The Crime Syndicate has disposed of the Justice League, and is now poised to take over the entire world. The only loose thread comes in the form of a man trained by the Batman himself, a man now hunted… Can even Nightwing prevail against his mentor’s evil counterpart? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
The art is excellent.
Owlman’s origin is pretty horrifying.
DC’s obsession with lost family members.
Feels like this has been going on forever…
JUSTICE LEAGUE #25
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Christian Alamy/Mark Irwin/Keith Champagne/Doug Mahnke
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb/Tony Avina/Rod Reis=
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Justice League: The Crime Syndicate has come from what I’m going to go ahead and call Earth-3 because I can’t remember the newest designation, and they have unmasked Nightwing, destroyed the Justice League and taken over the world with 3-D covers (although that part isn’t in-universe.) Now, the only threat to the villains from beyond comes in the form of the cracks in their own alliance…
“IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT IN GOTHAM CITY…”
This issue opens with one of the strongest scenes in a DC comic in recent memory, as we are given the origin of the Crime Syndicate’s Owlman, a similar-but-vividly-twisted version of Batman’s own origins. Thomas Wayne, Junior is shown to be a calculating, sociopathic little bastard, and the final moments (with the Waynes lying bleeding in the gutters of Crime Alley) remains the same, with the lead-up and the man behind the gun wildly divergent. Doug Mahnke’s art, with its always-piercing eyes and vaguely inhuman facial proportions adds another layer of menace to the proceedings, giving us a very strong opener for the book. The rest of the issue doesn’t have the same sort of punch for me, as we find a group of criminals gathered at the behest of their new overlords, the Crime Syndicate. One of them, a man named O’Brien, seems obsessed with stretching a rubber band between his fingers. When it all turns out to be a trap, only O’Brien is left alive, though his body is slowly melting into a nearly liquid blob, which seems to be a setup for the origin of a New 52 Plastic Man, which I’m all for. Unfortunately, I recall at least one appearance of Plastic Man already, in an early issue of Justice League International, which means once again, the “simplified” universe has convolutions that make things even more complicated.
A TWISTED KIND OF FAMILY…
While I appreciate the underpinnings of this story, with Owlman driven by his own psychological scars to try to bring Nightwing into his “family” to replace his world’s dead Dick Grayson, the DC Universe is now full to bursting with people whose only motivation in life is a dead parent, relative or child, and adding this only-okay story to the pile makes things seem very one-note. There is a nice moment for Nightwing in the middle of the issue, but as the issue wraps up, we’re left with a flashback, a few panels of evil-Cyborg and evil-Alfred, and a long conversation between Nightwing and Owlman, meaning that this four-dollar issue of Justice League features no Justice League in it, reminding me of the crossover-madness salad days of the 90s, where each individual title seemed designed only to support whatever the Next Big Thing was. Forever Evil has been going on for so long, and the story beats being parsed out so far apart that I honestly have trouble recalling what’s going on in the story.
THE BOTTOM LINE: NOTHING MORE THAN A VIGNETTE.
All in all, this book is well-constructed, well-drawn, and slick, but an agglomeration of flaws bother me, with the story feeling slight and padded out, a price tag that seems out of proportion to what is delivered, and the fact that it’s actually not really an issue of Justice League at all combining to leave me feeling disappointed. Justice League #25 has a killer opening, but little followup, serving a crossover whose name has never felt more appropriate (Forever, indeed), earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m not sure when ‘Forever Evil’ will actually wrap up, but I’m hoping that when it does I still have any interest in reading the stories that follow it…