Justice League: Volume 4 - The Grid.


I read a good many comics each month, I have been reading a mix of Marvel, DC and Indie titles for a little over three years now with a fastidious regularity. Before that I was a casual reader of trade paperback’s. Because of this I often form opinions about comics. One opinion I have formed is that DC comics have gone mad. They muddle through each event and story arch with little idea of how it fits in with the bigger picture and spread characters around from one title to another just assuming that everyone reads everything all the time. No book embodies this madness more than Justice League Volume 4 (the Grid)

Now before you read on, I would like to say that the following is my personal opinion of this book and in no way should it detract form your enjoyment of the title.  If you read it and love it that’s fine, we all have different tastes and its okay to like stuff that I didn’t. I love Super hero stories. I know it’s often corny and daft but I like the concept of the hero who defend whomever he/she can for no reason other than its the right thing to do. I don’t hate on DC because I’m a Marvel obsessed fan-boy.  I have a tattoo on my wrist that reads “Always Be Batman” and a Flash logo on my left arm. I don’t hate DC, some of my favourite characters are from DC.  Now please read on….

In this volume we follow the efforts of the Justice League to expand their membership and find some more ‘full time’ leaguers, later the new league members face a substantial adversary alone on the space station. It then quickly cannon balls into the start of the ‘Trinity War’ event as we see the cracks in the foundation of trust that the group has built.

Art by: Various, Andres Guinaldo, Gene Ha, , Jesús Saíz, Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
Cover by:
Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
Written by:
Geoff Johns

What worked?

The art, although by a few different people is entirely suited to the tone of the book. The art is good, clear and clean. I liked it a lot. My favourite pages being by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, Both artists showing clean visuals in very ‘Hollywood’ way.  Any Panel could hang on my wall as an art piece on its own. I loved the Art.  The colour work is also really noteworthy in this book with some nice lighting effects and attention to shadow depths that really caught my eye. I also felt that Zatanna was drawn really well throughout this book, she is an underused character that I really like.

The characters for the most part fell in line with the versions of themselves that we have come to expect from their individual books (with the exception of The Flash.) Cyborg being the most consistently written character, I would assume however that this is a result of Geoff Johns keeping him in the Justice League book and him not having own title. This has kept the character pure to Johns vision of him. Batman also shone as a consistent to Snyder’s portrait of him in the main ‘Batman’ title.

The first part of the story was really engaging watching Cyborg make contact with heroes and thank them for their help. The selecting of new members was a nice plot point that was under developed. There was more information I would like to have been filled in on, like how do these people keep getting to and from the space station. I mean… It’s in space.

What Didn’t Work?

250px-DesperoThe Flash that Geoff John writes does not in any way reflect the Flash that we see in his own title. The character in this book is more akin to Wally West than Barry Allen. He constantly throws out jokes and never takes things too seriously, that’s almost the opposite of the character that I would expect. I really thing all the writers should have a meeting and decide who Barry Allen should be.

I read many DC titles each month. Not as many as I would like to read, but still quite a few and I have not idea who Despero is (within the New 52.) I have read Justice League Volumes 1,2,3 & now 4 and this is the first time I have encountered this guy. Also what the hell happened with the Martian Manhunter he has hardly been in the title but some how he’s a big deal and no one in the League likes him.. seriously, did I miss a volume? this is typical of DC, expecting that someone who reads justice league will have read every tie-in title. At the very least I would like a list at the end of the volume telling me what tie-in titles I should pick up to get the full story.

Then, as the book continues I am again left adrift in confusion as we seamlessly go from a tense political situation and a wrecked space station to a ‘Trinity War’ in full swing. I feel like I am missing something. It turns out that there is a ‘Trinity War’ Volume, as well as a soon to be released ‘Forever Evil’ Volume. This is fine but it would have been nice to mention this in this title, so I at least know what to read next, and in what order.

Final thoughts?

I did not enjoy this title. Volume 3 was close to pointless and now in Volume 4 I am going to have to buy two titles in order to make sense of it and prepare myself for volume 5. Those two I have to buy are only available in Hard Cover format making them a pricey investment (the cheapest I have found DC hard covers for is almost £13 on Amazon UK) It’s a real frustration for someone like me who prefers to read Justice League in trade form.

Sure, I could buy the title monthly but I really like having a big chunk of the title at once because its always been more fun to read a complete arch.  In this case I feel like i got two half stories and a kick in the teeth to go with it.

I can’t say I wont buy Justice League again because I will at least be picking up the Trinity War Trade and that may help me make sense of the nonsense that I just read. Maybe its an epic tale that I’m just missing a few key pieces from but the way its been laid out and structured as a release by DC is just bad. a simple time-line of events or ‘the story so far’ section could have helped make the book a far better read.

On a side note I think that the reason the story suffers in recent comics has been down to the page count. Back in the 80′s and 90′s when we were getting almost an extra ten pages a book there was time for little character bonding moments and relationship building now there’s only enough pages for the main plot lines and that’s a shame (seriously go back and read Uncanny X-Men from the 90′s, there’s stacks of conversations and bonding moments, its awesome)

Click here for the Official DC comics Page for this title

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