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‘Justice League #21’ (review)

Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Jorge Jimenez 
Published by DC Comics

“Release us! You… you are no Superman!”

“On the contrary J’onn. I am the only Superman who can save you.”

And then the hammer fell.

The hammer of the World Forge, that is.

Perhaps you caught wind of this already, but even if you hadn’t, you already knew something wasn’t right about the bright and golden future-world the Justice League was transported to back in issue #19.

That world certainly seems real enough – all too real, in fact. And wondrous, and glorious, and… pretty much perfect.

Except that it’s not perfect. Because it comes with a price. A price the League must face this issue. One that forces them to choose.

We begin our story this month with a fight between two Supermen. Except it quickly becomes clear that one of them simply cannot be Superman. ‘Future Superman’ is far more powerful than our Superman. And quite a lot less noble.

He’s good enough to offer Clark a choice at least. But based on all the other dead Supermen at their feet, it’s pretty certain that Future-Superman already knows what our Superman’s answer is going to be.

After all, there’s only one future – out of billions, apparently – in which Superman makes the other choice. And our so-called Future Superman’s already living in it. (I guess.)

You’d imagine that would be a clue as to how the rest of the Justice League is going to react to the truth of their situation as well. Perhaps the hope was that there would be sufficient time to seduce the team to completely betray their principles, before it became clear that they were going to have to.

But baby J’onndra spilled the beans last issue, and Martian Manhunter is quick to call an emergency psychic meeting of the League, at which point Future Superman arrives and reveals to them all his true identity:

The World Forger.

Brother to the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. Third son of dark Perpetua, first creator of the multiverse.

And yes, this is the same World Forger we thought to be dead, at the hands of his son Barbatos, as recounted in the pages of Scott Snyder’s epic Dark Metal saga.

There’s a throw-away line several issues back however, explaining that the nature of the sixth dimension is likely to allow for his reincarnation (convenient), and here he is with us now, blue, pointy eared, and gigantic, like some great genie of the lamp. (Or perhaps the progenitor of the ancient race of Orcks we first encountered courtesy of author Steve Orlando in his recent, splendid run on The Unexpected…)

Whatever the case, it’s a satisfying depiction, and a wonderfully realized meeting. In part because the World Forger is written by Scott Snyder with the appropriate complexity of a true ultra-cosmic, prime Agent of Creation.

But also, because the art of Jorge Jimenez in this issue is some of the best we’ve seen to date, with a blending of fine inking and colors that is simply fantastic, and a joy on the page throughout.

Perhaps that shift was itself inspired by a wonderful little sequence with our other ongoing crisis back on Prime Earth, with a very worrisome looking Monster-Mxyzptlk, in which the 4th wall looks to be literally breaking down, (presumably into the 5th), in quite spectacular fashion indeed.

Whatever the case, it’s a welcome development. Bravo to the whole art team.

As for the World Forger himself, once the cat’s out of the bag, it all makes a certain sense. The World Forger after all, unlike his brothers, is tasked with watching over the creation of all future realities in the multiverse. Realities that become assimilated or discarded into normal present continuity as appropriate.

And here we have the League whisked away into one of these realities, a fully-formed future, given shape and substance by the great cosmic Being whose task it is to do so, an entity who apparently has decided that this one reality, of all possible future realities, simply must come to pass.

Whatever the price.

Curious then, that he feels compelled to involve the League in that decision at all. It gives one the impression that their sign-off matters.

Not that that’s going to happen. Maybe.

Not that even this seems to matter though. Because this almost-perfect 6th dimensional future reality of the World Forger already has something in place to deal with… dissenters.

Which leads us to a final page cliffhanger that, I have to say, is one of the most… original I’ve ever seen. Didn’t see that coming.

Good times. But hey, you know what they say:

You go to Heaven for the weather… You go to Hell for the company.

Next Issue: Unholy Alliances

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