(Spoilers: Do not read if you haven’t read Justice League: No Justice #1-4 and Justice League #1)
DC: Metal almost broke the DC Universe. Fighting against the omnipotent demon god Barbatos and his army of evil Batmen collected from a variety of nightmare dimensions pushed the Justice League to their breaking point and we almost lost the DC Universe as a result. Countless people, both innocents and heroes alike, died during the struggle and the Justice League was triumphant but at the price of shattering the Source Wall. We find out that in doing, the breach in this monumental barrier has begun to leak cosmic energy into our universe while opening it to new threats that aren’t known to even the most ancient of histories. With these new threats rapidly approaching, the Justice League is forced to consider methods of approaching the problems and in this case, not one Justice League but four teams, like how the X-Men in Marvel operates their massive cast of characters, chosen by Brainiac. Yeah, let that sink in before we continue further into this mini series which acts like a blockbuster prequel to the new Justice League series which debuted this Wednesday.
The Justice League and Earth’s heroes are bested by Brainiac and his robot army, but we discover Earth’s destruction and capture is not his intent as he kidnaps the heroes and teleports them all to his home planet Colu. There they discover Brainiac needs their help protecting his home planet, which despises and hates everything he represents, from a threat of the Justice Leagues’ making.
Millennia’s ago, there was a ancient race of omnipotent massive aliens known as the Omega Titans representing four elements: Wisdom, Entropy, Wonder, and Mystery. The Titans planted seeds relating to these specific powers on multiple planets like eager farmers in anticipation for a good harvest. When the time came, they would return to the planets, see which force was more dominant and consume that power for themselves even though the consumption would destroy the planet and its inhabitants. Brainiac gathers a group of heroes and villains alike, splits them into the four groups and is about to task them with their missions to help save Colu (by blackmailing them with their planet to be next in line) when his head explodes. Who holds the smoking gun, why that would be Suicide Squad leader Amanda Waller who hijacked every major psychic on Earth just because she didn’t like kept in the dark when most of the Earth’s heroes disappeared or end up in stasis after Brainiac’s attack. The teams are left on an alien planet with the Omega Titans approaching and giant trees connected to the four energies sprouting up over the planet like tall towering dinner bells. No time like the present to bond and work together, huh?
Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson are no stranger to big storylines or crossover events and balance this wide cast intelligently by taking time to focus on each team strategically and methodically. While I never expected to see characters like Starro the Conqueror or Harley Quinn working in the Justice League, the amalgamation of teams works well as we see characters who you’d never imagine together doing exactly that. Combined with Francis Manapaul, Riley Rossmo, and Marcus To subtle but energetic pencils, this creative team continues DC’s recent trend of taking old ideas to new places and with that push, we see new moments developing our characters. Beast Boy taking advice from Lobo on cutting loose and unleashing the big bad inside was one of my favorites while Lex Luthor calmly telling Martian Manhunter that if he finds him in his mind again, he’ll set J’onzz on fire was one of the more chilling. Meanwhile on Earth, one of the worst team ups ever in the form of Amanda Waller and Green Arrow are battling back and forth on how to deal with the cosmic seeds beckoning the Omega Titans to our world as well. Amanda Waller is prepared to protect the Earth by any cost while Green Arrow keeps his eye to the sky hoping the Justice League will come and save the day. The four-part series is sprinkled with all sorts of small moments that keep up the pace without dragging out the story any longer than it needs to be. It’s a method that I wish more comic book creators (and tv writers) would follow for it makes the story feel more concise and the character moments feel more genuine. In the end, Colu is no more, the menace of Brainiac is represented in a new and honestly more threatening form, and although the Justice League manages to outsmart the Omega Titans from doing the same to Earth, their experiences leave everybody shaken and more aware of their place in the grand scheme of this new and uncertain universe. As the surviving members refocus and form the teams teased in the upcoming Justice League, Justice League Dark and The Unexpected, we also see a hint that even the villains involved are rethinking their methods. No Justice suggests more than once that the old rulebook, for the universe and everything the Earth heroes have ever known, has been thrown out and all I have to say about that is it’s about goddamn time.
With Justice League #1, Scott Snyder continues to show his versatility as a writer as he tackles a Justice League closer in membership to the version many remember from the Justice League cartoon. As the League members battle against a group of Neanderthals trying to return Earth to their control, Snyder manages to make the entire situation entertaining by showing the League’s telepathic conversation where they try their best Batman voice. I’m not going to lie that entire situation gave me such a laugh that I’m still chuckling over that especially since Bruce was mentally present the entire time. Having J’onn as both a member and team leader has its advantages both in regard to his wisdom and what his powers enable the team to accomplish. As the battle has ended, J’onn learns of a new threat heading toward the world in a matter of minutes and discusses the matter with the Justice League in a telepathic conference. As they discuss what this could be and how to best handle it, the villain behind this prehistoric invasion, Vandal Savage, is debating his next move when he is interrupted by Lex Luthor. Lex criticizes the immortal villain for his methods as Vandal’s minions quickly attempt to switch sides but Luthor simply lets these would-be henchmen perish to embellish Snyder’s point that Lex’s opinion of the world and how to do business has changed due to his experiences in No Justice. He laughs at Vandal’s failed attempt at creating a “Injustice Gang” in the past and lets that dismissal serve as the proper introduction for the new Legion of Doom.
The small but dangerous Legion in their classic headquarters is both a throwback to the Superfriends but also proof that despite the new rulebook, some things never change. Lex’s approach to the Legion of Doom is true to his character but what stands out is how Lex punishes Vandal Savage for his inflexibility. In a scene paced out perfectly by artist Jim Cheung who makes the entire issue and pretty much anything well-paced and beautiful to admire, it is violent, simple, and completely transparent to J’onzz mind which is exactly what Luthor expected.As the mysterious entity from the Source Wall makes its way to Earth and J’onn’s last words leave the reader on a ominous cliffhanger, I find myself looking forward to pick up Issue #2. It’s got all the things I consider worthy of supporting: a good story, a great cast of characters, no fear of finding humor in the extraordinary and a desire to give an old story a fresh coat of paint and an upgrade for a brave new world.
Because I still can’t think of the words Justice League without hearing this song..