Review: Justice League #12 Is Not Just The Kiss

Earth's Mightiest Hookup begins here, but the bigger news is the League ditching its most annoying member.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Justice League #12

Well, it's been the talk of the town all week – the revelation that Superman and Wonder Woman were slated to finally get together for a serious try at a relationship as a sort of crown jewel of what DC is allowed to do with the leeway granted by the New 52. That all begins in Justice League #12 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, and while it's certainly an impactful moment, it's not the most promising development in the issue.

When last we left the team, an author by the name of David Graves had made it his mission to break the Justice League down with the powers granted him by some forgotten gods. Here, he's tormenting each and every member of the team with the spectres of their loved ones. Diana is shown the ghost of Steve Trevor, Batman sees his parents who are disappointed with what he's done to himself, Aquaman sees his father, etc. Of course, the first awesome thing about this issue is a beat-up and battered yet badass Trevor revealing he ain't as dead as Graves thought he was, piercing the illusion and allowing the team to regroup and defeat their new villain, breaking him down just as much as he was trying to break them down.

The fallout from that is more interesting. We get more details on the backstory of Diana and Steve, and since he was used to get to her, she insists he stop being the League's liaison for his own protection, which is really kicking him when he's down. Then there's Graves, a student of the League who knows many of their secrets, being tasked by "Amanda Waller" (I can't not refer to this Halle Berry version of the character without dismissive quotes) to detail how to destroy them all. There's also the fact that the most recent inter-team super-slapfight was caught on tape and the world saw it and is now doubting the League's efficacy. That, coupled with the realization that mistakes and oversights in the League's work in the Darkseid aftermath were partially to blame for the tragedy that drove Graves over the edge, leads to the second awesome thing that happens in this issue: Hal Jordan quits the Justice League.

That's right, the most hands-down annoying douchebag, the guy who could never get off-panel quick enough, the guy who played a big role in making the first year of New 52 Justice League comics a chore to read – he's leaving the team. Hopefully leaving the book. Sadly, that's the most exciting development yet in this whole series – the excision of a painful tumor that might hopefully send this book into the complete remission its been inching toward with the last few issues. Yes, we know that Shazam will be coming on board, and I've made no secret about my issues with the New Dickhead Billy Batson, but for now, I'm choosing to be optimistic.

Then there's the Headline News of Justice League #12 – the moment where Superman and Wonder Woman have a solemn chat in the moonlight about the loneliness and isolation they've both taken on – she through distancing herself from Trevor out of concern for his safety, he through his secret identity and life full of secrets kept from everyone. Realizing their similarities and that they might actually be able to have a real connection with each other without constant fearing for each other's lives, what with the both of them being crazy powerful. It's a nice, sensible build to the moment that's been spoiled for us already, but I can't quite say it's the third awesome thing that happens in this issue. Lee really brought his A-game to these pages (to the point where some of the earlier work seems rough and overly sketchy – rushed, perhaps, which might be why he's planning on leaving the series in a few issues' time), crafting a really strong mood with the huge cabal of colorists and inkers on this one. However, it's hard to deny that it just feels weird.

Maybe it just seems sudden, although this is a moment that seems to come as a surprise to the participants as well. Maybe it's just decades of conditioning that Clark Kent and Lois Lane are The One True Pairing, and that everyone was always afraid to give Diana any kind of actual relationship for fear of tarnishing whatever weird chaste and virginal perception fanboys had of her. Maybe it's the fact that Steve Trevor has been my favorite thing about this book, and Wonder Woman brushing him aside is making me root against it. Or maybe it's the notion that there's no way it could ever work, because Kal-El is very much against killing while Diana ain't afraid to cut a fool's head off if it needs cuttin' off. Whatever the reason, the culmination of years of fan curiosity here doesn't feel as cathartic or enthralling as one might hope.

It just feels weird.

Although it certainly does succeed in one aspect – it surely creates the feeling that we're at the beginning of a roller coaster ride that may yet prove exciting. Despite the mild dissonance of it, I'm hooked in for the next few issues to see how this pans out. I mean, come on, how can I not want to read the adventures of a Jordan-less Justice League? Plus, there's no irritating back-up story about Billy Bathole, either, making Justice League #12 one of the most enjoyable in the series to date.