The Legion of Doom has been freed, but will they kiss Lex Luthor or kill him?!
Even if they don't tear everyone to shreds, there's still that pesky Omega Knight to get past...
(This issue comes before Dark Nights: Death Metal #5. Don’t say you weren’t warned!)
“Doom Metal” comes to a strong if predictable conclusion in Justice League #57, courtesy author Joshua Williamson and returning artist Xermanico. Pretty much everything plays out exactly how you’d expect, but that doesn’t necessarily make this a bad comic. Far from it in this case, actually. Sometimes by-the-numbers is safe and satisfying. Fortunately, there are enough strong character beats to carry the day and still make this an engaging read – and close out on a high note of optimism against all the unrelenting darkness.
This issue, and indeed all of “Doom Metal” has been framed by a flashback sequence of a young Dick Grayson (as Robin, of course) encountering the Justice League for the first time and being awestruck by their presence, seeing them as more than human. That comes full circle here, as Nightwing realizes through victory that his heroes were just people, and by circling the wagons and fulfilling the League’s ideology with other like-minded people, he’s capable of living up to his idealized vision of them. (Of course, all of this is predicated on readers conveniently forgetting that Dick was, in fact, the leader of the League during his second tenure as Batman pre-New 52. Continuity cops beware!) It’s a bit forced, perhaps, as Nightwing has shown he’s more than capable of playing in the Bigs more than once over the years, but that doesn’t make the sentiment any less legitimate.
There’s a bit of a disconnect between the Lex Luthor here and the one in Death Metal #5, though. In the latter, he’s penitent, even humbled. In this issue, though, he’s his old, predictable self, ginning up support from the Legion of Doom (even as they attempt to kill him for his betrayal) for his own aims and desires. I supposed the case could be made that after everything he’s been through, he’s at last showing his true colors. That’s a pretty played-out scenario, though, a trope we’ve seen a thousand times before. I hope that in the long run, Lex’s better angels are allowed to win out, because that’s a story we haven’t seen before.
Xermanico, returning after a two-issue break, brings it all back home for the “Doom Metal” finale. He’s an incredibly strong artist, and doesn’t disappoint here. Everything feels as big or as intimate as it needs to depending on the scene, which can be a skillset not every artist has. But Xermanico excels at both. He doesn’t skimp on the details, either: Mohawk-Firestar and Nightwing-as-Jon-Snow will forever be two of my favorite things, based solely on the strengths of his designs. And the Omega Knight is pretty awe-inspiring in and of itself, colossal and imposing and everything you want a living space monolith to be.
“Doom Metal,” as a whole, has been a little by-the-numbers, so it’s fitting that its conclusion would be too. But it’s also been chock-full of solid human (and ape!) character moments, which could be interpreted as its real goal. Amid the world-shaking chaos of Death Metal, perhaps “Doom Metal” exists to remind us of the human element at the core of any good story.
Justice League #57 brings "Doom Metal" to an optimistic close, with stellar art and a sense that everything might just be okay in the end.
Justice League #57: Onward to Golgotha
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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