Monday, July 14, 2014

Justice League, Volume 5: Forever Heroes

 DC's eternal crossover-mania rolls on, with The Justice League facing the threat of FOREVER EVIL!!!!! Or not confronting it, because The Justice League really doesn't appear in this book at all. (Well, Cyborg does, but I don't count him, because he's boring.)

 The first thing I have to say is that this book will make absolutely zero sense unless you're reading it concurrently with FOREVER EVIL. (Every time I say that name, I think of a mall clothing store that specializes in evil clothing for trendy evildoers.) I'm currently sitting here, with a FOREVER EVIL reading order web page open in front of me, flipping back and forth between FOREVER EVIL, JUSTICE LEAGUE, VOLUME 5: FOREVER HEROES, and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, VOLUME 2: SURVIVORS OF EVIL. Taken as a whole, those volumes pretty much tell all that I need to know (And all that I probably care to know...) about the FOREVER EVIL crossover. (I'll get into FOREVER EVIL proper when I review that book in an hour or two. For now, we'll concern ourselves with the JUSTICE LEAGUE portion of the crossover.)

 On the surface, this would seem like a decent companion volume to the main crossover, since it mainly concerns itself with The Crime Syndicate (Who appeared at the end of the LAST huge crossover, JUSTICE LEAGUE: TRINITY WAR, review HERE....), and their individual origins. Writer Geoff Johns does a good job of sketching out who the Syndicate members are, where they came from, and what they want. The art, by Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke, is wonderful. So there's that. My interest started to wane when the focus of the book shifted from The Crime Syndicate to Cyborg and The Metal Men. Cyborg is, by far, the least interesting member of The Justice League (In truth, none of them are really that compelling, at least in the team setting, but Cyborg is the worst offender.), and I have never had the slightest bit of interest in The Metal Men, and that really hasn't changed here. My real problem with this book concerns the bigger picture, which is: If someone were to go into Barnes & Noble and buy all five JUSTICE LEAGUE collections, what would they get...? Volume 1 is a pretty complete story, as is Volume 2. Volume 3 is a crossover with AQUAMAN, but it contains the whole story. Volume 4 goes off the rails completely, with a bunch of issues that make no sense out of the larger TRINITY WAR context. Volume 5 opens cold with the titular heroes nowhere in sight (They've been imprisoned inside of Firestorm (???) for no real reason...If The Crime Syndicate is so powerful, why not just kill them out of hand, and be done with it?), and is primarily about a group of Villains that we have never (In "The New 52", at least...) met before. The book ends on a complete cliffhanger, with no direction on where to go to get the conclusion of the story...I assume that an uninitiated reader would, naturally, look for the conclusion in the next volume of JUSTICE LEAGUE. They'd be in for a big surprise.
DC really needs to get their collected editions act together. A recap text page, and some references to where the rest of the story can be found would go a LONG way. Just my two cents.

 As far as FOREVER EVIL goes, a lot of what occurs here is essential for understanding that event, and almost none of it is recapped/covered at all in the main story. So it's read a bunch of stories that DC doesn't tell you NEED to be read, or sink or swim on your own. As part of a greater whole, JUSTICE LEAGUE, VOLUME 5: FOREVER HEROES is a solid link in the chain (Better than the main event, at any rate.). As a stand-alone volume, it's pretty useless. Do your homework before going in, folks. 

JUSTICE LEAGUE, VOLUME 5: FOREVER HEROES contains JUSTICE LEAGUE #'s 24-29, complete with covers, variants, and a small sketch gallery. DC Comics provided a review copy.