Justice League #22 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Francis Manapul, Artist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Cosmic Backstory
Ray: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s Justice League stands out for its big storylines, but it’s the small things that really make it sing. I say that figuratively – the little character moments – and also literally because some of my favorite moments of this run have centered around a friendly starfish in a jar, battling imps, and this issue a tiny hissing Barbatos. These quirky moments humanize a story that is constantly centering around the biggest stakes of any title in DC’s lineup. Justice League #22 pulls back from the ongoing 6th Dimension story to show us what Mera and Starman (and secret weapon Jarro) have been up to. Mr. Mxyzptlk is out of control and threatening the Earth, only to have the Legion of Doom show up with Luthor’s secret weapon – Bat-Mite. But that’s not the core of this issue. This is essentially a family story starting at the beginning of time – as we see how Perpetua created the multiverse, and with it three guardians. These sons of hers, the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor, and the World Forger, each had a role in creating the Multiverse – but quickly became concerned with their mother’s lust for power.
Francis Manapul guest-illustrates this issue, and he’s a brilliant choice to depict this familial tragedy set at the beginning of time. There are shades of Cain and Abel between the Monitor and Anti-Monitor, as one is destined to toil in the shadows for all time. We know an ancient hatred will develop between them, but right now a different crisis is brewing. Perpetua’s obsession with preserving her existence against the cycle of the multiverse and against what lurks beyond their borders leads her to create a fail-safe – one which horrifies her children. If I have one complaint about this issue, it’s that Perpetua still feels like the blankest slate of the characters. She’s little more than a slightly updated version of a cosmic comic book tyrant, and she needs more if she’s going to be the defining villain of this run. But that’s a problem for later issues, and this comic has accomplished its main goal – getting me invested in just how big this cosmic battle is going to be as the Justice League returns to the fight next issue.
Corrina: The stakes are so high for Perpetua that they’re somewhat incomprehensible. She wants not to be part of the cycle but what would happen if she kept going? Constant war? Well, okay, but how is that different than everything we see in the monthly comics? It’s not a utopia being threatened by Perpetua, it’s something already fairly bleak, especially when the Justice League hardly ever gets a win, the universe keeps getting reset, and next up is literally the Year of the Villain.
So, other than another reset, what is truly at stake for our League? That’s the biggest flaw I find in this arc, whose best moments have been the character interactions, like Jarro’s wisecracks, and not the big cosmic story.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.