I won’t bury the lead. Batman is wanted for murder (it’s right there on the cover)! Or rather, a man dressed in the legendary cape and cowl committed the murder of a U.S. House of Representative member. That same Congresswoman had the honor of opening JUSTICE LEAGUE #36. Writer Christopher Priest and artist Pete Woods aptly channel the rhetoric and posturing you would expect from one of our elected officials. That’s not to say she’s wrong. In fact, she brings up valid points about unchecked power and civil rights violations. It’s evident the latest League incident is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

While Bruce and the team discuss the fallout from JUSTICE LEAGUE #35, our favorite nautical son, Aquaman, is preoccupied combating submersible drones. Aquaman is also trying to rescue a crew of Navy sailors submerged in the ocean’s vast expanse. To raise the stakes further, we learn the stranded sailors’ ship has twenty nuclear warheads aboard it! Superman, Cyborg, and Simon Baz step in to lend Aquaman a hand. Bruce, Diana, and Jessica remain behind to man the fort.

JUSTICE LEAGUE Panel at ACE Comic Con 2017

A Justice League Divided

JUSTICE LEAGUE #36 page 14. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

We receive well-intended discourse, from both sides, on the art of international politics. Among the League, there’s a growing discord. The tension manifests in the handling of the mission. It becomes sharpened by heat from the murder of the Congresswoman and the terrorist incident that cost a nun her life. Moreover, the team is questioning their leader, Batman. At least that’s the impression given off for listening ears.

Without diving too deep into spoilers, I will say this: this imposter Batman has peaked my intrigue. Carbon, this is for you, my number one.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #36 page 19. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Jump Into Action

There’s a fair helping of quality in JUSTICE LEAGUE #36. Let’s start with my favorite part, the directorial choices taken by Priest and Woods. They do a fantastic job of immersing you in the action. The issue’s big moments play out almost cinematically. There’s no confusion in the story, and the many subsequent panels do a swell job of complementing what came beforehand. There’s no better example of this than our first action set. Here, the imposter Batman attacks the Congresswoman while she’s driving. You can almost feel the crackling of the glass as it shatters from the sheer weight of “Batman’s” kick.

Justice League #36 Panel
Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The art from Woods is mostly clear and concise. I particularly enjoyed the smaller details, such as Bruce’s teleportation sequence to League headquarters, the splashes of water made when pretender Batman throws his Batarang, and the positioning of the cameramen in the committee chamber. It’s little touches like that that give the issue another layer of excellence. In addition, the artwork is emboldened by the color choices. Each scene feels suitably distinct from the other, mixing in an air of realism with just the right amount of tone and mood.

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The submersible incident is a fitting example to convey the growing tensions within the Justice League. The stakes, clearly stated, add to the uneasiness. There’s also a nice bit of misdirection that sets up an exciting next installment. Priest places some interesting ideas on the table — civil rights, accountability concerns, and superheroes. They’re ideas that recall familiar ground, but I’m interested to see Priest’s overriding thesis. That said, these are complex issues and might be left for the reader to ponder over. Nonetheless, they are interesting topics of discussion, especially if you have the proclivity for getting into the weeds.

Closing Thoughts On JUSTICE LEAGUE #36

JUSTICE LEAGUE #36 continues a solid, albeit thematically familiar, arc. The directorial collaboration between Priest and Woods is a notable highlight of the issue. The art is also immersive and action-packed. A fitting palette gives each of Woods’s illustrations a distinguishable and enjoyable tone. Lastly, an intriguing cliffhanger closes the issue, inspiring greater interest in the pretender under the cowl.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #36 by Christopher Priest and Pete Woods
JUSTICE LEAGUE #36 continues a solid, but thematically familiar, arc. Highlights of the issue include the art, directorial choices, and an intriguing cliffhanger.
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