By Robert Venditti, Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan & David Baron
Justice League #41 is a tour de force. It establishes just how powerful the Legion of Doom are from the get go and sees them virtually demolish the Justice League in a matter of seconds. Superman is no match for the Eradicator. The Flash doesn’t stand a chance. The world is still reeling from the discovery that Superman is Clark Kent, and Clark Kent is Superman. A moment that typifies Clark’s character happens early on when the Eradicator tells the son of Jor-El to submit – everyone knows he’s not just Kal-El. But Clark Kent. It’s tiny moments like these throughout a very action heavy comic that gets the feel of the Justice League just right, especially when we see The Flash telling the League that he’s loved every second that he’s spent fighting with them. There’s a moment of horror when he realises that he’s not going to make it, and it’s that sense of despair that captures the hopelessness of the current arc, it’s hard to imagine a way out for the League.
The odds aren’t great, and this epic storyline continues to raise the stakes the more Justice League progresses with Robert Venditti skilfully creating an enemy that believably outmatches the League at every turn. We get to see more reactions to the fallout of major events than we have done in the past, even if it’s only for a few panels, and Venditti’s world-ending threat almost feels scaled down from the previous run on Justice League. The quieter moments help flesh out the characters further in an otherwise bombastic issue, even if the plot itself isn’t the most creative you’ll see: it feels like a standard alien invasion. But Venditti’s best work here is the character touches that he applies, particularly again, in the aforementioned scene where Superman is openly declaring he’s Clark Kent. He apologises for destroying an office in his fight to an office worker who was before discussing the consequences of the fallout of his revelation. It’s a big game-changing moment in the DC Comics Universe and it’s good to see that even with the world at stake, Venditti isn’t shying away from that.
The artwork is crisp, clear and matches the scale required to depicit the League vs the Legion. Lopresti’s artwork doesn’t quite match the standard of Mahnke but the attention to detail is still impressive, and the scenes where Madam Xandu utilises her magical ability is particularly creative and a highlight of the issue, with the artist skilfully catching the dynamic required in the fight scenes. Matt Ryan’s inks feel smooth and slick, and David Baron’s colours help capture the iconic costumes of the League, bringing them to life confidently, making use of some creative border overlap. The Batman and Madam Xanadu scenes are among the more visually striking of the book, and easily a high point.
Justice League #41 benefits from its character interactions that feel fresh despite the constant, predictable action beats that the plot takes. It’s lively, and although there is little in the way of surprises the book has a fun factor to it that never goes away, capturing the old school feel of a classic League adventure, ending on a cliffhanger that puts the League in even more peril than before. Venditti sets the gauntlet high and what comes next will no doubt be an interesting experience. It plays more to those familiar with other events in affecting characters like Superman and Batman, keeping the book relatively grounded so those not familiar with the respective characters’ solo books will still enjoy what is happening before their eyes.