Writer: Robert Venditti
Artists: Aaron Lopresti (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker)
Colorist: David Barron
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover Artists: Bryan Hitch with Jeremiah Skipper
Editor: Alex R. Carr
Publisher: DC Entertainment
Writer Robert Venditti took over the flagship Justice League title earlier this month, following a popular run by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and a variety of top-shelf artists. One issue into his run, I can’t say it inspires much confidence that his efforts will match theirs.
Continuing from the last issue, Justice League #41 has the titular team fighting the ersatz Kryptionian known as the Eradicator, who you may know as one of DC’s several “bad Superman” types. If you think you’ve seen this one before, there’s a chance you might be correct, because I couldn’t help but experience some major deja vu while reading this issue. While this issue of Justice League isn’t necessarily bad, there’s nothing here that really warrants high praise or effusive recommendation. The bulk of this issue is dedicated to a classic superhero “beat ‘em up” between the JLA and the Eradicator and not much else.
While I haven’t read the previous issue of this story, it doesn’t feel like I need to have done that, which is both praise and criticism. A classic adage of comicbook storytelling, specifically regarding superhero comics, is to provide enough exposition (even in the middle of things) because any given issue could be a person’s first. That’s very much at play here. You’re given enough context clues to know the following to be true: it’s a Justice League comic, and they’re in some sort of conflict with the Eradicator. My problem is that I’m not really given much of a reason to care, nor does the comic itself look especially good.
Venditti is a textbook company man at DC insomuch that he’s a reliable writer who can be assigned to any given project and it’ll sell reasonably well, but you’d be hard-pressed to find him passionate about his work. In all fairness to him, I’ve only heard good things about his currently ongoing Hawkman, but this singular issue of Justice League doesn’t have me running to catch up on what I’ve missed based on the story presented. As someone not currently investing in a twice-monthly Justice League comic, that’s a problem.
Unfortunately the same is true about the art, penciled by Aaron Lopresti and inked by Matt Ryan (presumably not that Matt Ryan) with colors by David Barron. Much like Venditti’s script, it’s fairly bog standard superhero action fare that’s not especially interesting or great to look at. Coming off a run largely drawn by the likes of Jorge Jimenez and Francis Manapul — arguably two of DC’s best regular artists at the moment — anything else would’ve been a disappointment, and Lopresti/Ryan/Barron’s work doesn’t meet the level of their predecessors. The overall package of this issue is very “meat and potatoes” for a certain sect of DC fans who don’t want or expect their comics to reinvent the wheel, but I can’t help but be left feeling hungry for something else.