Justice League continues to be DC’s strongest read on a monthly basis. Scott Snyder and James Tynion, IV are putting on a clinic on how to write a super hero team title. Justice League #29 is a prelude issue to the upcoming Year of the Villain madness. I am sure that this issue will be another quality read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Scott Snyder and James Tynion, IV
Art: Bruno Redondo
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the retelling of Starro’s origin. That Starro the Conquerer came from a Ø planet. Those are planets that exist outside of the universe’s “jar” of confined space. Ø planets evolve opposite of all other planets. They start with incredibly diverse species on their planets and then eventually destroy themselves. However, one Ø planet did survive. On that planet, all the vicious species fought each other and killed off each other until only one survived: Starro the Conquerer. Starro went on to conquer many planets across the universe.
We cut to the Hall of Doom and see that Jarro has been narrating his own origin this entire time. Jarro has his Robin costume on. We see Lex, Brainiac, Cheetah, Grodd, and Sinestro all talking about how all the villains from across Earth have agreed to join them. Jarro then springs to action and throws a Batarang at the villains.
We shift to the Hall of Justice. Batman asks Superman if he has found Lex’s Hall of Doom, yet. Superman says that he has not. Wonder Woman then reports in and says that her dark team is making further inquiries about the various gods joining their team. John Stewart reports in and says all Earth-based Green Lanterns have agreed to join them.
Batman mentions that the Monitor and the World Forger are off looking for the Anti-Monitor. That Hawkgirl is still beating herself up for Martian Manhunter’s death. Suddenly, Ms. Martian busts into the room and tells Batman that Jarro has found the location of the Hall of Doom.
We cut back to Starro’s backstory. We are told how Starro joined up with the villains from the Dark Multiverse. However, Starro was impressed by the heroes in their battle against the villains from the Dark Multiverse. After the Source Wall was cracked Starro decided to join the Justice League in defeating the Omega Titans.
Starro ended up taking on one of the Omega Titans and died. However, a fragment of Starro was recovered and placed in a jar. He was reborn as Jarro. That Jarro joined the Justice League as “their most awesome member ever.” (Hilarious. Love it.)
We shift back to the Hall of Doom. Lex realizes that Jarro is alone. Lex says that Jarro poses no threat. Jarro says that he is Batman’s favorite Robin. Jarro takes a few digs at Lex’s new costume. Jarro then transforms his Batarang into a massive bat-cannon and shoots a monster blast of energy at the Legion of Doom.
We then get a recap of how the Legion of Doom has managed to acquire six of the seven Dark Forces: The Ultraviolet Spectrum, the Still Force, the Tear of Extinction, the Void Wind, the Black Apple, and the Sixth Note. That all that remains is the seventh dark force. Once Lex gets that seventh dark force then he will be able to bring Perpetua back and then humans will live forever along with Perpetua. That Lex will live forever as Perpetua’s apex predator: a human/martian hybrid that was created by mending the recently deceased Martian Manhunter with Lex. That this will be the year of the villain.
Jarro takes control of Brainiac and has Brainiac attack his fellow Legion of Doom members. Lex then uses his new Martian powers to overwhelm Jarro. Lex says that Jarro has been weakened by his compassion for his Justice League teammates. That Jarro is nothing compared to Starro the Conquerer.
Suddenly, we see Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Starman, and John Stewart arrive on the scene. The Justice League begins battling the Legion of Doom. Jarro yells, “Dad!” and hops into Batman’s hand. Jarro asks his dad if he did okay. Batman says that Jarro found the Hall of Doom. That Jarro did great. (I love love LOVE this pairing!)
During the fight, Jarro sees into the future and realizes that there is no way that the Justice League will ever be able to defeat the Legion of Doom. That Perpetua will be resurrected. That Earth and all of its heroes will be doomed forever. We see the Justice Leaguers being turned into human/martian hybrids. Jarro decides that the only way to save the Justice League and to stop the Legion of Doom is to become what he used to be. What Jarro was designed to be: Starro the Conquerer.
We see Jarro transform back into his giant Starro the Conquerer form. Starro begins kicking ass on the Legion of Doom members. Batman yells for Jarro to stop. Starro says that this is the only way. Batman then grabs his face. Suddenly, we see that a starfish is on Batman’s face. Batman pulls the starfish off of his face. Batman sees that he is in the Hall of Justice. All of the Justice League members have starfish on their faces.
Starro says that he had a vision and there is no other way to win. Batman says that Starro was going to take the Justice Leaguers to the Ø-World to keep them there hidden from everything. Batman says that is not winning. That is control.
Starro disagrees and fires starfish at Batman. Starro then grabs Batman. Batman says that only villains try and control what they fear. That heroes embrace it. Batman says this is not who Jarro is. Starro says that Batman does not know who he is. Batman says that he does. Batman says that the story of Jarro is the story of the whole universe. It was created to be dark. But, through heart and sacrifice, the universe was reborn as something bright and brave. Batman says that everything in the world is like Jarro. Fighting to be better than its nature. Batman says that we are all Jarro.
Suddenly, the starfish all fall off the faces of the Justice League members. The Justice Leaguers wonder what just happened. Batman tells Starro that he is afraid of losing Jarro. That is why they will win.
Starro then transforms back into his tiny Jarro form. Jarro and Batman then hug. (Oh. My. God. This scene is so sweet. I think I have something in my eye…) Superman asks what are they doing here. Batman tells Jarro to tell Superman. Jarro says that they are preparing for war. Barry Allen asks John Stewart if he missed something here. John says that it appears they just got their marching orders from a psychic starfish.
We hop back to the Hall of Doom. Brainiac and Lex stand in a lab and stare at a tube. Lex says that if Jarro unlocks his full potential then they could be in trouble. Brainiac says that Jarro is a fragment and no match for the original Starro.
We then see that a part of Starro’s tentacle is in the lab’s tube. Brainiac says that they will have Starro on their side. Brainiac says that Starro will regrow in time. Even better is that Starro is psychically connected to all of his pieces. So, since Jarro took over the Justice Leaguer’s minds that means Starro will be able to gather all of their battle plans. Lex says that this means they have already won. End of issue.
The Good: I absolutely adored every single page in Justice League #29. We here at the Revolution have not been shy about our love for all things Jarro. Jarro is the best thing that Scott Snyder has created in…maybe his entire career. Okay, maybe that is a bit over the top, but the fact remains that Jarro is an excellent character and a brilliant idea.
Obviously, Jarro is the star of the show in Justice League #29. What I appreciate about Justice League #29 is that Snyder and Tynion are using this issue as a breather issue. This is a prelude issue where the writers are taking a moment to catch their breath as they pivot into the next big story arc. Issues like this are a necessary evil. And often these types of issues are a bit boring and dull. However, that does not have to be the case.
Instead of delivering a typical prelude issue where the story is put on paise and the reader is generally bored by a throwaway story, Snyder and Tynion decide to actually do something interesting. Beyond allowing the writers to lay the foundation for the upcoming story arc, Snyder and Tynion wisely use Justice League #29 as an excellent jumping-on point for new readers. This is an intelligent decision.
Writers always need to be mindfully of making their title as new reader-friendly as possible. If a title becomes impenetrable and new reader hostile then the possibilities of growth are non-existent. However, at the same time, the writer wants to avoid boring long-time readers with a new reader-friendly issue that just recycles old information.
A new reader can pick up Justice League #29 and not be lost at all. Snyder and Tynion do a masterful job recapping everything that has happened in the Justice League franchise going all the back to Justice League – No Justice. Particularly impressive is the excellent double-page scene where Snyder and Tynion succinctly and effectively recap their entire run on Justice League up until this point. Justice League #29 is the perfect example of how writers should use a prelude issue as a jumping-on point for new readers.
But, Justice League #29 is not just about pulling in new readers. Snyder and Tynion are also able to still make this issue entertaining for long-time readers. They do this by centering Justice League #29 around Jarro and delivering some phenomenal character work.
Starro/Jarro’s story arc has been a fascinating one. This story arc began in Snyder’s Justice League: No Justice. Snyder presented the reader with an evil Starro the Conquerer who decided to put aside his differences with the Justice League in order to save the universe. This led to Starro being impacted and inspired by the Justice Leaguer’s heroism. This played into Starro’s heroic death.
This alone was an incredible story arc that was quite satisfying. However, Snyder was not done there. Snyder then unveiled Jarro. Jarro is a small fragment of the original Starro. Jarro was raised in a…well…a jar by Batman. We have seen this fragment of one of the evilest creatures in the universe, Starro, enjoy a second childhood. In this second childhood, Jarro has bonded with Batman. Jarro has come to fully embrace the heroic ideals of his father, Batman, as well as the other Justice Leaguers.
Justice League #29 is the culmination of Jarro’s story arc that began all the way back during Justice League – No Justice. With Justice League #29, Snyder and Tynion have Jarro finally fully embrace who he is and choose the path of a true hero. This was such excellent character worth and so satisfying for readers who have been on this train since Justice League – No Justice. This is simply Snyder and Tynion flexing their muscles and delivering incredible long-range character work.
Not only do I love Jarro, but I also adore this amazing relationship that Snyder and Tynion have created between Batman and Jarro. I love these two characters together. They compliment each other so well. It is amazing how much chemistry that Snyder and Tynion have created between Batman and Jarro.
I love how Batman no longer rebuffs Jarro and corrects him whenever Jarro calls Batman “father.” In Justice League #29, Jarro calls Batman “father” multiple times. At no point does Batman ever push back or correct Jarro. This is a nice subtle way of showing how Batman is not just accepting but also appreciating his role as Jarro’s “father.”
Batman explicitly embraces the role as Jarro’s “father” as he has an honest and heartfelt discussion with Jarro when he is in his Starro the Conquerer form. This scene was wonderfully written and was packed full of incredible dialogue that was genuine and emotional. This scene has a strong impact on the reader.
And this scene ends with the panel that hits the reader square in the heart. This panel gave me the feels. Big time. The panel of Batman embracing his “son” Jarro. It was a moment of genuine love and tenderness that is rarely seen from Batman. In fact, the last time I saw something like this was when Batman embraced Tim Drake in Identity Crisis. It blows me away how Snyder and Tynion are able to make me feel so much affection for a small starfish.
I continue to be impressed with Snyder’s excellent use of theming and imagery. Just about every issue that Snyder has written comes with a theme and symbolism that he carries throughout the issue. In Justice League #29, Snyder uses the theme of a Jar. The universe is basically a defined space that is inside of a jar. That boundaries of the jar would be the source wall. However, Starro was born in a world that was outside the “jar” of the universe. On the other hand, Jarro was born inside of a jar.
Starro is the evil from outside that seeks to run rampant throughout the universe. Jarro is the hope and heroism inside of the universe that seeks to protect the universe from fear and doom.
Batman saying that Jarro’s story is the story of the entire Justice League v. Legion of Doom conflict is spot on. Jarro’s fear of losing the Justice League is what pushes him to transform into his old villainous form and exert control by trapping the Justice League on Ø-world where they will be hidden and safe. This is analogous to how the villains in the Legion of Doom are trying to control what they fear by trying to gain the power to control Perpetua and the powers of Doom.
Batman’s pointing out that the universe was created as something dark and then was reborn as something bright and positive is analogous to Starro starting out evil and then being reborn into something positive and heroic in the form of Jarro. As our heroes in the Justice League, Jarro must be brave in the face of fear and fight for justice. This is the very crux of the battle between Justice and Doom that has dominated Snyder’s run on Justice League.
Snyder is able to elevate a character that I thought was just simple comedic relief and make him an integral and important character to the entire conflict between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom. This is an excellent and logical plot twist and simply brilliant writing.
Snyder and Tynion manage to end Justice League #29 with a great hook ending. The reveal that the Legion of Doom has a Starro fragment and an ability to learn all of the Justice League’s plans was such a fantastic twist. This also sets the stage for the villains to have the upper hand as we head directly into the Year of the Villain. The reader is left wondering how in the world our heroes have even a remote chance to win. This is a wonderful way to kick off the new Justice/Doom War story arc.
As usual, Snyder and Tynion deliver a well placed and plotted issue. From a technical standpoint, Justice League #29 is well contracted. The writers also deliver an excellent balance of action and dialogue-heavy scenes. At no point does the issue get bogged down or dull.
Bruno Redondo delivers some solid artwork in Justice League #29. Redondo’s art is standard-issue superhero art. It does not leap out at the reader as anything particularly amazing, but it is more than competent and certainly gets the job done.
The Bad: I have no criticisms with this issue.
Overall: Justice League #29 was another excellent read. This issue has so much heart and soul. If you are a fan of Jarro then you absolutely must get this issue. If you are a new reader and are thinking about hopping aboard Justice League then you definitely need to get this issue. For long-time readers who are not a fan of Jarro? You guys can easily skip this issue.
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