Review: Review: Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods trade paperback (DC Comics)

September 11, 2019


DC Comics collections gets in this kind of quandary once in a while, where a title like Scott Snyder and company's Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods and Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth share five issues in common and only differ by two in one book, three in the other.

Independent to Graveyard are Justice League #8-9 and independent to Drowned are Aquaman #41-42 and Titans #28; both books share Justice League #10-12 and the Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 and Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1 specials. Optimally DC might've stuck the two books together, adding just two more issues to the Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth collection; collecting it all together, essentially, so no one has to double-dip. Justice League issues #8-9 are far from unrelated, with sub-plots that specifically set up Drowned Earth.

The main reason they didn't is probably because Drowned Earth, in hardcover, is already at the upper echelons of what DC charges for a collection of current monthly series books (crossover notwithstanding), and putting in two more issues would have upped the cost further. I'm sure that cost would still be less than what a reader pays to buy both books essentially for two issues. But I imagine the greater concern is for the price not to dissuade the casual bookstore buyer from the hardcover, more than whether a regular reader will or won't double-dip; I still believe the larger market comes from spur-of-the-moment purchases than monthly buyers.

The collections schema could have followed the recent Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour crossover, which simply plucked issue #4 out of Justice League Dark Vol. 1 and put it in the crossover book with no double-dipping. Not so different than Drowned Earth, Witching Hour had a lead-in and lead-out special and both crossovers were about five issues total, though Drowned has three tie-ins versus Witching Hour's none.

That would have been weird for the Justice League series, but not actually so weird. A Justice League Vol. 2 that collected issues #8-9 and then the contents of Vol. 3, #13-18 and the Annual #1 would be a long trade, nine/ten issues-worth — long, but not unprecedented. The focus (looking ahead a little bit) would shift from spotlighting Aquaman, handled instead solely in Drowned Earth, to more about Martian Manhunter, John Stewart, and Hawkgirl, who exit toward the beginning of Graveyard and aren't seen again until they pick up the A plot of Justice League Vol. 3: Hawkworld. Again, awkward to have a three-issue gap in a trade, and a trade that would collect (with gaps) issues #8-18, but the resulting trade wouldn't be untenable (I'm pretty sure, though I haven't read Hawkworld yet).

That would solve the "bookshelf" problem of going the other way with the collections and putting Justice League #8-9 in Drowned Earth — making Drowned Earth, essentially, Justice League Vol. 2. I can't fault DC for putting Drowned Earth first-run in hardcover, starring as it does a more movie-similar Aquaman, among other things. But then for the second volume of Justice League, given that the first volume came out only in paperback, those concerned about this kind of thing would have to decide whether they want volume one in paperback and volume two in hardcover, or to trade-wait for volume two to arrive in paperback, putting them further behind on the series. (Not to mention what DC would call the book; I'd vote Justice League Vol. 2: Aquaman: Drowned Earth, complicated as that is.) This isn't an insurmountable concern, but it's a pain I know some of you would feel in that scenario.

Looking at the two books, I actually think, perhaps incongruously, that the paperback Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods is the book meant for regular readers and the hardcover Drowned Earth is the one meant for casual browsers. Someone who regularly reads Justice League is not going to stand for missing issues #8-9 (and/or not having Vol. 2 in their collection), and indeed to read all the "Drowned Earth" specials and Justice League issues is satisfactory to get the "Drowned Earth" experience and not feel like you missed anything.

From the Drowned Earth hardcover, Titans #28 truly is just a side story, and Aquaman #41-42 are additive but not essential. (For what is called a Justice League/Aquaman crossover, the Aquaman issues are labeled as tie-ins and not numbered "Drowned Earth" parts; this story is not even quite a "crossover" in the traditional sense.) Aside from wanting to read Dan Abnett's Aquaman run all the way through (which is a worthwhile goal), those interested in the week-to-week soap opera of the DC Universe are going to get more from Justice League Vol. 2 than Drowned Earth. Which is nice, perhaps, in that Graveyard is the cheaper book, though most likely what the majority of us in this category want is to have our cake and eat it too.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods

So again, Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods is perfectly readable on its own, collecting all the most relevant parts of "Drowned Earth" (which, logistics aside, is an enjoyable story in the lofty Dark Nights: Metal style). Arguably it's even a more steady read than Drowned with the context of issues #8-9 and more consistent art teams (without the guest artists of the tie-ins). Issue #9 heavily reflects Snyder's Justice League Unlimited aesthetic with a cameo-laden cafeteria scene, and the book in general guest-stars a lot of Justice League "reserves." James Tynion's issue #8 "Legion of Doom" spotlight gives a lot of page-time to the Batman Who Laughs, which I appreciated; he interests me but I don't feel I quite have a handle on the character yet, and re-reading his dialogue and seeing him interact with others certainly helps.

The way this story was collected was inopportune, but in its second(-ish) outing, Scott Snyder continues to demonstrate his Justice League as event reading. I felt more excited about this series after finishing this book and Drowned Earth than I did after finishing Justice League Vol. 1: The Totality.

[Includes original covers]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 2 )

  1. It's also interesting to note that Drowned Earth does not include the final page that teases the new Aquaman run while Graveyard does. I would have expected the former to include it since I assume that's the book Aquaman readers would have picked up.

    1. Yes -- I wondered even if omitting that page was a mistake.


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