This review contains some minor spoilers.
Titled “Regroup,” it’s only fair that most of Justice League #14 is spent on League members regrouping after getting slammed by a gravity drill’s blast. The drill is attached to a “planet thing” [Aquaman’s words] that has appeared in Metropolis. Yet, when you “regroup” there’s an understanding that you’re doing so in order to get back up and accomplish something. In this case, the League needs to stop the planet before its weapon finishes recharging. They do stop it, but we don’t get to watch any of the action unfold – not them escaping from underground, where they’ve been blasted, or their counterattack.
We’re let in on the general gist of their plan, but the last page goes from the League talking things out, to them soaring away from the scene, to a cheering crowd. Narration by a reporter and the destroyed drill in the background clue us in further to the fact that we missed the show. It’s not because we arrived late. It’s because we weren’t allowed admission.
It’s a decision that lets the issue, written and penciled by Bryan Hitch, remain self-contained. Possibly the team go into their next crisis stronger, having talked matters out, but the planet was purely a device to get from point A to point B, replaceable with other menaces. It’s mentioned that there were cities on the planet’s surface. Having never encountered any inhabitants, we’re kept from getting sentimental when the League destroys their way of life, strip mining planets for food.
Exactly how that works (the energy is harvested for food production and travel?) the issue doesn’t break down, more proof that the planet was a means to an end. Once all of the heroes are accounted for the issue doesn’t care about who else might’ve gotten hurt by the blast. The heroes didn’t land in the ocean or an open plain, after all, but what looks like the middle of a city in Canada. Unless that city was a ghost town, where are the human casualties?
Getting away from the issue’s structure, if you’re going to take an entire story for hashing out what’s been going on with the team, you better get at some deep-seated, simmering issues. Batman having trust issues doesn’t count. If some of the specifics are new to certain League members, we’re aware of the premise. There’s some nice material for the Green Lanterns, and it’s interesting to see how ingrained the idea of ‘to each their own’ is, with Jessica unconsciously slipping to say “He’s my partner,” in reference to Simon, and Flash responding “We all are,” but a lot of what comes out during these conversations doesn’t feel startling
Hitch’s art captures the personalities of the team wonderfully, from the cramped Flash smiling while everyone else is serious inside the Lanterns’ transport bubbles, to Batman getting called out for a secret. His grudging ‘yes’ after the panels close in on his face, interrogation-style, is simple but made me crack up, and it’s always special when a cover tumbles into the title page. Alex Sinclair’s coloring, meanwhile, is phenomenal, with lighting underground depending on the Lanterns’ rings. With the Justice League already worse for wear, it’s the kind of sickly green glow that doesn’t raise spirits and makes people say things they might not otherwise.
The topics discussed during “Regroup” may not warrant an entire issue, but Bryan Hitch’s art and Alex Sinclair’s colors provide an energy that the story misses.