Chip Zdarsky is one of my favorite comic book writers right now. His work on Spider-Man: Life Story and Daredevil have all been phenomenal. So when I heard that Zdarsky was going to be working on a Justice League title you bet that I had my copy reserved already. Based on the title alone Justice League: Last Ride looks like it will be taking place out of continuity, similar to Tom Taylor DCeased comics. Let’s see what story Zdarsky has planned with Justice League: Last Ride #1.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Miguel Mendonca
Colorist: Enrica Angiolini
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the Fortress of Solitude Lois Lane is working on a story of Superman’s never-ending fighting to save others that include highlights of his battle with Doomsday and Lex Luthor.
Later that night noticing how tired Clark Kent is Lois asks him if he needs her help. Clark says he is okay but Lois calls him out on this. She tells Clark that she is there for him, something Clark knows.
We then see Superman rushing to save people from falling debris. As he holds up the Daily Planet globe he starts crumbling as the globe has kryptonite in it.
Clark suddenly wakes up, revealing that was all a dream. Before he can talk to Lois about it he gets an alert from his Justice League badge.
At the Justice League Watchtower on the Moon, Wonder Woman and Flash are the first to show up and answer John Stewart’s call. Flash remarks that whatever is going on must be big to bring the Justice League back together. He then wonders if “they” will show up. Wonder Woman says that they’ll put aside their childish differences to help people.
Superman shows up and says there is nothing childish about his differences with him. Batman then shows up and silently walks past Superman, showing that it was Batman and Superman who Wonder Woman and Flash were talking about.
Batman says that this meeting needs to get going as he is needed back in Gotham City. Batman acting nonchalantly pisses Superman off and they get into an argument that Wonder Woman has to break up.
John Stewart then summons Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash to the docking bay.
At the docking bay John along with Kilowog and Jessica Cruz say they are there to drop off Lobo after being captured as they need the Justice League to guard him as he stands trial with the United Planets after he killed a New God. Flash wonders why the Green Lantern Corps can’t guard Lobo.
Hal Jordan shows up and says that since the Green Lantern Corps fell apart they don’t have enough resources to properly protect Lobo. Batman brings up the United Planets military being able to handle guarding Lobo but its clear that the Justice League were specifically picked. Hal reveals that since the Green Lantern Corps lost most of their jurisdiction to the United Planets he wants to show them that with the Justice League’s help make the case for establishing new Oa where the Green Lantern Corps can be based from.
Superman wonders if Hal means this to be the Watchtower. Hal says he actually wants the Moon of Earth to become the new Oa. He goes on to say that since the universe has seen Earth handle one crisis after another that if the Justice League teams with Hal, John, Kilowog, and Jessica to protect Lobo an argument can be made to create a new Green Lantern Corp, even deputizing Earth’s heroes as new Green Lanterns if successful
While Superman and Wonder Woman consider this Batman immediately turns down Hal and John’s request as he is not interested in getting involved in cosmic politics. Hal tries to convince Batman to join them in protecting Lobo but Batman is not interested. Batman then teleports back to Gotham City.
Over in Gotham City Batman tells Alfred Pennyworth to call off Nightwing and Batgirl as he will take care of things at the museum.
Batman then goes in and fights Mr. Freeze while trying to free the people that are being held captive. Mr. Freeze is able to force Batman to find cover. Before things go any further Superman shows up and helps Batman take down Mr. Freeze.
Not happy with the back-up Batman tells Superman to meet him in the Batcave in an hour and then takes Mr. Freeze to the GCPD.
Later, at the Batcave, Superman shows up and Batman asks if he is there to convince him to help with protecting Lobo. Superman says he is as they need to show the world that the Justice League can be united in defending the Earth. Batman says he is not behind the Green Lantern’s idea of the need of space cops running around. Superman says that the heroes community on Earth is fragmented and this plan by the Green Lanterns could help as he can’t be everywhere. Batman says he knows.
Rather than talking more Batman says it was nice catching up and heads to his Batmobile to go back on patrol. This pisses Superman off and punches the giant penny across the Batcave. Superman then calls out how it was Batman’s decision to send his friend to his death.
After calming down Superman admits he is tired of all the fighting, that includes fighting friends, and once again asks Batman to put aside their differences to help. Hearing this Batman walks to his Batcomputer and says the only way to pull this job off is to go back to Apokolips. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League: Last Ride #1 does exactly what it needs to do to kick off what comes across as the final story featuring the premiere team in the DC Universe. There is no time wasted in talking about the detailing everything that took place that lead us to a version of the DC Universe where the Justice League are no more. Everything about this issue is about why the Justice League have to come together and how that creates a lot of tension because of events we don’t know about.
One of the things that stands out most from Justice League: Last Ride #1 is how much Chip Zdarsky and Miguel Mendonca trust the reader to understand what is going on. We all know by this point what the Justice League represent and have a general idea of stories that have happened in the DC Universe. With that Zdarsky and Mendonca present us with a universe that comes across as one that has its own history that is both familiar and mysterious. The mysterious side of Justice League: Last Ride’s DC Universe something that will be interesting to see developed as we learn more about why we pick up with the Justice League having previously disbanded.
Having Superman acts as the anchor to Justice League: Last Ride gets over how there is a lot of history in this DC Universe when we pick up this comic book. We all know how Superman is viewed as the greatest superhero who is the one that brings hope that our heroes will win when all is said and done. Understanding this Chip Zdarsky takes the time to present us with a Superman who has been through it all and is feeling how exhausting the weight he carries is. That is a strong starting point as it sets the tone for the rest of Justice League: Last Ride version of the DC Universe being one where every hero is doing their own thing. With that comes new pressures on how each superhero is operating in their respective ways of protecting the Earth. And Zdarsky accomplishes all of this through showing us how tired Superman appears to be.
Having Lois Lane there to be the one to call Superman out on how tired he has become was a smart move. Zdarsky does a great job playing with how the strong connection Lois and Superman have makes it hard for the latter to hide anything. This allows us to start with a Superman that does appear more vulnerable because even though he is still consistently saving the day he is dropping his guard more when it comes to hiding the toll it takes to be Superman. It provides the later mental breaks that Superman with Batman have greater layers to the story between them.
Speaking of, starting out with how there is great tension between Batman and Superman, showing that they are likely the reason the Justice League disbanded, worked really well. Even though Zdarsky was careful about never having things break down to the point that Batman and Superman were about to fight it got close. Walking that edge made it clear that dealing with one crisis after another caused the Justice League to reach a breaking point that when Batman and Superman had their big fallout that was the end. Learning that this fallout involves the death of one of the heroes in a decision made by Batman during one of the crisis makes you want to know what exactly happened to break up the Justice League.
Also, on the Batman side of the story it is interesting to see how without interacting with the rest of the Justice League for an extended amount of time it has impacted Bruce Wayne’s view on being a superhero. He has clearly become even more obsessed with protecting Gotham City as he is constantly showing the desire to end the meeting John Stewart and Hal Jordan called quickly. This along with how Batman is not behind the idea of Earth’s Moon becoming the new Oa and the Green Lantern Corps adds makes the role Batman serves in the great story in Justice League: Last Ride even more intriguing.
Through all of this Zdarsky does a good job working in some continuity from the current DC Universe as the story in Justice League: Last Ride #1 involves the United Planets. Revealing that the Green Lantern Corps have already become a shell of their previous selves because of the United Planets’ military take care of protecting a large portion of the universe added to the lived in feel of this issue. Events have already happened that have shaken things up in how things operate in the DC Universe, which could be familiar to readers of DC’s Infinite Frontier direction, particularly in the current Green Lantern series.
Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Jessica Cruz, and Kilowog recruiting the Justice League for help in protecting Lobo, after the villain killed a New God, immediately gets across how serious things are. While the Green Lanterns see this as an opportunity to rebuild the Green Lantern Corps it puts all our heroes in immediate danger. The New Gods not being happy that they can’t just execute Lobo right after he killed one of them shows that things won’t be easy.
It also adds to how there is some selfish decision making on Hal’s part as he and the other Green Lanterns see this completely as a chance to rebuild the Corps. This makes it clear that they are desperate to prove that the Green Lantern Corps is still a viable thing to exist in the eyes of the members of the United Planets. This could lead to some tense moments as Hal, John, Jessica, and Kilowog have more at stake than simply protecting Lobo through the trial.
This also makes Batman choice of Apokolips as the first place for the Justice League to go an even more interesting choice. Why Apokolips is chosen could answer a lot of question about the state of this version of the DC Universe while adding even more questions.
Though they aren’t the main focal points of the story Zdarsky does a good job presenting Wonder Woman and Flash as key parts of the story. With Wonder Woman we see how she quickly puts both Batman and Superman in line as they almost immediately get into an argument. This could position Wonder Woman in more of a leadership role for the Justice League as Batman and Superman are clearly not in spots to lead. As for Flash we do see through him that there is still some joy in this DC Universe and that Batman and Superman are possibly more on the extreme side of the current status quo.
Miguel Mendonca pencils and Enrica Angiolini coloring work well together to give us artwork that has a classic Justice League story feel. Everything looks great and how you would think Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Flash would look. The changes to the Green Lanterns costume, Hal Jordan in particular, worked well to put over how we are in a possible future of the DC Universe. The brief bits of action we get does build hype to see what Mendonca and Angiolini can do together when major battles take place in Justice League: Last Ride.
The Bad: Justice League: Last Ride #1 won’t be for everyone. You do need to have some knowledge on the DC Universe events to get into this comic book. Without some form of reference to the DC Universe there will be a lot lost.
What particularly might not connect with readers who are only picking up Justice League: Last Ride #1 is how heavy this story relies on the concept of the United Planets. Without context on what exactly the United Planets are and why they would have the power to take the Green Lantern Corps jurisdiction in the DCU this plot point won’t make complete sense. Hopefully in future issues the appearance of both the United Planet council and New Gods helps clear this up for readers not reading the Superman and Green Lantern comics.
Overall: Chip Zdarsky, Miguel Mendonca, and Enrica Angiolini make a strong statement with their work on Justice League: Last Ride #1. You quickly understand why when you pick up this comic book that the DC Universe greatest heroes aren’t in the best spot. From there we get into a story involving the United Planets and New Gods that create a big event feel for what will take place in Justice League: Last Ride. Setting all that up creates a comic book that will get fans invested right away.
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