REVIEW: ‘Justice League,’ Issue #64

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Justice League #64

Justice League #64 is published by DC Comics. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Steve Pugh. The colorist is Nick Filardi and the letterer is Josh Reed. There is a backup story featuring the Justice League Dark. It is written by Ram V and the artist is Xermanico. Colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr and the letterer is Rob Leigh.

The Justice League has new members. Black Adam, Naomi, and Hippolyta have joined their ranks, helping battle a being from Naomi’s home dimension. They traveled to the other world and experienced a traumatic and exhausting battle. Back where they belong, they begin a new era with a new team.

Within this issue, Green Arrow and Black Canary take a trip out of Coast City for some alone time, enjoying a day together. But they don’t appear to be alone. At the Hall of Justice, the more experienced team members are training a powerful but inexperienced Naomi. And the United Planets discover a threat that may spell disaster for Superman and his fellow heroes.

The plot of Justice League #64 is fun and engaging. At the start of a new arc, the big bad of the next several issues is revealed. This happens in an explosive fashion, showing that Bendis is maintaining the high energy of the last arc. The story is split into two. The first is what appears to be the core story, dealing with the massive threat that the team will have to face. Parallel to that is Green Arrow and Black Canary dealing with a problem all on their own, seemingly connecting to another Bendis story. This shows that the large cast allows for multiple narratives to be told at the same time. The ending isn’t surprising, but it does pave the way for an intense battle in the next issue.

The characters have brilliant moments together inside this issue, a staple of Bendis’ stories in big team books such as this. It is always the quiet scenes where the dialogue shines, full of wit and heart. Green Arrow and Black Canary’s closeness is evident and heartwarming. Naomi’s parents visit the Hall of Justice and are introduced to powerful personalities such as Aquaman and Black Adam. There are several other exchanges, particularly with the ruler of Kahndaq, that will draw a smirk from the reader.

The art is fantastic as Pugh does the illustrations after David Marquez in the first arc. Most of Justice League #64 looks exceptional, with the energy of the chaotic situation captured superbly by the artist. The United Planets is rife with fantastic designs as different races gather together in extravagant costumes. But there are many pages filled with characters where things look slightly crowded. The figures are too close together and the splash pages suddenly feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable to see. The opening page, in particular, is messy, full of alien bodies and ships. It is extremely difficult to see that though, as bodies overlap and lead to just a heap of lines that are awkward to decipher.

The colors are gorgeous and vibrant. There is a warmth that radiates from this comic, aided by the pure blue sky or luscious-looking green grass. But when things explode or go wrong then there is a richness in the red flames.  Filardi’s colors on the first page are lively and beautiful, with electric blues and deep purples for costumes and armor. But they do little to make it easier to know what is happening on said page.

The lettering struggles in moments of this issue. The extensive dialogue comes in the form of conversations between characters. The word balloons aren’t too big, but they are littered across the panels in a way that can obstructive on occasion.

The backup story doesn’t show much of the Justice League Dark, focusing more on Batman as he encounters a warrior from the past. The story has picked up pace as switching to Batman sets up the next large part of the story. Batman fits the gothic style of Xermnico and Fajardo Jr’s art and colors perfectly whilst still highlighting his powerful presence as a superhero. It will be fascinating to see how much of a role the Dark Knight has in the Justice League Dark part of this book going forward.

Justice League #64 is a promising start to a new arc. Bendis’s strengths as a writer are highlighted in this issue, as the character interactions are stunning, and the scale of the stake is exciting. The downside is that the art clutters the page in very brief instances,  but Pugh and Filardi work well together, creating alien beings and cities. There just needs to be more clarity and space given between the members of the United Planets, otherwise, they get in each others’ way. And the Justice League Dark backup story showed much more energy and excitement than the other chapters preceding it.

Justice League #64 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Justice League #64
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TL;DR

Justice League #64 is a promising start to a new arc. Bendis’s strengths as a writer are highlighted in this issue, as the character interactions are stunning, and the scale of the stake is exciting. The downside is that the art clutters the page in very brief instances,  but Pugh and Filardi work well together, creating alien beings and cities. There just needs to be more clarity and space given between the members of the United Planets; otherwise, they get in each others’ way. And the Justice League Dark backup story showed much more energy and excitement than the other chapters preceding it.