Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: Justice League #3

Welcome to my review of Justice League #3 by Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez. And therefore, welcome to one of the more difficult reviews on the recent docket. As I mentioned in my review of last issue, this book is rushing along with the pedal floored. Incredible action, fantastical plots with speedy plot resolution, and new elements added seemingly every other page, this book is dense and fast ... how the heck is that possible!

Because of that, it is hard to write a review. How can you cover all the plot progression without just having the review be a synopsis? And how do you cover the amazing stuff within critically without overlooking some new nugget which is critical?

Trust me, this is a problem I wish I had to deal with all the time. It is a sign of quality.

Suffice it to say, Scott Snyder, continues to pepper this book with an amazing amount of story. I feel like I am riding the wave, letting it all wash over me as I try to figure it all out. Somehow, I think I am missing the forest for the trees. I figure at some point, I'll need to reread it all.

Jorge Jimenez shines as usual. The thing that amazes me is that Jimenez is somehow able to keep up with the story without making it feel cramped. This is an issue with 3 splash pages! It has several half page semi-splashes. And yet it is able to tell the story that Snyder demands. In particular, the Ultraviolet pages are just glittery.

On to the book!

The issue starts out on Korugar in the past. This is a young Sinestro, wearing the classic bluish/purplish body suit. Turns out he is a noted anthropologist,a young adventurer on the planet, and he stumbles onto that sigil that has been cropping up all over this arc. This time, Sinestro sees not only the 'Hall of Justice' symbol (or the code the Totality is beaming) but also a sort of helix above it. He mutters Umbrax.

But before we learn more, at that very moment, Sinestro is called to the Corps. It is part of his GL origin.

This seems more like archeology than anthropology. Or maybe a hybrid. But for me, this peek into Sinestro's distant past is brilliant. I am not a GL historian. I don't know if this has been mined before. Sinestro as Indiana Jones? Fascinating.

In the present, the League skirmishes with John Stewart and his Ultraviolet constructs. In a wonderful couple of pages, we see how each Leaguer thinks that they have an advantage over the Lantern. Flash moves faster than thought, Aquaman can effect deep structures in the brain, Diana can control truth.

Despite all that, Stewart basically mops the floor with his ex-teammates. It turns out that the hidden emotional spectrum includes shame and hatred. Stewart creates a monstrous being out of those feelings drained from the JL.

I love this art. This thing is horrifying. And the idea that these Leaguers have this much shame and hate in them is a decent hook for future investigation.

Meanwhile, Superman and J'onn are deep in the mutation field of the Totality, fighting of kaiju-like mutated Earth animals. Their armor shattered, the heroes keep moving forward hoping their colleagues on the inside will defend them.

Finally we see what Batman was hoping to accomplish by shrinking into J'onn and Superman. They are there to blast the mutagen cells attacking the heroes' genetic structures.

That is pretty wild. Seeing Kendra blow a hole into J'onn's brain to protect it from total mutation was definitely cool. I don't know if I can understand the science of this mutation. But if I can believe an alien Hawk-cop can fly a white dwarf powered attack ship in blood vessels, I suppose I can buy this.

Meanwhile, Cyborg had arrived to stop John Stewart's rampage by blasting him with 'irradiated ozone to sunblock' the ultraviolet energy. Now that is a Morrison-like throwaway idea. The cure won't last long.

Luckily, while in control of his senses, Stewart can give us a bit of exposition. In his desire to try and bring back Xanshi, Stewart came across Sinestro's notes on Umbrax, a sentient black sun in a phantom galaxy which devours planets filled with self-destructive tendencies. Umbrax is on its way to Earth.

But the invisible spectrum relies on the unlocking of seven other primal forces (we heard Luthor talk about these last issue). The first must be opened first ... the Still Force.

Once more we see those pieces of Totality's code and the bottom of the Umbrax sigil.

It is all linked isn't it. But it is sort of hard to grasp the whole thing!

On Earth, Superman and J'onn reach the Totality, a sort of mini-Source wall with beings embedded in it. It's code is still being broadcast, prompting J'onn to reach out telepathically.

I like the sort of New Gods feel to this. I am fascinated that Hawkgirl thinks the faces on the beings are familiar. Didn't they think the Totality face was also familiar. Who are these guys? I hope it isn't future versions of the Leaguers, them recognizing themselves.

Now here is the part I think I need to read and reread and reread.

In the first issue, we saw J'onn have a vision of some sort of cataclysm, a ghostly face scrawled in the stars. Here he reaches out to the Totality and gets another vision, this time of a young being and what seems to be the destruction of their civilization.

I have no idea what I am seeing. You know I love mysteries. This is the part I find most compelling.

But this contact awakens one of the beings on the wall who threatens to kill J'onn. get ready for a throwdown!

As for the other Leaguers, they track the Still Force to a location in a supposedly lifeless area of the ocean. Perhaps if they stop the Still Force, they stop Umbrax. That location is the fortress of the Legion of Doom.

I have to include this because of the line about the Invisible Jet. Just perfect.

I don't know if I like Barry's voice here. He sounds so Wally!

I suppose that people who guessed that the baby from last issue was the embodiment of the Still Force were right.

Now here is where I think we see some of Snyder's brilliance in keeping this a completely rollicking story. The Leaguers sneak into the Fortress. It would be easy to have them throw down with some members of the Legion.

But what the heck. Let's have the Legion have neanderthal White Martians in storage to attack! Quite a curveball! And can Aquaman, Flash, and Diana defeat a whole group of White Martians!

But things get even more crazy.

First off, in the most haunting page in the book, well worthy of a splash, we see that much like Lex is shrunken in Superman's body, the Joker is miniaturized in J'onn. And he has boarded Kendra's ship.

That is one freaking creepy picture. Just phenomenal work by Jimenez.

The Leaguers attacked by White Martians.
Superman and J'onn attacked by a Totality statue.
Kendra about to be attacked by the Joker.

And on the moon? Sinestro arrives to attack Cyborg and Jon Stewart.

And then Umbrax arrives.


I have been just left breathless by these opening issues. Things are happening fast and furious. The concepts are huge and wild. The mystery of the Totality, this symbol that is everywhere. A phantom galaxy that eats negative emotions like Galactus? A sentient sun like Solaris? All that and the J'onn visions? I feel both immersed and lost.

Jorge Jimenez is crazy good in this book. I would love for Jimenez to get a turn on the Wonder Woman book because his Diana is especially engaging.

I'm hooked. Exhausted and a little perplexed. But hooked.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Definitely a packed issue. So many events happening on so many fronts... and so many crazy concepts and mad science... It kind of feels like a Silver Age book.

Since there's an Ultraviolet Ring, what about Infrared? That's the only color of the spectrum missing.

That last panel with the Joker is creepy.

Anj said...

In my head Ultraviolet and Ultraviolent are too close for coincidence.

So I keep trying to think about some Infrared word play.

Infra-read? for calm knowledge-y feelings?

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those many readers who may pick up a mini-series and a couple of issues when there's a new #1 or a series reboot or new team, just to check it out.

I didn't read Dark Nights: Metal, though, so that kind of makes 1/2 of the current DC Universe a bit inscrutable. I guess all one has to really know is that storylines will be seeded for a long time to come thanks to threats coming through the crack in the Hellmouth - I mean Source Wall.

I thought No Justice was kind of ridiculous. Just couldn't get past the Magic Trees.

And I gave up Justice League after #2, so here I am adding a comment on an issue I didn't read, oops. Scott Snyder isn't for me. I think this kind of dense fantastical writing, crazy concepts and mad science, as Anj and the commenter above have described it, requires more confidence in the writer than I am willing to grant. I fear it's sound and fury signifying nothing. Magic Trees is only the beginning of it. I guess I prefer more grounded stories.

Apparently Justice League Dark is going to continue to investigate Magic Shrubbery, but I'll give it an issue or two.

I also like the new Trinity team membership, but with it functioning now as an Official Justice League Adjunct Response Team, charged with investigating source wall phenomena, and complete with an official minder reporting back to the JL, this may be another title where you're either on board with Weird Science Shrubs, or not.

I do have some hopes for Justice League Odyssey - at least, I like the team. But I have a feeling they will just be in space dealing with the same stuff.

I hope the Supergirl and Lois/Jon stories don't also get mixed with the the Magic Source Wall of Shrubbery. Otherwise, you are either on board with the Snyderization of DC, or you just wait for it to burn itself out.