With “Year of the Villain” well under way, Justice League is ready to pop off this week. And pop off it does. James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder deliver one hell of a statement issued this week, which not only sets the stage for the latest thrust of action frenzy fun but does well to capture the rules of the game — or in this case, war.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The “Justice Doom War” starts here! The Lex Luthor the League has known and fought is no more, replaced by an apex predator version of Lex, powered by Perpetua with a goal of bringing tragedy to the DC Universe. Now that Lex has powered up villains across the cosmos, he marshals his own troops, sparking a war between the Legion of Doom and the Justice League that will span space, time and the Multiverse itself. This is the start of the next big Justice League event, with consequences affecting “DC’s Year of the Villain” and beyond!
Why does this matter?
Snyder and Tynion (listen to my interview with James about his new horror book Something is Killing the Children) have been on quite a roll with this series and it only gets more intense this week. No worries if you’re new, though, as issue #30 is a good jumping on point.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
When it comes to stakes, there really isn’t a better book than this. This issue lays down the high stakes quite well with an opening four pages that will put you into a shock. It drops you right into a Lex Luthor dream come true as he crushes the Justice League. Just as your heart rate slows down enough, we learn what is really going on via Starman, who plays the orator for much of the issue. Starman is used to helping outline the positive energies of the universe, the opposing energies of the enemies, and more importantly how the heroes can win an unwinnable battle. A lot is outlined which helps make it quite clear how the heroes can win and what factors are in play for both sides.
This issue also fleshes out what is going on with Lex and the Legion of Doom. Perpetua gets some key scenes, further making her presence felt. The character dynamic between her and Lex is quite compelling and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops as she grows in power. Meanwhile, we get to see the certifiable armies both sides have, impressively drawn by Jorge Jimenez. The villains are as evil as can be and it shows. Think of this story arc as good vs. evil and you’ll understand what it’s going for.
The plot moves forward well too, which has been a problem with previous issues. We get the full scope of the plan as well as the beginning of each as the Justice League split off into four groups. It’s not looking good for the heroes and again it’s thanks to the heavy lifting of Starman explaining it all that all this crazy sci-fi storytelling can make sense.
Again, Jimenez draws an incredible issue with the help of Alejandro Sanchez on colors and Tom Napolitano on letters. I’m really digging how Lex looks like an alien, barely recognizable save for the bald head. There are multiple large group scenes that feature plenty of detail so you know who is involved in this war (read: everybody). Generally speaking Starman does a lot of talking and for the most part, Jimenez keeps your attention so that the captions and dialogue don’t feel overburdening. There is one page that’s straight up awe-inspiring cutting to the Legion of Doom’s headquarters, seeing Lex look at some kind of magical representation of Earth, and then the hauntingly elongated Perpetua by his side. It’s the perfect mix of sci-fi sensibilities and wonder making imagery that’ll send your imagination through the roof.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Starman talks a lot and it’s mostly all good, save for one page. There are seven massive word ballons in the first two of six panels that do a lot of explaining, but could have used a few more panels to breathe and help visualize. I certainly appreciate all the exposition and set up since it adds value to the reader, but an extra page or two could have paced the issue better.
Is it good?
It’s good vs. evil in an incredibly important chapter of “Year of the Villain” not to be missed. If you love mixing high stakes, sci-fi, and good vs. evil storytelling, read this impactful story.