Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: Justice League #6

Justice League #6 came out this week and continued its insane pace, tossing aside some plot lines and barreling forward with others. Scott Snyder and returning artist Jorge Jimenez continue to just dazzle me with this arc as huge ideas are brought up and wrapped up in panels. The threat level is huge which feels right for the League. All this in the era of trade waiting is so fresh it feels innovative. It also feels rather classic, akin to the classic Dick Dillin era satellite stories. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book so far.

I also feel that unlike prior issues, Snyder gives us a little backstory, a little more information, a little more explanation to some of the proceedings. As a reader, huffing and puffing to keep up with this pace, any crumbs of exposition to keep me grounded is appreciated. But even these are done within scene, don't feel like an information dump, and are really just niblets.

The art continue to dazzles on the book. Jimenez brings such a sense of motion and energy to the proceedings that the pictures have a kinetic feel. There is some high stylized action, with bodies just slightly warped. It is enough to make you think you seeing someone move out of the corner of your eye.

But it is the story that gets me as every member has a moment to shine here. Plus the issue opens and closes with such dramatic splashes that I remain hooked. I don't know the last time I have so enthusiastically love a Justice League book. High praise.

On to the book.

 We start the book with a splash of the Joker and a peek inside his fevered mind. In small inset panels we see the possible origins for him, from Red Hood gangster to Killing Joke comedic flop, to just a normal kid. As someone once said, I like my Joker's past to be multiple choice.

But the real draw here is the art on the main image. This is a frightening and demonic Joker. The looking up from under his eye brows, the smile that isn't a smile, the lips scarred. The wrinkled brow and semi-receding hairline makes him feel like an older and more experienced villain. And then, in the background, the slumped body of Hawkgirl is chilling. This isn't a clown ... this is a horror.

We open with the face of death. We'll get back to this.

Inside the Hall of Justice, Cyborg and Jon Stewart try to stymie Umbrax the evil sun now in orbit. It isn't easy given Sinestro's army of Ultra-violet Lanterns is pummeling the Hall's force field with rays.

Umbrax is one of those 'where the heck did this come from' huge ideas just dropped on our plate. Umbrax eats the primal life forces. The DC concepts of The Green and The Red are in danger. The populace is all falling to its negative sway. Earth can become a living evil planet if Umbrax isn't stopped.

This alone could be a six issue arc. Here this is a subplot. I am amazed.

 And inside Superman, Luthor gloats. He has his 'doorknob of destiny' which we learn is a piece of the Totality flung back into the past. Should Lex unlock the seven hidden forces in the universe he will control all creative power. He basks in the light of the Totality, Superman and J'onn standing before it.

And then we get what would surely be a jump scare in a movie. Luthor's reverie is broken by a hand on his windshield. Batman is back. I love this two panel progress. Fantastic.

Wielding the Kryptonite ring, Batman was able to hold off Superman's mutated cells. And he wants that doorknob!

Inside the Legion of Doom headquarters, we spy two more of the talismans which will unlock those hidden forces.

The Cheetah is given the Key to the Graveyard of the Gods, held in the claws of a monstrous skeleton.
Black Mantis is given The Tear of Extinction. 

I love this sort of stuff. What are these things? What forces do they unlock? And why do these villains resonate with those forces?

 As the Batman and Luthor fight continues inside Superman's brain (what a crazy sentence to write), the Joker tries to have J'onn batter Superman's body to help Lex.

Thankfully, Hawkgirl awakens and is able to put him down, even quipping about punchlines. It is the second best fight line in the issue, just ahead of Batman, as he slugs Lex in the jaw, saying that the difference between him and Lex is that he has teeth.

So Snyder not only gives us big events but these smaller moments as well.

 Now the one thing I'll say is that some of the conflicts that have been huge in the arc end rather abruptly. I suppose that is the pace of this thing.

In what has become a rarity, Luthor defeats Batman, grabbing the doorknob which both are scrambling for. With a quick use of its power, Luthor sends Batman, Superman, and J'onn back to the Hall of Justice. The whole 'approaching the Totality' plot is over.

But look at the broken body of Batman. Limbs shouldn't point in those directions. When was the last time I saw Batman so defeated? Incredible.

 And Flash realizes that fight in the Legion of Doom headquarters is lost. He asks Cyborg to Boom Tube him, Diana, and Aquaman out. So the fight with Grodd and the Diana vs. Arthur fight is over as fast as it began.

With the team essentially reunited, the time has come to fight the big fight. Umbrax is the most immediate threat. It becomes apparent that Jon Stewart is able to fight off Umbrax's evil seduction. He has embraced his pain and turned that negativity into something positive. Heck, we all know that with great power comes great responsibility. We all know that tragedy can lead to a higher purpose.

If Jon can transmit that concept of hope growing from evil perhaps Umbrax can be defeated. It is a team effort. J'onn will link Jon to the entirety of humanity. Flash will send his speed force to the Speed Force car we briefly saw earlier in the title. And Jon will drive the car literally around the planet to spread the word.

While the basic concept of learning from a mistake is sort of commonplace in comics and life, this transmission idea is Morrison-ian in size. Plus the idea that these heroes are doing the opposite of what they usually do - sitting still, revealing pain - is fascinating.

But what is J'onn's most terrifying moment??

As Jon drives the car around the Earth, we see the heroes thoughts. Jon faces the dead of Xanshi. Flash sees his dead mother.

And at the Totality, Lex is shocked to see that his evil doorknob isn't just glowing with red energy but now a blue interior. I have said that the sigil looks a little like the Legion of Doom HQ but also the Hall of Justice. You think Lex would know that something called The Totality wouldn't only be destructive. Remember your 'V For Vendetta' lesson - anarchy can take two forms, creator and destroyer.

But Lex can't contemplate things too long. Hawkgirl is still there. And it looks like Lex's face is about to meet her mace.

Check out the new wings! The mutating field of The Totality has effected Kendra. Now I bet she can make her wings disappear and appear at will. That is a great panel.

Transported back, the Joker contemplates the new reality that Lex will wring from the Totality. But it looks like Jon has been successful. Suddenly Earth is a White Lantern planet like Mogo, a place of life.

Ha! We open with the Joker's face of death and end with a sign of life. Excellent.


Did we follow all that?

I'm riding the wave here. I love this book for keeping me engaged, tossing wild ideas in and out of the story, and giving it to me in such a beautiful package.

Kudos to everyone involved into the book.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Thank you, I've been enjoying this, but I get more lost by the issue!

Anj said...

I’m riding the wave ofbig ideas!