JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #4 / Writer: Joshua Williamson / Artist: Philippe Briones / Colourist: Jeromy Cox / Letterer: Deron Bennett / Cover: Stjepan Sejic / Variant Cover: Terry & Rachel Dodson / Publisher: DC Comics / Jan 2, 2019
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS
The decision to spin off several different Justice League books featuring different elements of the league in their own adventures was a great result of Scott Snyder’s recent, multiverse-altering work on Dark Knights: Metal and ensuing run on Justice League.
In Justice League Odyssey #4, the latest stop on this super-team’s tour of the Ghost Sector is a world where Cyborg is worshiped as “The Machine,” a techno-metropolis apparently built on his legacy
What has kept this series fresh is the way that each group in the Ghost Sector has manifested its worship of one of the trio of Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael differently from one another. Starfire’s surviving follower explained that they saw her as benevolent and kind in issue #2, while in this issue, the high priest (known as the Programmer) is unconvinced of Cyborg’s divine status at first.
Darkseid’s role in this series has been interesting if a little hard to follow, and Justice League Odyssey #4 spends a little time digging into what he’s after – on another world in the Ghost Sector he comes across Blackfire, a.k.a Komand’r of Tamaran, sister of Koriand’r (Starfire). Komand’r reacts to his arrival with violence, but Darkseid seeks her assistance with the promise of helping her unlock the secrets of Tamaran, her formerly-lost homeworld.
Thrown into a vast coliseum (with robot dinosaurs, which are very cool), Cyborg and Azrael stage a battle with the intention of making it look like Cyborg is the true machine god – at least initially. Fired up by both the crowd and Azrael’s taunts, Victor unleashes a blast from his chest that incapacitates Jean-Paul and convinces the Programmer (and crowd) of his status – prompting huge cheers and Victor’s famous catchphrase. Starfire and Jessica are held captive to watch the fight when Azrael is returned to them by the floating drone-sentries of the machine worlds. They lose their patience and Starfire decides to flex her muscle and break them out.
As the group are confronted by more drone sentries, Azrael’s (seemingly) only worshiper announces himself with a flourish. He’s an enigmatic figure who goes by the name Rapture and whose motivations remain murky – he seems devoted to Azrael, something which Jean-Paul is quite pleased about, but is less keen about the other members of the group. It’ll be interesting to see whether Azrael enjoys being worshiped enough to break away from the team or whether Rapture’s disdain for the other “gods” (Cyborg and Starfire) will cause problems later.
Now accepted as “The Machine,” Cyborg pumps the Programmer for information. The final-page reveal – that the Programmer and his people have been creating their own giant Mother Box in order to transform themselves into cyborgs – is great, and will give Cyborg some hard decisions to make next issue.
Artistically, Philippe Briones continues to do a solid job – the techno metropolis of the machine world is extremely detailed, and he fills the backgrounds with that detail to really sell the crowded, busy nature of the world the team are visiting. The double-page reveal of the giant Cyborg statue has a suitably big-screen feel, and Jeromy Cox’s colours infuse the pages with glowing neon and a vivid colour palette.
If Briones has a weakness it’s in how he draws faces, which can be a little inconsistent. At times they’re spot on, but on a handful of occasions (particularly with Jean-Paul/Azrael) the character can look very different from how they’ve been portrayed elsewhere in the issue. This makes sense for Jean-Paul since he’s usually masked, meaning his face is drawn less frequently, and it’s a minor issue when the rest of the comic hits that futuristic sci-fi feel really well. Deron Bennett’s letters are great as well and complement the artwork nicely. His use of alternate balloons and a machine-like font for the drone sentries works really well, and his sound effects fit in well.
Justice League Odyssey #4 is an action-packed issue that manages to keep things moving nicely – only devoting two pages to Darkseid’s background machinations keeps the focus on the group’s trials on the machine world and delivers some dramatic action. Cyborg’s internal journey from rejecting the idea of being worshiped as a god to reveling in the adulation of the coliseum crowd is convincing, even if it makes him a little bit of a hypocrite. He begins the issue claiming that he “didn’t like this kind of attention back when [he] played football” but winds up celebrating as a crowd cheers his name. That sets up some good conflict for the next issue, when he may well have to prevent the Programmer from following through with his plan to become a cyborg himself and continue to seek more answers about the Multiverse key.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Chris has been writing comics for a large chunk of his life, but only started making them properly in 2011. He’s worked with chap-hop superstar Professor Elemental on a series of anthology comics as well as writing stories for a number of prestigious small press publications including Futurequake, Aces Weekly and the Psychedelic Journal and creating his own comic book series ‘Brigantia’ with artist Melissa Trender.