Justice League #15
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Romance. Superpowers. Atlantean invasions. Justice League #15 nearly has it all, juggling characters and concepts at a frenzied pace. Geoff Johns, paired with his former Aquaman collaborator Ivan Reis, sets up a nice starting point for the "Throne of Atlantis," balancing characterization and widescreen action with equal enthusiasm.
For those who haven't been reading Justice League, Johns works hard to bring you up to speed. It's clear the character he can play with the most — Cyborg. Struggling with his humanity and his relationship with his father, Victor obsesses over the wrong things, equating flesh and bone with his own self-worth, making his inner tension both sympathetic and enthralling. While he has to set up the conflict with Atlantis, Johns succeeds more with the character moments, particularly a sequence with new couple Superman and Wonder Woman sharing a little bit of Kent culture in Smallville and Metropolis.
Yet it's not all dates and parental drama in this issue — there's a war a-coming with Atlantis, and they're not going to be happy till all the surface-dwellers are sleeping with the fishes. Johns pays off the Superman/Wonder Woman romance with aplomb later on in this issue, as he weaves together his strongest action set piece since this series began. Not all of these beats work without that kind of emotional foundation, however — a team-up between Batman and Aquaman looks pretty cool, but because Johns has to set up all this exposition of Atlantean forces, these prickly Leaguers don't quite cause the sparks I would expect given their two very forceful personalities.The art, meanwhile, is very strong, but is also missing something to really sell this concept as a whole. Ivan Reis's Batman is a highlight, as his tiny white eyes are the only things that show from his shadowy, snarling face — it's a surprising amount of showmanship from Reis, whose popularity comes mainly from creating a clean, platonic visual ideal for all these characters, sort of in the tradition of John Byrne or Alan Davis. He draws many of the quiet moments nicely, but does struggle with some of Wonder Woman's emotional beats, underselling some moments that should have been particularly endearing.
But on the face of it, this comic has one big challenge — namely, how to make the forces of Atlantis seem like a challenge worthy of DC's most powerful heroes instead of an aquatic punchline. On the one hand, because Johns is bringing Aquaman's world to the greater DCU, bringing the original series artist isn't a bad move — and while bits like Superman catching battleships is pretty righteous, Reis's clean lines are missing that sort of atmosphere and edge to make this seem more like a fair fight.
The occasional art hiccup aside, Johns and Reis do an effective job at setting up the foundations for the upcoming "War of Atlantis." While the expectation for Justice League has been a sort of sprawling widescreen epic, I find that Johns is really at his best when he explores the unique dynamics that come the rare times DC's greatest legends are together in the same room. No matter who the foe, the Justice League will always find a way to win, which makes winning jaded readers over with just action a hard sell — but Geoff Johns's strength isn't just concept, but character. Just reading this issue, even with the undersea adventures, it's clear to me that seeing just what makes these newly rebooted characters tick is where DC's future truly lies.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!