This is it! The Justice League vs. The Legion of Doom for the fate of the Earth—nay, the Multiverse! Lex Luthor is steps from his destiny, but Hawkgirl might have something else to say about that! Can Jon Stewart move fast enough? Can Barry Allen move slow enough? What’s up with Batman’s busted arms and legs? Find out about
allsome of these things—and more—in Justice League #7, as “The Totality” comes to a close—or does it????
Done, done, done
Endings can be tricky, particularly when you’ve got a lot of plates spinning in the air. The temptation is to catch them all, grace be damned. But what happens more often than not is more than half of them fall and break anyway (I promise I’m still talking about comics). In a story as intricate as the one Scott Snyder, Jorge Jimenez, Jim Cheung, Tomeu Morey, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano have been telling, this sort of indelicate pinning down of plot points must be particularly tempting: there are lots of threads to tie up, causes that need believable effects, and character arcs that need landing.
So how did Snyder and co. do?
Focus on the people
I enjoyed this on my first read, but as is often the case with Snyder’s Justice League, I also felt a bit dense with that initial pass. Part of it is the concepts in play—the Totality, Umbrax and the Ultraviolet Corps, the Still Force. But in this particular issue, another challenge is how much cutting there is between scenes. These cuts are a good thing, too—they aptly translate the chaos experienced by the heroes into a visual language for the reader—but they also make it a little harder to get your claws into what’s actually taking place, because each thread is one panel of light in a twisting kaleidoscope of stories.
But then, Snyder seems aware of the challenge, and even on the first read, I was able to stay connected because the character work is strong. There’s also plenty of well-timed humor. Cheung, several inkers, and Morey create a number of delightful images, even if the frenetic jumping about limits any prolonged sequential storytelling. So there was plenty here worth celebrating.
My second read, as expected, was far more enriching. Snyder ties up threads from the first issue, while giving us an extended “post-credit scene” setting things up for the next phase of the story, and I feel like all—or at least most—of the what’s of this arc were given satisfying why’s by issue’s end. And now that he’s got his first arc done, I’m hoping we’ll see some more extended intimate moments with smaller subsets of the team in the future. Bryan Hitch did this quite well in his pre-Rebirth JLA series, and I think it would play nicely to many of Snyder’s strengths. That said, I have to reiterate that I think he handled the team beautifully in this entire arc, and there were moments with each member that I remember fondly—including some very satisfying Aquaman stuff in this installment.
And looking back at the artwork, I found Cheung doing a bit more than I had first observed. It’s true that the cuts make it tough to build a single sequence, but he plays with his perspectives and layouts throughout, emulating chaos as the battle rages, but normalizing things as it all settles down. And like I said before—it all looks great, too. There’s a moment or two of confusing storytelling, but they don’t have all that much impact on the whole affair.
It’s all about Lex (and J’onn)
Justice League began with a strong focus on Lex Luthor, and Snyder’s written him quite well, too. Here at the close of “The Totality,” Luthor’s blind arrogance is on full display—even in defeat, it is deficient self-importance, not deficient self, that is to blame, and he again begins scheming in earnest. Here at the close, we see the story of Lex and J’onn J’onzz that began back in #1 reach a place of resolution, but also a place of new beginnings. Lex, firm as ever in his exceptionalism, steps into more depraved territory to search for his goal. J’onn, affirmed by the love and confidence of his teammates—even when confronted with his secrets—prepares to step off into the cosmos to find more answers about what they’ve faced and what’s yet to come. It’s a satisfying arc for both characters—even if Luthor’s is more the first in a series of concentric circles.
- You’ve been a fan of Scott Snyder on Justice League. This is a great, in-character conclusion to his first arc.
- You liked Jim Cheung’s pencils on Justice League #1. He’s ba-aaack (at least for now).
Scott Snyder’s assumption of the Justice League writer’s chair came with much pomp—pomp which has since proven entirely warranted. He and his team of artists have taken DC’s flagship title and woken it from a nearly two-year slumber. In this, the final installment of his first arc, Snyder gives us a satisfying conclusion to a complex tale, while Cheung, Mark Morales, Walden Wong, and Morey dole out the superhero bombast as good as anyone in the business. Cap it off with Tom Napolitano’s impeccable lettering, and you can’t go wrong. DC finally has a worthy successor to the Geoff Johns run on its hands, and I couldn’t be happier.