Justice League #37 Review: What Does it Mean to be the Fan?

Posted by January 20, 2018 Comment

Justice League #37
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Summary
Writer: Christopher Priest, Artist: Phillipe Briones, Color Artist: Gabe Eltaeb, Letters: Willie Schu, Cover: Pete Woods, Variant Cover: JG Jones, Editor: Brian Cunningham, Associate Editor: Rebecca Taylor, Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family, Publisher: DC Comics, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $2.99

Green Lantern Simon Baz has been taken hostage by the unknown Justice League Fan. We also get a glimpse into the history of the Fan and his connection to the Justice League. Meanwhile, the rest of the League attempt to investigate who this Fan is and how deeply he’s infiltrated their organization.

Justice League #37 cover by Pete Woods
Justice League #37 cover by Pete Woods

While not as shocking or gripping as Justice League #36, this issue is another strong output from writer Christopher Priest. It continues to show the fallibility of the team, even in small ways, and it has some interesting things to say about the nature of comic book fandom through the Fan himself.

The most telling examples of the League’s failings, shown in an almost played-for-laughs moment wherein the young Fan is caught under rubble in flashback to the League fighting the Shaggy Man. They had just saved a friend of the Fan, but they didn’t notice him down the street. Even the League isn’t perfect.

Also, Martian Manhunter was there, which was unexpected but not unwanted. J’onn J’onnzz needs to make a DC comeback soon.

Another notable moment is the Fan complaining about all the Green Lanterns. He refers to Simon as “Lawrence of Arabia” and John Stewart as “Soulman Stewart.” In that moment, this character strongly resembled a certain type of comic book fan that has been quite vocal recently and has issues with characters of various races popping up in comics.

The main difference of course is that this character is fit and motivated beyond sending out an angry Tweet.

The heart of the Fan’s motivation is, of course, him trying to shift and push the Justice League into what he thinks they should be. He has a certain vision of the League, and they aren’t fulfilling that vision at this moment for one reason or another.

Of course, we all do this to some degree; we have our own visions of our favorite heroes. I fall into that trap at times. This of course clashes with the necessities of creativity and a writer trying to leave their stamp on a long legacy. The perfect balance is when we as readers can appreciate the nuances the creative team brings, and the creative team can justify taking the character in this direction with a compelling story.

There is the idea of maintaining the core of the character, but even that is a minefield because everyone perceives different qualities of a character as being “the core.”

Moving on from the pontification: a lot of the political backdrop falls away this issue, and, while that does give more time to explore this new villain, it was the thing the element that stuck with me the most last issue. The personal clashes are mostly absent from the forefront too; there is no butting heads between Batman and Wonder Woman. Superman is completely MIA too. There are some moments where Cyborg and Jessica Cruz show their discontent in minor ways, and those moments were well-constructed.

There is also a scene where there is an explosion in the storeroom of a bar that feels oddly ignored. It doesn’t feel like one of those moments of showing the Justice League’s fallibility; it just feels like out-and-out neglect. There is the argument that the Leaguers present could have tended to it off-panel, but, in a comic about these subject matters, a detail like that should be more explicit than implicit.

Justice League #37 art by Phillipe Briones and Gabe Eltaeb
Justice League #37 art by Phillipe Briones and Gabe Eltaeb

Philippe Briones takes over the art in this issue, and he brings a little more grit and finer detail than Pete Woods did in previous issues to this story. There are times where the faces can look a little off, and there is one panel with the Flash where he has huge Bambi-eyes. However, the overall comic does look really good. Gabe Eltaeb maintains a good balance of color, and it is quite striking at times.

Priest, Briones, and Eltaeb bring another powerful issue of Justice League that leaves me thinking and with a lot to talk about. All the while, the creative team still manages to keep its characters straight and well-represented. The art is strong. The overall book leaves an impact. I’m left really looking forward to where it goes from here. I highly recommend this issue. Give it a read.

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(Last Updated January 20, 2018 8:36 pm )

About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.

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