By Alex Batts — This week sees the release of Justice League #32, the third part in the epic Justice/Doom War story that has been building since the start of Scott Snyder’s run on the title. I’m going to attempt a concise recap before jumping into the major events of this issue, since there has been so much buildup. There are seven energies that make up the DC Multiverse as we know it, but there are also seven hidden dark energies, evil opposites of positive counterparts. The Still Force counters the Speed Force, the Ultraviolet Spectrum counters the emotional spectrums wielded by the Green Lantern Corps, and so on.
At the beginning of time, our Multiverse was originally created by Perpetua, an ancient Cosmic Goddess. She wished for the Earth to be ruled by Apex Humans, forever preying on the weak, and for the universe to be governed by the dark energies. She was eventually overthrown and imprisoned in the Source Wall by her sons, the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor, and the World Forger. The Multiverse was then reshaped into the familiar version we know. Since the start of Snyder’s run on Justice League, Lex Luthor and his Legion of Doom have gained control of six of the seven hidden energies of the Multiverse. Lex has also awakened Perpetua, become an Apex Human, and now seeks to tip the cosmic scales in favor of Doom.
There are a lot more intricacies at play here but that’s the gist. For issue #32, Snyder and James Tynion IV are joined by Howard Porter on art, Hi-Fi with colors, and Thomas Napolitano as letterer. And now, a recap...
*Spoilers for Justice League #32 follow. For final thoughts and a numbered rating, see the OVERALL section at the bottom of this review*
This issue picks up with Shayera Hol leading Thanagarian forces in an attack on Luthor’s command ship as he hurtles towards the periphery of the Multiverse in search of the Anti-Monitor. It’s exactly as epic as it sounds. The Hawk forces, however, have no impact on Luthor’s ship and must fall back. This segues into a meeting and status update for the Legion of Doom. The Justice League has split up, sending Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to the future in search of a Totality fragment, and Flash and Green Lantern to the past in search of another Totality fragment.
The League hopes to retrieve each fragment and combine them with a fragment that Starman already has in his cosmic rod, in the hope that the power will be enough to defeat Luthor. The biggest problem with their plan is that the Legion of Doom has remained one step ahead of them. Grodd, Cheetah, and Sinestro were waiting in the past for Flash and Green Lantern, while Brainiac has taken over every possible future. The complete control the Legion has had throughout this run has constantly forced our heroes to fight from behind, making every moment an exciting read.
The missions the League are on now are made even more exciting because of the nature of time travel. Flash and Green Lantern have come in contact with the Justice Society of America, who haven’t been around in the comics for years. The back and forth between Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, as they allude to feeling they have a history they can’t quite remember, is nothing short of incredible. It’s so satisfying as a fan knowing the history these characters share and seeing it hinted at so directly.
The exchanges between John Stewart and Alan Scott about willpower are also powerful moments, showcasing that no matter the era or setting, what makes a Green Lantern a Green Lantern is always the same. Besides the specific interactions, just seeing the Justice Society of America back in action is a treat.
Elsewhere, we see Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in the future with Kamandi, the last human from his time. At the end of last issue they crash-landed in a future that is home to the Justice League One Million, though they’ve been taken over by Brainiac. Rather than fighting their descendants, Diana uses the Lasso of Truth to break the League out of their brainwashing, and the ensuing battle of the Leagues vs Brainiac’s robot army is captured brilliantly across action-packed double-page spreads from Porter.
Speaking of Porter, the art in this issue is a visual feast. The page layouts naturally inform the narrative and make fantastic use of space throughout. Some panels go fully to the bleed, while others have a clear boundary with borders that control pacing. The emotion of each character is conveyed perfectly, as shock, horror, ferocity, levity, and more are showcased throughout the issue. Porter’s base work is fantastic and shines through especially on splash pages and double-page spreads. The colors also help elevate the art, with vibrant hues that catch your eye and dark tones to contrast in just the right places.
While the League fights on two fronts throughout time, Lex Luthor and Perpetua near the Anti-Monitor, who Perpetua hopes to recruit in their mission to reshape the Multiverse. The conversations between Lex and Perpetua have been a favorite of mine in this series. The celestial Goddess is such an interesting new addition to DC lore, and her relationship with Lex is compelling. Lex has full faith in her and her desire for Doom, but you can’t help but wonder if she’ll remain loyal to him once she reaches full power. This unspoken source of tension is incredibly compelling, and it’s not hard to imagine Lex spurned at some point in the near future.
The tone of this book has continually amazed me, as Snyder is able to seamlessly weave a high concept Multiversal level catastrophe that brings together the biggest heroes and villains of the DCU with the proper amount of drama and an air of levity to keep things fun. There are a few surprises in this issue as well, including the return of a fan-favorite League member. Lex Luthor also arrives at the Periphery to confront the Anti-Monitor and the confrontation there is game-changing, to say the least.
Overall: Justice League continues to change the state of the DCU in exciting ways, bringing together far corners of the Multiverse across time. The action, drama, humor, and bombast in Snyder’s run from its start remains as strong as ever. 9.5/10
Justice League #32
Writer: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Artist: Howard Porter
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