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‘Justice League #7’ (review)

Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Jim Cheung
Published by DC Comics

 

Unless you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life, and you will call it Fate.

– Carl Jung

I think we are all in need of answers.

– J’onn J’onnz

 

Well, and here we have it folks. The completion of Scott Snyder’s opening arc of this era’s defining chapter of the Justice League, a fast and furious blend of super big concepts, super super-heroics, the dark return of a newly forged Legion of Doom, and the shining, multi-faceted mystery of Totality itself.

Or anyway, the Totality of the DCU Multiverse.

Snyder is a writer of vision and bold ambition. It’s hard not to be impressed not only with the scope of his effort but with the remarkable degree of mental gymnastics he must have gone through to bring this story to the page. By the end of this arc we know it is a story that strives both to redefine some of our most traditional ideas of strength and power in a medium that traditionally traffics in such matters, as well as crafting a narrative that drives straight to the creative beating heart of the DCU, and the mysteries therein, as we move ever more inexorably to an ultimate revelation (and perhaps a crisis) that will lead… who knows where?

It’s a lot though. And Snyder’s signature style doesn’t allow for much linearity to how the shape of that mystery comes to light.

That style that seems to have endeared him to many in the industry, as much I think, for the sheer chutzpah involved in his work, as for the imagination he brings to bear in his writing. I have to wonder though, how that reads to a larger audience of fans, who really at the end of the day don’t need all that much encouragement to come back month after month to find out what’s going to happen next.

I get the appeal of having a great big Mystery Box in serial storytelling. But there’s a risk of letting that approach become too complex I think, and of losing some of your audience in the process. These are comic book stories after all. And high art doesn’t necessarily require a great deal of complexity.

The linearity of the action plotting at least, is fairly straightforward. With all that’s gone into the telling of this story, it helps that the League itself, like us, has been swimming in deep waters, scrambling just to keep their bearings, before somehow finding a way to understand those depths, and save the day. Their journey is our journey, even if they make far greater leaps of understanding along the way than we might do ourselves in just a few short comic panels.

But hey, they’re the League.

Snyder is quite good at setting up those sequences and playing them out, complete with enjoyable quips and one-liners that keep the comic-book entertainment quota high. And of course, the pay-off for all the chaos, is that eventually it all pulls together, and were given a slightly greater glimpse of the entire whole.

Don’t worry, it’s only a glimpse.

There’s some pretty cool stuff in there though. Planetary mind-melds, universal membranes, ultraviolet vs. x-ray warfare, a visit with Grand-daddy Bruce and Chum, the dramatic return of a new/old hero, a wake-up call for Flash, and a big win for John Stewart (maybe more than one). Even a heartfelt bro-hug. Possibly comics’ first.

Kendra is resplendent, which is just wonderful to see. The wonderful pencils of Jim Cheung do her justice, (as do Tomeu Morey’s splendid colors), and really the artistry throughout this book is very, very satisfying.

Hawkgirl, we soon realize, has a big role in whatever lies ahead. Not too surprising really, given the central role Snyder has given to Thanagar and nth metal lately. Hawkgirl’s better half finally popping up over in the pages of The Unexpected, simply cements the idea that big things are still very much underway in the DCU, and I couldn’t be more pleased that these two will be a big part in it.

There continues to be a lot of hints and teases about what yet lies at the heart of the Totality, and where everything is headed. I applaud Snyder’s choice to give the League a respite and a sense of victory, before those challenges come back hard, front and center, as they are certainly going to.

I also applaud his effort to bring a new sensibility to comic books, with the upgrade of DC’s new seven powers. Clearly the destructive power that these hereto-fore hidden, unrealized powers hold is tremendous. But the message that dark forces can be harnessed for the good of the whole by embracing the deeper Zen truths of acceptance, vulnerability, and surrender, is equally powerful.

Hopefully the full potency of that isn’t lost in all the complexity.

It does certainly remain complex. And the scope, let’s not misunderstand, remains all-encompassing. It’s the Totality of the DC Universe we’re dealing with after all.

It’s worth making this point in case it’s lost in everything. The set-up of all this does seem to include everything.

Take the inception of it all.

Presumably, the break in the Source Wall is what led to the Totality winging its way to earth. But that passage, much like Snyder’s own penchant for non-linear storytelling, apparently reached all the way back through the history of humankind and the DCU, planting the seeds of our current storyline all along the way. Which suggests that the break in the Source Wall, along with everything else that’s happening now must have been… pretty much inevitable.

Necessary even. Like it’s all part of one great puzzle-box. One great totality. One Whole.

That’s compelling.

Even if, like the Flash, we still have to wonder why the very heart of that creative force is meant to feel so… angry? Hm. And maybe, if you’re like Luthor, it’s easy to latch on to the idea, if not the mania, that this all-encompassing Fate is just another word for Doom.

Certainly, we’re meant to believe by now, that’s one way this could go.

But maybe, if they’re lucky, and they’re courageous, and they’re true, something else awaits the Justice League on the other side of their current challenge, and it’s grand, all-encompassing mystery.

Something perhaps far greater than we might now know.

 

Next Issue: More backstory! More ancient history. More ancient depths.

 

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