Justice League #25 Review: Creature of the Night
has led to a great hint of change for some books, change that might have otherwise been unbelievable. This has been most apparent, if nowhere else, in the part of Justice League
by Geoff Johns. As someone who is no doubt thoroughly enjoying the story that they are telling, the spike in quality is astounding. However that was only one month’s worth of increase, the question remains if Johns can keep it up.
The previous issue dealt with the backstory of the Crime Syndicate's head honcho - Ultraman - in a suitably bombastic and over the top way. It was also very humorous in a few key places it also knew how to be intense. The Owlman origin that Johns presents within the pages of Justice League
#25 follows suit. Of course, innate own way. It's almost completely devoid of humor, instead keeping that for one notable instance, rather taking a more somber and grim tone that is befitting the Batman counterpart. Mahnke’s pencils lend to it a vastly dark and moody tone. Much like Ivan Reis captured the essence of an evil Superman with the previous issue, Mahnke wastes no time in creating an equally captivating tone.
The flashback is in itself something that is, visually, something that seems ripped out of the Batman mythos. Up until a very crucial point of course – but while that scene was used for over the top laughs Ultraman this is an emotional crux. The scene is surprisingly pathos filled. Without saying much of anything at all, only what has previously been gleamed, we get something that says all that needs to be said about Owlman. The facial expressions, the duality that becomes apparent between what is told to the reader and what is actually shown, it’s actually rather sincere and complex. The singular panel that features the death of Earth 3 Bruce Wayne is also perhaps one of the most singularly haunting panels of this entire event. Everything about it is simply on point.
What was the actual meat of this issue is the focus on Nightwing. As most fans have known for a while, Geoff Johns is big Nightwing booster and have had a clue as to how he would figure into this whole event. While Ultraman was obsessed with being the strongest, Owlman is clinging onto the desperate notion of family. The use of Nightwing, who is being manipulated into a new sidekick role, along with a superb use of flashbacks, really add an emotion element to this all. Now, in terms of actual Earth 3 goodness and shenanigans, there is sadly not a lot. It’s a definite “breather” in terms of showing more of how that alternate universe was set up.
In fact, a major moment in the issue, where it displays how Owlman intends to bring his new brand of order onto Gotham, is used to highlight the origin of an old fan favorite hero. While they might have been seen beforehand in the pages of the ill-fated Justice League International
, Johns has taken the opportunity to reboot Plastic Man from the ground up. It’s worthy enough a retcon to stand on its own and is something that has already garnered a lot of fan support. It’s better to see a character breathe in their own right than be drowned in a bad series.
In any case it was a brilliant scene that showcases Johns understanding of the character even when confined to a short amount of pages. So, there is a very breezy feel to this entire part of Forever Evil
, which is somewhat disappointing given the ground that the Ultraman-centric issue covered. At the very least it also gave Superwoman some focus, as it implies that she too has machinations of her own. Overall it was a solid issue within itself, even though Mahnke’s art begins to fail at the end (with figures looking less detailed as the readers move on). Although I hope that it picks up the pace once more, as push backs have harmed the series someowhat.