By Alex Batts — Justice League has been and continues to be an insanely wild ride. The Justice/Doom War is nearing its climax, and each issue brings massive twists and turns for the fate of the Multiverse as we know it. Writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV are joined here by Bruno Redondo and Daniel Sampere on pencils, Redondo and Juan Albarran on inks, Hi-Fi on colors, and Tom Napolitano on letters.
*Spoilers for Justice League #33 follow. For final thoughts and a numbered rating, see the OVERALL section at the bottom of this review*
When we last left off, Hawkgirl, Starman, and the Monitor brothers (The Monitor, Anti-Monitor, and World Forger) were standing off against Perpetua and Luthor on the edge of the Promethean Galaxy. This is where the issue picks up. Hawkgirl and the Monitors three attempt to break through a force field protecting Luthor and Perpetua. Perpetua taunts that none of them have the power to break through, and that Lex has done the calculations and they cannot win.
Almost immediately we get one of the biggest and coolest twists of the series. The brothers acknowledge that individually they don’t have the power to stand against Perpetua, but together, and with the power of the Totality inside Starman, they become something greater. The three join forces as Starman uses his power to transform them into the Ultra-Monitor, defender of the Multiverse. The transformation was a shock, but it’s one that also makes perfect sense. It’s such an epic moment to see the Monitor’s wholly united and becoming a singular all-powerful entity.
The very beginning of this issue though, had Shayne, the son of Hawkgirl and J’onn Jonzz from another dimension, sending out a psychic message to his father in the hopes that he’s still out there somewhere, trapped inside Apex Luthor. The closer we get to the end of this war, the more build-up there is to the possibility of Martian Manhunter coming back, and I can’t help but imagine he’ll make a grand return in the final stand against Lex.
Aside from the present-day conflict, we also see the Justice Society of America in the past, along with Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman, traveling to Atlantis in 1941. Aquaman explains that they must get the Totality fragment back to the present day, but in order to travel back, Starman has to be able to locate them. He reasons that the Conch of Arion is the only thing that can pierce hyper-time to alert Starman of where they are.
As with previous issues, the past offers some great moments between the different Justice team members. The casual banter between the JSA and the heroes we know so well automatically brings a smile to my face, and we again get an incredibly wholesome scene between Alan Scott and John Stewart about the endless fight for what’s right. The scene is one of the most heartwarming of the issue and sends a great message.
From the past, we’re thrust into the future, where we see Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League One Million in a desperate fight against Brainiac One Million. The entire League is completely outclassed, and the battle appears to be lost. This scene unfolds across a stunning double-page spread that shows different members of the League being defeated in various ways by Brainiac, and ends with Kamandi thinking it’s just a matter of time before defeat, but he’s not able to finish the sentence as he comes up with an idea and runs off as the page ends.
Now’s as good a time as any to talk about the art in this issue, and WOW, what incredible art it is. It’s wholly dynamic, with breathtaking and jam-packed double-page spreads, jaw-dropping splash pages, and an astonishing amount of detail in each panel. The story flows so naturally across each page, with the pencils providing an excellent foundation, inks bringing the necessary weight, and colors that make everything pop. The art is silky smooth and looks so fitting for a Justice League book.
You could sit and stare at the art in this issue for hours, finding new details and things to gawk at the longer you look. The character design of the Ultra-Monitor is fantastic, but really every character looks great. The out of this world action is brought to life perfectly by the art team, making it all feel like a true blockbuster event.
So, the three main timelines for this issue are set, and just as it appears that the Justice League finally has a chance for victory, things naturally go terribly wrong. Kendra begins to use her cosmic power too early as Lex gets under her skin, which could prove to be a disastrous mistake. As the team in the past arrive in Atlantis, they don’t receive the greeting Arthur had hoped. He begs them to speak with the King, who he knows is his ancestor, but as they’re speaking with the guards, the palace is attacked and the Legion of Doom burst through with the God Poseidon under their control.
It’s then revealed that the King of Atlantis has given his throne up to Vandal Savage and his Legionnaires Club. These two twists come so unexpectedly, but they bring together multiple aspects of Snyder’s run perfectly. The return of Vandal Savage is something I can’t help but love, as he’s one of my favorite DC characters, but the one-two gut punch of utter defeat in the past is a gigantic obstacle for the League to overcome.
After this we’re thrown back into the future, where Kamandi is talking about how all his life he heard a story about a great disaster, and that people banded together and fought back but ultimately failed. He had thought the message was that it’s up to you alone to protect what you care about and to treat every fight as if you’re the last person on Earth. He says now, though, that he realizes they cannot each fight alone. As he says this, the final page turn reveals who he’s talking to, and while I’ll refrain from spoiling it here, I cannot emphasize how high I jumped out of my seat and the force at which I fist-pumped the air. This is what a Justice League book can be, and I couldn’t be more excited for the next issue.
Overall: Snyder and Co. continue to weave an intricate tale of epic proportions. Action, twists, and heart pack this book from cover to cover, making it an absolute page-turner. Out of this world art and an enthralling story keep this book at must-read status. 9.5/10
Justice League #33
Writer: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Bruno Redondo and Daniel Sampere
Inkers: Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
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Alex Batts is from Texas. A lifelong comic book enthusiast and movie lover, if he’s not talking about comics, he’s probably not talking. You can find him on Twitter by following @BatmanFiles