To­tal­ity war

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Sny­der and Che­ung re­launch DC’s su­perteam. To­tal­ity awe­some?

There’s a sense that the Jus­tice League comic has been floun­der­ing for a while now. The Re­birth it­er­a­tion of the peren­nial team book never quite co­hered, and the per­cep­tion was cer­tainly not helped by that movie. DC is clearly hop­ing that re­launch­ing the ti­tle with an A-list cre­ative team (and a new #1) will give it the boost it needs. For the most part that’s ex­actly what these first four is­sues de­liver.

J’onn J’onzz, the Mar­tian Man­hunter, is help­ing co­or­di­nate the Jus­tice League in their fight against a ram­pag­ing army of “neoan­derthals”. It’s go­ing well enough, but when an old en­emy is killed he senses a ter­ri­ble danger on the hori­zon. The To­tal­ity – a mys­te­ri­ous force from be­yond time – has man­i­fested and threat­ens ev­ery­thing. Mean­while, Lex Luthor has gath­ered to­gether with the Joker and var­i­ous other miscreants to form a new Le­gion of Doom to be­lea­guer the League.

The good news is that for the first time in a while, it feels as if the Jus­tice League comic is prop­erly back on track. Scott Sny­der is al­ways an in­ter­est­ing writer, and he brings his love of both mys­tery and char­ac­ter to the book, teas­ing us with the na­ture of the To­tal­ity, while also hon­ing in on J’onzz’s doubts. Jim Che­ung’s en­er­getic art kicks the se­ries off in style in #1 be­fore he hands over to Jorge Jiménez, who’s demon­strat­ing some of his best ever work here. Credit should also go to Ale­jan­dro Sanchez, whose colour pal­ette man­ages to be as punchy as you’d want from a gi­gan­tic book like this, while re­main­ing nu­anced and taste­ful.

Some­times, how­ever, the vast scale of events feels dis­tract­ing. There are a lot of dif­fer­ent voices com­pet­ing for at­ten­tion here – not just the seven he­roes of the Jus­tice League (Su­per­man, Bat­man, Won­der Woman, Cy­borg, Mar­tian Man­hunter, Flash and Aqua­man) but also the John Ste­wart Green Lantern, Hawk­girl and Lex’s vil­lain­ous su­perteam. Be­cause of that, an event like Ste­wart’s turn to the dark side in is­sue three car­ries lit­tle weight – there’s so much else go­ing on in the story that it feels like an ir­rel­e­vance; merely another ex­cuse for a punch-up.

You also won­der just how ap­peal­ing all of this will be to DC’s cov­eted new read­ers. Jus­tice League is densely packed with al­lu­sions to past ad­ven­tures and there’s a cer­tain sense of preach­ing to the usual fan­boy choir. The best mo­ments here are small, clear and re­lat­able: J’onzz los­ing his fam­ily; an in­sight into Sine­stro; a glimpse at Go­rilla Grodd’s up­bring­ing. If the se­ries can de­liver more of these amid the kicks, punches and en­ti­ties from be­yond time, then DC will be onto a win­ner. Will Salmon

The vil­lains take the spot­light in is­sue five – as do artists Jaime Men­doza and Doug Mahnke, fill­ing in for one is­sue.

Sny­der brings both mys­tery and char­ac­ter to the book

Plan B was to dis­tract it with some juicy flies and crick­ets.

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