Emblazoned on the cover of Justice League #36 is “Pawns of Perpetua,” which tells you a lot about this seventh part in a nine part saga. Scott Snyder, Francis Manapul, and Howard Porter are kicking off the second act this week after Perpetua literally erased a universe. Now that she has so much power a shoe needs to drop, but will it be Lex, a new plan from the heroes, or something else? Those are questions you might be asking yourself as you dig in and by the end it’s very clear Snyder and this team are bringing hardcore ’90s cartoon-style fun.
Let me explain. I’ve heard it said this story arc is very syndicated cartoon in its stylings thanks to it always raising the stakes, surprising readers, and making us laugh along the way. Yes, the entire multiverse is in peril, but somehow the book isn’t gloomy in this notion and instead bright and epic. This is fun superhero comics to the nth degree, capturing the joy you might have had with your action figures in elementary school. That isn’t to say the narrative is childish, but rather it captures a spark of fun and positivity you don’t often see in today’s superhero stories. The cliffhanger at the end of the issue is proof of that and while I won’t spoil it it’s certainly an idea that’s shocking to see because most superhero stories go for the dark, edgy, and broken character dynamism we see over and over. That makes this incredibly unique given the current field of comic book storytelling.
As far as plotting goes, this is the point in a war story where speeches are made and villains make their final choices before attempting to strike their final blow. Lex and his Legion of Doom are the most affected in this issue and while I pretty much assumed it’d go the way it does, it’s still interesting to see Lex doubt the plan. It’s with Lex and his Legion of Doom where the most impactful scenes take place.
None of this is to say the speeches made by Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman aren’t impactful. I’ve argued in previous reviews we haven’t seen enough of the idea that everyone needs to choose between doom or justice. It’s a concept touched upon, but it’s not until this issue that the choice needs to be made as soon as possible. That element appears to be a major factor that Snyder builds to well here.
The art by Manapul and Porter works well. I actually had a hard time deciphering who drew which pages at first and had to do a quick scan after finishing it. That’s a good thing, as artist changes can be jarring. Standout moments include a transformation for Brainiac, a panel with Mobius straight out of the Jack Kirby playbook, and a great design of a Legion of Doom ship Lex flies in near the end of the issue. That positivity I was talking about earlier is partly due to the colors by Hi-Fi, which continue to pop so bright.
This series continues to be an interesting and entertaining different flavor for superhero aficionados. If you appreciate positive and imaginative ideas you’ll love it. I’m not sure it needed to be nine parts, but consider me along for the ride.