Justice League #4
Written by Bryan Hitch
Art by Jesus Merino, Andy Owens and Tomey Morey
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Bryan Hitch has been playing with some big ideas in his Justice League run. By its very name and nature, “The Extinction Machines” arc has been the kind of world-shattering threat that necessitates the coming together of the DC Universe’s heaviest of heavy-hitters. On the surface, this issue is everything that is required at this point in the narrative, holding us at the edge of the climax but not quite tipping over the edge. In other words, out of necessity, this issue is all about the exposition.
If you’ve not been keeping up with Justice League so far, Hitch throws us in at the deep end, pleasingly giving the two Earth-bound Green Lanterns some panel time. The issue takes us through episodic moments that focus on each member of the League’s individual efforts against the Kindred, anticipating the eventual union of the League to fight the greater threat. The most dramatic of these is the relatively “new” member of this League, the post-Crisis Superman, fighting doomsday machines at the heart of the Earth.
The motif of giant avatars made up of thousands of ordinary people imbued with the powers of the League members is an intriguing one, but as with some of the better comics the most engaging parts are the human elements. Lois Lane confronting Batman and reading him the riot act would surely crack a approving grin on even the darkest of knights, and there’s a legitimate mystery around Wonder Woman’s branch of the storyline as well.
At times, Jesus Merino, Andy Owens and Tomey Morey’s artwork hits all the right notes to be the blockbuster epic in intends to be. As the Green Lanterns explore a purged planet, the detail and grandeur of the scenes is staggering across a multi-page spread. Yet almost immediately afterwards, the issue shows its inconsistency with a series of pages featuring Cyborg that feel both rushed and uninspired, a malady that follows the art through the Aquaman and initial Lois and Batman sequences. For a moment, the art feels like the issue itself: incredibly capable and prima facie interesting, but also occasionally perfunctory. By the time we return to Flash, Superman and final pages, the art is hitting those high notes again.
The conclusion to the issue is a cliffhanger that lives up to the promise of the grand beginning, and gives one of the less-defined Leaguers a new threat to contend with. If nothing else, Hitch keeps escalating the stakes of the issue so he has no choice but to bring it down hard when the first arc of the "Rebirth" title concludes next issue.