Justice League #23.4: The Society focuses around Owlman and The Outsider, so much so that they could have rather given one of them the title focus. So what does this venture to Gotham of Earth-3 have to offer?
When looking at the cover of this issue I admit I was not thrilled, but this read gives us the classic, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” scenario. Although Justice League #23.4 has little to offer with regards to The Society as a whole, it provides the reader with a glimpse of what may be coming in Forever Evil. This issue is narrated by The Outsider as it documents the final battle between The Joker and Owlman. You will get to know a bit more about Owlman and why he wants to bring order to Gotham of Earth-3. You also learn about Talon; Dick Grayson. So it would seem that on Earth-3 Dick Grayson has fulfilled the role that his ancestor’s prepared for him. (Refer to Nightwing #8)
Unfortunately, on Earth-3 it is Dick Grayson that is brutality murdered by The Joker. The way in which the Joker kills Dick Grayson is quite inhumane and shows the reader just what type of place Gotham of Earth-3 is. The city is dark, troubled, unforgiving and full of vice. Owlman and Joker are not that different to one another either. Owlman exacts a vicious punishment upon The Joker, one that certainly makes the reader know that Owlman is no Batman! It is during this battle that the pale criminal mastermind, The Outsider, reveals his true identity in the New 52 universe. So if you were wondering why the invitations had Owlman’s face on them… read this issue and find out who the leader of The Secret Society is.
A downfall of the comic is that the other villains on the cover do not really affect the story in any way. You would think that you are going to get to follow the story of a band of villains thrown together by the events of Forever Evil. However, Amazo and Copperhead only get a mention and nothing more. But this I admit is a good thing, as the chances are the band of villains story would have been less intriguing and I would most likely have given it a skip.
Johns and Gates do another great job writing this issue, the dialogue is well paced and suited to the world that Earth-3 presents. The story is narrated well and really does the Owlman saga justice. It is one issue that links to the events of past and present issues. Definitely a must read if you plan on following Forever Evil.
The art complements the story as well. Szymon Kudranski’s art is dark, gritty and gives a great noir feel. It presents Gotham Earth-3 as it should be presented, as a shadowed city plagued by all things troublesome. However, at the same time the art is a bit troublesome. Characters become a bit hard to distinguish and there are inconsistencies in the proportions of characters. There are even some bloopers! With an event like Forever Evil, an event that affects the entire DC Universe, an artist cannot afford to make bloopers and hope that they do not go unnoticed.
Justice League #23.4: The Society is a good read. It is brought down a little bit by the art but it still manages to tell a strong story that provides us with the origins to The Outsider and some of the events leading up to Forever Evil. Strangely it is a Justice League issue that follows the Batman events so intimately. So if you are looking to get a little more insight into Forever Evil and The Secret Society this read is definitely one for you!