Justice League #35
Writer: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Francis Manapul
Colorist: Francis Manapul (pages 1-13) and Hi-Fi (pages 14-20)
Letters: Tom Napolitano
The Justice/Doom War rages on again this week. The Legion of Doom seems to have the upper hand, and the Justice League (even after succeeding in their mission) are facing insurmountable odds. Lex Luthor is now a super-powered apex being, The Starmen’s channeling of the Totality did not seem to work, the combined effort of the JSA and the Justice League of the future amounted to nothing, Perpetua now has the Anti-Monitor on her side, and the population of planet Earth has gone rogue. This is enough for at least five different event-level comic series, and they are all stacked together in one title.
A lot of this story is at a standstill (except one part). This is about The League picking themselves back up as Perpetua moves forward with taking over the multiverse. The mark of Doom (unsure what else to call it) that can be seen in the sky is visible in all 52 earths. The only part with some real action is Perpetua completely destroying the Gotham by Gaslight universe. Kamandi is defeated, as he sees their defeat as a call to the great disaster. Hawkgirl and her son, after narrowly escaping Perpetua, are lost in space and Hawkgirl is gravely injured. The issue ends in a signal that somehow things are about to get much worse.
This is another slower moving issue. Describing everything that is happening makes it seem far more exciting than it actually is. However, there are a few things making this issue a bit more well-paced than what came before. Even though a lot of this comic is the heroes standing around defeated Snyder and Tynion IV make this about raising the stakes. Seeing someone like Batman unsure if he can get out of this (with a real touching moment with Jarro) is quite the signal to the reader that things are going from bad to worse. Batman always has a plan, and is only trying to scramble things together here. The middle portion of this book is also really strong. Watching Perpetua tear apart an entire Earth, brought me right back to Marv Wolfman’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. The homage helped tie this event to some real DC history that essentially everyone knows about. This book isn’t labeled a “Crisis” event but sure reads more like one than Heroes in Crisis (the last of those events published). Finally the writers here leave the book with some real threats looming. I want to know what is going to happen next and legitimately don’t know how the Justice League will succeed (even though they have to).
Another selling point for this book is the art. I have been critical of this books lack of focus in the past, but this issue nails its aesthetic. Francis Manapul is a masterclass artist and he is a reason to buy a book alone. In a title that has so many varied characters it is exciting to see Manapul’s take on each one. While the book mostly is a stop-gap in the story his art makes it all feel alive. And while he doesn’t color all of his work, his art still is a coherent throughline, and the switch in colors is not jarring. Hi-Fi does a great job at emulating Manapul’s style. Manapul’s art is always a welcome addition to the series, and I am happy it is cover to cover.