The Justice Doom War rages on! With the League spread across time and their plan in jeopardy, things look grim. Can they pull out the win? Or will Pereptua and her new favorite bald son turn the multiverse into a 52-decker doom sandwich? Spoilers ahead.
Winning the war
The Snyder/Tynion/Cheung/Jimenez/yada/yada/yada Justice League has been a success overall. Why? It’s telling a compelling story, and most of the issues have been decent or better. Some of them have actually been excellent. So what about #32?
It’s decent. The story pushes forward, if only a little. Howard Porter delivers some exciting “everybody’s here” spreads and a few dynamic action shots. Snyder’s Gorilla Grodd provides some welcome comic relief. Luthor’s crazy zealotry continues to swell. If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you’ll most likely enjoy it, because you’ve invested in the story, and this is a worthwhile increment.
Losing the battle
Taken on its own merits, however, Justice League #32 is a miss—a conceptual win, but a structural failure. You’ve got the Justice League fighting across time, teaming up with once and future super teams and battling the Legion of Doom on multiple fronts. John Stewart and Barry Allen, fighting alongside the original GL and Flash, in the Battle of Pearl Harbor! Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman—with Kamandi by their side—connecting with the Justice Legion A and squaring off with a ginormous Brainiac One Million! How can this book possibly lose?
- Too much going on. The Pearl Harbor stuff plays out like a slide show. You’ve got Sinestro and a squadron of Japanese fighter planes vs. John Stewart and Alan Scott, but we never see any actual engagement. We’ve got Flash and Flash saving some folks from ships, but only after the bulk of the action has taken place, off-panel.
- Not enough going on. The battle in the past culminates in Aquaman showing up. It’s a huge moment, as he snatches his teammates from the jaws of defeat…sort of? The Lanterns and the Flashes actually seem to have the battle pretty well under control—evading Sinestro’s squadron and saving folks from drowning. There are just two pages where the Legion interrupts the League/Society’s run at the Totality fragment. Yes, as John says, “each of [the Legion] could take down an army with the…power they’ve been given,” but we don’t actually see that in this issue! Instead of showing Stewart and Scott successfully evading Sinestro, how about letting them get their butts handed to them? How about letting Barry and Jay fail, forced to watch pilots and sailors drown because, thanks to Grodd’s weaponized Still Force, they just aren’t fast enough?
Fight the future
This issue does not need the future scenes with Justice Legion A. These scenes add no real benefit to that story thread, and the six pages they’re hogging would have been better used to spread out the Pearl Harbor stuff and make it work better. Let the good guys look like they’re actually losing—like they actually need Aquaman. Let us feel how dire the situation is, instead of telling us just three panels before Aquaman rushes in and makes the point moot.
He talks to fish. And Anti-Monitors
Beyond that, there are some things that feel like incongruities between last issue and this one. Maybe they aren’t, and we’ll find that out later, but for now, that’s what they look like. It sure seemed like Aquaman was deceived at the end of the last issue—calling Mobius “my lord,” as “his lord” laughed about the Justice League showing up to find things not to their liking. But here in #32, the League and Mobius are teamed up, and Aquaman looks to be fighting for the right side in the past. Yes, it could be a deception by the Anti-Monitor, and things could still go sideways, but right now, it looks like the final page of #31 was just sloppy suspense. Time will tell.
- You’re invested in this run of Justice League
As a piece of a whole, Justice League #32 is a decent installment, featuring exciting artwork, lots of interesting characters, and a step forward in the big story being told. But on its own, it’s an unsatisfying rush through events that need more time to breathe. What could have been a thrilling showdown on one of history’s biggest stages is instead a rushed footnote with cheap tension and a weak release.
DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance review copy of this book from DC.