Justice League #21 – Scott Snyder, Plot/Writer; Jorge Jimenez, Plot/Artist; Alejandro Sanchez, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: That Escalated Quickly
Ray: Some writers do events and normal books, but Scott Snyder appears to have decided that after spinning Justice League out of his last event, he was going to fuse the two and just make this book a never-ending sequence of threats that could easily be an event on their own. When we last left off, the Justice League had found themselves in a strange future utopia presided over by older versions of themselves – including a white-haired Superman who was anything but and actually had his modern counterpart trapped in limbo. That segment opens this issue, as our Superman desperately tries to get free only to be confronted by an unnaturally calm enemy who seems to believe he’s done this countless times before. Even if the other “Superman” isn’t overtly malevolent, he exudes a sense of menace that’s far creepier than most full villains and his treatment of Superman contrasts with the rest of the League being suckered in by the fake utopia has a very haunting effect.
Even as the suspense grows, Snyder makes room for quiet moments that show why this trap is so effective for the League. My favorite is a scene where Bruce and the older Dick discuss where the rest of the family is (no Cass, though?). But as J’onn and Shayera’s “son” Shayne reveals the truth, the veneer around the world falls apart and the true identity of the fake Superman is revealed. That leaves the League facing an agonizing choice, one that threatens to tear them in two. Comics really like to do schisms or civil wars in their most iconic teams, but this one feels more nuanced than most. When facing total annihilation, how far would you go? The only quibble I have with the issue is the bizarre last-page reveal, debuting a villainized version of one of DC’s most iconic characters that makes little sense in context. But then, Snyder turned a Jokerized version of Batman into one of DC’s newest hit characters, so the odds are he has a plan here.
Corrina: One of my favorite lines in a favorite book is “You don’t deal with small stakes, do you?”
That applied to a marriage proposal but it could easily apply to Snyder’s Justice League run, from dealing with the destruction of the Source Wall to the Legion of Doom to the Drowned Earth to current crisis as Earth gets sucked to its doom. (Is the solar system coming with it? Because, otherwise, how does that work as Earth hurtles through space? Though I’ve had that type of science question about most of these “it may end everything” threats.)
What makes these stories interesting, other than the big stakes, is the pacing, which burns through these plots quickly, to get to the heart of the matter. I expected this fake utopia to last an arc given the setup but it seems they’re going to be burned off quickly, as young Shayne spilled the beans quite fast, though neither the JL or the reader is sure what that will mean.
As for who the Fake Superman is, well, yes, the World Forger was mentioned a while back. But I barely remembered him, which can be a problem with overstuffed stories. (I almost thought he was the villain in Bryan Hitch’s Justice League run, who had a similar M.O.)
Yet it’s a refreshing change for Batman to be the one who wants to believe in the utopia. I’d enjoy this short arc for that alone.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.