Justice League 23.4
Special “Villains Month” Title: Secret Society 1
Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, Szymon Kudranski
Forever Evil Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
This Justice League (as well as Justice League of America and even arguably Justice League Dark) tie-in to Villains Month and Forever Evil was the one that everyone reading the main event miniseries (and pretty much every DC comic produced since the launch of the New 52) has been anxiously awaiting. Finally, Geoff Johns and company have revealed a little more information about the Secret Society! And with the help of writer Sterling Gates (who is always a good go-to bad guy scribe) and artist Szymon Kudranski (who is slowly but surely on the way to becoming a personal favorite of mine), this issue was nothing short of what I’ve come to expect from a good DC book.
The Outsider (Alfred Pennyworth of Earth 3) narrates the tragic and dark story of Thomas Wayne, known as Owlman. We get a glimpse of his origin, albeit not entirely and not enough to never warrant revisiting it in further detail (much like his Earth 1 and Earth 2 counterparts, Bruce Wayne, Batman). We even see the fate of that universe’s own Dick Grayson (Talon to them). But perhaps the greatest strength of this issue’s one-and-done plot is the portrayal of the Joker. On the alternate Earth, he is in fact the hero of the story. So when he douses Alfred with his toxin and turns him into the Outsider, right before his gruesome murder at the hands of Owlman, I feel like we’re just watching the season finale of a show that I’ve never seen before. Add the epic climax with the coming of the great evil that sweeps across the lands and destroys Earth 3 and the cliffhanger of what to do with Earth 1’s version of Dick Grayson (Nightwing), and you’ve got a fantastic little piece of Easter Egg-filled world-building. Literally.
A great issue with a great cover and fantastic creators, all in all. I couldn’t recommend this to just the casual reader, because you have to have a lot of background knowledge to understand who the characters are and why they are acting this way. And, you know, why it’s neat to see the opposite nature of their actions. But even though I really want to go and find out more of the story, like, right now, I’m pumped to see just how much more of the Outsider and Owlman’s world we’re going to get to see. What caused their downfall? What exactly is their relationship to one another? Is Thomas Bruce’s brother? His father? Neither? Or is it something very Chinatownesque like both? Who knows. With crazy writers like Johns and Gates at the helm, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. And they have yet to disappoint. This is, by far, the best of Villains Month for those who are as invested in the DC Universe as I am and always have been. Hands down. But the one drawback that makes it not the best overall issue released this month (or even this week) is a doozy: It presents more questions than answers. In a comic, that’s a good thing. But in a one-shot, that’s definitely the biggest no-no on the planet. Still a great read, though. And even though some will hate it, I certainly loved it.
My Rating: 4.5/5