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 superhero team title. Justice League #30 appears to kick off the Year of the Villain big event. But, the real big news is that Justice League #30 is also supposed to herald the return of the Justice Society of America. I am sure that this issue will be another enjoyable read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Scott Snyder and James Tynion, IV
Art: Jorge Jiminez
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Lex Luthor killing Superman. Lex then kills John Stewart. Lex then transforms the Flash into a baby. The rest of the Justice League lies dead at his feet. We then see Lex leading Perpetua’s forces into the Hall of Justice and destroying it.
We then cut to the present and see that Starman has shared his vision of what is going to happen three days from now. Starman’s abilities allow him to glimpse into the heart of Hypertime. We see the members of the Justice League all sitting at their table. Superman says that the Justice League cannot do this alone. That they need everyone who is assembled here today.
We then see that a massive group of heroes has assembled in the Hall of Justice. Superman says that they are all members of the Justice League now. Superman says that he needs them ready for war.
Starman then gives an explanation of the conflict between Justice and Doom for all of the new members of the Justice League. There is the Speed Force, the Emotional Spectrum, the Sphere of the Gods, the Life Force, the Collective Unconscious, and the Dimensional Superstructure that all combine and act like strings stretched across the instrument of their Multiverse. These are the strings that the major chords of the universe are played.
That each of these forces has a darker cousin: the Seven Hidden Energies of Creation. That Perpetua used these energies to fashion the original Multiverse into a place where the strong would feed on the weak and rule eternally. That Perpetua’s sons, the Monitor, Anti-Monitor, and World Forger teamed up to defeat her and seal her into the Source Wall. The Multiverse was then born again and governed by the seven Positive Energies.
Starman explains how Lex uncovered a piece of the Totality. Then Lex unlocked six of the seven dark forces. Then Lex freed Perpetua. Then Lex transformed himself into an original man, a human/martian hybrid.
Starman says that they are now in the Year of the Villain. That Perpetua is seeking to re-string the Multiverse and remake all reality in her image. Starman says that Lex is attuned to the universe’s dark music while Starman is connected to the universe’s brighter chords.
Starman lifts up the Cosmic Rod and says that a small piece of the Totality is inside of the Cosmic Rod. That it is smaller than Lex’s piece of the Totality. However, Starman has located two smaller fragments of the Totality. One in the past and one in the future. That if the heroes combine those two fragments with the one in the Cosmic Rod then they could create a Justice Totality that would rival Luthor’s Doom Totality.
Starman says that the plan is for the core Justice League to break into two teams and travel through time to recover the two fragments of the Totality. That the Monitor and the World Forger will create a portal for the core Justice League members to travel through time. The new members of the Justice League will stay and protect the present from Lex’s forces. Batman says that if anyone fails then they all lose.
We shift to Superman having a private conversation with Hawkgirl. Superman is worried about her state of mind due to Martian Manhunter’s death. Hawkgirl says that she will be fine. We see an alien bug-like creature in a hood standing in the shadows and listening to the conversation.
We shift to the Hall of Doom. Perpetua tells Lex that he is making her proud. Lex then introduces Perpetua to her new Legion of Doom. We then see that Lex has assembled a massive amount of various super-villains who are now meeting with him at the Hall of Doom.
Sinestro, Brainiac, Grodd, and Cheetah enter the scene. Brainiac says that they have been listening to the Justice League through their Starro fragment. Brainiac says that the heroes have a plan that they believe gives them an edge. Lex says that they will show the heroes that they are wrong.
We hop back to the Hall of Justice. The World Forger and Monitor get the time portal ready for use. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman step through the gateway and go to the future. Flash and Green Lantern step through their gateway and go to the past. Jarro asks Starman what he gets to do. Starman replies that Jarro gets to be President of the plan. Jarro responds, “You bet I am.” (Love it!)
Our heroes step through the gateways. Jarro tells Batman, “Goodbye, Dad!” (Awwww. The Jarro/Batman relationship can melt even the coldest hearts.) Jarro tells Batman to tell the future Robins that Jarro is the coolest one. Starman then attempts to communicate with our two time-traveling teams but cannot reach them. World Forger says that something is wrong.
Suddenly, the alien bug-like creature from earlier bursts into the scene and says that the Justice League will die. The bug-like creature dives through one of the gateways. The gateways then explode. Starman says that he cannot get the two teams back. Starman says that the connection has been disrupted. This means that somebody tampered with time first.
We shift to “Somewhere in the past.” Flash and John Stewart look around and see that they are in a building in New York. They see massive banners with the Doom symbol on them all around the city. Flash says that he does not see any sign of the Totality fragment, either.
We then cut to “Somewhere in the future.” Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are suddenly attacked by a giant Lex Luthor styled robot with a Doom symbol on its chest. Tiger-men appear on the scene and save our heroes from the robot’s green energy blast. Superman comments that the blast was ionized Kryptonite. Suddenly, we see Kamandi (Yeah!!!!! Kamandi, baby!) appear on the scene and flanked by the tiger-men. Kamandi introduces himself and says that he is the last boy on Earth and that the hexes are two weeks too late to save their future.
We hop back to the past. John Stewart and Flash are trying to understand what is going on. Flash says that the building that they are in feels like some kind of private museum. Suddenly, we hear a voice from off-panel saying that this place is more of a headquarters.
A yellow streak of lighting knocks down both John and Flash. Then a ring of green fire forms around John and Flash. Our heroes say that they are not here to fight anyone. Flash asks, “Who are you?”
We then see the JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA!!!! (HELL, YES!!!!!! The JSA is comprised of Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Dr. Fate, Atom, Hawkman, Wildcat, Starman, and Sandman.) Jay Garrick says that they are the Justice Society of America. Jay says that John and the Flash are about two weeks too late to save their past. Alan Scott says that whatever war John and Flash are waging that it was over before it ever began. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #30 was a solid issue. It did feel like a transition issue where the writers use half of the issue to recap what has been going on for the benefit of new readers and then the second half is used to set up the foundation for the new upcoming story arc. Having said that, with the Year of the Villain kicking off it is likely that new readers who are following Year of the Villain have jumped onto Justice League for the first time. Therefore, it makes sense to deliver an issue that brings new readers up to speed as we head into the Justice/Doom War and Year of the Villain gets into full swing.
The first twelve pages of Justice League #30 are basically just story recap for new readers. But, what is impressive is how concise and clear Snyder and Tynion are in delivering this recap. The backstory is tight and focused. There is no meandering or excess information.
Justice League #30 is well-plotted and paced. The story moves forward in a logical fashion with a clear purpose in mind. The first twelve pages present the reader with dialogue-heavy scenes that contain mass amounts of exposition dump. However, the final nine pages up the intensity of the story and keep this issue from being a boring read.
Even though there is not much in the way of new content in the first twelve pages, I did like that Snyder introduces a classic Justice Society of America weapon into the story. We see Starman holding the Cosmic Staff. The Cosmic Staff is based on the Cosmic Rod. The Cosmic Rod was a weapon that was created by Ted Knight who was the original Starman and a member of the Justice Society of America.
In the 1990s, Ted Knight used the Cosmic Rod technology to create the Cosmic Staff. It was Jack Knight who wielded the Cosmic Rod. Jack was Ted Knight’s son. Jack also took up the mantle of Starman and also served in the Justice Society of America.
It makes sense to have the 1980s Will Payton Starman, that Snyder is giving us in the pages of the Justice League, holding the Cosmic Staff in this issue. It serves as a nice connection between the 1980’s Will Payton Starman and the original Ted Knight Starman and the 1990s Jack Knight version of Starman.
However, Snyder goes a bit further than just trying to connect Will Payton with the other versions of Starman. Snyder engages in a bit of retconning as he makes the Cosmic Staff not just a technological invention of Ted Knight. Nope. Snyder now has the Cosmic Staff powered by a small fragment of the Totality. This is a fantastic and subtle retcon that helps to further weave Snyder’s story into the history and fabric of the DCU.
Snyder also did another subtle bit of writing in the first twelve pages that was fantastic to see. Snyder continues to try and organically grow his story out of the foundations of what Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison did in prior Crisis events. I love it when writers take the time and engage in the hard work of trying to build their new and original story by using the framework and themes of writers who came before them. This is what makes DC’s Multiverse so rich and captivating.
While delivering a recap of prior events, Snyder gives a wonderfully clear and descriptive explanation of the structure of the Multiverse. In doing so, Snyder builds off of Morrison’s theme of music serving as an important component of the Multiverse. Over in Final Crisis, Morrison constantly used music as an integral aspect of the Multiverse’s form and construct. Snyder continues that by having Starman saying that the seven forces that create the Mutlivers act like strings that are stretched across the instrument of their Multiverse. These are the strings that the major chords of the universe are played. I love that Snyder acknowledges what Morrison brought to the Multiverse and continues it through our current DCU. Snyder being able to attach his story of the Multiverse to what has come before only serves to make the mythology of DC’s Multiverse that much more textured and immersive.
Obviously, for readers who have been aboard Justice League since the first issue, the strength of this issue is what happens in the final nine pages. More specifically, it is the surprise reveal of two DC properties with one of them being a franchise that we have not seen since Flashpoint.
The first is Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Kamandi is a classic Jack Kirby creation and a fantastic character. Kamandi is also blessed with an incredibly cool world. The last we saw of Kamandi was the twelve-issue limited series entitled The Kamandi Challenge that was published in 2017.
Snyder and Tynion give us the surprise appearance of Kamandi and Tuftan at the end of Justice League #30. Tuftan is the large anthropomorphic tiger in armor standing to the left of Kamandi. Now, here things get interesting. In The Multiversity Guidebook, the main DCU is Earth-0. However, with Rebirth retconning away much of the New 52 I am unsure if the main DCU is still designated Earth-0. Also, according to The Multiversity Guidebook, we know that Kamandi and his world is on Earth-51. My question is if Snyder and Tynion have had our Justice Leaguers travel to their Earth’s future or perhaps crossed over into Earth-51’s future. At any rate, I am looking forward to seeing what place Snyder has for Kamandi within the larger DCU.
Of course, the bigger reveal is the official return of the Justice Society of America. Damn, it has been a long time. In fact, we have not seen the JSA since the New 52 rebirth retconned them out of existence. Now, what is interesting is that JSA has used to exist on an alternate Earth from the Justice League. Traditionally, the JSA exists on Earth-2. Then Crisis on Infinite Earths did away with the Multiverse and the JSA was incorporated into Earth-1. This led to plenty of continuity problems. Later, during Infinite Crisis, we get the creation of a new Earth-2. The JSA as we knew it then ceased to exist after Flashpoint. We did get a New-52 title called Earth-2 with radically different “modern” versions of the classic Justice Society characters.
We have also seen hints of the Justice Society of America over in the pages of Doomsday Clock. However, we have not actually seen the real Justice Society of America back together and in action until the end of this issue. With Justice League #30, DC finally treats the readers to the JSA in full operation for the first time since Flashpoint. And what a glorious moment it is.
It appears that DC has decided to go ahead and place the JSA in the past of the main DCU rather than place them on an alternate Earth. This is a bit of an odd choice given the structure of the DCU in general. Ever since Infinite Crisis and then later Multiversity and Convergence, DC has reinforced the concept of the Multiverse. However, by placing the JSA in the main DCU’s past, DC is employing the single universe approach that the JSA had between Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis.
Given that DC has taken such great pains to firmly reestablish and celebrate its Multiverse, I think the wiser decision would have been to place the JSA back on their own alternate Earth like they were portrayed from 1961-1985. It would also be more consistent with the current structure and direction of the DCU that is heavily based off of the Multiverse. It would also give the JSA room to breathe and grow without being stuck and restricted by existing only in the past.
At any rate, it is absolutely fantastic to finally see the real Justice Society of America back and better than ever. It has been too damn long. It is always refreshing and exciting to see DC continue to retcon away the failed New 52 initiative. Re-installing the JSA into the DCU is another major step in re-establishing the pre-Flashpoint DCU.
I am so excited to see what Snyder has planned for the Justice Society of America. Outside of Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder is really the only other writer at DC that I trust in properly handling such a beloved franchise in the JSA. I am confident that Snyder has an intelligent and interesting direction for the JSA going forward.
The Bad: Justice League #30 is a bit dull for long-time readers who have been reading Justice League ever since Justice League: No Justice. Again, the first twelve pages are just a recap with a huge amount of exposition dump. Only the final nine pages actually deliver any new content. Outside of the cool double hook ending, there is really no need for long-time readers to purchase Justice League #30.
While it is great to see the return of the Justice Society of America, it is unfortunately that DC could not get Doomsday Clock wrapped up prior to Justice League #30. It is clear that Geoff Johns is going to be performing some serious world-building with regard to the Justice Society of America over in Doomsday Clock. Seeing the Justice Society of America together and interacting with the Justice League before we know anything about how they have been re-established in DC’s continuity makes everything disjointed. This also makes it look like DC’s editorial staff cannot get their shit together and properly manage the main narrative of the DCU’s shared universe that runs through their multiple titles.
Jorge Jiminez’s artwork has its weak moments. There are panels where the art looks sloppy and rushed. The characters’ faces often lack much detail. There are also moments where the characters’ body proportions look completely odd and bizarre.
Overall: Justice League #30 is a fantastic issue just for the appearance of Kamandi and the dramatic return of the Justice Society of America. However, I cannot look past the fact that most of this issue is simply rehashing old content. Therefore, despite my excitement over Kamandi and the Justice Society of America, I still have to admit that there is not much new content in this issue. And while we see Kamandi and the JSA they do not do anything. Long-time readers can simply pick up the next issue and actually see Kamandi and the JSA do something other than just standing in a cool pose for one page.
I would recommend that long-time readers skip Justice League #30. There just is not enough new content to justify paying the $4.00 cover price. I would only tell long-time readers to get this issue if they are a massive Justice Society of America fan.
I would definitely recommend Justice League #30 to any new readers. If Year of the Villain has made you interested in hopping aboard Justice League then Justice League #30 is the perfect issue to do so! This issue is clearly written specifically in mind for new readers.
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