Justice League #37

"Justice League" #37 brings chapter two of "The Amazo Virus" as writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok lead Batman and Superman to Patient Zero of the Amazo virus outbreak. With the rest of the Justice League all infected by the virus, Batman and Superman are given plenty of space for teamwork, planning and banter.

Johns illuminates the trust and confidence Superman and Batman have -- both in themselves and each other -- in "Justice League" #37. The writer uses Batman's voice to open the issue, through which we see that this interpretation of the Dark Knight holds his Kryptonian comrade in high regard. As the World's Finest wade deeper into battle against an unknown foe, they quip back and forth, like characters lifted from a 1980s issue of "Marvel Team-Up."

The virus was crafted by Lex Luthor, which puts the once and (presumably) future villain in the crosshairs of this story. Johns constructs room for Luthor to pace the panels and, through Luthor's sister, Lena, and his bodyguard Captain Cold, we learn that the rationale Luthor proclaims for the virus' creation may be more nefarious than he lets on. With Luthor on the League now, Johns crafts an opportunity to add another roguish character to the DC Universe in the form of Bullet, who comes after Luthor with -- well, a bullet.

Johns uses this story to investigate the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman under the mantle of the Justice League while adding depth to the DC Universe. Artist Jason Fabok is able to pour immense amounts of detail into tightly constructed pages with gorgeous settings and magnificent characters. Superman looks super, Wonder Woman is vibrant and lithe, yet muscular, and Batman is a coiled spring, ready to pounce into action. Fabok makes Patient Zero horrific and amazing, begging readers to look at him, but hitting them with repulsive imagery. One spread in particular is so brilliantly filled with strong storytelling and dynamic figure work that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that there is only one panel on that spread. Double-page spread or page packed with panels, Fabok brings stunning amounts of detail to every image. Colorist Brad Anderson does a great job coloring everything Fabok draws, and even manages to tinge the entire issue with sickly tones that communicate the unpleasant uncertainty hanging in the air like the virus at the heart of this story.

Fabok's traditional page construction invites strong lettering work from Carlos M. Mangual, who complies nicely. Patient Zero and Bullet each have distinctly dynamic dialog patterns that the letterer conscribes smartly to the page, giving the readers cues to the audio tones and timbre from those characters as they wage battle with the conscious members of the League.

"The Amazo Virus" is an uncommon battle for the Justice League as the three most dynamic members of the team are left to fight a foe they cannot truly punch. That doesn't keep them from trading blows with Patient Zero, but Zero is not the villain of this piece, he's merely the embodiment of the predicament. This is a daring move for Johns and crew, but a welcome one as the Justice League is forced to work beyond their comfort level. The end of "Justice League" #37 illuminates their predicament and is certain to leave readers looking forward to more from Johns, Fabok, Anderson and Mangual.

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