The Justice League goes sight-seeing—IN THE FUTURE! While Mera, Starman, and Jarro keep vigil over Mxyzptlk, and Superman rots in a dark, sandy prison, the rest of the crew travels to the Sixth Dimension to see how they won it all. Because we all believe that’s what happened, right? There’s nothing suspect about this Future League all clad in white, no sir. Everything is on the up-and-up.

Right?

Words matter

Let me say up front that I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. The art’s gorgeous, it is—mostly—wonderfully-written, and it is worth your dough, 1000%.

That said, there are a few moments in Snyder’s writing this time around that—to me, at least—accentuate the weak link in his massive Justice League saga. These aren’t intrinsic flaws, necessarily, but they smell, and my nose—rather than get used to the stench—has only become more adept at sniffing it out. So what’s the flaw? It’s jargon. Snyder has introduced a number of new concepts (and in some cases, probably reintroduced old ones) in his tenure with the League, and most of them have comfortably assimilated into my larger understanding of these characters and their world. Umbrax and the Ultraviolet Corps, the Still Force—these are examples of elements that—though their names might have felt a bit goofy at first—have nevertheless become normal. Consequently, I don’t have a moment’s pause when encountering them now.

You keep using that word…I don’t think it means what you think it means

But there are other concepts that don’t land quite as well, and I think it’s because of the awkward phrasing Snyder uses to refer to them. There are two examples this time around. One of them—which dates back to No Justice—is Wonder Woman’s affiliation with magic. Now, I’m no Wonder Woman scholar, but I would be willing to bet this falls into the “old concept made new” category, and that’s perfectly fine. I have no issue with Diana being linked to the magical realm, particularly given her pedigree. But I’ve felt, even since No Justice, that Snyder refers to it too plainly, often using the actual word “magic” when it might be more natural to refer to a particular magical aspect. Like I said, no intrinsic flaw, necessarily, but the phrasing comes out awkwardly, especially in the midst of dialogue that is otherwise flawless.

Another example in this issue is when J’onn refers to “a full Justice Formation”—the complete version of the doorknob/Martian pattern that we’ve seen popping up since Justice League #1. Like Wonder Woman’s magic, the underlying concept is fine: I like the idea of ancient symbols with deep meaning, and seeing these symbols pop up in one way or another across time and space. Rad. Bring it on. But “full Justice Formation” sounds kind of, well, dorky—like maybe an extra few reads through the book and even Snyder would have landed on something a little different here.

No Justice

And while we’re on Justice, that’s probably the biggest one. Yes, we have a Justice League and a Legion of Doom, but Snyder’s verbiage about the universe being pulled toward Justice or toward Doom doesn’t play that well with me. “Justice” is being used too synonymously with “good,” and “Doom” too synonymously with “bad.”

I make no assumptions about what’s actually going on in Snyder’s head, but as a reader, these linguistic foibles feel like Snyder trying too hard to link dialogue to concept. He can make Wonder Woman magical as all get-out and never mention the word. He can make the Martian Manhunter very interested in the appearances and variations of this ancient symbol without midichlorianizing the idea. He can even center his entire story around the tug-of-war between good and evil without misapplying other words because they happen to be in the team names. I struggle with these occasional lapses where we see the strings puppeting his universe.

Jarro beats jargon

So after a six-hundred-word preamble, let’s get back to my initial point—I actually enjoyed this thoroughly. The tour of the future in the Sixth Dimension was entertaining, downright cool (largely thanks to Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez’s delicious artwork), and at moments, quite touching. I’m getting the impression that the future-League is not just some band of mustache-twirlers, but something legitimate(ish).

Without question, though, my favorite page in the book is this one:

Snarky Starro was the highlight of No Justice, and when he sacrificed himself for the greater good, my heart sang songs of honor and lament. Because my heart is a pretentious hipster reading poetry at the local cafe’s Open Mic Night. But seriously, it was awesome that he had the heroic moment, but it was disappointing the he was gone. Snyder was wise enough, however, to recognize what he had, and he grew it into something even better for Justice League: Jarro, the much smaller intergalactic starfish, grown from a piece of Starro. Who calls Batman “Dad.”

Sold.

Jarro has been hilarious and crazy and awesome, but this page just takes the cake. I don’t think Snyder was ever known for his sense of humor before Justice League, but he’s legitimately one of the funniest writers in comics. And Jimenez and Sanchez make the Star Wonder look AMAZING leaping onto the face of Deathjoke. Outstanding stuff.

Substance

I know I barely talked about the stuff I liked, but that’s the tough thing about a book like Justice League when Scott Snyder is at the helm. It’s excellent every time, and I end up repeating myself trying to cover it. In short, the virtues of this title, and by extension this issue, are hope, humor, heart, and humongous scope. That’s all here, as it always is.

Recommended if…

  • Jarro makes your heart sing.
  • Jorge Jimenez makes your heart sing.
  • Comics make your heart sing.

Overall

Another excellent installment of Justice League lands with Justice League #20. The dialogue is nearly perfect, the thickening plot is mysterious and engaging, and the artwork is so good it’s stupid. If you aren’t reading Justice League, you should be.

SCORE: 9/10


DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance review copy of Justice League #20.