Justice League #8

"Justice League" #8 has Geoff Johns tackle the question of League membership that has resulted from the team not adding any new members since forming five years earlier. Johns uses Green Arrow as a prospective member, which is a smart move; not only was he a long-time member in the original incarnation of the book back in the day, but the current incarnation of the character was bound to clash with the team's line-up.

And oh, clash he does.

"Justice League" #8 is played primarily for comedy; Green Arrow tries to impress the Justice League so that he can join, the League tries to politely (and not-so-politely) rebuff him. Except, of course, they can't shake their wannabe member. Green Arrow's eagerness is entertaining, in part because of how much it's driving the other characters crazy, but also because even Green Arrow seems to recognize that he's in way over his head from day one. It's a fine line for Johns to cross, both making Green Arrow a comedic figure but also having his want to join a real one with some actual emotion behind it. Does it work? I think so. Johns shows Green Arrow's heart is in the right place even if his abilities and personality aren't and the usage of Steve Trevor again this month makes me feel like he's a good addition to the cast.

"Justice League" #8 also goes a long way towards showing that in the intervening five years since "Justice League" #1-6, how the team has come together as a whole. I like the easy rapport they have with one another, and one gets the impression that they genuinely like each other. (Even Batman and Green Lantern. No, really.) We also get an answer in this issue on why they haven't expanded their membership up until now and long-time readers will definitely be interested by the revelation. It's a great usage of the five-year gap between the origin story and now and it's also a good promise of stories to come.

Carlos D'Anda draws the majority of "Justice League" #8 and I like his square-jawed style. It's a little blocky in places, but it's always reminded me of a strange hybrid of Arthur Adams and Rick Leonardi; the faces are expressive like Adams, but Leonardi's sense of anatomy and form is on display. I wish he'd been able to draw the entire issue -- there are a few pages at the end where Ivan Reis and Joe Prado step in -- but I appreciate that it's a good breaking point for that sudden shift in art. Those who read "Justice League" for Jim Lee's pencils will no doubt be a little disappointed, but I'd be happy with regular D'Anda art every month here.

We also get part two of the "Shazam" back-up feature in "Justice League" #8 by Johns and Gary Frank and they're already beginning Billy Batson down the first steps of his hero's journey. For most of the story he's his caustic self from the first installment, but the cracks are starting to show here. We're getting a glimpse of some genuine emotion instead of bluster, even if just for a moment, and it bodes well for the eventual transformation from zero to hero. The new supporting cast is interesting too, a mixture of old and new members of the Captain Marvel Family. I'd love to see Johns going for something similar to the "S!H!A!Z!A!M!" concept that we saw in "Flashpoint," here, but regardless I'm hoping that they'll become a regular addition. With the shortened page count we aren't getting more than a brief sketch for each, but having a varied cast would be nice. It does go without saying that Frank's art looks great here once again; even if you're ambivalent on the story, having Frank draw "Shazam!" is reason alone to read. (I especially love the photo of Billy's father; I suspect once you see it, you will too.)

"Justice League" #8 is a pleasant comic; it feels like the title has a real direction now, and that we're moving into potentially interesting territory. Little bits (like Cyborg keeping the boom tube technology) are scattered throughout the issue for additional enjoyment, and on the whole I think the book has righted itself into a good direction. It's nice to see the flagship title of DC Comics on much stronger footing now.

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