Who is the mysterious Sovereign? What is her connection to the League? Why is Arthur her man-wench? Is Wonder Woman really the cause of everything that will be bad in the world? Justice League #30 answers some of those questions, and I’m here to tell you how it does. WITH SPOILERS!
Love it or hate it
With one issue to go in Bryan Hitch’s entire run, there isn’t much point in exploring whether you should or shouldn’t be buying this book. If you’ve enjoyed Justice League, finish it out. If you haven’t, don’t. Boom. Done.
I’m firmly in the latter camp, as regular readers surely know by now. I think that this run has been fundamentally flawed in ways that go beyond preference—that the dialogue has been poorly-written, that internal consistency has been hard to come by, and that well-known characters and concepts have at times barely resembled their established attributes. This penultimate installment in Hitch’s two-era, two-title-spanning time travel epic doesn’t really improve on any of these scales. Rather than spend more time rehashing what I’ve already said, I’m going to hit on some key points and provide commentary. You may disagree with my conclusions, but at least you’ll understand where I’m coming from, and you can take it or leave it. I’ll remind you again that there will be spoilers, so after this point, either be comfortable knowing the deepest secrets of this issue of Justice League, or be reading something other than this review.
Who is Sovereign?
One of our faithful readers—a fan of this run—posited a very interesting theory after the last issue: that Sovereign is in fact the Diana of the future. I thought this was a very good, very informed guess, what with Sovereign’s Olympus connections, the kids’ allegation that Wonder Woman wrecked the future, and Arthur’s allegiance to her. If you remember the “State of Fear” arc, in which “the darkness” first appeared, Arthur and Diana shared similar sentiments about the world’s need for powerful beings to rise up and rule. That definitely seems in line with Sovereign’s m.o.
But now we come to find that our reader’s theory is wrong, and that Sovereign is in fact none other than Diana’s mother, Hippolyta. So what do we make of this? Her motivation is, according to Arthur, to “[make] the world feel [the] pain and loss [of losing Diana] every single day.” Basically, she’s upset that Diana was killed/will be killed twenty years from now, and she wants the world to suffer like she suffers.
As motivations go, this one feels weak. Subjugating the world of men is a distinctly disrespectful expression of her grief over her daughter, because it runs so opposite Diana’s own ideals. She’s basically murdering Diana a second time herself. How do future writers walk Hippolyta back from someone whose principles evaporate in the heat of sorrow? How do they restore her to an identity that her daughter can respect?
I don’t think Hippolyta is an obvious enough identity for Sovereign, either. Back in this arc’s first installment, Sovereign takes a shot at Hunter and says something like “no wonder your mother gave you up.” Why would she speak so callously to and about her beloved daughter’s child?
I suppose there’s a loose connection between Hippolyta and Olympus, but the connection between Diana and Olympus is even stronger, and I suspect her ability to wipe out the gods would be greater than Hippolyta’s, as well. And so it feels like there may have been some deliberate misdirection/obfuscation on Hitch’s part, all to preserve a (sadly) predictably disappointing payoff.
The mysterious baby-daddy
The voice in “the darkness” speaks to Diana about Hunter in a way that strongly implies that the voice belongs to Hunter’s father. Whether this means that Diana had an unholy union with fear goo, or that the fear goo’s sentience belongs to a real-life lover, we do not yet know. I’m very curious.
Another day, another possessed super-team. The book ends with the darkness spilling out of Diana and infecting the rest of the League. We had a similar “possessed League” back in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, and in “State of Fear.” I can give Hitch a pass on concept, because the enemy here is the same as in that arc; but I can’t let him slide altogether. It just feels like a tired thing, and I really wish we weren’t moving into his final issue with another battle brewing between comrades.
Artistic consistency, for better or for worse
The final two big arcs of Hitch’s run have been penciled by Fernando Pasarin, and at this point, he’s the artist I most identify with the run. I find his character work very off-putting, with very strange faces and odd anatomy (the hands always feel a little small). He is capable of producing excellent layouts and backgrounds when the script calls for them, but it doesn’t always. In this issue, many of the shots are very tight and dense, and the backgrounds tend toward nondescript mush. There’s a lot of flash and motion in the midst of battle, but it is a conflict out of space. And with less background and tighter shots, Pasarin’s iffy character work has to carry a lot more weight.
- You want to know how Hitch’s run on Justice League will wind up
If you’ve been on board for Hitch’s run up to this point, I suspect you’ll be just fine with Justice League #30. But if, like me, you’ve struggled through inconsistencies, plot contrivances and artwork that falls short of this brand, then you should happily continue avoiding this book until after the next issue. The reveals here are unsatisfying, the artwork is near the bottom of what we’ve seen thus far, and there’s nothing that will sway readers who haven’t been convinced yet.