Justice League #24 picks up this week immediately following the controversial decision made by Batman at the conclusion of the last issue.
After a very touching sequence that highlights the beautiful relationship between Superman/Clark and his Super son, Jon, we're reminded just how serious Superman's current situation is. The pitch-black panel backgrounds (which contrast nicely with the clouded red gutter space) visually manifest that danger in a way that so powerfully punctuates his current experience... lacking a yellow sun, Superman is in deep peril.
However, this is really all that we get of the Superman plot for this issue. Not totally unexpected however, since there really is little he can do floating in space.
The real meat of this issue is divided between the Legion of Doom/Justice League storyline and the World Forger and Batman discussion. The former of these plot lines is a fantastic subversion, while the latter is simply unoriginal and, frankly, unappealing. This comes as a major surprise from Snyder who has, up until this point, written an incredibly consistent and thought-provoking Dark Knight.
A storyline about Batman betraying his fellow Leaguers for the common good in 2019 just feels so overdone and unoriginal that it almost turns me off completely from any DC book.
Everyone for whom this isn't their first DC book recognizes the fact that Batman's plan is a con; we are meant to place ourselves alongside the other Leaguers who fear that Batman has turn-coated against us... That Batman's access to this "Final Bat Suit" is in some way a disadvantage for the forces of "good"...
Problem is, I can't believe that anyone is buying that narrative.
Me? I've simply been waiting for the moment that Batman turns against his new buddy and joins up with the real Justice League again. In fact, it permeates every panel and exchange between the two characters. And when he finally does reveal himself to our Justice League at the end of the issue, it feels like nothing more than a set-up. It's inevitable that he use his new weapon, the ominously named "Final Bat Suit", against the WorldForger. Indeed, I predict that this Betrayer Batman isn't long for the Sixth Dimensional world.
It just really is a boring and overdone narrative. One that I might expect from a lesser writer, but am flatly shocked has been penned by Snyder.
Now, the Legion of Doom/Justice League moments were well-executed, meaningful, and exactly the type of story that I expect from Snyder.
After having been such a focal point for much of the series, this new version of the Legion of Doom, a team that is much more hero than villain, is fresh and very intriguing. We learn that many of them have been tampered with to the point of being depowered; Sinestro has lost his ring finger, Grodd has somehow been stripped of his telepathy, etc. And while depowering superheroes/villains is another common trope, here it creates a humanism for these villains that we rarely get the chance to examine.
This is contrasted extraordinarily by seeing the villainous Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen; characters that have traditionally been staunchly upright and virtuous. Even the subversion of turning Superman's cradle/rocket (that saved him from a dying Krypton and brought him to Earth) into a weapon of war speaks to the dynamism and duality of individuals.
What Snyder demonstrates here is that on a micro scale, everyone has the capacity for good and evil within them, and at the macro level, every person's dream is another's nightmare. It is a nuance that works tremendously well.
From an artistic standpoint, the book is again stunning. Jimenez is doing the work of his life on Justice League right now. From innovative layouts, stunning inking choices, and artistic designs, the pages pop out of the book so brilliantly that you sometimes have to step back to appreciate the intricacy and nuance (that "S" on the main cradle is stunning). This is, of course, aided by Alejandro Sanchez' colours which are often ablaze all over the page.
One specific example that stands out in the issue happens during Superman's memory sequence. He recalls a day when he and Jon were to light a lantern in memory of his father. However, the day got away from them and they were having so much fun that they forgot to light the lantern. At the end of the day, when Jon realizes this, he is downtrodden. We soon see that Clark too is upset about this oversight and the three panel sequence that describes his "gray kryptonite" moments, is powerful in its design:
A minimal colour palette, sharp and poignant inking, the light from the house framing Clark's back... it all leads to an affective visual moment that truly encapsulates how it feels to worry that you simply aren't good enough.
Ultimately, this arc is plodding forward at a reasonable pace and will likely deliver a satisfying, if not obvious, conclusion when the story wraps up in the oversized Justice League #25 which hits stores on June 05, 2019.