The Revolution has not been shy about our love for Scott Snyder’s Justice League. This title is the single best title that DC is presently publishing. Now, I was a bit disappointed that we received back-to-back issues that felt like the story was put on pause. Both Justice League #8 and Justice League #9 were fun reads, but there was little in plot progression.
Having said that, I fully expect Snyder to crank thinks back up with Justice League #10. This issue will be kicking off the Drowned Earth mini-event that will run through Justice League, Aquaman, Titans and Aquaman/Justice League over the course of October and November. I love Aquaman and greatly appreciate that Snyder is going to be giving Arthur some time in the spotlight. Aquaman is such a great character and I do believe that Snyder can continue Arthur’s rehabilitation from a punchline to a heavy hitter who is one of the core members of the DCU.
So, I have high hopes for this issue! Let’s hit this review for Justice League #10!
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: Francis Manapul
Colors: Francis Manapul
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene at Amnesty Bay. Arthur and his father on their boat heading out to fish. Arthur’s father mentions how all the Earth’s oceans have been completely mapped. Arthur wistfully says that there must be some surprises left out in the ocean. Arthur’s dad looks into the water and notices a ton of sea life from whales to sharks to turtles are all around their boat. (Nice subtle nod to young Arthur’s telepathy with sea life manifesting itself.)
We shift to the present in the Arctic Circle. We see Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Firestorm searching for a hidden ship. Aquaman is holding Poseidon’s ship in a bottle. The ship in the bottle bears the mark of Arion. The ship in the bottle is leading our heroes to the location of a hidden sunken ship that houses the key to the Graveyard of the Gods.
Our heroes notice that there are ships from various period in time from Spanish galleons to modern submarines all trapped in the ice. Aquaman says that ships have been looking for the key to the Graveyard of the Gods for centuries. Our heroes talk about how the Legion of Doom must have unlocked more Source Wall energies and that they may now have the ability to kill and resurrect gods.
We cut to Superman, Adam Strange, and the Flash at Veracity Island the home of the Volcano Man. We see the Volcano Man lying on the ground with smaller volcano men sprouting from his stomach. Our heroes are at Veracity Island trying to search for signs of the Legion of Doom headquarters.
Adam Strange says that the Legion of Doom headquarters left an energy footprint similar to a Zeta beam. That whatever the Legion fo Doom headquarters is made of is conductive of phaseable energies like a Zeta beam. This means the headquarters can be someplace and physically not be there at the same time.
Superman uses his x-ray vision and says that he can see traces of the headquarters and traces of something else, too. Adam Strange says that Superman is seeing a launch trail of something that was fired into space from this location. Adam Strange sends his readings to Batman and asks him if he can trace what was sent from this location. Batman replies that it was a beacon sent in the direction of a cosmic barrier reef.
Superman asks Batman if he can still contact John Stewart. That maybe John would have some knowledge about the cosmic coral reef. Batman says that Hawkgirl, John Stewart, and Martian Manhunter have arrived at Thanagar-Prime and they can no longer reach them. This is why our heroes have had to switch back to earpieces instead of J’onn’s telepathic link. Batman says that hopefully they will find some answers that they need to unlock the Totality.
Superman then asks Batman if he has made any progress with Starman. Batman replies that he has been using Jarro (A mini Starro…in a jar! Jarro! I love it!) to probe Starman’s mind for more memories. Batman explains that every fragment of Starro is a whole being with powerful telepathic abilities. That Jarro has discovered in Starman’s memories the fact that the Totality has left pieces of itself throughout time. That there are shocking connections in the past that they need to dig up.
We then shift back to the Arctic Circle. Our heroes have found the ship that Poseidon’s bottled ship was pointing to. Firestorm says that the ship’s molecules have been bonded with ancient magic that makes it like a mirror. it is reflective to nearly all energy. That is why no one has ever found the ship.
We see the ship’s mast which is a carving of Arion. Aquaman says that Arion was Atlantis’ first and greatest hero. Wonder Woman says that Arion was a friend to the Amazons, as well. Aquaman says that Arion and Poseidon created the Clarion, a kind of cosmic conch, that was meant to call across the cosmos to other planets with life-filled oceans.
Some divine beings answers the call. But, so did invaders. There was a great war.Arion struck down the invaders and built defenses for Atlantis. But, Arion’s dream for what the ocean stands for and what they could be was never realized. Aquaman thought that once Mera took over the throne that Aquaman could be the mariner that his father saw in him and take up Arion’s quest.
Aquaman then finds what looks to be a structure made of Amazonian alloy. Aquaman punches through the ice and discovers that the item is the key to the Graveyard of the Gods.
Suddenly, a giant space kraken composed of water attacks our heroes. Firestorm says that the space kraken’s molecules are transformative. That if it touches anything living they will transform into something. Batman says that he is analyzing the makeup of the space Kraken. Batman warns the heroes to say away from the space kraken’s touch.
The space kraken hits Firestorm and transforms him into an aquatic monster that speaks an alien language. The space kraken then grabs Aquaman and teleports Aquaman and Wonder Woman away from the scene.
We shift to Aquaman waking up. He has glowing ancient tattoos on his face, shoulders, and arms. Aquaman is chained to a coral reef. Three sea gods from three different alien planets are standing in front of Aquaman. The gods welcome Aquaman to the Blood Reef. Their names are Captain Gall, Commander Drogue, and Admiral Tyyde. They have come here from the far reaches of space along with the few dejected ocean-dwelling races that populate the universe.
The sea gods say that they are here to answer a beacon that was sent from Earth must like they did once before when Arion called to them to form a union long ago. Aquaman says that he welcomes the sea gods. Aquaman says that he has heard tales of how Earth would have been lost in the Great War without the sea gods’ help in defeating the invaders.
The sea gods laugh and say that they are the invaders. (Wait a minute. What is that character I see in the background…OH MY GOD!!! IT’S TELLUS FROM THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES!!!) We see that the sea gods have brought a massive space armada to Earth. Batman then notifies all of the members of the Justice League that the Earth is under attack.
The sea gods say that Aquaman can watch from the Blood Reef as they drown the Earth. Drogue powers up and sends the flood to drown the Earth.
We cut back to Earth and see the planet being flooded in purple alien water. The purple water transforms any human it touches into aquatic monsters. We see the purple water flooding over the Hall of Justice. Aquaman watches and knows that no one can stop the flood. Not even the Justice League. End of issue.
The Good: Keeping with the aquatic theme of Justice League #10, lets just say that this was a pearl of a read. Sorry, I could not resist! Seriously, Justice League #10 was another excellent read. Snyder rarely disappoints. I had a feeling that Justice League #10 was going to crank the intensity back up and it certainly did.
There is so much to praise on Justice League #10. The world building, the research, the plotting, the pacing, the character work, the dialogue, the wild Silver-Age styled concepts, and the artwork. There is so much that Snyder is delivering in this title that it is a lot to cover. Let’s start with the bigger picture and then drill down to the smaller details.
First and foremost, what amazes me the most with Snyder’s Justice League is the incredible world building that we are getting on this title. Justice League #10 continues that theme as Snyder delivers even more world building. Snyder continues to flesh out the details of this story that is expanding the world that is the DCU. Snyder is delivering the type of world building that is usually only seen from Geoff Johns and Jonathan Hickman. I always thought Snyder was a talented writer. But, I did not realize that Snyder had Geoff Johns-level world building talents. Well, Justice League has made this quite obvious.
Snyder continues to add to the DC mythos with each issue of Justice League. In Justice League #10, Snyder pulls elements from little known corners of the DCU and infuses them with new purpose in the current day DCU. Snyder also adds in his own unique elements like the key to the Graveyard of the Gods. With each issue, Snyder is able to make the setting for his story on Justice League even more grand and epic. All of it results in a DCU that is made even more rich and fascinating.
As always, excellent world building usually goes hand-in-hand with incredible plotting. Justice League #10 is another strongly plotted issue. Snyder is juggling an incredible amount of plot-lines at the same time. Even more enjoyable is the fact that each plot-line is detailed and all connect with each other to form a complex tapestry.
What is even more impressive is that Snyder is not simply juggling multiple plot-lines at the same time. Instead, Snyder is now constructing a mini-event in Drowned Earth within the context of a much larger over-arching story dealing with the Totality. And Snyder is doing it in a seamless fashion!
Snyder organically evolves the Drowned Earth story from the Legion of Doom story. Our heroes discover that the Legion of Doom sent an energy beacon out to a cosmic coral reef. The result? The introduction of the three sea gods and the Drowned Earth story. This was an enjoyably natural and logical way to grow the Drowned Earth story out of what Snyder has been doing on the Justice League up until this issue.
What is even more amazing is that Snyder is able to deliver this level of plotting while never losing his focus or getting bogged down in the details. Snyder never loses control of the plot-lines or appears to get lost in the story. Snyder displays a commanding grasp of all of the plot-lines and a clear vision with where he wants to go forward with each plot-line. Snyder has obviously meticulously plotted everything with long-range goals in mind. And to top it all off, all of the plot-lines evolve and progress in a natural and logical fashion.
In Justice League #10, Snyder does an excellent job placing his hands on each of the various plot-lines. Snyder touches on the Thanagar-Prime plot-line involving John Stewart, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl that deals with getting answers about the Totality. Snyder also brings up the Starman plot-line which also deals with getting answers about the Totality. Snyder then addresses the Legion of Doom plot line in the scene on Veracity Island. Snyder also mentions the plot-line involving Poseidon and the key to the Graveyard of the Gods.
Snyder reminds the reader of the mission of each plot-line and current status of each plot-line. This is an excellent way for Snyder to keep the reader current on what is going on in the story and to let the reader know that he has not forgotten about any of the various plot-lines. This is important in a story that has a large number of plot-lines.
The number of plot-lines that Snyder is handling in addition to creating a mini-event seamlessly inside of his much larger story dealing with the Totality is incredible. Seriously, this is the type of next level plotting that Paul Levitz used to deliver on the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
What is also amazing is how the scene transitions between these various plot-lines are seamless. Justice League #10 has a wonderful and natural flow to it as we shift back and forth between the various plot-lines.
There is no doubt that the main focus of Justice League #10 is the Aquaman plot-line involving the invading sea gods that will kick off the Drowned Earth mini-event. I found the Drowned Earth plot-line to be intelligently crafted and incredibly interesting.
I dig that Snyder reaches into DC’s continuity and uses an old character like Arion to serve as the foundation for the Drowned Earth story. I love writers who are obsessed with research and continuity. Snyder certainly is one of those writers.
Arion is a perfect match for the Drowned Earth story. Arion is a cool character from the 1980’s. Arion first debuted as a back-up story in Warlord back in 1982. On a side note, if you have never read Mike Grell’s Warlord then it is worth checking out. It is some fantastic sword and sorcery stories. Also, prior to the Arion back-up stories, Warlord had back-up stories of OMAC from Jim Starlin as well as back-up stories from of Arak from Roy Thomas, and back-up stories of Claw. It is all great reading.
Back to Arion. Arion got his own title late in 1982. That title ran until 1985. Arion was left in Grant Morrison’s limbo until 1992 when he got a 6 issue mini-series. That title is not worth finding. It was not that good. After that mini-series, Arion went back into limbo and DC did nothing with the character.
The New 52 largely ignored Arion. He was only briefly seen as a wizard in a flashback scene in Secret Six as a wizard. We did not see Arion again until 2016 in Blue Beetle #7. However, that Arion was also much different from the original Pre-New 52 Arion. In the Blue Beetle, Arion was turned into a mad Atlantean god and wizard who was a villain. This Arion was more demonic. When he was defeated Dr. Fate took him to seal him away forever.
Well, Snyder wisely ignores the New 52 handling of Arion as well as what we got in Blue Beetle. In Justice League #10, Snyder gives the reader the classic pre-New 52 1980’s version of Arion. Arion is a true hero of Atlantis and plays a central figure in the mythos of the magical realm of the DCU. It is great to see a more classic rendition of Arion.
I love that Snyder engages in some research and pulls a character like Arion out of DC’s continuity and weaves him into the foundation for the current DCU. DC has a wonderful history pre-New 52. And it is fantastic to see more and more of DC’s pre-New 52 continuity being mixed into the current DCU. It only serves to make the DCU even richer.
I also enjoyed how Snyder takes Arion and makes him a source of inspiration for Aquaman. I like this new direction for Aquaman’s character ever since he has left the throne of Atlantis to Mera. I think taking Aquaman off the throne of Atlantis will allow him to grow into something much larger within the context of the DCU. I like the idea of Aquaman expanding his scope beyond just Atlantis.
Snyder hits on a stroke of genius by having Aquaman wanting to follow in Arion’s footsteps and become a mariner who discovers new oceans not just on Earth but throughout the universe, too. It is a fascinating concept that only serves to make Aquaman a more interesting character and assuming a much larger role in the DCU.
The flashback scene with Aquaman as a boy was brilliant. I liked the subtle manifestation of his powers to communicate to the sea life around him. I dig Arthur would subconsciously attract sea life to him. This flashback scene also fits nicely into Aquaman’s new direction in life with wanting to follow in Arion’s footsteps. All of this sets the stage perfectly for the events of Drowned Earth. This is simply excellent writing with how each scene builds organically and logically off of the prior scene.
The Drowned Earth plot-line also presents the reader with a space kraken! A space kraken, people! How awesome is that? It is this kind of craziness that makes Snyder’s Justice League so much fun to read.
The Drowned Earth story also introduces the Blood Reef and the cosmic water gods. I dig the concept of an alien cosmic coral reef. This is Snyder just having fun letting his imagination loose. I also liked the three cosmic water gods. These three villains all look incredibly bad-ass and pose a seemingly unstoppable force for the Justice League to have to stop.
Snyder gives the Drowned Earth story a massive scope and epic feel. First, Snyder roots the Drowned Earth storyline by melding the realms of Atlantis and the Amazons together with the Greek Gods by having Arion work with Poseidon in creating a cosmic conch shell. Snyder then takes it up several notches by introducing the concept of sea gods like Poseidon from alien planets across the universe. This is a brilliant idea. It makes sense that alien planets would have their own set of deities much like Earth.
By introducing sea gods from other planets Snyder has massively expanded the scope of this story. This move also adds a fascinating cosmic dimension to Aquaman’s character. Aquaman has always felt like a character constricted by the fact that he was always consigned just to the oceans. This new direction by Snyder gives Aquaman a cosmic connection to his character which grants him a much larger stage in which to operate. This is a combination of good world building, entertaining storytelling, and excellent character growth.
Snyder also sneaks in an Easter egg with this final scene between Aquaman and the three cosmic sea gods. Yup. It is none other than Tellus from the Legion of Super-Heroes. This is how starved I am for my beloved Legion. I am even excited to see Legionnaires that I do not even like!
Now, this might not be Tellus. It could just be another member of Tellus’ race since they all basically look the same. However, I think this is Tellus. We have seen Saturn Girl and her Legion of Super-Heroes ring over in Doomsday Clock. I think this is DC continuing to slowly tease the eventual return of the Legion of Super-Heroes. I think Snyder is getting in on the fun. Honestly, I hope that Snyder is the writer that is tabbed to handle the Legion of Super-Heroes. There is no better writer for that job.
Not much else happened with the plot-lines outside of the Drowned Earth story. However, there were some neat little wrinkles that Snyder mixed into the other plot-lines.
First, let’s look at the Starman plot-line. Snyder unveils Jarro! Jarro is going to be a smash hit character. Snyder did an absolutely brilliant job with Starro’s character on Justice League: No Justice and made Starro a scene stealing character. I was bummed when Starro got killed. Luckily, you cannot keep a psychotic cosmic starfish down for long. Snyder reveals that each fragment of Starro is a whole being with the same powers. And the name Jarro since they are keeping this little Starro in a jar was a cute touch.
Now, this reveal by Snyder does beg the question of what happened to all of the other fragments of Starro? Are there little “Starro’s” all across the universe? Could you imagine an army of Starro’s working together to take down the universe? Sounds like a great story for some point in the future!
I also like that Snyder is taking the slow burn approach with Starman. I know that I am probably the only person who is a fan of Will Payton. But, I loved Roger Stern and Tom Lyle’s Starman title from the 1980’s. I am excited to see what Snyder has in store for Will’s character. I do think that Starman would make for a nice addition to the Justice League.
Snyder also gave us some new information concerning the Legion of Doom plot-line. We learned that the Legion of Doom’s headquarters is made of a similar energy as a Zeta beam. That the Legion of Doom’s headquarters can be at a certain place and physically not be there at the same time. The Legion of Doom headquarters is incredibly cool just based off its looks. But, the incredible technological defenses of the headquarters makes it even cooler. This was some important information since it makes the Legion of Doom appear that much more unstoppable. This also helps to flesh out some of the background about the history of the mystical headquarters.
The plot-line with the Legion of Doom headquarters also gave us two more interesting things. First, we got the addition of Adam Strange to the story. This is a great move by Snyder to further stretch the reach of the story on the Justice League. I love that Snyder is pulling in characters from various different corners of the DCU. This also helps to give this title a truly grand scope that touches on nearly every aspect of the DCU. Plus, Adam Strange is a great Julie Schwartz character! So, I am glad to see him getting some panel time on a high-profile title like Justice League.
Second, Snyder flexed his research muscles by having Superman, Adam Strange, and Flash on Veracity Island which is the home of the Volcano Man. Of course, I liked Snyder’s little twist on the Volcano Man by having smaller volcano men being spawned from the Volcano Man. It is obvious that Snyder went back and read old issues of the Challengers of the Unknown before writing his new Challengers of the Unknown comic! I love that about a writer. The volcano men were first seen way back in Challengers of the Unknown #27.
When writers perform quality research and immerse themselves in continuity it enables them to pull minor characters and locations out of the past and place them into a current story. Yes, these may only be small details in a story that many readers will not notice. But, it is this attention to detail that makes the story seem so much more textured and more ingrained in the shared universe. It also provides for an enjoyable moment for readers who possess a strong knowledge of continuity. The story immediately becomes even more immersive.
Of course, Adam Strange was not the only character that Snyder introduced into the mix. In the plot-line taking place in the Arctic Circle, Snyder looped Firestorm into the story. I am a huge fan of Ronnie Raymond so I was thrilled to see Firestorm in Justice League #10. Personally, I would love it if Firestorm got to play an ever bigger role in Snyder’s story. At any rate, I like that Snyder is excited to bring in as many characters as possible to his story. It just makes everything even more fun.
Justice League #10 is an excellently paced read. Snyder moves forward with a clear purpose in mind. The story steadily builds in intensity as we reach a crescendo with the surprising final scene.
Now, there may not be lots of action in Justice League #10, but Snyder places enough tension in the story to keep things lively. At no point does Justice League #10 feel like a slow or dull read. There is plenty of energy in this issue as Snyder keeps the reader at the edge of their seat full of the dread that something bad is about to happen.
Snyder also delivers plenty of excellent character work in Justice League #10. Obviously, Aquaman is the star of the show with this issue. As I stated earlier, I love how Snyder is handling Aquaman’s character and trying to grow and evolve his character into something even more fascinating. I am completely invested in Snyder’s Aquaman and I look forward to what Snyder has in store for him going forward.
Snyder crafts some quality dialogue. All of the characters have well-defined external voices. The dialogue has a good flow to it. Snyder has such a good feel for all of the characters. I like how in just a few lines Snyder is able to convey Batman’s trademark impatience or the Flash’s humor.
The good character work and strong dialogue combine to create some enjoyable chemistry between the Justice Leaguers. The characters interact with each other so naturally. This has been a hallmark of Snyder’s writing on Justice League and Justice League #10 is no different.
Justice League #10 also treats the reader to some awesome artwork. Francis Manapul whips up some incredible looking art. The page payouts are diverse and creative. The double page splash shots are incredibly dynamic. Manapul brings Snyder’s script to live in a vivid fashion. Manapul is a perfect match for a classic DC super hero title. I love the bright colors and the excitement that Manapul brings to his art. Manapul is also the perfect artist for DC post Rebirth. Manapul’s art captures that awesome Silver Age essence while still having a completely modern style.
The Bad: I have no criticisms with this issue.
Overall: Justice League #10 is an excellent read. Snyder has picked the intensity up on the title with the debut of the Drowned Earth event. Drowned Earth looks like it is going to be an absolute blast. Justice League is still the best super hero title on the market right now. If you like well plotted and complex stories with plenty of fun super-hero action and adventure then you definitely need to start reading Justice League.