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.