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‘Justice League #28’ (review)

Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Javi Fernandez
Published by DC Comics

“Bring it on.”

 

Our final issue in a story arc that bridges the fall-out of the Justice League’s visit to the Sixth Dimension and the imminent Justice-Doom War that’s about to begin in earnest in these pages, makes it clear that in many ways – as it has been from the start – this is really all a story about Lex Luthor.

Good to have James Tynion in the seat for that, as he really does have an excellent talent for encapsulating character motivations in his scripting.

And here this month we get a front row seat into the degree of mind-warping motivations that have actually been at work in Lex Luthor all this time.

They’ve been there all along.

A mysterious trove of knowledge, a cosmic vision of dark power, his more-than-slightly crazed devotion to the priorities of self-interest. Along the way we’ve learned of Perpetua, her own dark designs for the Multiverse, how the work of Luthor’s father Lionel was designed to unlock some of that lost glory, by recombining martian and human DNA into the template for her eternal warriors, her Apex Predators.

We’ve known all along that Luthor has a plan. And nothing that’s happened since the outset of this saga suggests that things aren’t going exactly as Luthor intended. We just haven’t known exactly where it’s all going.

Until now.

That this all changes this issue, is immensely satisfying, and it signals a shift from one stage of our conflict to another. One that’s designed to play at a larger scale, and one with greater stakes. Because if you thought things were actually going to get better, you haven’t been paying attention.

The League knows it, they’re preparing for it by trying to track down the Anti-Monitor on Qward. But it says something that the Legion of Doom has anticipated even this much, and have moved against it with an attack designed to take the biggest hitters out, all in one fell swoop.

In the meantime, J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter, has remained fixated on finding Luthor. And it turns out Luthor has been waiting for him.

And so, this issue, we are treated to a full display of Lex Luthor doing his best impression of a degrading Senator Palpatine, as he indulges a full-on monologuing experience with his old friend J’onn. (Cool digs though, Lex.)

And indeed, he does seem a little crazy. He even shows enough insight to refer to himself as a zealot – but then, what else would you expect from a man who’s been talking with the Mother of Creation herself, a dark and terrible Goddess who has been busy validating for Lex the divine elevation of his basest, most self-centered impulses – and everything else he’s ever wanted to hear.

It’s not hard to imagine Luthor completing his transformation into one of Perpetua’s dark minions, shuffling around like DeSaad, in his cadaverous-looking, reanimated clone body, offering dark gifts to the world’s villains with his tiny Doom Drones.

After all, with all we have seen, it is clear by now that Luthor’s dream is no less than the complete reconfiguration of the Multiverse into dark Perpetua’s design, with himself wielding incalculable power in her service.

But there’s a twist to that, one executed with a brilliant sense of theater by James Tynion and especially the design talents of artist Javier Fernandez (who turns in a final stellar performance here, with an assist from Daniel Sampere and inker Juan Alberran).

A twist that changes everything. One that entirely makes sense, but hopefully one you won’t see coming until it’s too late.

One that solidifies for us just how dark and dangerous Luthor has become.

Shayne senses it. So does Starman. (And man, that guy has got to be getting tired of watching his optimism getting crushed under Perpetua’s bootheel.) Kendra did too.

Maybe J’onn does as well.

But by the time we get to the pay-off on the final page, I think it’s safe to say he’s had reason to reconsider ever trying to reason with a man, who by the divine grace of a truly cosmic Dark Goddess, sees his own dark destiny – call it his Doom – written out for him in his father’s notes, and the words he will claim as his own.

Lex Luthor: Apex Predator.

And everything turns.

Next Issue: Jarro grows up.

 

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