Something is smelly in Boca Raton! While Superman battles his grayer, beardlier, handsomer, futurer self in a dark dimension, and Mera, Starman, and Jarro try to keep Mxyzptlk from unraveling the fabric of everything, the rest of the League is in the lap of luxury in their utopian future. But all that glitters is not gold, and the glint comic off of Superfutureman’s incisors is not what it seems. What the heck is going on in Justice League #21SPOILERS WILL MOST CERTAINLY FOLLOW.

A disappointing shift

One of my favorite things in the last issue was Batman’s question to the future League: where the hell are all the villains? It seemed like Bruce was being Bruce—refusing to accept what is clearly too good to be true, and asking the right question to get to the bottom of things. As such, I’m pretty disappointed with where that particular thread leads: nowhere. We don’t get to see the futures answer the question, and what’s worse, Bruce now seems to take this utopia at face value.

Credit: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano

J’onn and Kendra instead have to summon Bruce to the Psychic Boardroom and psychically Batarang some sense into him. Yes, I’m disappointed that my favorite character needs the assist, but I’m especially upset because it’s not like this is a hard problem. In fact, J’onn and Kendra shouldn’t need their future child to tell them what’s up in the first place. Where the hell are all the villains is the most obvious question in any utopian scenario, and it doesn’t make any sense that this team—that will later balk at the idea of Minority Report-ing trillions of potential Doomers—would be so cavalier and trusting about such a pristine future.

Not a total loss

Don’t get me wrong—Justice League #21 is still an enjoyable read. The central story, and even most of this particular issue, remain entertaining and satisfying. Jimenez and Sanchez defy comprehension in getting even better this time around—just look at the brush textures in the inks, for example. The struggle is legitimately compelling. There’s delightful Jarro-based humor. It’s really good stuff.

Credit: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano

I particularly like the notion of a benevolent villain in the World Forger. His stormy prophecies feel credible, and I, for one, believe him that the League is in an impossible situation. And this is precisely the sort of situation where heroism shines brightest. There simply is no way, but we have faith that the Justice League will find a way. I think this is why critics of 2013’s Man of Steel were upset when Superman killed Zod. Director Zack Snyder asked the question “how would Superman handle an impossible situation?” and—in the view of those critics, at least—he answered it incorrectly. For fans of these characters, the answer to that question—about Superman or about any of his teammates—is not ambiguous. How does the Justice League respond to an impossible situation?

They do the impossible.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been enjoying New Justice thus far.
  • Jooooooooorrrrrrrgeeeeeee
  • Jarro is your jam.

Overall

In spite of a disappointingly-abandoned thread from last issue, Justice League #21 is a beautifully-written and illustrated book. The larger story takes a huge step forward, and—to ride the coat tails of another popular franchise—one gets the sense that we’re in the endgame now. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

SCORE: 7.5/10


DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance copy of this book for the purpose of review.