Justice League continues to be the best super-hero comic book on the market. The creative team of Scott Snyder and James Tynion, IV is white hot and keeps cranking out quality reads with every issue. Justice League #22 promises to be an incredibly important issue as Snyder and Tynion are going to reveal the definitive origin of DC’s Multiverse. We are going to get some excellent world building and continuity work in this issue. These are the kinds of stories that I adore. I am confident that Justice League #22 will deliver the goods. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: James Tynion, IV
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 Perpetua in the Hall of Doom preparing for her return and the upcoming war between Doom and Justice. We cut to outside the Hall of Justice. Mxypzptlk is in his giant demonic imp form and unwriting all of reality around him.
Suddenly, the Legion of Doom appears on the scene. Luthor says that the only way to fight a 5th Dimension imp is to catch your own. Luthor opens his box with a lightning bolt symbol on it. Bat-Mite comes springing out of the box. Bat-Mite says that Batman’s number one fan is here to save the day. (I was hoping for Thunderbolt, but Bat-Mite is pretty damn awesome, too. I love me some Bat-Mite.)
We hop back to the Hall of Doom where Perpetua is adjusting to having her mind and body restored. Perpetua senses that her Multiverse is broken. That the 6th Dimension is the Multiverse’s most base form and that is the location of the fracture of the Multiverse. Perpetua senses that her sons are behind everything.
We shift to twenty billion years ago in the 6th Dimension. Perpetua has finished creating the Multiverse. Perpetua then creates her three sons: Alpheus, Mar Novu, and Mobius. Alpheus will be the world forger who creates the worlds for the Multiverse. Mar Novu will be the Monitor who monitors all of the worlds that Alpheus creates and rise into Novu’s World Orrery. Mar Novu will see to then worlds’ development and prevent any crises that may arise between them. Mobius will be the Anti-Monitor and shall guard the boundaries of creation keeping them free of life.
Perpetua shows her sons her Multiverse. Her sons ask what is the purpose of the Multiverse. Perpetua says that she cannot speak to the purpose of the Multiverse. Perpetua says that she only hopes to please the Source of their power.
Perpetua says that the Multiverse is created out of three basic forms of matter. Dark Matter which is rich with potential to be used to create the worlds. Positive Matter which is firm and constant to keep the worlds alive. Anti-Matter which is all-destroying and corrosive.
Mar Novu says that this represents birth, life, and death. Perpetua says that she has woven the Multiverse together with the seven energies entrusted to her.
Mar Novu then asks what is Perpetua’s purpose now that she has created the Multiverse and her sons. Perpetua says that she will see to it that her sons and her Multiverse live.
We hop forward five billion years later in the Prime Universe. We see Mar Novu and Alpheus talking. Alpheus says that not all the worlds that he creates rise into Mar’s World Orrery. Therefore, Alpheus has created a pet named Barbatos to consume the worlds which fall back and decay.
Mar Novu then says that he has found a planet named Earth and asks Alpheus if he created it. Alpheus says that he did not create that world. Alpheus asks where did Mar Novu find this planet. Mar says that he found it in the center of the Prime Universe.
We cut to Earth-Prime. Perpetua is watching her human and green martian hybrids fight each other. Mar Novu appears on the scene. Perpetua boasts about the fighting power of her human/green martian hybrids. Perpetua tells Mar Novu to peer into the 4th Dimension and see how these hybrids will be in a hundred thousand years from now. Perpetua calls the hybrids her warriors.
Mar Novu asks why Perpetua needs warriors. Perpetua says that she needs them because of the importance of war. Mar Novu says that he spied into the greater Omniverse and observed something strange in the neighboring Multiverses. Mar Novu says that he was monitoring for a potential crisis.
Mar Novu says that Perpetua told them there were other Multiverses framed by beings such as her. However, the other Multiverse’s have no double of Perpetua. This implies that Perpetua’s function ended when she created her Multiverse. That Perpetua was meant to die or move on to create other Multiverses. Mar Novu says that Perpetua is now creating an army for resistance. Mar Novu says that there is some sort of cosmic judgment coming for them. That Perpetua shall be judged and that she wants to be able to fight back against that judgment.
Perpetua says that the Judges of the Source want to achieve harmony. That they hold themselves back to reach some false Justice. Mar Novu says that Perpetua is risking infinite lives in her foolish effort to overcome cosmic judgment. Perpetua gets angry and then orders her hybrid warriors to attack Mar Novu.
We shift to two hundred thousand years later in the Promethean Galaxy. Alpheus, Mar Novu, and Mobius are all meeting. The brothers tune the frequency of all the planets in their Multiverse to broadcast a signal out to the Judges of the Source concerning Perpetua’s actions.
Suddenly, Perpetua appears in the scene and orders her hybrid warriors to attack her sons. The brothers start battling the hybrid warriors. Then, a massive cosmic hawk appears on the scene. The brothers rejoice that the Judges from the Source have answered their call.
The giant cosmic hawk says that Perpetua is twisting the scales of judgment toward selfish gain and doom. The cosmic hawk forms a giant wall and say that the wall will be Perpetua’s prison for the totality of power she has selfishly hoarded. That when all ends Perpetua will face her final judgment of the Source. We then see the massive Source Wall being formed and Perpetua being sealed inside of it. The giant cosmic hawk than disappears.
Alpheus says that the Source Wall acts as a boundary closing their Multiverse off from the greater Omniverse. That this is the final point. Alpheus says that they must prepare for the final judgment. Alpheus then returns to the Forge.
The Anti-Monitor then asks the Monitor if he knew this would happen. The Monitor says that he suspected this would happen. The Monitor says that he will be re-formed and born again on Oa. That the Anti-Monitor will be re-formed and born again on Qward. Mar Novu says that the brothers will have to keep a watch for Perpetua.
Mobius is angry and says that the Source Wall renders the function of his domain obsolete. That the anti-matter universe was meant to contain the Multiverse from the overvoid. That Mar Novu has ensured that Mobius will oversee a wasteland while Mar Novu gets to oversee an ocean of infinite worlds.
Mar Novu says that this was the only choice. That judgment awaits all of them in this new reality. Mobius says judgment be damned. The Anti-Monitor says that the Monitor will pay for what he has done. The Anti-Monitor says that he will strike down infinite worlds just to crush the Monitor’s neck in his hands. The Anti-Monitor says that he will find all the knowledge that he needs should it take a billion years. The Monitor then teleports away from the scene.
We cut to present day at the Hall of Doom. Perpetua is watching the Legion of Doom at the Hall of Justice. A voice narrates that the first Crisis would spur another, and another, and another. That the Multiverse would become a Universe and then a Multiverse again. That the universe called out for Doom and for Perpetua. That Perpetua would show her children the way. That Perpetua would save them all. Perpetua then says, “And so it begins.” End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #22 was an excellent issue. When you put the words “The Origin of the Multiverse Revealed” on the cover of a DC comic book then you are setting the bar extremely high. Well, James Tynion, IV stepped up to the plate and crushed one high over the center field wall with Justice League #22.
Trying to grab ahold of DC’s continuity is no easy feat. The mythos of DC’s Multiverse is rich and complex. However, it is a real challenge to try and forge a new coherent mythology that respects all of the prior Crisis events and the general history of the Multiverse that has been around since the Flash of Two Worlds in The Flash #123 in 1961. Amazingly enough, Snyder and Tynion, IV have managed to do just that.
Before we investigate the new origin of the Multiverse it is important to review the history of the Multiverse. Marv Wolfman and George Perez started us down this grand journey of the history and mythology of the Multiverse with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Wolfman revealed that the Multiverse was created thirteen billion years ago when Krona experimented with the universe. Krona attempted to view the beginning of the universe. This caused the birth of the Multiverse.
Wolfman then created the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. The Monitor was the embodiment of life and good while the Anti-Monitor was the embodiment of death and evil. The Monitor was from Oa and the Anti-Monitor was from Qward. The two cosmic beings were locked in battle with each other. The result of their battle was Crisis on Infinite Earths. The end of Crisis on Infinite Earths caused DC’s Multiverse to be destroyed and reshaped from an infinite multiverse into a singular universe. The Anti-Monitor was destroyed while the Monitor lived on.
DC next revised the foundation of their universe with Infinite Crisis. Geoff Johns had Earth-3’s Alexander Luthor use the Anti-Monitor’s remains to create an inter-dimensional tuning fork to try and restore the multiple universes. The villains are defeated at the end of Infinite Crisis. However, in 52, the follow-up event to Infinite Crisis, it was revealed that the Multiverse was in fact restored at the end of Infinite Crisis. The difference was that this time the Multiverse was no longer infinite. The new Multiverse had only 52 universes.
DC returned to the mythos of the Multiverse with Final Crisis. Grant Morrison retconned the origins of Wolfman’s Monitor and Anti-Monitor. Morrison had the Multiverse forming as a new creation. Then a powerful being known as the Overmonitor sent a probe into the new Multiverse. The Multiverse caused the probe to split into two symmetrical beings: The Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. The Monitor being pure good and the Anti-Monitor being pure evil. This led to the two battling each other in the story of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Morrison created a World of Nil where the race of Monitors lived. Nil was a netherworld surrounding the Multiverse. There was one Monitor for each multiple universe in the Multiverse. The big bad in Final Crisis was Mandrakk who was a Dark Monitor. In the end, Superman uses the Miracle Machine to heal the Multiverse and all of the Monitors cease to exist.
DC then delivered Convergence which had our heroes successfully avert the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour. This allowed the original infinite universe Multiverse to return to take the place of the 52 universe Multiverse.
Lastly, we had Rebirth which delivered Scott Snyder’s Dark Multiverse tale in Dark Nights: Metal. This introduced the new realm of the Dark Multiverse and new characters in the form of the World Forger and Barbatos. This story runs directly into what Snyder and Tynion have been delivering here in the pages of Justice League.
Add to all of the Crisis events is the history of the Source and the Source Wall. The Source was created by Jack Kirby in New Gods #5 in 1971. The Source was the greatest of mysteries. Kirby had the Source as a mysterious concept that was serene, omnipotent, and all-wise.
Kirby represented the area at the edge of the Source as the Promethean Galaxy where ancient gods were trapped in enormous pieces of rock and debris. Walt Simonson then took what Kirby created and gave us the first actual appearance of the Source Wall in The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans cross-over in 1982.
All right, now let’s return to Justice League #22. Tynion absolutely amazed me with his ability to create this new origin for the Multiverse in a fashion that compliments the prior Crisis events rather than completely ignoring them or contradicting them. The easy way out for a writer is to simply ignore prior continuity or blatantly and disrespectfully knock it down. Tynion treats DC’s continuity with respect and tries to weave his new origin of the Multiverse into DC’s continuity in a logical and respectful fashion.
This new Origin of the Multiverse serves to take these prior Crisis events and work his new origin into DC’s continuity in a seamless fashion. Tynion succeeds in actually creating further depth to the Multiverse and additional motivation for the cosmic characters involved in the prior Crisis events.
DC’s continuity is complex and dense. There is so much to try and parse and make sense of when creating a new origin for the Multiverse. It is easily for a writer to get lost in the weeds. Often, writers will get bogged down in the details and will often confuse themselves and write themselves into corners. The result is a disjointed and confusing mess of a retcon artificially plastered over an already complex continuity. Other times, writers will not want to put forth the effort of dealing with past continuity and will simply deliver a retcon that lazily ignores everything that came before it and that awkwardly fits in the place of the old continuity.
Luckily, Tynion is more than up for the job. Tynion turns in such a tightly plotted issue. This story is rich with details and meticulously crafted. Tynion clearly poured so much time and effort into this story. Justice League #22 has an excellent flow to it and the story possesses strong internal logic.
It is absolutely incredible how Tynion is able to pull off this new origin for DC’s Multiverse in such a clear and concise manner. Everything is precisely laid out for the reader. Everything is clearly and logically explained. Even new readers unfamiliar with DC’s continuity will have a clear understanding of this new origin for DC’s Multiverse. All the pieces slide together seamlessly and build pleasantly off of past continuity. The result is that Tynion’s new origin for DC’s Multiverse leaves it a more compelling and fascinating place.
Out of the three main Crisis events, Final Crisis is my favorite. However, I fully acknowledge that of the three main Crisis events, Crisis on Infinite Earths is the most important one and the most iconic one. Tynion also understands that and largely leaves Crisis on Infinite Earths untouched. In fact, Tynion goes out of his way to have his new origin of the Multiverse actually give more weight and purpose to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Wolfman’s story was basically just evil Anti-Monitor destroying the Multiverse with the Monitor trying to summon help to stop the complete destruction of everything. Wolfman’s Anti-Monitor was incredibly one-dimensional and lacked much in the way of a compelling motivation for his destruction of the various multiple Earths. Wolfman’s Monitor was equally one-dimensional.
Tynion changes all of that by adding some personality to both the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. Tynion also creates some good chemistry between the two brothers. But, most importantly, Tynion finally gives the Anti-Monitor the much needed motivation that fueled his quest to destroy everything that the Monitor oversees.
For the first time, the reader feels some sympathy for the Anti-Monitor. His character went from one dimensional villain to a wounded brother seething over the loss of his cosmic position within the Multiverse. The reader understands why the Anti-Monitor would feel so hurt and betrayed. These feelings explain why the Anti-Monitor would go to such length to destroy everything that his brother holds dear. This retconning is an excellent example of adding depth to a prior story rather rather than simply ignoring or overwriting a prior story.
Tynion also gives the Monitor more depth to his personality, as well. The Monitor is more of a champion for the Multiverse who is willing to even risk his relationship with his own brother for the betterment of the Multiverse. The Monitor rivalry with the Anti-Monitor takes on a much more satisfying biblical feud under this new origin.
Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis is largely ignored by Tynion’s new origin. Even though Final Crisis is my favorite of all the Crisis events I completely understand why Tynion went in this direction. Morrison is an acquired taste. Morrison also tends to create incredibly high concept and wildly detailed mythos that are extremely difficult for any other writer to understand or build off of going forward. Tynion chooses to keep things closer to the basic structure of the Multiverse and the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor that Wolfman gave us in Crisis on Infinite Earths and that Geoff Johns continued with in Infinite Crisis. This was a smart move. Especially since DC is trying to clean up their continuity and make things a but more streamlined and easier to understand.
Tynion does a fantastic job adding to the mythos of the Source and the Source Wall. Tynion basically keeps Jack Kirby’s concept of the Source in place. Tynion’s version of the Source is largely exactly the same as Kirby’s Source. However, Tynion adds a new layer to Kirby’s Source with the introduction of the Judges of the Source. This is a cool addition to the mythos. The Source plays the vital role of the mysterious “God” of creation. The Judges are the manifestation of the Source delivering the needed doses of justice to any celestial beings.
Tynion also builds off of Jack Kirby’s location and origin for the Source Wall: The Promethean Galaxy. Kirby created the basis for the Source Wall when he shows the ancient gods embedded in rocks and debris in the Promethean Galaxy that was at the edge of the Source. In Justice League, #22, Tynion shows that the formation of the Source Wall was carried out in the Promethean Galaxy when the Judge of the Source sealed Perpetua away into the newly created Source Wall. This was a nice job of Tynion staying true to what Kirby delivered in New Gods #5 and building off of it in a logical fashion.
Tynion’s clear and simple explanation of Perpetua creating the Multiverse, and then creating her three sons in Alpheus, Mar Novu, and Mobius who represent birth, life, and death. The Multiverse is compressed of Dark Matter, Matter, and Anti-Matter. And all of these three matters are then woven with Snyder’s seven universal forces in order to give shape to the Multiverse. Then the Multiverse is surrounded by the Source Wall which separates the Multiverse and the Source. Tynion is able to take all of the various elements of the Multiverse throughout DC’s continuity since Crisis on Infinite Earths and bring them all tougher in perfect fashion. This new construction of the Multiverse is so simple yet elegant.
I also liked the orderly construction of this new DC Multiverse. There is the World Forge where Alpheus creates the worlds. They then float up into the World Orrery. We saw the World Orrery over in Morrison’s Final Crisis. It is here that the worlds join the Multiverse. Tynion also reestablishes the Prime Universe as the center of the Multiverse. This was always the case prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Tynion then does an excellent job explaining Perpetua’s decision to create an army of human/martian hybrid soldiers and why she wants to lead Doom against Justice. The Monitor’s revelation that all of the other Multiverses have their own World Forger, Monitor, and Anti-Monitor, but none of them had a version of Perpetua was a fantastic moment. What a dramatic reveal that brings the reader to the edge of their seat.
Tynion then finally unfolds Perpetua’s motivation. That Perpetua is seeking to avoid her cosmic role in the universe as a celestial mother created by the Source to bright a Multiverse and then die. Perpetua reacts out of fear. And fear leads to anger. Which all leads to Doom. This plays perfectly with the theme of Doom that we have seen in Lex Luthor’s quest for Doom in the prior issues of Justice League.
The scene with the arrival of the Judge of the Source was well played. The reader finally learns why Perpetua was sealed up in the Source Wall. That the Source will not allow the scales to be tipped in the favor or Doom over Justice. This ending gives the reader all the necessary backstory to fully enjoy Perpetua and to understand her motivation for coming back and supporting the Legion of Doom. This scene plays perfectly into the upcoming war between the forces of Justice in the Justice League and the forces of Doom in the Legion of Doom.
The World Forger continues to be an excellent addition to the mythos of the Multiverse. Alpheus fits seamlessly into DC’s mythos with his long established bothers in the Monitor and Anti-Monitor. Adding a third brother to the mix in Alpheus never feels forced at all. Instead, Alpheus nicely compliments the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor and also helps to bring a more detailed and nuanced quality to the Multiverse. I appreciate that Tynion has Alpheus somewhat removed from the feud between his two brothers. Alpheus is so focused on his role in the Multiverse which helps explain his desire to jealously guard all that he has created.
I have to mention the little bit about Barbatos in Justice League #22. I love that Tynion shows the reader the origin of this scary big bad villain in Dark Night: Metal as nothing more than a little “pet” that Alpheus created to eat the worlds that fall back to the World Forge. It is just hilarious to see the big bad from Dark Night: Metal as this cute little pet on Alpheus’ shoulder.
Tynion does an excellent job with the character work and the dialogue in this issue. Celestial characters like Perpetua, the World Forger, the Monitor, and the Anti-Monitor are tough characters to pull off. These types of characters often come across as dry and bland. They seem more like colorless cosmic forces than actual characters with emotions and compelling stories.
Tynion avoids all of that and makes Perpetua, Alpheus, Mar Novu, and Mobius into real characters with defined personalities. Each of them have their own motivations. Their own dreams and fears. These celestial characters gain more agency over themselves rather than being simple forces of nature the operate in a preordained fashion by their mere existence.
Tynion’s solid character work and dialogue help to bring this story to life in a more vibrant fashion. Justice League #22 has plenty of emotion to it. This gives the story more passion and life which makes it such a more immersive read.
While Tynion gave very little plot progression for the current story of our heroes battling the Legion of Doom there was a bit of new information introduced for that plot line. Tynion delivers the appearance of Bat-Mite! I love Bat-Mite’s character. I have not seen him since Grant Morrison’s brilliant use of Bat-Mite during his run on Batman. I am thrilled to see this devilish little imp joining this story. I absolutely love how Snyder and Tynion are not afraid at all to pull from every single corner of the DCU and DC’s history including some of the zanier Silver Age elements and characters.
Of course, Justice League #22 is not just about great writing. Frances Manapul brings his best effort and delivers some gorgeous artwork. Manapul certainly knows how to deliver a story on a grand and epic scale. Manapul employs such creative and diverse panel layouts from page to page which gives Justice League #22 an exciting look. Tynion does write a good story, but so much credit has to go to Manapul for delivering this story in such a vivid fashion which helps make this story feel like a grand cosmic tale.
The Bad: Justice League #22 is not for everyone. This is a slowly paced issue. Tynion definitely hits the pause button on our current story in order to fill us in on all of the backstory concerning the new origin of DC’s Multiverse. There is also not much action at all in this issue.
Readers who prefer quickly paced stories with plenty of action may be disappointed with this issue. Also, readers who have felt like Tynion has hit the pause button way too many times on the current story may also be disappointed with this issue. The fact is that the current story is in exactly the same spot at the end of this issue as it was at the end of Justice League #21.
Overall: Justice League #22 treats the reader with some phenomenal world building. If you are a fan of continuity and mythos then Justice League #22 is your kind of issue. No doubt about it. I adored how Tynion handled DC’s new origin for the Multiverse. This issue delivers some brilliant writing in the form of such a wonderfully detailed and carefully crafted story. DC’s Multiverse has never been better.
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