There is power in a secret (Justice League #16 Comic Review)

Justice League #16

Story By: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

Words: Tynion IV

Pencils by: Jim Cheung and Stephen Segovia

Inks by: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales and Segovia

Colors: Tomeu Morey and Wil Quintana

Letterer: Tom Napolitano


The story on Thanagar Prime wraps up this week and does so with bringing in a lot of DC Universe history along with it. I hope you have dusted off your trade of Crisis on Infinite Earths because things are referenced in this issue that stretches far and wide in the DC Universe. The last issue left off with the promise of explaining the history and origins of the universe and that is exactly what you will get in this comic along with the fate of Thanagar Prime, some new wrinkles in Martian Manhunter’s history, and finally some Starman.

The Story
This is a densely packed story that connects beyond this arc, into the overall narrative of the Justice League, into the new status quo post-Dark Knights Metal, and into the very origins of the universe as a whole. Most of the comic is framed around Martian Manhunter and the only other living green martian in the universe (The Keeper) discussing the secrets that have been shielded since the dawn of time. This is an incredibly densely packed story that can’t be explained without major spoilers. Needless to say, this comic is a real lynchpin issue in the larger tapestry that the Justice League creative team is weaving.

Tim’s Thoughts
I love stories that play with the continuity of the DC Universe, and the idea of a retcon or adding new information to an existing story is nearly always fun for me. Snyder and Tynion IV do a great job here playing with all the toys in the DC toybox, but I can see this won’t be for everyone. Somethings are fairly safe bets. Thanagar Prime and the history surrounding Hawkman and Hawkgirl has always been a mess. Many writers have tried to make sense of that extremely complicated story, and I think the writers here did a fantastic job making it easily digestible and understandable to everyone. Other parts of the story I loved but can understand if people feel conflicted. Martian Manhunter, and the Martians as a whole, have some real changes to their origins here and I know that character can be more sacred to some readers. Now, I do have an encyclopedic knowledge of the DC Universe and the origins of it and have read every “Crisis” and event. So, when the story opens up with connecting the new character “Perpetua” and immediately references Crisis on Infinite Earths and the creation of the Green Lantern Corps, it is all common vernacular to me. However, I am unsure if everyone who has been following Snyder’s run (even going all the way back to his Batman) will be able to understand and appreciate what is being done here. There should almost be a star on a narration box with Krona (*check Krona’s Wikipedia page for more information on this character, also Crisis on Infinite Earths and the origins of the DC Universe). It is rewarding for readers in the know but may leave others in the dust, which is a little unfair.

The art here has the same issues it always did. There are two talented teams here (but this time more inkers on hand) who both have great pages, but they do clash with each other. Unlike the previous issues, the two plots converge here making this more apparent. So you have the same characters being drawn in two different ways in the same issue. Again, nothing looks bad it just ruins the flow of the comic. One single artistic vision is always better unless there is some thematic reasoning.

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The arc on Thanagar Prime was densely packed but did not overstay its welcome. A great little arc that delivered more meaningful storytelling than the drawn out and clumsy “Drowned Earth.” It is clear that Justice League is back on track and feels like an “event book” again. While the far reaches of the storytelling may be a lot for some to handle, and the retcons fairly substantial, overall this comic is a lynchpin in DC’s lineup and a must-read for anyone who has a DC comic on their pull list.
  • Long time DC fans are rewarding with some deep cuts into the origins of the universe
  • This arc wraps up nicely without overstaying its welcome
  • Meaningful progression into the larger narrative
  • Artist shift is more jarring than ever
  • If you aren’t well versed in DC history this issue may be a harder read

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