Writer: James Tynion IV / Artists: Frazer Irving and Bruno Redondo / DC Comics
It’s the second to last issue of the Drowned Earth arc, and the Justice League is getting their swag back. Mera, Flash, and Superman have found a powerful ancient Atlantean weapon, and Aquaman & Wonder Woman get a history lesson from Poseidon that informs them on how they can take down the Ocean Lords.
A highlight of this entire run so far has been the sliding door of creators who take on each issue. I can talk forever about how doing that keeps the story fresh and unpredictable. But what I really liked about this issue, in particular, was that it had two different artists working together. This isn’t the first time multiple artists have worked on a single issue, but that usually only happens in giant-sized books with more than one story, or in cases where there are time constraints and another artist has to come in and pick up where the other left off. But Frazer Irving and Bruno Redondo didn’t feel like that at all. Their artistic relationship is more symbiotic. Both artist’s styles are really distinct, but the shift isn’t jarring. It just makes them stand out more in a way that heightens the experience.
Redondo’s pages are made up with flashbacks and the scenes featuring Batman and the Legion of Doom. Those pages happen to be more action-packed and filled with movement. Frazer’s art shows up on the pages where more interpretations can be made: The scenes in space or with Poseidon. His pages are so unique. They feel like they could be plastered on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It’s got a lot of twisted anatomical variations that make the Ocean Lords look as menacing as they have so far in this arc.
Besides the welcomed liberties taken with the art, this issue had some interesting flashbacks. We got a glimpse into Black Manta’s past that serves as a way to inform his current worldview and reasons why he’s with the Legion of Doom. And we got a deep cut look into Arion’s past, who was the first king of Atlantis back when it was still on land. His flashback provided Mera, Superman, and Flash the info needed to take down the Ocean Lords, as he fought them eons ago and defeated them.
The scenes I enjoyed the most from issue #12 were the ones with Batman and the Legion of Doom. Last issue ended with a cliffhanger of the LOD unexpectedly arriving at the submerged Hall of Justice. To refresh your memory, because of the dire events of this arc, the League’s HQ has been completely abandoned except for the wheelchair-bound Batman. Which means the LOD could surprise old Batsy, and there’d be little he could do about it. They came for “The Totality,” the item that shifts the balance of the universe depending on whose possession it’s in.
The fight that ensued was mostly conveyed off the page, but we got to see Batman in an old Luthor mech-suit describing his fight with the LOD as an exclusive tour of the Hall of Justice. I think what I liked so much was just that they took the time to remind us that this story arc may be centered on Aquaman, but this is all still just a piece of the larger story. They’ve got this thing meticulously planned out, and it really is a spectacle to see it going forward almost effortlessly regardless of who is writing and drawing any given issue.
Justice League #12 gives the fractured teams of the JL a small W as they gear up for what’s gonna be an uphill battle to drain the Earth of the infectious space water. Meanwhile, the Ocean Lords and Black Manta, trying to dodge defeat, are about to throw their hail mary… The Death Kraken.
8.5 Space Skiffs out of 10
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