Where as Bats Out Of Hell pt 1 was recap and set up in Flash # 33. Justice League # 32 is all attack and progression. We find our heroes in the clutches of the evil Batmen (and women). One on One, in an issue narrated by Vic Stone aka Cyborg. Did Robert Venditti capitalize on the road that Williamson paved? Lets get down to brass tax (whatever that means) and find out.
Once again I find myself starting with the art. Liam Sharp is a fucking monster. At first, I didn't appreciate what I was seeing. Then I gave it a second look. Tone wise, it's not a perfect fit, however, style wise it definitely gives me a classic comic book feel. The lines are sketchy, the details are immense, the vibe is strong! Then you have Brown's colors. It's a perfect symmetry. When you get to the last page of this issue you'll truly understand what I mean, however just look at the detail and greatness in the image below. It's a thing of beauty. Something I would gladly hang on the wall of my office or home!
Which brings me to the next set of praise I have for Sharp. The damn panels in this issue is the best I've seen next to Mister Miracle. Like WHAT!? Look at how gorgeous that is. All of this while not losing any detail in the Merciless' armor or Wonder Womans breast plate. Like I said, at first view I didn't have the right amount of appreciation for what was happening in this issue. However, this issue is a visual masterpiece. Now, all this set up couldn't be possible without Venditti's words. And the story here is definitely a culmination of everything that has happened thus far. He took everything we already knew and served it up as Justice League Jumbo and that's just fine. Cyborgs narraration is a nice touch and the conversations each group of combatants have are pretty spot on. The one between Wonder Woman and Merciless is particularly great and I'll touch on that a bit more later. The interaction between Aquaman and The Drowned, equally as much of a mind fuck. There's so much good here that it's hard to image there's anything wrong at all...
However, there are some things wrong. There are some panels that get the short end of the stick. Particularly Aquaman. There's a couple panels of just his face that have him looking down right silly. There's also a splash page with The Flash in the top panel that looks like he's doing a swan dive or something. Like I liget have no clue what's happening there. Also, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman all get these great introduction encounters and Green Lantern gets squat. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Lantern fan, and I also imagine this is because more of this encounter will be realized in Green Lantern # 32, however, in THIS book, it makes the whole thing feel rushed and incomplete. Furthermore, even though I appreciate the Cyborg narration and the story he's telling...it's like: "what are you even talking about Cyborg!?" The fast man, the angry man, the brawler, the guts...what!? A) what does this have to do with a football team, B) what does this have to do with the battles each of them are in, and C) what!? I dunno, I just feel as though Cyborg has a greater role, but it's being forced onto us in an unnatural way. Even in The Flash # 33 actually. How was he even able to communicate with the team. Maybe I missed it, but his role in all this just seems sloppy. In what was otherwise a well executed issue. This just sticks out like a sore thumb. Sorry Venditti.
Well there are two dope ass moments. The Battle between The Drowned and Aquaman is sick. And you can see Aquaman bested, baffled, and beaten. In his own waters. At his own game and it's pretty great. However, the unhinged part comes in at that crazy reveal of the Sea Creature. When I read that whole thing my mind went boom! Aquaman has definitely got it the worst so far during this run. However, lets talk Wonder Woman!
Her battle against Merciless is not only bad ass, but visually and literally entertaining as well. There's a part where W.W askes Merciless who taught him a particular move he learned. He responds that she did. Which she replies: "I would die before I taught someone like you". Which prompts his response of "You did". Tell me that ain't cold blooded. Then you find out how on his world he wiped out all of Themyscira and basically collected their souls. He then Final Fantasy 7 style summons them to fight on his side in this battle and has them attack Diana. That's one hell of a nightmare. I never wrote my review of Batman: The Merciless, but, suffice it to say he's the most fucked up of them all. And it clearly shows. The work that Venditti and Sharp do here are past phenomenal.
Bottom line, this book isn't the best of the week, Hell it's not even the best in the series. However, it's got a classic feel to it with great story. It moves everything along in the direction that one would expect it to go. And aside from a few short comings this is a pretty solid issue keeping everything together and flowing and at the end of the day you can't be mad at that. So, if you're following Metal. This is definitely a staple for your collection. Without a doubt.