Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Review: Justice League #7

Justice League #7 came out last week, the conclusion of 'The Totality' arc. As has been the case with this title, there is a lot of action and a lot of big comic book ideas that rapidly fly by. It has been almost dizzying in execution and definitely confusing in some places. I feel I really have been flying by the seat of my pants here. But 7 issues in, I actually wouldn't mind a little exposition now.

I think Grant Morrison and his books. A lot of big ideas came and went in his books. But often, they were in the background or were minor details to the plot. I could roll with them because Morrison often times built a foundation for the main storyline that was solid. Here? Those crazy ideas are the main plot.

Now that isn't to say I haven't liked this title. It is bonkers and sometimes I need that in my comic runs. And the art, this issue by Jim Cheung, is gorgeous.

But if the next plot hinges on the ending of this Totality arc, I can only hope that we get some more solid background. A shaky foundation helps no one.

On to the book!

Earlier in this title we had a flashback to Vandal Savage seeing the Totality meteor phasing through time and space. We saw him get killed by the new Injustice League.

Here Snyder takes us back to the past one more time. I don't always like when villains get sympathetic back stories or 'good intentions'. But this one interested me and therefore was more palatable.

Savage unlocked the secrets of the Totality, those very secrets Lex has. Savage saw that should anyone try to use the Totality that only doom would happen. Realizing he needed to stop humanity from ever utilizing it. And so he became a villain, trying to rule so it would never come to pass.

Okay. That's not bad. I can reread prior Savage stories and try to put that lens over his actions.

Another thing that Snyder has done well in this first arc is really to give everyone a moment to shine. After being in the background for most of this story, Hawkgirl finally gets her time in the limelight, taking on Luthor in the mutating Totality field with the actual meteor on the line.

She has great dialogue here, warrior's lines both taunting and intimidating.

Meanwhile, Earth has become a sort of White Lantern Mogo. We see that J'onn has linked his mind with all of Earth's population. While the evil planet Umbrax feeds of negative emotions, J'onn knows life (the essence of White Lantern power) has both good and bad. By focusing on the good emotions, the Earth has some defense against Umbrax power. Hey, that is one big idea and one heroic move by the Martian Manhunter.

That doesn't stop Umbrax from simply firing on the Earth.

But when you need a strong defense, something to shield the planet from this blast, why not an S-shield.

Snyder does a good job of showing that Superman has been weakened by the Totality. His giving up his body here isn't without risk. It is a sign of good writing when a story can put Superman in harm's way without it being ridiculous. But how great is it that Superman's big moment is simply to stand in the path of the energy!

But then we get the big ideas that I don't quite get. Inside the Legion of Doom headquarters, Flash tries to link with the Still Force. If he can attain control of it by slowing his body down to a complete stop, he'll force Umbrax back to its dark dimension.

I get the concept of Stillness being a way to look at the whole problem rather than rushing in to solve one piece. But I'll need to reread to see if this makes internal sense. And should the Flash be able to access the Still Force?

Wonderful art here.

As if trying to link with the Still Force wasn't hard enough, the base is being fired upon by Black Manta from his ship.

In a great moment, Aquaman heads into the seas to stop that distraction. Nothing like giant prehistoric sharks to batter the Manta ship.

Hey, he talks to fish. That includes really big fish.

Finally Flash is able to link into the Force and 'shut the cosmic membrane' which forces all of the Umbrax system back to where they came from. Earth is safe from that threat.

There was a sort of Crisis on Infinite Earths sensibility to the scene with Flash seeing everything all at once. Once in the Still Force, he sees something dark and evil and cruel at the center of reality. It is what Savage saw. And Flash doesn't want to look at it anymore.

With Umbrax gone, John Stewart manifests a Green Lantern ring and eliminates Sinestro.

In the wake of the Totality, Hawkgirl sprouts new energy wings (most likely from the reality warping waves in that area) and beats down Lex. She wades in and claims the Totality meteor. Lex is teleported away.

But J'onn knows that this is the purest of creative energy. The multiverse is dying. Does the League have the right to use this level of power to try and save it.

This is another nice panel. Our hero is small in the center of the devastation. Yes, it lets me know that the land has been blasted by the fight. But it gave me the sense that the heroes are small, almost insignificant in all that has happened.

We could have seen a triumphant Hawkgirl holding it over her head in victory. But instead we get her on her knees cradling this.

Nothing left but the wrap-up.

I didn't know I needed another Cosmic Odyssey forgiveness scene between J'onn and John until I got it.

As Arthur said in Excalibur, 'I did not know how empty my soul was until it was filled once more.'

We get Aquaman and Diana talking about how their villains have new sources of power. And how despite their places of power in their communities, their home is with the League. Morrison always said those two would be friends in the league just from mutually understanding affairs of state. I like that.

But this was the best part. With the dread feeling behind the Totality, could the heroes actually be the villains? Could their fighting evil be impeding creation's plans?


Heavy concept.

I love it.

And yet, after it is dropped, Snyder inserts a decent joke playing on the running gag of  'Batman's voice'. Because this is supposed to be a victory debriefing.

But it doesn't end there.

Snyder ramps things up again with the appearance of the Will Payton Starman, holding Stargirl's Cosmic staff.

Hello early 90s!!!

This made me smile.

In fact, this made me smile more than the real cliffhanger which involves a character from Metal who (having not read Metal) I know nothing about.

So ... whew ... a lot happened! And I loved the ride as I was reading.
When it was over, I wondered why everything happened.
I was puzzled.
But then I remembered I loved it as I was reading it. And that is what comics are supposed to do! Entertain!

I suppose at some point, I'll break out the whole arc and read in one big gulp. Maybe I'll grasp more or be even more confused..

But for now, color me satisfied. These are the size and weight of stories that should force the League to work together - massive, universe threatening, primordial force stuff that requires this team.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

"I don't always like when villains get sympathetic back stories or 'good intentions'. But this one interested me and therefore was more palatable."

Agreed. Sometimes it's good to give villains greater depth or delve into their motivations... but not every baddie needs a sympathetic backstory, and some are better off without it.

"But how great is it that Superman's big moment is simply to stand in the path of the energy!"

A great moment, I'll agree.

The whole arc has been filled with imaginative concepts, great moments and interesting callbacks. Real good.

Martin Gray said...

Yeah, so much going on. You’ll know from my own review that I couldn’t be bothered to list everything so kudos to you! I hope Snyder halves the madness, at least, leaving more room for the cool character moments.

All you need to know about the final page character is that he is utter pants.