JUSTICE LEAGUE #34

Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Pete Woods
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee

How much do I love Christopher Priest is a question I’m asking to help frame this review? Enough that even though I could have completely blown by this review this week due to circumstances of a migraine so bad it left me achy and queasy for a day now and the back was unceremoniously ran into by a truck yesterday like Roy Moore at a Junior High cheerleading practice, I’m here to talk about a new Christopher Priest project. I’ve been long-accepting that the man see’s comic book scripting in a more progressive and interesting in how he breaks down the characters in their pages and panels from their norms. He’s a guy who very much likes to kind of fundamentally break down his new toys and rebuild them not necessarily different but at least in a new way of looking at them after they are reformed and through whatever set of eyes he tells his story. That he’s now taking that approach to the Justice League, that’s something that is pretty max hype, but also something that someone dropped the ball on considering I didn’t see any real push on it until after it was already solicited.

Which is cool, because Christopher Priest has always seemed like a pretty chill and under the radar kind of guy, despite the amazing work he has done before like his BLACK PANTHER and his ongoing and glorious DEATHSTROKE run. This gives him the room to what he does and here, in this first issue with artist Pete Woods, he goes right for the Bat. Again, what I enjoy about Priest is how he takes the established and heads right up a level with it, and in this case, it’s a take on the regimenting of this group; how they all operate as a machine from a Batman at the central intelligence down to the team–all being degrees of cogs that move the machine or make redundancies. A movement happens in deep space that looks like an armada on the move, which causes coordinating Green Lanterns and the Superman. Meanwhile, an operation on the ground with some terrorists that government agents wanted some heavy duty backup on is underway and the Bat is at the middle of it all while Cyborg helps call audibles. It’s all very sleek and effortless for almost everyone, except for the Bat–who Priest and Woods nudge and remind us upfront with as Bruce Wayne is passed out on a Wayne Manor stair case: He’s the one without powers and therefore it all takes a bit more out of him. Which leads us into the scenario that no one envisions, naively and/or arrogantly, and that’s the occasion of the Batman being wrong.

But like I was saying, the process is interesting. These folks – and especially the Bat – are playing chess on a planetary level like we all shoot off work emails each day. Which, duh, obviously. It’s what they do and what they are: Super people. Though, admittedly, there’s some odd activity in here, and not that because by issue’s end Batman has made an assumptive error that causes more havoc that it ever should have. Like, quite frankly, I get that it’s good to help on the ground but committing the Queen of the Amazons and King of the Seas to aid some federal tactical forces to bring down some terrorist activity seems like a whole Watchtower full of overkill. But it shows that these figures have a lot on their plate no matter how big or small and that the one non-powered member among them has the highest, most impossible standards and that something had to give eventually. Or did it? That’s the interesting thing with these Priest scripts, he could either develop this like some sort of mystery where there was a reason why the Bat failed or it could just be, gasp, there’s a human tale in here amongst the gods about expectations and performance and failure. Either way or somewhere in between, it will guaranteed be a nice and personal tale about these larger than life characters that you can never take for granted and I don’t plan on it with this team for as long as this creative team sticks around.

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to AICN COMICS and now at MLMILLERWRITES.COM. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to – funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He’s a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn’t the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.