In the Dark Multiverse, Nightwing takes command of a strange new League…  Your Major Spoilers review of Justice League #54 from DC Comics awaits!


Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Xermanico
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Editor: Alex R. Carr
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 6, 2020

Previously in Justice LeagueIt’s the Titans reunion you’ve been clamoring for when Starfire and Cyborg join Nightwing in this twisted Justice League.  The team is hell-bent for Brimstone Bay to free the Legion of Doom, but what horrors and desires will the Valley of Starros reveal to them…  and who or what is the villain named Mindhunter?


After last issue’s sudden left turn into a strange post-apocalyptic world of sword and sorcery, with Nightwing, Hawkgirl, Detective Chimp and a fallen Luthor forced to band together to survive, we open this issue with Starfire and Cyborg teleporting in from the pages of their home title, Justice League Odyssey. There are immediately greeted with a horde of mutated Bat-villains and swept up in their battle with Nightwing’s quartet. Elsewhere, Martian Manhunter is being held captive by Mindhunter (an evil Batman in the employ of the Batman Who Laughs, who stole the DNA of his world’s Manhunter) as the villain tries to tear his mind apart. He manages to contact Hawkgirl for just a moment, imploring her to go with Nightwing, while Dick gets reacquainted with his old partners. Starfire is enraged to hear that Nightwing was shot, while Cyborg takes the altered world in stride, and all of them reject the presence and assistance of Luthor. At least, until the find themselves in a valley full of giant alien Starros, ready to control their minds and set them against one another.


The setup here is still murky, but that’s actually part of the fun of Williamson’s plot, giving us Conan-style pseudo-high-fantasy while still being able to play with the existing relationships of the DCU. Nightwing’s presence gives the whole thing a new interest for me, after fifty issues of the core team plus all the additional heroes, and this issue’s use of Luthor and Detective Chimp (both of whom can be a little overwhelming in large doses) is well-done, also. I like Xermanico’s art here, especially Starfire with the requisite barbarian mohawk haircut, and the final page reveal of dozens of hovering Starros from ground level is truly a startling sight. There are some issues with transition in the issue, but it’s not entirely clear whether that’s a failing of art or of plotting, but either way, picking up the threads of where and when we are works pretty well. I’m still not a fan of the Dark Multiverse’s insistence that EVERY villain be related to the BWL, and the dialogue from Mindhunter is (intentionally, I think) infuriating, making me want to see him defeated, rather than my usual Batman Who Laughs response of utter exhaustion.


All in all, Justice League #54 hits more often than it misses, tying in the Legion of Doom’s ongoing plots to the goings-on in Nightwing’s solo title, as well as JL Odyssey, the old Shadowpact series and half a dozen other bits and bobs into a nice example of the “heroes in another context” trope, with strong art and a story that illuminates familiar parts of the cast’s personalities in satisfying ways, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m still not sure how we got here from what had been happening in the book pre-#53, but it feels like Williamson has that covered, and I’m willing to stick around and find out.

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A little confusing in the beginning, but makes for an interesting change-of-pace issue, and the quasi-Titans reunion is handled very nicely.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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