Justice League of America #2
By Steve Orlando, Felipe Watanabe, Scott Hanna & Hi-Fi
After the flawed but promising start to Justice League of America, Steve Orlando brings us another promising issue that isn’t quite without its negatives. It’s a rare Justice League book that explores politics like this one does, and for the most part it’s effective even if the characters themselves could use more development at this stage.
The book picks up where the previous issue left off as Batman surrendered to Lord Havoc, throwing us right into the thick of things as it deals with the impact of the arrival of The Extremists from Earth-8. It’s an interesting choice by Orlando to explore the characters from the wider multiverse in this book as he adopts a more political-oriented approach in regards to the storyline which looks to be tackling some interesting things going forward. We’re still largely in set-up stage with this issue, particularly when it comes to establishing Lord Havoc, but unfortunately the decision to focus on Batman and Lord Havoc means that the rest of the team don’t get the attention that they deserve. At this stage, if this current arc Justice League of America had been an arc of Detective Comics, there wouldn’t be much difference in structure. It’s still too Batman-centric and needs to devote more time to the rest of the team, as we’ve barely had more than a few panels with some of its members.
What Justice League of America #2 does a good job of, however, is setting up its antagonist. Lord Havoc gets plenty of effective character development here and is established as a real, credible threat for the Justice League of America. There are a couple of panels where he looks similar to Magneto in design, but his portrayal is mostly well executed. It’s going to be very interesting to see where Orlando takes us with the character further down the line and what the outcome for him will be at the arc’s end.
It is a hard job for anyone to follow Ivan Reis in the artistic department and Felipe Watanabe largely succeeds, if you set aside the inevitable comparisons that will be made. However, despite the effective attention to detail on establishing the location as well as depicting the carnage in the fight scenes themselves, it’s the characters who feel flawed here. Their emotions aren’t really conveyed across effectively enough to work. The inks from Scott Hanna and the colors from Hi-Fi are the strongest element about the art. Whilst the expressions on the characters may not be great, their designs are, and Hi-Fi’s colors helps give them a distinctive and clear look.
Unfortunately, Justice League of America #2 leaves a fair amount to be desired, but if you’re looking for a Batman-heavy team book and haven’t read enough of those already then you’ll enjoy this. Orlando’s series still has potential and this arc could turn into something interesting, but for now it’s too mundane to really shine.