JUSTICE LEAGUE #55 Review

SYNOPSIS: The motley crew of “Doom Metal” sets sail for the cliffs of insanity, captained by Nightwing-or so he thinks! The team fractures, and Detective Chimp reveals the horrible secret wish in his heart. And speaking of hearts, Hawkgirl will stop at nothing to find Martian Manhunter, even if she jeopardizes the League’s mission and their souls. Part three of this five-issue tie-in to Dark Nights: Death Metal features the debut of a villain so huge he dwarfs all hope. Enter the Omega Knight.

Joshua Williamson’s “Doom Metal” continues on in the pages of Justice League #55 where he is rejoined by penciller Robson Rocha. The pair deliver a gorgeous issue full of all-out action, alternating realities, exciting panel work, and lot and lots of Starros.
The problem is I’m not sure it’s all that good.

Maybe it’s “Metal Fatigue.” Maybe it’s a story that’s a bit then and stretched across too many issues. Maybe it’s missing the “real” JL members. Maybe it’s a mix of those things and more, but “Doom Metal” is outstaying its welcome for me.

We meet our heroes precisely where we left them in JL #54, with all but Nightwing and Lex Luthor under the hallucinogenic influence of a valley of Starros. While the rest of the league is being manipulated into attacking Dick and Lex attempt to break their minds free while assessing the extent of the Starro threat…which turns out to be even more Starros, teeny tiny Starros, and, of course, an absolutely gigantic Starro. It all feels a bit like filler and doesn’t align with the danger we’ve seen presented by even a single Starro in the past.

After making their escape, the ragtag group of heroes agree to accompany Lex aboard his pirate ship (yes, I said pirate ship) in order to sail to the location of Perpetua with the goal of saving Martian Manhunter and freeing the Legion of Doom while taking on the Omega Knight. There is a “twist” of mistaken identities that readers will see a mile away and a cliff hanger that will lead us to issue #56.

While Williamson and Rocha are up to the task of making a fun, action-heavy issue I find myself wondering what Williamson really has to say with this storyline. He may be taking the long road to show us how “B-Team” heroes are capable of saving the day, but more and more these issues feel like they simply exist to eat up the space left behind in the larger “Death Metal” storyline. There is a bit of interesting character work to be found in Detective Chimp’s depression and angst, but beyond that, there isn’t much to engage the reader. It’s nice to see Dick back in action and his fractured mental state is used well enough here, but otherwise, it’s a book seemingly designed to look cool and not much else.

Speaking of “looking cool,” the highlight of the issue is easily Rocha’s artwork. His style has a clean look even in busy panels and hits the right balance of detail when needed and broader presentation when not. His panel use is particularly effective. Action pages and splintered and kinetic, while dialogue scenes are easy to follow without becoming formulaic. Colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. brings a rich and deep color pallet that carries its purples and greens as a theme throughout the book.

Overall, if you’re digging all things “Death Metal” and are looking for a really well-drawn book, there will be enough here to make this a decent purchase, but I can’t say that I think this issue will rank among the year’s best on the title. I’m hoping Part 4 turns things around and has a bit more to offer. – Garret Grev

GRADE: C-

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