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‘Justice League #18’ (review)

Written by James T Tynion IV
Illustrated by Pasqual Ferry
Published by DC Comics

“You can see it on him, can’t you? That burning drive for discovery? The fire…”

On the heels of the big reveals of last issue, this issue is a real pleasure to read.

Once we learned of the secret history of Lex Luthor and J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter, our story has been begging for a little more context, and this issue has it in spades.

That’s because a lot of the remaining pieces of our puzzle fall into place in very satisfying ways, with a surprising detour into the new history of Vandal Savage, his connection to the mystery of the Totality, and the connection of both, to Lex Luthor’s father, Lionel Luthor, and the knowledge he amassed during his time as the leader of the mysterious Legionnaire’s Club.

Any hope, however, that Lex himself may have been swayed from his fanatical path to unlock the person and power of Perpetua, are dashed. Tragic as his life now seems, it’s pretty clear that Lex’ damage, and his narcissistic lust for power, pretty thoroughly trump any possible better angels in his nature.

All Lex sees his power, and the unacceptable tragedy of humanity’s potential squandered. That this potential is married to the reawakening of an ancient pan-Universal nightmare, and unequivocally linked to dire promises of Doom, is nothing that seems to phase him in the slightest.

In this, he is much like his father – or the man his father once was – who, much like the man Lex is now, seems unable to understand that man’s quest for fire does not always denote heroism or nobility. Indeed, playing too closely to some fires, may not be very good for the soul.

Tragedy married to irony. It’s a good look on Lex. If irredeemable is what you’re going for.

Equally enjoyable, is the fashion in which this all comes to light, and the surprising twist ending to it all.

This is an issue of the Legion of Doom, some of the more satisfying stories in the series so far.

Tynion has a real grasp on the character of his villains, and it comes through in their dialogue. Grodd is particularly appealing.

But it is the chess game between Brainiac and Luthor that holds center stage, and it is a testament to the writing and plotting of this issue, that it’s not at all clear what’s coming from one page to the next.

What we do know, at the end, is that a deadly accord is reached, one with an alarmingly fanatical outcome. One we’ll learn more about next time.

It’s worth noting in the meantime that Lex and his Legion are on the cusp apparently of unlocking the sixth deadly power, which has been, until now, locked away with Perpetua.

That means they have five already in their possession and this issue makes it clear, more or less, what they are.

The first three have been clear for a while now. The Still Force, the Invisible Spectrum, and the Tear of Extinction we already know about.

The Graveyard of the Gods we also know of, and it seems that the Key to locking that realm away is the prize Manta and Cheetah were after in the Antarctic. Why and how this conveys a deadly power is somewhat less clear, though having some control over the realm of humanity’s archetypes seems a likely theory, given the nature of the fifth power, which we learn this issue, is specifically linked to the 5th dimension.

You know – the realm of imps and genies. The creative sparks. The beings of pure thought. Beings like Mister Mxyzptlk.

There’s no sign of that troublemaker here, but neither is there any indication of just what the fifth unlocked power is precisely. So perhaps a mystery for another day…

Following the 4th dimension and the 5th, however, lies the 6th dimension. Accessed through knowledge, revelation, and belief. Lex believes it holds the key to awakening Perpetua… along with whatever final power has presumably been unleashed with the fall of the Source Wall.

That destruction we have already seen, with consequences yet to come. What remains now, is what lies behind door number 6.

And for that, all that is needed is a little Communion.

No matter how sinister and unsettling…

Next Issue: X marks the spot.

 

 

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