Best Shots Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #50 - The OTHER Geoff Johns Title You'll Be Talking About Today

"Justice League #50" preview
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Justice League #50
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Geoff Johns has an arsenal of tools so deep that it’s no wonder he regularly digs his way to the heart of whatever Earth the DC universe is on at the time. With his final issue of Justice League, concluding both his own “Darkseid War” storyline and his five year tenure on DC Comics’ flagship title, there’s a definite sense of finality. It’s as though Johns has created his own Crisis entirely within the confines of his Justice League, and his Superboy-Prime of a punch will be the only one to change the course of the League’s future.

The story is already in full-flight by the time we enter, with Grail having seemingly won the day, and Wonder Woman confronting the spectre of Steve Trevor as a “god.” This returns to a long-running theme that Johns began at the start of the New 52, and the important dichotomy between Steve and Diana. Yet the biggest reveal/plot point comes from the arrival of Superwoman’s child, and the enactment of the purpose he was intended for. Barely a page goes by without a revelation of some kind, and Johns pulls out the big guns (quite literally in some cases) and all of his favorites from Shazam to the Green Lantern Corps enter the fray. “We were never gods,” comes a self-aware realization, although little in this blockbuster issue would have us believe that for a second.

There’s almost too much going on here, and even in a double-length issue there isn’t enough room to squeeze in every bit of detail and nuance that Johns is clearly chomping at the bit to use. The much-touted reveal of the identity of the Joker is perhaps not what audiences wanted to hear, but it’s a compromise that adds new information while actually adding more mystery to the backstory of the enigmatic clown. There are births, revivals and reboots on many characters, spectacular returns, and a massive status quo shift between Superman and Lex Luthor that will change their relationship for the immediate future. Wonder Woman’s family is a little more complicated too, with Johns throwing out potential plots left, right and center. 

Jason Fabok channels his considerable talents into some of the more memorable interpretations of the DC Universe in recent history. It’s amazing how much movement Fabok generates from what amounts to a few dozen pages of still-frame splashes, each more of a mic-drop moment than the last. As one character after the next enters the fray in a flashy fashion, Fabok never phones it in. Perhaps the best of these is a heroic recostuming of an existing character, and her appearance gives Brad Anderson’s colors a chance to prove their efficacy as well. That so many pages could readily be pulled out and used as pinups is a testament to Fabok’s art matching, and arguably exceeding, Johns’ high bar in the script.

While not the last of Justice League run, with two Rebirth fill-in issues solicited before the New 52 era completely wraps up, this does bring Geoff Johns’ tenure on the title to an end. At the end of his Green Lantern run, Johns showed us a forecast of events that were yet to come, not just challenging the next writer to top him, but throwing down the gauntlet and roadmap to ensure his will be done. With a cliffhanger ending of sorts, Johns does something similar here, although it’s the fate of the entire DC Universe and not just Hal Jordan’s world that hangs in the balance. Of course, Johns also accompanies this issue with his DC Universe Rebirth this week, and there is a literal death and rebirth in the pages of Justice League. With these two books, Johns has set a solid course for the future of the DCU, and the publisher just needs to find an equally set of safe hands to guide it forward.

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