Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: Justice League #5

Justice League #5 came out last week, a sort of rest issue by writer James Tynion IV and Doug Mahnke delving deep into the formation of the Legion of Doom. I don't know if the change in creative team was to give artists Jim Cheung and Jorge Jimenez some breathing room to get ahead or of it was planned all along. The good news is the change in team didn't interrupt the flow of the book.

One of the things that I have liked about this title so far is how insanely fast things are proceeding. There are a lot of big comic book ideas being thrown about in this book and as readers we haven't had much time to digest them. We certainly haven't been given a ton of exposition to explain them.

This issue, at the very least, gives us a little bit of a pause. While new wrinkles are introduced, this is basically backstory for what is happening now. And, despite my love of the breakneck pace earlier, this felt like a cleansing deep breath. Whew ... now I know some whys and hows behind Luthor's shenanigans.

Tynion rolls out the story in a serious of flashbacks and forwards so keeping track of when we are was as important as where. He seems to have a good grasp of Lex and his motivations. And we do get valuable knowledge.

I've been praising Doug Mahnke for years here. Suffice it to say, he brings his usual excellence to the book. In particular, the future scenes we get are done very well, offbeat and weird.

So sit down and catch your breath Justice League readers!

The book opens in the present, Lex controlling Superman's body, walking it towards the Totality.

I am used to Lex being dour, serious to a fault. So this close up of him with this self-satisfied, almost silly grin, is actually pretty scary.

That is made even more terrifying when you see that this act is rippling waves of change throughout the universe. The people of Earth all feel it. But so do demons in hell. So do gods on Apokolips.

One thing this book has done well is ratchet up the threat level to insane levels. When Trigon, Neron, and Granny take notice, you are dealing with reality-changing power. When the moon is shattered in two panels and hasn't been mentioned again, almost an afterthought, you know the plot is crazy.

I love that about this book.

We flash back to Lex recruiting Sinestro for his Legion of Doom. In the wake of the Source Wall cracking, the Yellow Lantern Corps was reluctantly going to team up with the Green Lantern Corps. The threat behind the Wall was a danger to all of them.

And her is Lex, appearing in deep space, almost taunting Sinestro into signing up. Joining the GLC's fight is the easy path. Lex offers the better path. A path to true power ... the invisible spectrum.

But it is Lex's words to Sinestro that bite. Lex remembers the man who mattered ... not this Sinestro. Ouch! Shade thrown!

We then flashback more.

In the wake of No Justice, Luthor felt everything was meaningless. He needed to wring some meaning to the world. So he used his Mother Box to briefly look 1,000,000 years into the future. There he found a world order built around his own teaching! And that teaching was to stop being something you aren't. Embrace the flawed, ugly person you are and stop aspiring to be more.

Sounds like anarchy to me.

But this lesson is something Lex didn't realize while alive. These people, while worshiping Lex, call him the Great Tragedy. He wasn't smart enough to grasp Doom as the answer.

How it must gall Luthor to be thought of as stupid, or tragic, or even irrelevant. That is something that would never sit well with Lex.

Based on that, Lex decided to kick over a few stones to see what was eluding him. This led him to the Legionnaire's hall we saw in issue one.

There Lex discovers his Doom-knob. This led to a secret lair, filled with scrolls and texts filled with prophecies about the Totality and old powers.

We don't know much about Lionel but the idea his father knew about this is an interesting one. But I think this is going to be one of those snakes eating its tail things. Lex of some timeline will put this here so that Lex of this timeline can discover it.

With the knob of Doom showing him the path, he had the way to unlock all the foundation powers of the universe.

Grodd could control the Still Force.

Sinestro had the leadership to control an army of beings filled with the worst emotions there are.

A team would be built specifically to control the rest.

I can't wait to see what the other forces are and why they align with these villains.

That said, I don't know if I quite see why the Still Force is linked to Grodd.

But this is a great hook for me, keeping me engaged and guessing.

And just like that, Luthor changes history.

Because he is now following the path of Doom, he is no longer a tragedy. He has figured it out now so the timeline a million years from now doesn't happen.

In almost a happy Crisis on Infinite Earths, a wall of destructive time energy erases that world, its people cheering.

This is a spectacular image. These people are laughing as they are unwritten. Again, this is a big topic ... a whole new future ... introduced and destroyed in a few pages. That is the pace of this book encapsulated. Wonderful.

Back in the present, Luthor continues to plod forward. He will celebrate his base animal instincts. Wjy not. No morality. No justice. Just doom.

Okay, this doesn't sound like Lex at all. But I suppose after a life of failing, he might be tempted to 'go native'.

Just brilliant.

And from a 'rest issue' no less.

I am all on board for this Justice League.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Yup, pretty good issue, although I’m not thrilled with the news that Scott Snyder plans to have the Legion of Doom around for 50 issues, with a villain spotlight by Tynion every 5th one.

When will we get Hyathis?

Anj said...

Wow ... 50 issues? That’s long form!

Hyathis in Supergirl?

Martin Gray said...

Just dreaming out loud!