The “Extinction Machine” concludes this week as the Justice League attempt to stop godlike beings literally made of humans from destroying everything. That’s metal as hell, but is it good?
Justice League #5 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The DC summary reads:
“THE EXTINCTION MACHINE” part 5! In this concluding chapter, the race to the corners of the Earth is on for Aquaman as he holds the key to saving our planet from destruction—if he can make it in time before the last doomsday machine powers up! Can Superman survive his trip to the Earth¹s core? Is this the final battle between the Justice League and The Kindred—or just the start of something far worse?
Why does this book matter?
We certainly haven’t loved this series thus far, but that doesn’t mean writer Bryan Hitch can’t stick the landing. The heroes are on the verge of death and destruction and who isn’t up for a great apocalyptic yarn?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Sick scales man!
Tony S. Daniel pencils this issue (with solid inks by Sandu Florea – just look at the scales of Aquaman dammit!) and together they do a great job delivering a detailed issue. The faces of the characters are quite nice throughout – especially a shadow-cast Batman in anticipation of everything crashing down around them – which works well to ground their humanity with the cosmic backgrounds and powers flying around. All the characters have a vulnerable quality that suits this, “It could all end at any moment” story.
Hitch writes a satisfying team book ending, with every character having something to do, say, or at least have stakes in the game. By the end you’ll feel like they all earned their keep and the book reminds us that this team is necessary for end of world scenarios in particular.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Unfortunately, the narrative in this issue is repetitive, with the characters saying out loud their chances are bad, fair, good, and eventually in their favor. It’s Batman mostly who’s giving a report on their status (I suppose this is what his job is in this mission), but it gets old fast and reminds you the team isn’t doing much more than willing their victory. Not once do you think these characters are really in danger as the enemies report to the reader they’re close…to something. Batman meanwhile is reporting as well when the issue really needed something visual to tell us this.
Which is another problem with the victory of this issue. The characters who were once depowered and thinking they were lost use their willpower to get an edge. It’s a cliched and tired trope that just feels lazy in this issue. It reminds you that their being depowered in previous issues was simply a mental block of their own and that reads as a plot device more than anything.
The threat…is a bunch of god dudes standing around.
Is It Good?
A conclusion can be a lot of things and still wrap things up well and that’s this issue to at tee. It ends, but not well, with a boring last issue that serves to have the heroes say and not show enough to explain the action and stakes in play.