Tuesday, August 24, 2021

RWBY/Justice League #5 Review


Written By: Marguerite Bennett
Art by: Stephanie Pepper
Colors By: Hi-Fi
Letters By: Gabriela Downie
Cover By: Mirka Andolfo
Cover Price: $3,99
Release Date: August 24, 2021

Reviewed By: Michael G

It’s the calm before the storm as our heroes gather to answer long stirring questions and share a night of frivolity before the impending battle in an issue that spotlights the newly formed Justice League, and puts Team RWBY in the backseat.
The issue starts with Jessica Cruz giving us a much-needed info-dump, answering most of the questions we have had throughout the series. She introduces herself to the others as a Green Lantern, and states that while she was in the process of chasing an intergalactic threat as part of her duties as a space cop, she and the creature were swallowed up by a rift in space and time, landing them both in the world of Remnant. Jessica goes on to say that the rift spit her out 16 years after the alien threat made landfall. in that time, it has managed to grow stronger and spread its influence throughout the land by controlling unwilling hosts, and even manipulating rich and powerful Remnant industrialists, such as Mr Lloyd from issue #2, into providing it with heavy duty artillery to facilitate its conquest.
Diana makes the observation that the creature’s time on Remnant corresponds to the age of the Justice League characters, suggesting that perhaps this is a sign that they are destined to fight this beast, who Jessica identifies as the classic DC villain Starro! After all of this exposition, the issue shifts over to a much lighter, banter-heavy tone as our heroes spend the night before the battle partying in Arthur’s royal abode. It’s the first time since issue #2 that we get to see the characters just acting like teenagers, having a good time amongst themselves. This is where all the character building and relationship dynamics pay off, but it also exposes how little character development some of the heroes have gotten compared to others. By the end of the issue though, the gang heads out for their big face-off with Starro, setting up what will assuredly be an action-heavy next issue.

In my review for the first issue of RWBY/Justice League, I noted that the series seemed to be primarily a RWBY story that just so happened to feature characters modeled after DC heroes. Well, as the story progressed, that initial observation has changed, and it seems the DC side of the equation has taken control. The Justice League characters now far outnumber the RWBY characters, and this issue identifies the main antagonist as a Justice League threat. The RWBY girls are essentially background characters, as most of the dialogue and plot of the issue focuses on the JL characters. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, seeing as Marguerite Bennet has put a lot of effort in the past few issues into establishing her version of the Justice League. With Team RWBY slightly sidelined, we finally got a glimpse at the dynamic this particular Justice League has. Diana and Jessica are clearly identified as the leaders, mostly on account of Jessica’s knowledge of the bigger picture multiversal implications of Starro’s presence on Remnant, and Diana’s sheer charisma and ability to emotionally connect with her friends despite her automaton origins lead to a pretty good inspirational speech motivating our characters to take action. 

I do enjoy the fact that this is a much lighter Justice League than we usually see in the comics, with a lot of that due to their younger ages. It’s the little things like Arthur draping his cloak over a passed-out Jessica, or Bruce and Barry sharing Nora Allen’s homemade cookies that really grounds the characters as normal teenaged friends Yet as good as most of the character interactions are, I still can’t help but feel as though Victor and Barry are more or less useless appendages in the team. Bennett has given them very little to do since their initial lackluster introductions, and I can’t help but feel as though the series would be better off if it has just had a 5-member Justice League featuring Bruce, Clark, Diana, Jessica, and Arthur, instead of feeling the need to complete the full JL roster. The issue is also missing a moment where the team formulates a plan on exactly how they will deal with Starro. As it stands now, it seems like they’re just going to all attack him at once and hope for the best.

Art duties rotate back to Stephanie Pepper this time around, who has done the best work out of all the artists who contributed to the series. The character designs all look great, with a particularly great splash panel of the entire crew at the dinner table. The issue is light on any kind of action though, so most of the art consists of talking heads and a nicely designed Atlantean palace interior. As far as I can see, this is Pepper’s first major foray into mainstream comics, and I’m excited to see what she will do in the future.

Bits and Pieces
Delivering mostly satisfying answers to the series’ many questions and giving us endearing quiet moments between the characters, RWBY/Justice League #5 is a solid chapter in this crossover miniseries, setting the stage for what will hopefully be a satisfying climax. While Marguerite Bennett still has difficulty managing such a large cast of heroes and giving each of them a distinct voice, she has definitely shown that this particular Justice League could exist quite well without team RWBY around for potential future adventures.   

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