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Justice League #16: Ocean Master’s Rules

The "Throne of Atlantis" crossover with Aquaman continues, and things go very badly for the team.

Justice League #16

Things have gone from bad to worse for the Aquaman. Fresh from his battle with Black Manta, Aquaman is now under attack from his own brother. Some unknown entity attacked Atlantis, and now their king, Ocean Master, is launching a full-scale assault on the surface world. Kicking off in Aquaman #14, the "Throne Of Atlantis" crossover with Justice League has just hit critical mass.

Justice League #16 ratchets the tensions, action and peril up several notches. Writer Geoff Johns splits this issue into two stories – the Justice League attempting to thwart Ocean Master and Cyborg trying to find Atlantean expert Dr. Shin before the troops of Atlantis kill him. Shin may be the best chance the Justice League has to defeat Ocean Master, though you couldn’t tell from this issue. Aquaman is trying to get the Justice League to stand down, citing Atlantean war rules. If Ocean Master sees Aquaman controlling the situation and thinks he is king of the surface, he might call off the attack. The Justice League has no desire to stand down – they are reacting to the imminent danger, which means they fight back.

The tussle between Ocean Master is solid action. Wind, rain, lightening and crushing sea bandy about as Ocean Master makes short work of the Justice League. Even the wrath of an enraged Superman is nothing to the King Of Atlantis. As Ocean Master kicks the crap out of one of the best hero teams ever, Cyborg finds Shin and hatches a plan that just might turn the tides. The end of Justice League #16 has Cyborg sending a signal out to all the heroes in the DC Universe that reinforcements are needed.

While the surface of Justice League #16 is exciting, it’s what going on beneath it that I find really interesting. The Justice League’s actions are ridiculous and damaging to the entire scenario. Aquaman’s reasoning for JL to stand down is smart and logical, but they refuse to even listen. Superman is overcome by anger, Wonder Woman is sanctimonious and too eager to fight. In short, they aren’t working as a team. It’s nice of Johns to slip in that detail even with everything else going on. The only part of the equation that doesn’t work is Batman’s impetuousness, it doesn’t jive with the other Batman titles.

Helping with all this chaos is the art from Ivan Reis. It’s not easy to pencil water, nor is it a simple task to give a storm the kind of visceral feeling that Reis gives the Ocean Master. Reis has such an easy perfection with the human form, he can focus on creating multiple levels of detail. The two-page fold out of Ocean Master unleashing his troops is a wonderful example of this. Reis’s ability to communicate emotion and action is perfectly framed in the panel where Superman loses his temper. Johns’ story thus far is a great one, but it wouldn’t be half as effective without Reis’s art.

8.5

(4 Story, 4.5 Art)