every issue thus far has been a treat, and I see no reason for that to change. This issue is just awesome, I mean, look at Elastigirl’s face start to melt, or any of the fear monsters from Power Ring. So awesome.
  • That last page is a hell of a visual. Seriously, it needed to be repeated. It’s not the first time I’ve seen those two characters shake hands, but it’s a rarity to the point where it stands out as a banner moment.
  • Batman talking down Jessica by appealing to her as a fellow victim was just awesome. While everyone else is punching things, or debating how to use science to get her ring off, Batman just walks up and completely defuses the situation simply by talking her through letting her fear ago. Batman’s humanity saves the day; again.
  • Volthoom is such an awesome supporting cast member, I mean, who doesn’t love the evil ring that belittles it’s wearer at every opportunity?

 

What I didn’t like:

  • While I freely admit that I hate the Doom Patrol, this arc did nothing to make me any start to reconsider my position. Not because they were the antagonists, or because The Chief is human garbage, but just because they were just, well, there. Geoff planted seeds with them, but forgot to make them more than fodder.
  • Luthor didn’t cripple Caulder.

 

Final thoughts:

So the Ring of Volthoom is the Green Light of Fear. How does that make the rest of the colors stack up? Green is in the middle, which means that it doesn’t have an opposite to swap with, so fear should be blue and rage should be indigo. Then again, it’s also incredibly possible that it’s a world with no other colored rings, but at the same time, Johns already made Volthoom into the First Lantern and yeah. I’m thinking too much about this thing that really isn’t that much of a thing.

So Jessica’s agoraphobia is because the guys killed her friends and she feared for her life? That’s not agoraphobia, that’s whatever the phobia is where you’re afraid of mobsters killing you to hide evidence.

Nice to know that The Chief is as big of a bastard as ever. That’s probably the only thing I don’t hate about the Doom Patrol, that writers never have misgivings about letting the leader be a selfish, arrogant, sociopathic piece of garbage.

Elastigirl is the only member of the Doom Patrol I didn’t hate in this issue, and that’s just because she started to melt the second someone didn’t know who she was.

This is quickly becoming the Lex Luthor book I’ve wanted ever since Cornell’s Action Comics ended with a whimper. Especially since the New 52 decided to open up with a take on Lex that was so awful it had to be retconned out of existence in favor of bringing back the version we all know and love.

I miss Simon Baz. And Geoff writing Green Lantern. And Doug drawing Green Lantern. Seeing them reunite on Justice League for an arc with tons of green light being thrown about just makes me miss it all more.

Overall: 8.5/10

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