Everyone makes mistakes. But when you’re a superhero, mistakes can have huge consequences. The Justice League is currently dealing with the fallout of a recent mission that flew off the rails when police interference resulted in the death of a nun. And when video of the incident is leaked to the world, the team finds itself under fire from both the public and politicians. After making Deathstroke one of DC’s best comics for the past two years, writer Christopher Priest is bringing his superhero expertise to Justice League, a title that has had no shortage of spectacle but needs much stronger character work. Priest is both a master plotter and an insightful character builder, and his first two issues of the series have set up multiple conflicts while exploring the dynamics within the group.
This exclusive preview of next week’s Justice League #37 dramatically ups the stake of this story in just three pages, starting with the chair of a House of Representatives committee breaking down all of the worrisome aspects of the Justice League’s operations. That’s immediately followed by a two-page splash of Batman kicking in a windshield and throwing a Batarang into the forehead of a woman who looks a lot like that chairperson, which introduces all kinds of new questions about what’s going on. That’s probably not the real Batman, so who is it? How is he able to teleport away? Is there some kind of conspiracy to bring down the League by turning it into public enemy #1? The team is in a bad situation, and piling on the obstacles is very good for superhero storytelling.
Artist Pete Woods is doing the best work of his career on Justice League, refining his linework while delivering dramatic compositions that intensify the story. Working with Priest forces artists to bring more nuance to their character expressions, and that first page of talking heads showcases the strength of the acting in Woods’ artwork, which makes this character feel like a real person before she’s killed off. The tight layout of that first page sets a rhythm that is broken by the following splash page, and this excerpt shows how well this creative team controls the pacing of the story, jumping from dense dialogue to exciting shots of Batman and Nightwing leaping into action. Woods is also coloring himself on this book, and he knows exactly how much rendering is needed to add dimension to the visuals without detracting from his crisp inks. Priest’s work has always been very specific, and that attention to detail elevates his scripts while bringing out the best in his collaborators.