Justice League #36
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Francis Manapul (pages 1-13, 18-20) and Howard Porter (pages 14-17)
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Another chapter in the Justice/Doom War this week, as it gets closer to the end of Scott Snyder’s run on the series. Everything in the title has been leading to this arc. Currently, the Justice League took a big loss. It didn’t seem like there was anyway getting out of the mess they were in. Hawkgirl and her “son” are stranded in space. The Anti-Monitor, one of their biggest assets, switched sides to Perpetua. Lex Luthor is becoming more powerful in each issue. Starman is dead. The pieces found from The Totality amounted to almost nothing. Batman has no plan. Seemingly there is no way out of this mess.
This issue is all about The Justice League recollecting themselves and trying to pull something together. It also features The Legion of Doom and what they expect after “winning” for Perpetua. With the League they are attempting to find Hawkgirl and her son, from the sixth dimension, hoping that they will make the difference. Most of the comic has the League trying to figure out some way to get ahead of The Legion of Doom and save the multiverse. Batman’s big idea is to just “try” and go down swinging if they have to. Superman makes an impassioned speech about how Lex Luthor won over the public using faith, while the League simply did things for people rather than trying to win them over. The point being that Doom won because Justice hid too much. Luthor was open and fearless and people fell for his lies. The population would rather follow someone who seems like he knows what he is doing, rather than someone who knows what they are doing but acts distant. The Legion of Doom is also “rewarded” by Perpetua for their service and some drastic changes happen to that lineup. While this issue has no direct conflict it leaves on the precipice of one hell of a battle about to occur.
I liked the way this issue was written. Snyder takes, yet another, stall in the story and makes it worth reading. I have had issues with this arc just being slow-moving moments that lead to a fun splash page over and over again. However, here Snyder makes the story matter. I could sum up the comic as, “Justice League talks about losing, while the Legion deals with their new status quo,” and I would be objectively right. But, Snyder’s writing brings this simple story to life. Watching the Justice League pray, at the start of the book, was a powerful piece. Seeing the Trinity of the DC Universe all together in a moment of desperation is a hell of a way to open this chapter. Superman’s speech is incredibly relevant today and shows how good people can sometimes follow bad people. He knows he has to be a symbol of hope yet has neglected this aspect and therefore allowed the world to turn their back on Justice. Batman always has a plan, but this time has to contend with a scenario where no plan can work, how he adapts to this is inspiring. Snyder knows these characters inside and out, and when he gets to dive into characterization his writing sings. He is also able to move a few pieces forward in meaningful ways from Hawkgirl lost in space, to the Legion of Doom now working with Perpetua in a new manner. The twists are now impactful and exciting and everything is earned, rather than just a fan service splash page. I understand more about the motivations and reasons for this issue than I have in the previous 6 issues.
The art in this book does not hold up to the writing. Francis Manapul puts together some amazing art here but everything else is sabotaging the consistency of this comic. Inexplicably Howard Porter shows up to draw 4 pages of the book and it sticks out like a sore thumb. We have lost Manapul’s colors which is something that helps elevate his work. Hi-Fi colors this book from cover to cover, which does not look bad but elevates Porter’s work at the expense of lowering Manapul’s. The last issue had both Manapul and Hi-Fi on colors and there was a clear cohesion still, this does not match the standard they have set for themselves. Again, Howard Porter’s work just does not appeal to me and he has been misplaced one this book. It kills me to say this as someone who was once a big fan of his art. I am tired of Justice League being the book that swings so widely on art from issue to issue and even page to page.