By Jonathan Edwards
What a piece of fucking garbage. As much as I've ragged on this series over these last few months, I'm honestly finding it a bit hard to believe just how bad this issue is. There's not a single redeeming factor present. It's an entirely worthless conclusion to a worthless two-part story, and Raymond Terrill is an idiotic dickbag of a character. If we didn't already know by now, this issue definitively shows just how self-righteous and hypocritical he is. He gets up on his soap box to scream about how moralistic he is for "giv[ing] people the chance to be good, instead of assuming they'll be their worst," and then he turns around and refuses to try and listen or empathize with the woman that raised him. Sure, she may have wished for a new family, but how does that hurt Ray? Nadine is right when she said Ray left, and he hadn't ever come back. The only reason he did this time was because the plot needed him to, and now we're supposed to feel bad because she moved on with her life? Fuck that. Ray has every right to have left the way he did. Because, it is true that the way Nadine was raising him was ultimately wrong. However, she also fully acknowledges that here, but that's still not good enough for Ray. No, to appease his narcissism, she needs to wallow in her past mistakes until the day she dies and never be happy again. Yeah, that's giving people the benefit of the doubt. That's justice. Go ahead, Steve Orlando, lecture us again about how paranoid and awful Batman is.
It's not helped by how laughably absurd the premise of this story continues to be. I thought maybe, just maybe, we'd get some justification for why everyone is so okay with the Might Behind the Mirror "granting wishes." Nope. We're just sort of supposed to think it's a good thing that people are making deals with a force no one understands. There is not a single moment where anyone questions the reality of what's going on here, not even Batman. And then, we're supposed to accept that the Kingbutcher is pure evil because he says the Might granting wishes is bad. If the opening scene of the last issue is anything to go by, he doesn't even outright hurt people. But, he's totally the bad guy, because... um... the people have a right to make Faustian deals at their own peril? Look, I'm not saying this is an idea that would never work, but at the same time, you can't just say that no one would be suspicious of it. Because, there's just no way that it would be so entirely accepted at face value, especially when FUCKING BATMAN is present. And, the fact that Orlando repeatedly tries to sell us on it with no further elaboration proves just how simplistic and superficial his writing is.
The rest of the mess that is this issue begins with literally the first scene. I'm confused as to why we have Killer Frost asking The Atom if he wants to follow a potential lead in curing her heat vampirism, when Batman literally excused both of them from the Kingbutcher mission last issue to, well, follow a potential lead in curing Frost's heat vampirism. Are they supposed to have already done that and are now following a wholly separate lead? Furthermore, why the fuck is this scene even here? By the third page, we find out that it was ultimately a dead end, and the only thing it succeeds at doing is making up some bullshit about the Red that I'm pretty sure doesn't actually make sense. Speaking of not making sense and the Red, I really question Vixen's usage of it to somehow determine that Kingbutcher's body is "a void in the Red." I could be wrong, but doesn't her totem only let her access the capabilities of other animal lifeforms? At what point does that translate to it doubling as a barometer for the Red that she can use at her behest? Additionally, I did kind of lie about not knowing why the first scene with Frost and the Atom was included. It's pretty clearly just there to setup the next dumbass "arc" of this series, but it's so completely ham-fisted that if you were surprised by it, you're lying.
The art is mostly fine. Mostly. That is, until we get to Ray's plan for getting close to the Kingbutcher. Let us first put aside the fact that it's an incredibly weird, stupid, and forced plan. The art completely fails to convey what is happening. The only way I understood that Ray was supposed to be coming out of Vixen's eyes was because it also happens on the cover, and it's a lot clearer there. This time I really do mean it when I say I don't know how such an egregiously poor depiction made it into the final book. And seriously, how does this plan make any more sense than just having someone district Kingbutcher while the Ray moves in to flank him? Short answer: it doesn't.
I'm just going to say it; DC needs to cancel this fucking book. Or at the very least, give it to a different, actually competent writer. Because as it stands, Orlando is completely out of his depth. He doesn't know how to write a team book to save his life, and I'm convinced that the efforts of Tom King, Tim Seeley, and James Tynion IV were the only things that made the Batman crossover Night of the Monster Men any kind of enjoyable. Don't buy this issue of JLA, and don't buy future issues either. If you had any remaining hope for this series, just give it up. It's not going to get better.
Justice League of America #11