The Superfriends (that’s who they are to me now, and I won’t be told otherwise) find themselves stranded on a prison planet that the near-omnipotent Locus sent them to. It’s a planet that hides many secrets, the largest clearly at its core and that’s the one that shakes this new League to THEIR core even more than the death of one of their own in a previous issue. Keith Giffen on plot and J.M. DeMatteis on dialog do a great job of quickly introducing and establishing Takron-Galtos and giving us a look at a new character and an old one from the book’s first issue. Though “old” is perhaps an odd term to use on a book that is only in its third issue, it seems apropos considering how well established and fleshed out these characters already are. I love the dynamic of a Justice League that has no attachment but to its own myths, and has absolutely no earned team dynamic. A Superman who realizes his own power without the loving influence of the Kents, a Batman who’s overly-analytical without the influence of a family and a Wonder Woman whose brutality and bloodlust know no limits without understanding the nuance of a modern world. The plot advances with great economy, but rarely feels rushed and ultimately earns its beats quite well. We cut back and forth between the Trinity, the Twins and the Lantern, but it never feels too abrupt nor does it feel too scattershot as everyone gets a good amount of attention and panel-time and most have a good amount, even, of development, particularly Superman.
Howard Porter and Hi-Fi provide the linework and colors respectively and they really are the highlights of this issue, even with the writing as good as it is. There’s an amazing splash page that establishes exactly the kind of planet Takron-Galtos is in just two pages, ensuring the plot can move forward in an efficient, economical manner keeping the pace of the great storytelling consistent. I continue to absolutely love the character designs as, while no one can be sure of course, they look appropriately futuristic, but don’t lack relatability. You can almost see where a lot of the styles come from, even if they are pretty far removed. Wonder Woman, in particular, seeing as her style is already “ultra-retro” in the modern age. The colors are surprisingly bright and even cartoonish, but never forsaking the tone of seriousness that permeates the entire book, even if it’s tinged with a wry sense of dry humor.
It’s hard to tell who you’re supposed to root for in this book. Superman’s an arrogant jackass, Wonder Woman’s a raging, cranky warmonger, Locus typifies the “crazy, lovestruck female villain” in a way that borders on eye-rolling (the fact that she's a bottomlessly powerful 19-year old saves it), the Wonder Twins are manipulative and milquetoast as Terri and Terry respectively, and Batman’s preachy. Really it’s just Ariel and Green Lantern that are characters you can feel good about supporting. I get that part of this book is that the League has all their powers without their brilliant conscience to restrain them, but that makes the characters difficult to not only relate to, but want to see succeed. There’s a definite use of the trope of the team that doesn’t get along, but this book takes it to an incredible extreme, making the team actively hostile to one another in a way that makes their rubberbanding personalities difficult to track at times.
The characters still develop well, just not always consistently, and this book’s visuals are amazing. It stumbles sometimes in the writing, but that’s overall very solid as well and definitely worth looking into. One thing I can say about this story is that it is unlike anything else in the DCU and that alone, pulled off as well as this is, makes it worthy of checking out and following.