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‘Justice League: No Justice #4’ (review)

Written by Joshua Williamson,
James T Tynion IV, Scott Snyder

Illustrated by Francis Manapul
Published by DC Comics

 

“This all seems too insane to work.”

“Hal, all this started because Batman ripped open the door to a dark multiverse and unleashed a literal dragon onto our world that we needed to fight back with magic metal.

Insane is relative.”

Yeah, OK.

So here we have it folks. The final chapter in Scott Snyder’s rewrite/upgrade/full personal re-stamp of the DC Universe, with the long-anticipated completion of No Justice #4, leading directly into a full summer of Justice League mania. By now, we all pretty much have the tenor of the No Justice arc.

I’m sure you can guess its inevitable conclusion. Love it, hate it – it is what it is.

There are no great shocks here. After all, the whole project was designed to justify the new creative reboot of the Justice League with a little extra eye-candy from DC’s most popular characters. So, despite the omega level danger of four hungry space gods set to consume the earth, and a distressing amount of blood-thirsty nihilism thrown in to compound the problem beyond the tipping point (and yes that does sound like a pretty on-point commentary of modern society dammit), nonetheless our stalwart team of heroes (and villains! remember, think big, people!) all rise to the occasion to avert the imminent, spectacular, destruction of our planet.

All in time for shwarma. Or at least June.

Look, there’s nothing at all surprising about the Justice League taking on epic threats with impossible odds, coming together to save the day with feats of heroism that are akin to (if not actually composed of) magic. That’s their stock in trade, and it always has been. Grant Morrison had an interdimensional war of reality warping Genies, and battles from on High between the holy angelic Hosts. Joe Casey oversaw the breakdown of the laws of truth and relativity. Bryan Hitch just finished introducing his own ancient meta-gods bent upon reasserting their own version of status quo from a previously unknown cosmic history. (Hm.) Hell, Geoff Johns rebooted the whole Justice League mythos entirely (and Cyborg too), straight out of the Motherbox, with his own take on DC’s original Omega level world-threatening danger.

So, it’s hard to fault Snyder and his team for thinking big and working from that mold. But when so much is made out of breaking that mold, I’m going to want to see something more than just a lot of a lot of a lot, with a final resolution that’s more satisfying than just a gleeful over-reliance on the chaotic and the in-credulous – one with maybe a bit more emphasis on, say, the truly wise and wondrous. I mean I’m all for the Hail Mary play, but there’s just a bit too much seat-of-your pants, don’t think too much about the not-falling thing unless you want gravity to take over, going on throughout this reboot for my taste. Personally.

Mind you, that may be the point of all this. Unfortunately, it’s a little murky what the final point of all this actually is. It’s notable that earth’s most active World Tree – highlighting it as the dominant energy of our species, it seems – is the chaos of Entropy (really? yeesh); and also, that the combined efforts of our New Justice Leaguers has either been responsible for releasing much more of that Entropy into the world, or for consuming It entirely within the combined symbolic satiation of Wisdom, Mystery and Wonder. (Nomnomnom)

Maybe both? Hey, why not? I’m sure Harley Quinn’s all for having one’s cake and eating it too.

It seems the conclusions you draw, will be the ones you want to draw – just ask Lex Luthor – so there is either more Justice in the universe now, or the Justice League of earth is more dangerous now, and there is either a new balance in the universal forces now, complete with much more mystery, wonder, and wisdom at large in the cosmos, or there is now an alarming imbalance in all of these that maybe makes our beloved heroes themselves yet again the dangerous irresponsible fascists Green Arrow has always told them they are.

Or maybe all of that.

And, and, and…. ah hell, whatever I guess, as long as the League has two new books heading into the summer (Justice League Dark and Justice League Odyssey, both due out in July), along with a new lease on life for our most lovable anti-heroes with attitude, and a mission for everyone to think even more outside the box than it has already always been exactly their forte to do, well then, I guess we’re mostly good. Amp it up!

At least we have J’onn J’onnz back as the moral compass of the Justice League. At least Arthur’s back, and Kendra too, and at least we’re back to one Green Lantern on the team again, (for as long as that lasts). At least Green Arrow won’t be going too far. (Even if the Outsiders do, whoohoo…!) And at least we have a reshuffled roster of the teams that will presumably give the Titans kids a far greater involvement going forward, than all the throw-away lines they were given in this mini-series. Including, might I add, a Cyborg with the combined technological might of not only Kirby’s New Gods but now also all the greatest super-minds of Colu, and Brainiac besides, roiling around in his mainframe somehow. (Whoa dude. Don’t get too attached to that creepy Skull-ship, hey?)

I’m all for change. Change is good. And I’m all for the epic, and the incredible, and the wondrous, and sure even a fair amount of the crazy. And yeah, ok, insane is relative. But if this series has illustrated anything, it’s that Scott Snyder at the helm of the Justice League will be anything but restrained. And I’m not sure if even he fully believes that will work out in the end. All this talk of our heroes playing pattycake with the rules of the Universe. And putting into play already, just out of the gates, an all-powerful failsafe against the excesses of a League gone rogue. Does Mr. Snyder have too much power? Is he in need of restraint? Does he even know himself?

Hell, when even your co-authors seem to be signaling these same concerns, with comments peppered throughout the script like “Sometimes you need to accept that things are bigger than you, and ask for help”, it leaves me wondering if Mr. Snyder really wants that help, or if he’s just determined to break as much of the DCU as he can get away with, with as much insanity as his editors will allow him.

But then, you gotta ask, is that even really inappropriate now… or will it just end up serving as a great big reflective mirror for all of us to look into a lot more closely?

I’m prepared to accept that some of what lies ahead will be fun. I’m also by now, hoping Snyder’s upcoming run at the top of the DCU won’t just lay waste to everything the League and the heroes of earth hold dear.

Sounds like 2018, come to think of it.

So, hey, maybe both will happen. Long as the Justice League – and the highest ideals they represent – all come out on top in the end.

Guess we’ll see.

Next week: Justice League #1! Again!

 

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