Justice League Odyssey ##
Warning: spoilers ahead! Cyborg, Starfire, Jessica Cruz, and stowaway Azrael are neck-deep in the weird happenings of the Ghost Sector! Last issue ended with Starfire coming into contact with an ancient relic which inadvertently caused her powers to begin flailing wildly out of control, endangering everyone around. Cyborg subdues her with a sonic blast (which leaves her alive but worse for wear), but even that gives the bunch only a brief respite as the entire planet begins quaking and undergoing metamorphosis. The foursome escape the chaos with a blastoff assist in their Brainiac ship thanks to Jessica, and take a moment to regroup. With their ship's navigation damaged, they seek out any Coluans they can to help repair it.
Shortly thereafter, they land on another mystery world (for the uninitiated, the Ghost Sector is nothing BUT mystery worlds), and split up to find help. Cyborg opts to stay on the ship with Starfire as she recovers, and Jessica and Azrael head out to find the Coluans. Almost as soon as the latter are gone, though, a medic is discovered hiding in the ship, claiming he can cure Starfire of the relic's effects.
Outside, Jessica and Azrael meet Vulg, an insectoid alien who seeks to help but then to their horror, reveals he and his kind are actually enslaving Coluans. The heroes spring into action to free them, and to their surprise are joined by Cyborg and a rejuvenated Starfire!
The fight quickly ends, and unknown to the foursome, the medic is revealed to have been none other than Darkseid in disguise, manipulating them into working together for his own ends. The Coluans then begin kneeling in supplication and worshipping Cyborg! Vulg escapes in the confusion, but not before calling the villain rapture, seen earlier in the issue torturing an innocent for information on the whereabouts of the "old gods." Rapture, perched on a rooftop in the self-described wreckage world, looks out at a giant statue of Cyborg and wonders why he didn't want to go home.
The trick to correctly writing a team book is, no matter how disparate the characters, their personalities have to bounce off each other effortlessly, creating dynamics and relationships that tether the whole group together. Comics’ best examples of this are, of course, the Fantastic Four, followed by Claremont’s X-Men, and Wolfman/Perez’s New Teen Titans. You read these books, and almost immediately you’re struck by the notion that you’re reading about not just a family, but characters whose lives and motives feel completely lived in. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes a reader must be patient for the payoff to happen. Such is the case with Justice League Odyssey.
To be sure, Cyborg, Starfire, Jessica Cruz, and wild card Azrael are not the most organic bunch of characters ever grouped together, but that’s the point. Their haphazard group dynamic is a metaphor for the Ghost Sector as a whole: a wide array of contrasts, forced to be together despite having little to nothing in common.
And then there’s Darkseid.
Many fans cried foul when the Master of the Omega Beams was announced as being a part of this book’s lineup. Could a kinder, gentler Darkseid be in the offing? Was DC going to do the unthinkable and make him… one of the good guys? And what was up with Darkseid’s svelte, almost youthful new look?
Fans needn’t have worried. Writer Josh Williamson knows what he’s doing. Everything is a little chaotic up front here – but I’m convinced that’s the point. In focusing on the innate randomness of the Ghost Sector, Williamson is in actuality setting us up for what we’re to expect – a wild ride of a book where anything goes.
Cyborg and Starfire, of course, have an almost built-in camaraderie that’s long a holdover from the NTT days (even if that book doesn’t officially exist in-continuity anymore), but Jessica Cruz and Azrael have yet to mesh, although they do have an exchange wherein she tells him “Just… try not to be weird” when they’re forced to work together to scout for Coluans. That sort of little exchange may seem meaningless, but it’s exactly the sort of small, human moment that a book like this needs to keep it grounded amid all the wacky space shenanigans. And then there’s Darkseid – not in the least a force for good, but rather an omnipresent threat, manipulating from the shadows to his own end.
There’s also the budding mystery of why the heroes are known and worshiped as gods, suggesting upcoming time-travel and a much wider scope than we’ve thus far been given. This is a good, solid hook to invest readers for a long-term haul, as long as Williamson keeps the relationship between his four leads as the foundation.
On the art side, Philippe Briones is a decent artist in his own right, but a jarring change from issues one and two’s Stjepan Sejic. Issue-to-issue it isn’t such a big deal, but looking ahead at reading it in trade form, such a stylistic shift could certainly take a reader out of the experience. However, he needs to work a bit on his expressions – there are some odd ones throughout that besides looking strange, aren’t consistent from panel to panel. He does, though, excel at conveying motion, which is a must for an action-heavy book like this one.
Justice League Odyssey #3 continues to build the world that's gradually being established and explored as the series goes on. It hasn't quite gelled yet, but it really has the potential to be a whiz-bang space opera full of intrigue, action, and strong characterization. What more could a fan want?
Justice League Odyssey #3 – “Ghost Sector” Part 3
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 6.5/106.5/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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