Review: Justice League #25
Forever Evil has been fun, but the Crime Syndicate haven’t been the most menacing of villains. Justice League #25 slightly solves this problem, giving Owlman plenty of motivation, and plenty of reasons to keep reading about him.
While the rest of the Crime Syndicate seem like polar opposites of their Justice League counterparts, Owlman has always seemed more relatable than the rest. In contrast to Ultraman who is an extreme of Superman, Owlman has seemed like an understandable offshoot. W hat if Batman went bad? His origin plays with the classic Batman origin well enough, and even surprises in a few points. Thomas Wayne’s grip on the crime families reminds me of Thomas Wayne from the Flashpoint universe. Thomas is 100% a villain, but he’s a fun villain to read. He’s as cunning as Batman, which makes his attempt to work with Nightwing more interesting. What works against these final few panels is Super Woman’s presence outside of the room. It makes it blatant that Owlman is tricking Nightwing into helping him instead of Owlman potentially being a traitor amongst the Crime Syndicate. Johns almost ruins all the set up he’s created in this issue, which is one of the best tie-ins for Forever Evil so far.
While Justice League #25 is a good issue, it highlights a bigger problem with Forever Evil: the villains aren’t that interesting. The situation itself is quite interesting, as watching villains begrudgingly be heroes is fun as hell to read. But Ultraman and the rest are one note characters. Owlman has some depth to him, and readers can understand his motivation as a villain. The rest of the Syndicate are being jerks for the sake of being jerks. Villains are more enjoyable to read when the reader can relate to them on a deeper level. While we still have around half of Forever Evil left, and could be remedied, it has a been a nagging thing that has kept me from completely enjoying the event.
What is there to say about Dough Mahnke that hasn’t been said before? The guy is a master when it comes dark and moody pencils. His rendition of Crime Alley feels at home to classic Bat-fans. I loved the look on Thomas’ face as he holds the gun to his parents. That is a look of pure evil. I love reading an issue and being able to understand the characters after a few panels, and the characters are barely speaking. After two panels of seeing the Waynes, Mahnke conveys a deep history for the relationship and how they function. But the highlight of the issue is the melting of a crime lord. It’s unsettling and quite detailed. Part of me wants to see it as Owlman’s creation of a Joker, but I’m probably thinking too much into the situation. As usual with Mahnke’s artwork, there is a small army of inkers. Their style is consistent through the issue though, but there are a few panels that look rough around the edges. The colorists are also out in full swing, with Justice League #25 having three colorists. Luckily, there is neary a complaint about the coloring. It blends perfectly between the Crime Syndicate world and the New 52 universe, providing a narrative flow that shows how the New 52 world can be just as dark.
Justice League #25 gets 4/5.