REVIEW: Justice League #15

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Hacked coordinates. Rogue missiles. Carnivorous sea beasties. Giant tidal waves. Inter-office dating. What is happening to this world and how will the Justice League cope? Major Spoilers dives in! Also, Shazam!

JUSTL_Cv15JUSTICE LEAGUE #15
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Rod Reis
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Justice League:  The Justice League worked together to bring down the Cheetah and turn Superman back into his old Super-self. Since she apparently wanted to be caught, Cheetah was quickly incarcerated, leaving ample time for Superman and Wonder Woman to go on a date of sorts. Batman watched on creepily in secret. In Shazam, we learned that being a kid with superpowers is tantamount to awesome incarnate.

CRAP, I CAN’T SWIM.

SNAFUs abound! Someone has hacked the coordinates during a missile test causing the surface world to inadvertently fire on Atlantis. Of course, Atlantis, being the rational and calm people we all know and love, immediately stages an attack on the surface world. And it all couldn’t have come at a worse time for Superman and Wonder Woman who continue their “secret” romance with the help of their trusty alter egos.

Honestly, this series had been found a bit wanting as of late. The previous story arcs were quite firmly planted in the ‘meh’ zone, with the Shazam story at the end being the only thing worth checking out. That’s changed. As promised, the Throne of Atlantis story arc feels like the start of something new.

Geoff Johns is playing heavily with relationship dynamics, making what could potentially be a plot of disaster-movie-like proportions into something much more complex. The larger plot in it of itself isn’t particularly new. The Atlanteans are always getting ticked off and attacking the surface world. That’s not what matters. What matters is the unsavory position Aquaman has been thrust into. He’s neither wholly of the surface nor is he wholly of Atlantis. In this issue, Johns is setting the foundations for a number of questions about Aquaman’s mixed-race, dual identity and family, something that’s going to figure in heavily for issues to come.

Not to mention, Johns continues to fan the flames of the quasi-taboo relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman. One can’t help but wonder if this is all going to eventually blow up in their faces.

Then there’s Shazam. Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman continue to mess around with Billy’s new-found powers, accidentally stopping a bank robbery, a liquor store holdup and a car thief in the process. After a magic mirror declares that Black Adam is searching for Shazam, Billy and Freddy’s fun is cut short. I really have to applaud Geoff Johns for delving into his characters’ impish sides and exploring what a kid might realistically do when superpowers are bestowed upon him. I’m curious as to how he’s going to handle this now that Black Adam has arrived.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO… OOOOH! SHINY!

Ivan Reis and Frank Prado were really put through the ringer with this issue. Lots were called for in the way of art and texture–from landscapes to portraits, from liquids to shiny solids–and they managed to deliver on all of it. This is a really impressive book for what it covers artistically.

What stands out most is Reis’ ability to show the enormity of the situation. Scenes of watery Armageddon manage to visually say everything that needs to be said about the strength of the Atlanteans, doing very quickly in one or two spreads what Michael Bay needs whole movies to show. I’ll be very impressed if Reis can keep this up in the following issues.

That’s not to discount Gary Frank and the Shazam art. Frank does some really nice work with facial features in Shazam, being able to portray a wide number of expressions with the most minimal of adjustments. Frank has a talent for humanizing these characters. He’s also quite good at drawing children as easily as he draws adults, bringing simultaneous strength and vulnerability to both age groups.

The only real complaint I have is the cover. It shows the Justice League with what looks like Shazam as its newest addition. That’s not the case. Shazam doesn’t cross paths with them at all and it’s a little disappointing. False advertising does that, though.

BOTTOM LINE: PICK IT UP

This is an excellent addition to the Justice League series and a very promising start to the Throne of Atlantis story arc. Geoff Johns is doing some interesting things, story wise, and the new artistic duo is proving more than capable of delivering a very aesthetically pleasing book. Pick this one up.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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