Comic Review: ‘Justice League’ #40

Writer Robert Venditti takes on DC’s premier superhero team… 

Justice League #40

Cover art by Bryan Hitch & Jeremiah Skipper (image credit: DC Comics).

Written by:  Robert Venditti / pencils by:  Doug Mahnke / inks by:  Richard Friend / colours by:  David Baron

What’s it about?

“Impact” Part 1 : crashing to Earth, ex-Green Lantern Corps member Sodam Yat delivers a stark warning of an incoming invasion to the Justice League, lead by an old foe of Superman’s…

In review

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps and Hawkman writer Robert Venditti takes the reigns of DC’s leading team-up title Justice League as issue #40 presents a fresh start with the first chapter of a new story arc, “Impact”.  Venditti’s tenure follows a largely enjoyable run written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and with Justice League #40, necessarily scales things back a little and neatly streamlines the superhero group’s roster to a core line-up of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and John Stewart’s Green Lantern.  It seems that Snyder’s close to issue #39 may not have been what readers may have expected – a cliffhanger of sorts (that in hindsight maybe wasn’t?) – as it isn’t addressed by Venditti who instead favours a clean break whilst acknowledging recent events in the wider DC Universe, such as Superman’s reveal of his true identity to the world (in last December’s Superman #18 by Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis).  After the mind-bending plethora of ideas infused into the book by Messrs Snyder and Tynion it’s an appropriate reset that allows ongoing readers to re-orientate themselves and provide an access point for new fans to jump onboard – and it generally works (there is of course a lot going on in the DC canon of late), making for a solid first issue for the new Justice League writer.

Robert Venditti builds an entertaining and appealing opening instalment of “Impact”, quickly demonstrating his knowledge of the DCU and the characters he utilises for Justice League – with an effective grasp of the familiar dynamics between the various heroes (the conflicted but brotherly Batman/Superman interplay providing some small but key moments).  It may be quite a wordy narrative, and a great deal of the issue is merely setting the stage, but there’s still a decent helping of action to accompany the drama, tension and the high stakes (dialling things back to the more manageable and comprehensive playing field of a single universe) established, wasting no time in introducing a new threat for the League to face: the return of the Eradicator – the cold and ruthless Superman clone who debuted during “Reign of the Supermen” in the 1990s.  Receiving warning from former Green Lantern, Daxam’s Sodam Yat, who crashes to Earth, the Justice League learns the news that the Eradicator has engineered an army of Daxamites free from their Kryptonian vulnerabilities and plans to decimate the planet, beginning a campaign of conquest across the universe.  The Eradicator can often be overlooked and perhaps underrated as a Superman villain and Venditti affirms that in the right hands he can be a powerful (both literally and figuratively) antagonist, without violating the known traits of the character and is bound to provide a significant challenge for our heroes to unite against.

The art by penciller Doug Mahnke (with inks by Richard Friend and colours by David Baron) is very good and although there are some rough and sketchy spots here and there, it’s a great looking comic that’s visually epic and exciting in all the right instances with the more confined, character-focused scenes being equally well-defined and together with Venditti’s script it all keeps the reader engaged and provides plenty of anticipation for what’s to come.

The bottom line:  Robert Venditti takes up writing duties on Justice League and with penciller Doug Mahnke delivers a solid first chapter of a new story arc that promises high stakes for DC’s core heroes.

Justice League #40 is published by DC and is available in print and digital formats now.

Images used herein are utilised for illustrative purposes only and remain the property of the copyright owner(s).

4 thoughts on “Comic Review: ‘Justice League’ #40

  1. I enjoyed Snyder’s run on Justice League, but the ending was a bit anticlimactic I thought. I think this new run is meant to slot in between that and the next Snyder Capullo event. Anyway, Justice League #40 got this new era off to a good start and I like how the story was a change of pace from all the cosmic epic stuff, and it also brought everything up to date with all the events going on in the other DC books, like Superman revealing his identity and the death of Alfred ect. Great review. Will be interesting to see where this new team on Justice League takes the storyline next.

  2. I still need to get around to reading the next volume of Snyder’s JL run. Quite sad to know that it went with an open ending that sounds unrewarding. I also have Venditti’s Hawkman series to try too but at least the new direction sounds somewhat fun, hopefully it doesn’t flop. I also recently ran into Manhke’s artwork in Detective Comics and was a bit unimpressed but it’s not that bad. Maybe it was just one of his weaker works. Great review as always, Chris!

    • I’m definitely a fan of Venditti’s work, I very much enjoyed his Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps run. I’ve also read the first two volumes of Hawkman (drawn by Bryan Hitch no less!) and they’re great – hope you enjoy them!

      I generally like Doug Manhke but his more recent stuff tends to look a bit rushed in places, I’ve put it down to DC’s twice monthly publishing schedule really because his art on the Geoff Johns pre-New 52 Green Lantern series was always flawless.

      Anyway, a good first issue for the new JL creative team and here’s hoping the quality is maintained.

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