Justice League has been white hot ever since Scott Snyder took over the franchise with Justice League – No Justice. This title has set the standard for super hero team titles. Snyder and James Tynion IV have delivered one of the most complex, engaging and fun stories that you are going to find on any DC or Marvel title. Hopefully, Tynion can keep the ball rolling with Justice League #18. Let’s hit this review.
Story: James Tynion IV
Art: Pasqual Ferry
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin at the Hall of Doom with Lex Luthor hooked up to one of Brainiac’s machines. This allows Lex to enter Brainiac’s mind so they can share their knowledge of Perpetua and the Totality. Lex says that they have Perpetua’s body but that her mind is still dormant. That they must access the 6th energy in order to activate Perpetua’s mind and then take control of her and use her to usher in an Age of Doom on Earth.
We see Lex enter Brainiac’s subspace in his mind that Brainiac created. Brainiac reveals that he has total control of Lex’s mind and body. Brainiac says that once he gets the information about Perpetua and the Totality from Lex’s mind then Brainiac will take control of Lex’s mind and body and use him as a puppet to continue to lead the Legion of Doom. Once Brainiac has brings back Perpetua and has control over her then Brainiac will kill the other Legion of Doom members.
Lex says that he expected Brainiac to betray him. Lex tells Brainiac to just listen to what he has to say before Brainiac decides to take control of Lex. Lex then tells Brainiac the story of Vandal Savage finding a fragment of the totality. That Vandal Savage consulted with the most brilliant men throughout the millennia to try and decipher the fragment of the Totality.
Over the millennia, Vandal learned that the totality fragment was going to pull a great cosmic doom toward Earth. That Perpetua was coming. Vandal learned that there were seven cosmic energies and there were dark versions of each of these seven cosmic energies. That they were locked away from the universe.
Eventually, Vandal recruited Lionel Luthor and made him the head of the Legionnaires Club. Lionel was tasked at discovering the seven energies and unlocking the mystery of the fragment of the Totality. We see that the fragment is now a smooth orb almost like a doorknob.
Lionel first discovers the Still Force and the Invisible Emotional Force. Then Lionel discovers Arion’s Tear of Extinction and the dark life force in the oceans. Then Lionel discovers the Graveyard of the Gods and hides the one and only key to the graveyard. Lionel then discovers the existence of imps and a hypothetical Fifth Dimension that could open the door to the sixth cosmic force.
Lionel learned that the seven cosmic energies had the power to unlock the full potential of mankind. Lionel then conducted work in secrecy from Vandal Savage. Lionel experimented on Martinas and human DNA trying to recreate Perpetua’s perfect warriors.
Lex says that Vandal eventually discovered Lionel’s secret experiments and then had Lionel captured. Lionel told Vandal that he lacked vision and wanted to hoard the power of the Totality or simply lock it away. That Vandal did not want to give that power to humankind.
Vandal said that he has created a plan to shed part of the Earth’s crust knocking the Earth out of orbit and out of the trajectory of the Totality. That the Totality will miss Earth and spend eternity lost in space. Vandal says that he will not let his planet be set on a coarse toward certain doom.
Vandal then says that he is going to wipe Lionel’s mind and return him to his small Kansas town as a drunk loser working in a factory. Lionel begs Vandal to kill him instead. Lex says that Lionel spent all of his days drinking in the local Legionnaire’s Club always staring at a spot in the wall. Sometimes, Lionel would get drunk enough to see an outline of a doorway.
Lex says that he still despises Lionel. Lex says that if Vandal had done something similar to him that Lex would have found a way to rise above it and still win.
Lex says that Brainiac has all the knowledge in the universe but he lacks one thing: Faith. Lex says that he killed Vandal Savage with the doorknob that was a fragment of the Totality. Lex says that he believes in Doom. That he believes that Perpetua can make humankind more than what they are. That this belief will allow Lex to break the universe itself open. Lex says that Brainiac’s cold logic will limit him in his quest to unlock the remaining energies and bring back Perpetua’s mind. That it requires belief and faith to do that.
Lex then reveals that he loaded a virus in his mind that would leave Brainiac nothing but a hollow shell. Lex said that he expected Brainiac would try and betray him. Lex tells Brainiac to turn off his emotional blocks and believe in Perpetua and Doom. That Lex and Brainiac can ascend to something greater. Lex says that the two of them can do this together. Brainiac agrees.
Lex wakes up and unhooks himself from Brainiac’s machine. Lex and Brainiac then start speaking as if they share a mind. Gorilla Grodd says that Lex and Brainiac’s minds are in communion with each other. Grodd says that he has never seen such a thing. Cheetah and Sinestro says that this cannot be a good thing.
Lex and Brainiac stand together with the Totality doorknob floating in between the two of them. Lex asks if Brainiac can feel it now. Brainiac says that it is beautiful. Lex says that they are ready. The two stand in front of Perpetua. Lex says that the two fo them will show everyone the meaning of faith. Lex tells Brainiac to hold the Totality doorknob in his mind and turn it. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #18 is one of those tough to grade issues. James Tynion IV is a good writer who delivers a technically strong issue. This issue is full of well crafted writing. There is no doubt as to the quality of the writing from a technical standpoint. However, the fact remains that Tynion hits the pause button with Justice League #18. The story is frozen in place and the reader gets zero new information or plot progressions.
Having said that, there is still plenty to enjoy about Justice League #18. Tynion delivers a meticulously written story that is the product of an impressive attention to detail. Tynion embraces the complexity of the story that he and Snyder have been weaving on this title. Tynion examines how all of the various pieces from Justice League – No Justice all the way ip to the present all fit together. Tynion is a master watchmaker who takes joy in the painful details of an impressively constructed and plotted story.
Justice League #18 is a fantastic issue for new readers. Seriously, if you have not read any of Snyder’s Justice League then Justice League #18 is the perfect jumping on point. Tynion effectively and concisely recaps the events from No Justice – Justice League all the way up to the present. Justice League #18 gives new readers every single scrap of information that they would need in order to enjoy this story going forward. It is actually extremely impressive how Tynion was able to take such a complex story and distill the essential information into just one issue.
At first I was irritated that Snyder and Tynion would roll out an issue that was clearly nothing more than filler. However, after letting this issue marinate in my mind for a bit I then realized the genius. Snyder’s story on Justice League is a massive story that has been going on for almost a year. This has been a complex and dense story. Justice League certainly is not an easy title for a new reader to hop into at this point. So, Snyder and Tynion had a brilliant idea in order to give new readers a chance to jump aboard Justice League. It makes sense to pause the story and roll out an issue that is specifically designed to serve as a fantastic gateway into this title for new readers.
Tynion’s dialogue is excellent. The dialogue has a pleasant flow to it. Both Brainiac and Lex have well constructed external voices. Tynion’s character work was also fantastic. Lex and Brainiac are both well developed and are delivered true to their characters. Tynion makes both men compelling characters. Tynion also generates some absolutely incredible chemistry between Lex and Brainiac. This chemistry and the way that Tynion writes these two titans of evil is easily the strength of Justice League #18.
Tynion has a great feel for both Lex and Brainiac and he does an excellent job contrasting these two iconic Superman villains. Both villains are always associated with supreme intelligence and superior technology. However, the crucial difference has always been Lex’s emotional human mind versus Brainiac’s cold and clinical computer brain.
I love how Tynion takes the theme of faith that we have been getting through out this story and especially in Justice League #17 and carries it into Justice League #18. The fact that faith plays a role in the universal energies makes sense. It takes these cosmic energies that have been examined so much in a scientific light and recasts them in a more spiritual manner. I like the concept that pure science alone is not enough to master the various comic energies. That faith is also a critical ingredient to unlocking these mysteries.
Tynion ends Justice League #18 with a good hook ending. The idea of Lex and Brainiac acting in concert with each other is so frightening that even hardened villains like Gorilla Grodd and Sinestro are scared and concerned. This helps build up the Lex and Brainiac union as something that is truly a massive and historic moment.
The Bad: Despite the obvious positive qualities of this issue the fact remains that Justice League #18 is nothing more than a re-cap issue. Tynion delivers zero plot progression. There is absolutely no new content in this issue. Justice League #18 simply go throughs the steps of rehashing all of the various plot beats on this title from the past year. As a result, for readers who have been on this title from the start Justice League #18 is a boring read.
For regular readers of Justice League, Justice League #18 is a complete filler issue. Tynion hits the pause button and delivers a story that simply recycles and repeats old plot lines. This makes for a dull and boring read. Justice League #18 can absolutely be skipped and the reader will miss nothing at all when they pick up Justice League #19.
I am not a huge fan of Pasqual Ferry’s artwork in Justice League #18. The art is average. The art verges into what you would typically get in an old Saturday morning cartoon. Ferry certainly gets the job done and never gets in the way of the story. But, there is little in the artwork that actually gets me excited.
Overall: Justice League #18 has a split personality and the reader’s enjoyment of this issue will vary greatly depending on the reader. If you are a new reader to Justice League then you will greatly enjoy Justice League #18. This issue is absolute a must read if you are looking to hop aboard this title. Justice League is DC’s best title. So, I definitely urge all new readers to go out and pick up a copy of Justice League #18. For those readers this issue is definitely worth the $4.00 cover price.
However, for readers who have been aboard this train since Justice League – No Justice, Justice League #18 is an issue that you should definitely skip. There is no new content at all and it is simply not worth the $4.00 cover price.