“Justice League” #10 pulls back the curtain in the second chapter of “The Villain’s Journey” and illuminates more of David Graves’ transformation from Justice League cheerleader and staunch supporter to fierce foe with a major axe to grind. There are still a number of questions left to be answered, but this issue doesn’t dwell on those omissions, choosing to depict the base of Graves’ drive against the League.
This issue has a number of flashback panels, including one for Aquaman. Called in by Cyborg, the issue greets Aquaman shortly after he saves the passengers of a flagging cruise ship. That puts the Sea King among reporters where Geoff Johns is able to poke fun at Aquaman once again. The cause for the call from Cyborg is a meeting drawing the League together as they analyze the recent defeats of a number of their individual nemeses. The analysis and encompassing discussion has the League on edge with one another in a move not unlike what longtime Justice League readers have seen in Mark Waid’s “Tower of Babel” story or even, to a lesser extent, the end of the satellite era League. There are some cracks starting to show in the foundation of this team and Johns has dropped Graves in at the right time to put on some pressure.
Jim Lee’s art in this issue is serviceable and energetic, light on backgrounds, but strong on action. Graves brings the fight to the League and Lee does a good job of depicting the heroes rushing into battle. The combination of seven inkers and colorists obviously doesn’t help to generate much in the way of consistent detail, so it is fortunate that the focus is solely on the characters.
As with the issue before, the “SHAZAM!” backup story continues with spectacular Gary Frank art. The backup story is twelve pages long and makes up for any shortcomings in the lead story’s visuals. Johns splits the “SHAZAM!” story between the burgeoning relationship between Billy Batson and Freddie Freeman and Sivana’s mad quest for the secrets of magic. Freddie and Billy have decided that sometimes a bully needs to be bullied. How they accomplish that remains to be seen, but I have no doubt it is going to be entertaining and wonderfully drawn.
I find it odd that “Justice League” has almost become an anthology book with the two stories fighting for my interest. I’d really like to pretend that the main story is as compelling as the backup, but right now that simply isn’t the case. The “SHAZAM!” story is more interesting, partially due to Frank’s art, but also dependent on the suspense Johns builds in all of the characters’ lives. The main League story, while suspenseful, needs a little more visual TLC to step up so it can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Frank’s work.
As anthologies go, however, this one is doing a good job of making a strong case to get my four bucks each month. “Justice League” #10 is the most Justice League-y this book has felt to me since relaunching. I’m onboard at least through the zero issue for this one.