War on two fronts! As one half of the League infiltrates the Totality, the other engages an old friend on an older wavelength. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor’s Legion of Doom waits for their striking moment. With the heroes preoccupied, it’s only a matter of time, in Justice League #3. SPOILERS MOST DEFINITELY FOLLOW.

Behold, the hero of our story

Justice League #3 opens on young Thaal Sinestro, before yellow, before green—back when he was known not as a cruel order-bringer, but a hero. This first page is gorgeously rendered by Jimenez and Sanchez. The luscious color and foreground shadows, the glow of light and distant moons—these caught my attention first; but Jimenez also deftly uses just a few panels to efficiently tell the story of the young Korugarian’s first encounter with the unseen light. His flowing scarf links panels one and two, the glow of light panels two and three, then three and four, the glow on his face in panel five telling us that he still stands before the lit console in the preceding frame.

Napolitano takes Snyder’s usual verbosity and distributes it expertly; in spite of white boxes littering the page, neither the storytelling nor the beauteous aesthetic is harmed. Pauses are staged well. Note the distance between the first two boxes. Behold the hero of our story, and we behold him in silhouette, and in full beneath that, both Sinestros living in the vertical space between box one and box two.

Snyder, for his part, continues to deliver a compelling narrator. The drama of it gives the book a tonal weight long before we reach the actual substance—a sort of signpost telling the brain what to expect. And there is the matter of that first caption, and Napolitano’s forced pause. Behold the hero of our story. I wouldn’t bet one of my children on it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that, before this is all over, Sinestro will be the undoing of Luthor’s grand plan, intentionally or otherwise. Snyder is certainly a smart—and patient—enough writer to plant such a seed and watch it grow, and Sinestro’s twisted vision of what is best for the universe has at times before found harmony with legitimate good. We shall see.

Primitive impulses have taken hold of John Stewart’s mind

The action shifts to the conflict with Lantern Stewart, and while I like the idea of the Invisible Spectrum and the Ultraviolet Corps, I’m getting a bit of an Avengers 1 Hawkeye feeling. John’s been away from the Justice League books for a while now, and right here at the start, we’ve got him robbed of any agency. We haven’t gotten any real opportunity to watch him play the hero in this book, so the shock of his possession isn’t as powerful as it could be.

Jimenez’s layouts lose a bit of oomph for me at the beginning of this section, as well. Have a look at this page:

Panel one is a fairly spartan, but effective perspective, but then we have two panels in which the perspective is fairly direct (and uninteresting), and panel three fails to add much, at least for me. Compare that to the first page, where there’s very little waste, and it doesn’t quite measure up. The final panel is more dynamic, but it also feels a bit weird, both because of the skewing of John’s anatomy and his constructs.

Thankfully, the next page gets quite a bit tighter, with more useful perspectives and some interesting color inversion in the second to last panel. The rest of the section works fairly well, and with Snyder’s narration threaded throughout, it’s an easy read. Cyborg having the successful attempt at stopping Stewart is pretty obvious given the context, but I was still happy for it, and grateful that Snyder uses Vic in action instead of as a supercomputer.

The rest of the book has a few off moments, but is overall quite visually interesting. Snyder’s tale continues to intrigue, and Jimenez and Sanchez give an energy and lushness worthy of the material. Snyder is also quite good at winding an issue up until everything hits the fan, and he does that here. Luthor’s unholy excitement at the bad things to come reaches a fever pitch, and we feel it with him. The League will ultimately prevail, but this sense of everything going sideways is what will make it truly satisfying in the end, and Snyder’s done a great job of cultivating that chaos.

Recommended if…

  • You like the long game in your team-up books.
  • You liked Hawkeye’s role in the first Avengers film.
  • Creepy, grisly Joker is your jam.

Overall

Justice League #3 has some moments of visual malaise, but largely succeeds on all fronts. Snyder creates some short-but-impactful moments for Cyborg and Sinestro, Jimenez and Sanchez craft artwork that is both highly-functional and beautiful, and Napolitano subtly uses the placement of the narration boxes to help guide and emphasize. The overall story remains compelling enough, and with high-quality installments like this one, Justice League is a no-brainer for your pull list.

SCORE: 8/10