Review: Justice League Vol. 6: Vengeance Is Thine trade paperback (DC Comics)


It sometimes happens in times like these, where DC’s on the cusp of a big event or a line-wide change but all the pieces haven’t quite lined up yet, that we’ll get a filler run on a book like Justice League to bide the time (the show must apparently always go on); such is the case with Robert Venditti’s Justice League Vol. 6: Vengeance Is Thine (last time Christopher Priest had the honors). Taken in the spirit of a “just because” Justice League story, knowing the writer can’t do anything with permanence, Venditti’s book is plenty entertaining.

The premise is worthy of an entire League run, with the League facing threats that are always multi-faceted — that is, the threats stem from the mythos of one of the heroes and are solved through the mythos of another. That’s a great take on the supposed interconnectedness of the League in the heroes' lives (where otherwise the League title and the characters' individual titles tend not to connect at all) and in all Venditti’s story is nicely continuity-heavy, name-dropping a number of current storylines even if he doesn’t do anything with them. These references are not always seamless, but close enough; as well, the morals of Venditti’s stories here sometimes lean toward the saccharine, but that’s not unprecedented in filler books of this type either.

[Review contains spoilers]

Vengeance kicks off with Superman foe the Eradicator attacking Earth, accompanied by an army of Daxamites (with warning coming from former Green Lantern Sodam Yat), and it’s largely Lantern John Stewart’s cosmic know-how that saves the day. The book’s second story sees ancient monsters attacking Atlantis that are escapees from Wonder Woman’s Themyscira, but it’s all prompted by Jim Corrigan splitting from the Spectre after last seeing Batman in Gotham. Again, in this way the stories involve mixed aspects of the heroes' lives. Scott Snyder’s Justice League did this early on, prompting new speed forces and lantern spectrums, though that seemed aimed at reaching League’s tentacles outward; Venditti’s stories function more passively, just showing where the lives of the Leaguers might happen to overlap.

Venditti works with a reduced team, just Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern John Stewart in the first and third stories, and Aquaman added in the second. In this liminal time before Justice League crosses over with Dark Nights: Death Metal and whatever comes next, that eliminates the two most Death Metal-connected (or at least, “Year of the Villain”-connected) characters, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl, shortcutting any “Hey, weren’t we just fighting Perpetua?” conversations. Further, it makes Vengeance somewhat timeless, as DC might want it to be — the characters are more or less Super Friends recognizable without the perhaps lesser-known characters. I do imagine the goal with a book like this is to have a perpetual, continuity-light-ish seller, and I’m even surprised DC called this “Vol. 6” instead of un-numbering it before the inevitable post-Future State trade-numbering reset.

I call this book “continuity-light” in the sense that the stories are self-contained and nothing’s following from an event some 40 issues prior. But at the same time, these books are exceptionally a product of their moment (and in that way, “continuity-heavy”), in that a whole lot turns on Superman’s decision to reveal his secret identity as of Superman Vol. 3: The Truth Revealed. There’s also mention of the events of Batman: City of Bane and the birth of Aquaman’s child. I like this kind of thing, a team comic “touching base” with the events in each character’s individual title, though your results may vary. Seemingly there’s also a bit about Flash Barry Allen’s powers not working quite right as of recent events in his own title, but Venditti hints at this and then lets it go in a way that felt like a gaffe.

But another item in a similar vein caught my attention. In the second story, Wonder Woman leads the heroes to Themyscira like it’s no big deal; there’s a recent volume of Wonder Woman that DC’s been slow to release, but last I read, Diana’s been searching desperately for Themyscira for decades and it’s pretty hard to get to. Maybe that’s all changed, but I was startled to see Diana come face-to-face with her mother so easily, and also surprised by the militant attitude of the Amazons, which seemed more akin to Brian Azzarello’s New 52 run than the “real” Rebirth Amazons alluded to by Greg Rucka.

In needing to generate drama in the book, Venditti manufactures some angst between the characters, particularly Batman and John Stewart, who muscles in and takes over League leadership. Conflict between John and Bruce has basis, but both felt off here — John just taking over apropos of nothing, and Batman clinging so tightly to League leadership when we’ve seen him step aside before for Black Canary or others. On character portrayal, Venditti also writes a “punny” Barry Allen that reminds more of Flash Wally West’s portrayal in Justice League Unlimited, to the point where I wonder if that’s not an editorial edict so as to deliver what most fans off the street might expect.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Justice League Vol. 6: Vengeance Is Thine



There’s a pointed theme of teamwork within Justice League Vol. 6: Vengeance Is Thine, with each of the stories ending with an affirmation that the League looks out for one another, that they’re stronger apart than together, and so on. Again, that’s par for the course in filler books, and isn’t even that objectionable except that Robert Venditti lines up the affirmations three in a row, to the point it feels like a very special episode of Justice League. But there’s plenty good here — I’m always happy to see the Eradicator and I’m glad that Venditti follows up on Peter Tomasi’s Detective Comics Spectre story that really needed a follow-up. Art on these stories include Eddy Barrows, Aaron Lopresti, Robson Rocha, and Doug Mahnke, among others.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Loved the Venditti run. He's one of the few writers that totally gets GL. Loved John's rapport with Wonder Woman. "We’ve seen him step aside before for Black Canary or others". Huh? Agree to disagree. Total agreement about Flash. Overall, fun and entertaining. A great solid read.

    1. I was thinking back to Brad Meltzer's Justice League, when Canary lead the League by unanimous agreement (and not to Steve Orlando's Justice League of America, when indeed Batman gave Black Canary a hard time). Lots of Leagues out there, lots of interpretations — guess it makes it hard to ever fully pin a character down!


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