Justice League #38 review

Credit: Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, and Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano

The League refuses to die! Lex thought he had this thing all tied up in a bow, but the heroes proved why they are heroes—with STRANGE LIGHTS IN THE SKY! Who’s going to win this battle between good and evil? What will be the cost? Find out, in Justice League #38, the penultimate chapter in the Snyder/Jimenez run! AVAST! THERE BE SPOILERS!

Baldy brings the beatdown

It’s been a really, really long time since it came out, but if you read Justice League #2, then you must realize that Scott Snyder enjoys writing Lex Luthor. It should therefore come as no surprise that Lex ain’t lying down just because a few rubes are siding with Justice. He dismantles GL and Flash with their anti-powers, makes Wonder Woman’s sword seem woefully ineffective, and takes a slash at everyone’s favorite smart-aleck starfish, Jarro. Things seem dark, and Snyder has scripted the mounting tension well: on one side, you’ve got Lex mopping the Earth with the League; and, on the other, you’ve got Miss Martian and Shayne trying to move the needle back toward Justice. It’s quite dramatic, and Jimenez (with some help from Daniel Sampere), unsurprisingly takes Snyder’s script and works it out beautifully. There’s a lot of impressive grotesquerie, sure, but it’s in the storytelling choices most of all.

Just look at this one:

Credit: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano

That mouth-closed-in-recognition in the second panel is perfection—his lips are in just the right posture, and you know he’s in trouble even before we see why. But that’s not my favorite thing on this page. Notice how Diana’s sword leads us from the top right back down and left, and how the path of the slash through Lex’s body brings us where we need to be for the last panel at bottom right. These sorts of layouts blow my mind—I’d be struggling just to make the figures look presentable, and here’s Jorge doing what great visual storytellers do, deftly using the tools available in any given scene to lead us where we ought to go. Beautiful stuff.

Mother knows best

Superman begins to turn the tide, and I love Lex’s reply—it’s so in character. Clark tries to talk about human nature, how we’re not all bad, but have good in us, and Lex just lays into him: you know nothing! You are not one of us! If that’s not Lex Luthor, I don’t know what is.

Then—then!—we hear a voice that we haven’t heard in far too long: J’onn J’onzz, absorbed by Lex many months ago, crying out to Lex from inside. And just as we think it’s all going to be okay, that they’ll get through to Lex and pull out the win, Perpetua intervenes. All really does seem lost, but then, something touching happens—Shayne sacrifices himself—takes the place of his father inside Lex—and we end the whole business with the Martian Freaking Manhunter on a full-page spread, promising Justice though all seems lost to Doom. If that doesn’t put a huge smile on your face, I don’t even know who you are anymore.

I knew Snyder hadn’t taken J’onn off the board permanently, but it still stung when Lex absorbed him way back when. He’s one of my favorite characters, and I thought Snyder was doing a great job with him. Now, seeing him come back—the payoff is enormous. He’s the heart of this incarnation of the League, for better or for worse, and this as close to a Gandalf-at-Helm’s-Deep moment as I’ve read in a comic book. Great, great stuff.

Now it’s time to say goodbye

Snyder and Jimenez will be saying farewell with next month’s Justice League #39, and so will I. I’ve got Batman: White Knight to wrap up, but once that finishes in March, I’ll be leaving the Batman News review team, at least as a regular contributor. It’s been a long, wonderful trip, and I’m grateful to Andrew, the rest of the team—past and present—and all who read these reviews for giving me a platform to share my analysis on these wonderful little picture books that take up so much of our time and thoughts.

I’ll still be writing (and podcasting) over at mine and Jay’s site, Comics Now, and I’ll be writing merch reviews and reporting on Toy Fair and New York Comic Con right here at Batman News.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been following along from the start—there’s a major payoff here.
  • Jorge. Jorge Jimenez.
  • Jarro. Jarro.


Justice League #38 brings us right up to the edge of Snyder and Jimenez’s grand finale on this book, and it certainly does a good job of making us want to get there. Snyder’s skill at plotting tension is given vivid representation by Jimenez, Sampere, and Sanchez, and if the last page doesn’t make you yip with glee, then you’re a monster.

SCORE: 9/10

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