Justice League #12
Justice League #12
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics

"Well, that was a great issue of Angel and Faith, let's see here, guess I'll read Justice League next. Just flip it over and have a look at this cover by Jim Lee and- oh OH!!! Superman! What's happening? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO WONDER WOMAN?!?!?!"

Yeah, no. I like every other Comics fan on the internet was well aware at the power pairing being set up in this week's Justice League #12. And aside from the cover, I have to say the big moment was executed very tactfully and naturally. But more on that later.

One of my biggest complaints regarding Justice League (And as those of you who follow my reviews know, there were many) is that the characters just weren't gelling. And I get that that was kind of the point, that Johns wanted to take these big, god-like personas and clash them together and show the readers just how hard it is to forge them into a team. But letting that be the status quo for a whole year, portrayed in two major story arcs that in-universe span a timeframe of five years (a time jump in-between) made for a very tedious reading experience.

It's hard to get behind the characters when putting them in the same room brings out their worst, rather than their best as the League should. That's why I really enjoyed this issue. It appears as if we are finally moving past the posturing, bickering League of adolescents we've followed for a year and watching the League begin to solidify as Earth's Greatest Superheroes.

Johns did a commendable job in establishing the villain Graves as a credible and original threat and a welcome addition to the Justice League's admittedly slim rogues gallery. While the fight between Graves and the League ends rather anti-climactically given the arc-long build up, it was nice to see the League coming together as a team to defeat him.

Where the issue really shines though, is in the quieter character moments towards the end. Johns has really developed Steve Trevor as a compelling lead, and his relationship with Diana is truly tragic. The League comes together to discuss its future, in light of Graves broadcasting their childish in-fighting to the world at large. Collectively they decide they need to do better, and a sacrifice is made to save the team by the member you'd least expect to make such a move.

Finally we arrive at the much hyped kiss. A kiss that marks a drastically new status quo for two of DC's most iconic characters. I don't know how else to say it other than that the moment works. It just does. The dialogue between the two is honest, awkward, and revealing. And while that middle descriptor is rarely a compliment in reviews, in this case it really helped to sell the tension and uncertainty that precedes a first kiss.

Johns really sells their attraction and compatibility while simultaneously casting a bit of doubt and darkness onto the scene that sets up the potential of the relationship going forward. Yes these two have a lot in common: mortal in mind, gods in body, the weight of the world rests on their shoulders, and their teammates look to them when things get really bad. The pairing makes sense, but are they a pair because they have feelings for each other, or because they are lonely? I'm on board to find out.

Jim Lee is undoubtedly one of the most talented and sought after artists working in comics, but he simply can't keep up with the pace of a monthly book. It's a shame too, as the near legion of inkers it took to make this issue ship this month, gives his gorgeous pencils a disjointed, and rushed look. I had to look back at the credits page twice to check if another penciller hadn't been brought in to finish a few pages.

That is not to say that the art is bad in this issue, it's just very uneven. The fight against Graves really pops, and it is as much to Lee's credit as Johns that the pages that feature the kiss feel so natural (however that cover is gratuitously cheesecakey and caters to the Fifty Shades of Grey crowd a bit much for my tastes). But the discussion in the Watchtower looks overly sketchy by comparison.

There are few artists that can excel so well at big action set pieces and quieter emotional exchanges the way that Lee can, but the deadlines have obviously been taking their toll on his craft. It has been rumored that Ivan Reis will be taking over the book next, and I have to say I'm excited at that prospect. I look forward to Lee's work on another book, maybe even this one again, but I hope he gives himself ample lead time with whatever project he tackles next.

The tease at the issue's end leads me to believe that Justice League will finally claim its title as DC flagship and begin to drive the universe in exciting new directions as Johns begins to expand the franchise with the last page announcement of a sister title: Justice League of America. After a rough, uneven first year, this book is picking up steam, and showing signs that the Justice League book I always wanted to see from Geoff Johns may be just around the corner.

Grade: B+
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