Justice League has been a a ball of fire since Scott Snyder has restarted this title in the wake of Justice League – No Justice. Snyder is delivering a grand cosmic tale that Jack Kirby would love. Justice League has been an absolute blast to read. Snyder has packed this title full of wild Sci Fi concepts and Silver Age super hero themes. The result is a title that is pure fun to read and offers up an exciting adventure ride. Does Justice League #5 continue that trend? Let’s find out!
Words: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Jaime Mendoza
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a voice narrating how the second that Lex Luthor achieved Doom that people across Earth realized it. The Scarecrow could tell that something had changed. Black Adam also felt the change. It was an unmistakable electricity in the air. That Neron and Trigon in hell both felt it. That even those on Apokolips felt it as the fire pits sprang to all new heights.
This is because this was the moment when Lex Luthor, piloting Superman’s body, was about to achieve everything he ever hoped for. Lex feels the universe tremble before him and he smiles. All is as it should be.
We cut to the Legion of Doom’s secret lair. The voice narrates that the Legion of Doom’s fortress was built by Vandal Savage. That it is of a metal that absorbs light and heat which makes it invisible to radar and satellite imagery. That it was then enchanted by a spell from Felix Faust that makes it impossible to see by the human eye.
The fortress was meant to house a new world government. However, Lex killed them all. The arsenal has the finest death machines ever imagined. That the Joker created an interrogation chamber with torture devices and then tested it himself.
But, the most dangerous item in the fortress is in Lex’s private chambers on a pedestal under a case of glass compressed out of white dwarf stars. Today, Lex carries that item in his hand.
We cut back to “Before Doom.” We are at the Source Wall. Sinestro and a bunch of Green Lanterns are trying to fix the breach in the Source Wall. Soranik Natu, the leader of the Sinestro Corps, contacts Sinestro and says that the Sinestro Corps is going to work together with the Green Lanterns to try and deal with the break in the Source Wall.
Suddenly, Lex appears on the scene. Or at least a projection fo Lex appears next to the Source Wall. Lex is using a technology called Quantum Folding that creates a wrinkle in time and space to contact Sinestro.
Lex says that Sinestro is thinking about taking the lesser path by joining up with the Green Lanterns. However, Sinestro should listen to his heart. Lex says he is here to promise Sinestro everything he has ever wanted. Sinestro responds that he has always taken what he needs. Lex replies that he is not talking about what Sinestro needs. It is about what Sinestro wants.
Lex says that the Oans have been hiding a secret that Lex has unlocked. Lex says that he is starting a group. Lex asks Sinestro to join him and in return Lex will give him the invisible spectrum and more.
Luthor then tells Sinestro about how after the events of Justice League – No Justice, that he realized that the dominant energy of human life was entropy. That the time he spent playing the hero was meaningless.
Lex hacked his mother box. Lex builds a time bubble that enabled him to travel forward a millennia but not farther than that. Lex was searching to see who was right.
We see Lex arriving one million years in the future. There are no gods left. Only Luthor. We see a massive statute of Lex Luthor in the middle of Metropolis. Some costume villains come up to him. One of them looks like the Joker. The villains recognize Lex. They tell him that he is in Lexor City.
The villains say that society stopped fooling itself. People could never attain the fictional better version of who there were. That an archeologist found the lost works of Lex Luthor and broadcast them to the world. That people embraced who they really were on the inside. No matter how ugly it was. They stopped pretending to be super heroes. They conquered the universe in Luthor’s name.
They said that the call Lex Luthor the Great Tragedy. Because he was the one who saw the truth but missed the key to unlocking it in his own time. Lex asks them what he missed. The villains respond that if they told him then that would lead Lex to rewriting all of human history. The villain says that all he can show Lex is the symbol at the heart of it all. The villains says that they call it Doom. The villain shows Lex a design on the villain’s ring.
We then cut to Lex Luthor with Gorilla Grodd. They are at the United Nations General Assembly. This is also “Before Doom.” We see that Grodd has used his mental abilities to get all the members of the U.N. to attack each other. Luthor tells Grodd his story of what he learned when he travelled forward in time. Luthor says that he has been reconstructing the technology that he saw in the future.
Luthor tells Grodd that Grodd needs to think bigger. That Luthor is offering him the world. Grodd points to the U.N. members fighting and says that he already has the world. Grodd says that he will bow to no man.
Luthor says that these U.N. people are nothing but witless bureaucrats. (Well, Luthor does make a good point here. I must admit.) That this is a pointless show of force designed to intimidate the Flash. But, that this will accomplish nothing.
Grodd picks Luthor up by his neck and threatens to kill Luthor. Lex says that he was wrong. That they have all been wrong. Luthor says that he knows how to stop the Speed Force. That they can take the universe now. Grodd tells Luthor to tell him more.
Lex said that the villains in the future told him that he missed something. That it must have been right under his nose. The only thing out of place was a forwarded invitation to Lex’s father’s old Legionnaire Club. (The events of Justice League #2.) Lex saw it as an opportunity to let off some steam and some explosives. He did not expect to find a door that no one else could see. He did not expect to find a secret chamber beneath the building.
In the chamber, Luthor found papers that talked about the coming of a great totality fo power and the end of things anew. Then Luthor saw on the papers the symbol that the Joker villain from the future showed him. Luthor knew that this is what the villains in the future told him that he had missed. The path toward Doom. We see that the doorknob to this secret chamber also has the symbol that the Joker villain from the future showed him.
Luthor says that he could unlock the hidden energies of the universe. That he could take the totality of the universal power and wield it. That Doom would come in the present day.
We cut to Sinestro and the Ultraviolet Corps assembled outside of the Hall of Justice. The narrator says that Lex would unlock the invisible emotional spectrum of power to allow the sublimated emotions of the universe to take hold and show all living things their true selves.
The narrator says that Lex would need someone to wield this power and to command the army. That man is Sinestro.
We cut to Grodd holding baby Turtle and taking down the Flash. The narrator says that Lex would find the scion of the Turtle and through him unlock the Still Force to stop creation in its tracks. That Grodd would be the person Lex would use to control the Still Force.
We cut to Lex with the Legion of Doom in the meeting room of the Legion fo Doom fortress. Lex stands in the middle with the door knob from the secret chamber. We see Sinestro, Black Manta, Joker, Cheetah, and Grodd seated at the meeting room table.
The narrator says that each fo the seven members of the Legion of Doom were best suited for one of the seven forces described in the papers from the secret chamber. They were a Legion that represented the true face fo the universe with all of its selfish, vindictive pride. A Legion that did not stand for people as they should be nut as they were and would always be.
We cut to one million years in the future. We see Lexor City beginning to fade into white nothingness. The narrator says that as Lex took the power in his hand that the future was wiped away. That the villains one million years in the future know what this meant. That Luthor found the key to unlocking the truth in his own time. And the villains cheered on their annihilation. (Wait, they refused to tell Luthor the secret out of the concern that it would wipe out their existence. But, they are happy when Luthor succeeds and ends up wiping out their existence? That makes no sense.)
We shift back to the present day with Lex Luthor in his microscopic ship and inside of Superman’s brain. Luthor is piloting Superman forward to the Totality (See the end of Justice League #4). The narrator says that Lex believes that the universe made people as they are. With all of their selfish, animal impulses. Why feel guilty about them? Celebrate them. That polite rules of civilization and morality hold people back from their potential. People want to be who they really are. To embrace their true selves. To choose the right side. Fuck justice. Side with Doom. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #5 is the first misfire of this new title. This was a largely slow and boring issue that provides the reader with little in the way of new content. Having said that, there were still some positives to Justice League #5.
Tynion does a nice job with Lex Luthor’s character. I like Luthor’s trademark drive and intensity that pushes him forward to achieve the impossible. I also like that Tynion emphasized how Luthor is the foundation and driving force behind the Legion of Doom. No one other than Luthor has the guts and the cunning to manipulate and convince such prideful villains with massive egos to join his team and carry out his mission.
We do not get much new information at all in Justice League #6. But, what little we did get was enjoyable and helped to flesh out the story and add some nice details. I enjoyed the time travel aspect of the story with Luthor willing to go to the end of times in order to try and get his answers. This helps to underscore Luthor’s drive and obsession. I also enjoyed the additional information of what Luthor found behind the magic door that we saw in Justice League #2.
The artwork is the real star of the show for Justice League #6. Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza combine to deliver an excellent looking issue. Admittedly, I am a massive fan of Mahnke’s work. It is a rare day that I do not enjoy an issue that is brought to life by Mahnke.
Mahnke packs an insane amount of gorgeous detail into every single panel. Mahnke can make even dialogue heavy scenes visually appealing. And single page and double page splash shots? Yeah, Mahnke can deliver some dramatic looking ones. No doubt about it.
The Bad: It is clear that Justice League #5 was a filler issue designed to stall for time and give Scott Snyder a break. Snyder has been going at full speed ever since Dark Nights: Metal and then into Justice League – No Justice. I understand the need for Snyder to get a break from his demanding schedule and catch his breath. Therefore, Justice League #6 gives us a fill-in writer in James Tynion IV and a filler issue. While I understand why DC rolled out this issue that does not mean I want to spend $4.00 of my money on such an issue.
Justice League #5 is a dull read. The story is a bit boring and certainly repetitious. Tynion offers the reader largely no new content at all. The basic concept of Doom and Luthor’s plans are not complex nor overly intricate. Tynion over-explains what Luthor is up to in this issue.
We begin with a three page scene that basically re-tells what Lex has been up to with the assembling of the Legion of Doom. We then get a dull three page scene with Luthor and Sinestro. This scene does nothing more than recycle the story about the Ultraviolet Corps and its importance in bringing Doom. There is nothing new here at all. The reader already knows all of this information from first four issues of Justice League.
We then get a four page scene of Luthor traveling to the future to learn about where he has gone wrong with his plans to attain absolute power. This scene does give the reader some actual new content. This is the scene where we learn the impetus for Luthor discovering the path to Doom and the seven forces of nature that must be harnessed in order to achieve Doom.
Next is a two page scene with Lex in the Secret Chamber that we saw him enter in Justice League. While this was technically new information it was largely one of zero substance. We learn that he found papers in the secret chamber that gave him the path toward Doom. It is all rather generic and does little to add to the story.
We then get the one page scene of Sinestro with his Ultraviolet Corp assembled outside of the Hall of Justice. This is also nothing new. We then get a one page scene of Grodd attacking Flash. This is also nothing new. We get a one page scene of Luthor standing in front of his assembled Legion of Doom and saying how each member represents one of the seven forces described in the papers from the secret chamber. This is also nothing new.
We then get a one page scene of the future Luthor visited being destroyed since Luthor had figured out what he had missed in his efforts for total power.
We then get a one page scene with Lex in his microscopic ship inside of Superman’s brain and controlling him. Lex has Superman walking toward the Totality. This is also nothing new. This is exactly what we saw at the end of Justice League #4.
Tynion hits the pause button on this exciting story and proceeds to deliver largely repetitious and unexciting backstory. Sadly, the backstory does not contain that much new information. And at the end of Justice League #5 the reader is exactly where they were at the end of Justice League #4 without having gained much in the way of new content.
I was also not impressed with the story construction of this issue. Tynion’s decision to use a nameless narrator as the spine of Justice League #5 was a poor one. The use of a nameless narrator delivers the issue in a passive manner that places a literary barrier between the characters in the story and the reader. This technique robs the story of much if its immediacy and action.
The dialogue in general was pedestrian at best. The narrator’s voice trends toward being way too cheesy and melodramatic at times. The voices of the various villains are too over-the-top. The ham-fisted dialogue only serves to make these villains seem more like one-dimensional cartoonish mustache-twirling threats than fully developed, compelling, and intriguing villains.
Overall: Justice League #5 is a boring and pointless read for readers who have been aboard this title since Justice League #1. There is absolutely no reason to waste your money, that equals half of one month’s worth of Netflix, for zero content. This issue is a stunningly poor return on your entertainment dollars.
Having said that, if you have not read Justice League #1–4, then I would definitely recommend picking up Justice League #5. This is a great issue for new readers to hop aboard this story arc. Tynion uses Justice League #5 to succinctly and effectively recap the events of Justice League #1–4.
For readers who have already read Justice League #1–4? Skip this issue. You will be able to pick up Justice League #6 and literally miss nothing.