Justice League Odyssey #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Lettering by Deron Bennett
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Following the events of the flagship Justice League title, a new Ghost Sector of planets has unexpectedly emerged, throwing the entire galaxy into chaos. But what is at the center of this otherworldly maelstrom? Those are the answers that writer Joshua Williamson and artist Stjepan Sejic seek to explore in Justice League Odyssey, a fun, quirky team book whose charming line-up works in lockstep with its engaging art.
One of Justice League Odyssey’s biggest strengths is that Williamson is able to take characters who have been previously underdeveloped in the DC Universe since the "New 52" - Cyborg, Starfire, and Azrael specifically - and fleshes them out thanks to their dynamics with one another. While Victor Stone has felt like the odd man out on the main Justice League, despite many A-list writers’ attempts otherwise, making him the de facto leader gives the character an organic sense of agency that has been lacking elsewhere. Much of that comes from the familiarity of partnering him up with fellow Teen Titan alum Starfire, while having Vic also grind his gears at the presence of stowaway Azrael.
Ironically, Green Lantern Jessica Cruz feels like the most developed character on the team, and Williamson uses her as the main source of conflict in the series - at first she aims to arrest the trespassing Leaguers, then gets rescued by them, then rescues them in return. And perhaps I’m reading too deeply into this, but Williamson and Sejic tease a possible pairing with Cruz that would make some immediate sparks fly among this line-up, and make her stand out even more among the various Lanterns. Either way, it’s this character dynamic that really propels Williamson’s debut issue forward, allowing readers to hold their suspension of disbelief over the teased threats of the Old Gods, particularly when a former villain arrives seeking the League’s help.
Sejic, meanwhile, is the MVP of this series, giving Justice League Odyssey a beautifully rendered launchpad to take off from. While his sketchy linework and lush sense of colors make every page a beauty, Sejic’s secret weapon is that he is so incredibly expressive with his characters - seeing Jessica Cruz going crazy with boredom looks so endearing, and when we watch her dive into the breach not knowing her ring can’t protect her, it’s hard not to feel the tension. Additionally, Sejic’s redesign of Azrael looks wonderfully imposing, with the use of black, red and gold melding that Batman aesthetic nicely with this sci-fi landscape.
With its own unique cast and reason for being, Justice League Odyssey #1 is a really effective debut issue that pulls double-duty in not just building up the general DC universe, but adding some much-needed characterization for some its second-tier heroes as well. Williamson’s sense of characterization lets this series start off on the right foot, and Sejic’s artwork really ratchets the production values to the next level. While this particular team line-up might not feel as instantly intuitive as the flagship series, this combination of spacefaring heroes is a truly engaging experience.