An attack from beyond the stars brings Batman into conflict with the rest of the team… Your Major Spoilers review of Justice League #40 from DC Comics awaits!
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciler: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Editor: Alex R. Carr
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 5, 2020
Previously in Justice League: An unexpected arrival from the stars brings a dire warning to the Justice League: A new breed of conquerors is on the march. Led by Superman’s nemesis Eradicator, a genetically engineered, super-powered strike team has come to subjugate Earth. To aid the Justice League, Batman makes the unprecedented decision of enlisting an ancient, unrivaled power, which calls into question who, exactly, is in charge. With the League on unsure footing, will they be ready to save the world?
THE RETURN OF SODAM YAT
In a cornfield, in Minnesota, a meteor crashes to Earth… a meteor that turns out to be a man, seemingly humanoid. He mumbles something about “eradicate” before falling unconscious. Almost immediately, the Justice League (in the form of Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern Jon Stewart and Wonder Woman) arrives to assess the scene, only to have the stranger leap out of his crater and attack with heat vision! Batman’s scans identify him as a Daxamite, and the League immediately mobilized for a fight, before Green Lantern barks out an order: “Lantern Yat! STAND DOWN!” Brief explanations are shared all around (What’s a Daxamite? Who is this guy? Why is he seemingly as powerful as Superman?) before Earth’s atmosphere causes Sodam Yat to collapse. (Stupid lead.) Back at the Hall of Justice, the League discovers that one of Daxam’s political parties has been taken over by The Eradicator, who has bred an army of soldiers without the traditional weaknesses, and is pointing them at Earth, the last known bastion of Kryptonian power. The League splits up, with Batman seeking out magical support, Superman and Green Lantern scanning for attacks and Wonder Woman questioning The Flash on his hesitancy in battle. All their discussions are interrupted by the arrival of Eradicator… but Batman is still “negotiating” with Madame Xanadu!
AND THE ERADICATOR!
If I picked this issue up without reading last week’s closer to the Scott Snyder era, I’d have that it nothing more than a good example of the coveted ‘Jumping-On Point’, starting a new arc with an iconic and recognizable team and drawing on continuity in interesting ways to pull it all off. Since I did just read that issue, though, the transition was somewhat jarring, making it feel even more like somebody pushed the Reset Button. The art is nice here, with Friend’s inks toning down some of Mahnke’s more angular facial features, softening his style without muting it. The sequence where the Leaguers surround Yat feels tense, but you can tell that these are professionals in handling difficult situations and everyone’s body language feels appropriate. Superman’s discomfort in explaining his weaknesses is clear in his face as he speaks, making for a different kind of tension. Venditti’s story moves at a quick clip, but doesn’t gloss over dialogue or emotion, with Superman and Green Lantern discussing the recent reveal of Clark Kent’s identity and a perfectly rational, understandable explanation of why Sodam Yat won’t fight with the League. The best part of the whole issue, though, is Batman entangled in mystical bind, barely able to move, informing his teammates that “this will take more convincing” than he thought. It’s an amusing moment that also informs Batman’s determination, making for a double success.
BOTTOM LINE: AN EXCITING OPENER
In short, Justice League #40 is a good start to a new arc, and it’s good to see Mahnke returning to the League after so long, with strong dialogue and a story that has potential, all of which fall at a weird point in the ongoing narrative, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. If I hadn’t come in hoping that we’d get SOME sort of transition, I think my assessment of the story might have been higher, but reading the issues back-to-back leaves me obsessing about loose ends and enjoying the story here somewhat less. It is good to see the effective use of continuity, though.
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JUSTICE LEAGUE #40
After last issue's Bolivan Army non-ending, I had hoped for answers, but what I got instead was the beginning of a new crisis. It's got strong art and interesting character interactions, though, so I enjoyed it.