Justice League remains DC’s crown jewel. Scott Snyder and James Tynion, IV usually crank out excellent reads. Justice League #30 did pause the storyline so that Snyder and Tynion could bring new readers up to speed. I am confident that Snyder and Tynion will stomp on the gas and kick this story back into gear with Justice League #31. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Scott Snyder and James Tynion, IV
Art: Jorge Jiminez
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
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 cut to the Legion of Doom’s spacecraft, the Godhead, in the Bleed Space and headed to the edge of Universe 0. They will be at the Promethean Galaxy in a matter of hours. Perpetua tells Lex that she can feel the Anti-Monitor’s presence. That they need to convince the Anti-Monitor to join them.
We cut to the JSA facing off with Barry Allen and John Stewart. Barry asks who the JSA are supposed to be. Jay Garrick replies that this is their headquarters in their time. So, the JLA’ers need to tell them who they are and why they don’t want to mess with the Justice Society. (Love it! Jay Garrick. Hot damn. He is so awesome. Looking all causal and badass with his hands in his pockets.) Barry and John introduce themselves to the JSA.
We hop over to Kamandi’s time with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. We then see that Brainiac is watching our heroes inside of a bottle inside of his lab. (What the hell?! This is taking Brainiac’s collection of bottled cities to a whole new level.)
We shift to the Hall of Justice. Starman, Mera, and Hawkgirl are arguing over what to do next. Hawkgirl wants to go attack Lex. Starman wants to stick to their plan and try and rescue their time traveling teammates. The Monitor and the World Forger are busy building a ship to allow them to travel to the Promethean Galaxy and recruit their brother the Anti-Monitor.
Hawkgirl says her plan to just kill Lex is easier. That Starman’s plan of recovering the two pieces of the totality and then giving the pieces to the Monitor and the World Forger to fashion a weapon to imprison Perpetua is way too complicated.
Starman tells Kendra to shut up. That they can’t even track Lex. Shayne then says that his connection with his father Martian Manhunter will allow him to track Lex’s new body that is fashioned with Martian Manhunter’s cells. Starman agrees that they will find out where Lex is located, but they are not changing their plan.
We cut back to Barry Allen and John Stewart introducing themselves to the JSA. Jay smiles and says that John isn’t Green Lantern, that Alan Scott is Green Lantern. Barry and John explain their plan to recover a piece of the Totality.
Jay then has the JSA do their roll call to introduce themselves to the JLA’ers. We have Flash (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), The Atom (Al Pratt), Wildcat, Hourman (Rex Tyler), Starman (Ted Knight), Sandman (Wesley Dodds), Hawkman, and Doctor Fate. (Love it!)
Barry says that they know Doctor Fate who is also known as Kent Nelson. And they know Hawkman who is Carter Hall. Barry says that if Carter is in this time period that Shiera must be, too. Hawkman freaks out and asks how Barry knows about Shiera Hall. (I really miss Shiera. Such a great character. Too bad we are stuck with Kendra.) Barry tells Carter to calm down. That Shiera is a teammate and friend.
Barry says that they do not know the rest of the JSA. That their Starman is different. That their Atom is different. Barry asks if the JSA’s Atom can shrink any smaller than he currently is. Atom barks that he has a full-sized fist for Barry if he doesn’t shut up. (Ha! Yup. That is our beloved pugnacious Al Pratt.)
John and Alan then discuss the differences between their power rings. That John is a member of a galactic space cop group called the Green Lantern Corps. On the other hand, Alan’s ring and lantern are both magical with a weakness to wood.
Doctor Fate says that it seems that their timeline has been altered. The JSA’s Starman says that he knows the location of the piece of the Totality that they need. It is at a military base. Barry says that it looks like it is time for what he thinks has to be the first Justice League/Justice Society team-up. (Hell. Yes. DC’s most iconic team-up!)
We hop back to Kamandi’s future. Our heroes have made their way into the ruined Hall of Justice. Suddenly, they are attacked by Brainiac’s drones. Superman and Wonder Woman beat up the robots while Batman hacks into the internal computer systems of one of the Brainiac drones. Kamandi says that he has never seen anybody fight like Superman. Batman says under his breath that it would be cooler if he was doing it. (Ha! Sassy Batman. Love it. I imagined that line being delivered by Will Arnett.)
Batman then discovers that Brainiac has captured entire fragments of Hypertime and imprisoned them in jars in his ship. That Brainiac has hundreds of their universe’s possible futures including this one. Superman says that Brainiac must also be searching the future for the Totality shard. Superman says they need to shrink to a size small enough to be able to travel between the worlds without Brainiac noticing. Wonder Woman says that she has an idea.
We cut to the Hall of Justice in the present time. The World Forger and Monitor are done with constructing their spaceship. We see Shayne telling Kendra that killing Lex only means that Lex wins. That Doom will infect Kendra’s heart. That J’onn would not approve.
We see Monitor, World Forger, Starman, Kendra, and Shayne hopping aboard the space ship and taking off. They are traveling through the Bleed Space. Shayne then reaches out to find Lex’s location. Lex can feel Shayne trying to locate him. Shayne exclaims that Lex and Perpetua are already on their way in the Godhead spaceship. That they have to hurry.
We hop back to the Hall of Justice. Mera tells Jarro to connect her to Kendra. Jarro replies that he is not a radio. Mera tells Jarro to remember what Batman told him. Jarro replies, “Always be awesome?” Mera says no the other thing. Jarro replies, “I’m your deputy?” (I. Love. Jarro. He is pure gold.) Jarro then connects Mera with Kendra. Mera tells Kendra that they can do this and for them to go win the war. Starman then uses his Cosmic Rod to communicate to the JLA’ers in the past and in the future. Starman tells them that they must hurry.
We shift back to the past with Doctor Fate teleporting our heroes to a tropical island where the military base holding the Totality shard is located. Barry and John hear Starman’s message telling them to hurry. Suddenly, we hear warning alarms. Our heroes have arrived at the military base and discover that it is Pearl Harbor. John asks what day it is. The JSA says that it is December 1, 1941. (Oh, crap. That’s not good.)
We slide back to our JLA’ers in the future along with Kamandi. They are in a ship built with White Dwarf technology. (Thanks, Ray Palmer!) They are miniaturized and flying through the wirelessly transmitted information between the various bottles and Brainiac’s computer system. Batman says that Brainiac is turning his attention to a bottle that is three over from the one they were in. Our JLA’ers then hear Starman’s message. Batman tells everyone to hold tight as they jump on an electron to get over to the other bottle. Kamandi comments that this is “RRRHHAAAA!” (That is Tiger speak for “Amazing!” Love it!)
Our heroes arrive at the other bottle. They crash land in a large city. They are greeted by the Justice Legion Alpha! (Holy shit! This is awesome!) The team consists of Superman, Flash (John Fox), Aquaman (green skin with white hair), Wonder Woman (marble-skinned), Batman, Starman (Ferris Knight), and Hourman (The Matthew Tyler android version.) They all have the Brainiac symbol on their foreheads. Hourman says that all futures belong to Brainiac.
We slide back to the past. We see the Japanese Zeros arriving above Pearl Harbor. We see that Grodd, Cheetah, and Sinestro are piloting three of the Zeros. (This is so insane! It’s fantastic!)
We cut to Perpetua and Lex in the Bleed Space. Perpetua says that she can feel their soldiers tipping the scales firmly in the favor of Doom. Lex contacts all of the Legion of Doom members and gives them the orders to kill the Justice League at any cost.
We zip to the end of the universe, the former location of the Source Wall. We see the Anti-Monitor talking to a figure. The Anti-Monitor asks if the person knows why the Anti-Monitor sent for them to fight for him. The Anti-Monitor asks if they see the scale of this war. The person replies that they do and it frightens them.
The Anti-Monitor says that the person’s old friends race here, but that they will not like what they find. The Anti-Monitor asks the person if they are ready to fight alongside the Anti-Monitor against their old friends to the very end.
We see that the person is Aquaman! (Damn! He’s baaaaack!) Aquaman says that Anti-Monitor can count on him. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #31 is absolutely fantastic. This is a kick-ass read from cover-to-cover. This is exactly what I was hoping we would get in this issue. Taking a pause with Justice League #30 to deliver a jumping in point for new readers made perfect sense with the new Year of the Villain event. However, I wanted plenty of craziness and plot progression and we definitely got a ton of that with Justice League #31.
Snyder and Tynion turn in another excellently plotted and paced issue. Seriously, Justice League #31 moves at a crisp pace as the story builds in intensity that culminates with a stunning hook ending. Each scene transitions smoothly into the next one. The story has a fast pace and plenty of tension, however, it never is rushed or sloppy. Everything proceeds forward in a logical fashion. The multiple plot-lines are detailed and intelligently crafted. These plot-lines all click into place with each other like the intricate internal workings of a clock.
What is so great about Justice League #31 is the pure insanity of everything. Snyder and Tynion embrace the anything-can-happen approach to superhero comics. These two writers fully understand that the magic of the superhero comic book medium is that you are not constrained by a budget or by reality. That your only limitations in superhero comics are the writer’s own imagination and creativity.
Snyder and Tynion let their imaginations run wild and the result is some crazy concepts that are pure awesomeness. We get Brainiac taking his collection of bottled cities to a whole new level with a massive collection of alternate futures of Earth-0 hooked up to his computers. What a fantastic twist on the old bottled city concept so closely associated with Brainiac. This is why I love super-hero comic books so much. Fantastic concepts like this one.
But, Snyder and Tynion were not done there. They then had our JLA’ers use a White Dwarf powered ship to ride the electrons between the various bottles hooked up to Brainiac’s computer system. This is just insane! But, a lovely and fantastic insane. Plus, it was a great shout out to my boy, Ray Palmer.
But, the craziness still did not end there. Snyder and Tynion then reveal that the Totality fragment in the past is located in Pearl Harbor and on the exact day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. And to top it all off, Snyder and Tynion have Cheetah, Grodd, and Sinestro piloting Zeros. What the hell?! This is just fantastic!
These wild concepts show that Snyder and Tynion are just having an absolute blast writing Justice League. The two writers fully embrace the craziness that only a medium like super-hero comic books can deliver. It is obvious that Snyder and Tynion are having so much fun concocting their story on Justice League. And the result is that the reader is having an equally fun time reading Justice League. It is hard not to have a big grin on your face while enjoying Justice League #31.
I love how Snyder and Tynion are fully wrapping their arms around the DCU and its rich continuity. Seriously, the reader is getting treated to some absolutely incredible continuity work with the DC Multiverse in Justice League #31. It is cool to see how Snyder and Tynion pull from all corners and time period of DC’s continuity and then mix in their own new ideas when concocting the story for Justice League.
In Justice League #31 we get The Promethean Galaxy from Jack Kirby, the Bleed Space from Warren Ellis, the Hypertime from Grant Morrison and Mark Waid, The Justice League Alpha and the One Million Universe from Grant Morrison, and The Monitor and Anti-Monitor from Marv Wolfman. All different concepts from different writers and different time periods in DC’s continuity. Then Snyder and Tynion mix in their own concepts for the World Forger and Perpetua.
The result is a rich tapestry that incorporates so many concepts about DC’s Multiverse from the past while melding them with new concepts in order to create an immersive and textured take on DC’s Multiverse. It is obvious that Snyder and Tynion relish in researching continuity and love to create a world full of meticulously crafted details. Snyder and Tynion are treating the reader to the best world-building that we have seen at DC outside of a Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison title.
I also enjoyed the additional layer of complexity that Snyder and Tynion add to the Multiverse with Brainiac’s bottles of alternate futures for Earth-0. The structure of the DCU is that we have multiple Earths. However, we have even more alternate realities as each individual multiple Earth has their own alternate timelines. I like this intricate design to the DCU.
Snyder and Tynion also keep the surprises coming. Justice League #30 gave us the surprise appearances of both the Justice Society of America and Kamandi. Now, in Justice League #31, Snyder and Tynion surprise the reader with the return of the Justice Legion Alpha. This made my jaw drop. I was definitely not expecting this!
The Justice Legion Alpha is from the DC One Million Universe. They were created by Grant Morrison. Again, Snyder and Tynion are all about grabbing every single part of the Multiverse from DC’s long history and trying to find a way to weave them all together in their story on Justice League.
At any rate, the appearance of the Justice Legion Alpha was such a treat! I am glad that Snyder and Tynion brought back Morrison’s Justice Legion Alpha. I cannot wait to see what Snyder and Tynion have planned for the Justice Legion Alpha. I hope they get plenty of panel time. Hell, I would love it if DC would give us a Justice Legion Alpha monthly title!
I’m excited to see anything from the One Million Universe. I love this universe. It is so damn cool. In fact, I love all the members of the Justice Legion Alpha. Seriously. They are fantastic Morrison characters. Having said that, Hourman is probably my favorite of the bunch. Matthew Tyler is such a cool character. I hope Hourman gets his chance to shine.
I continue to enjoy Kamandi in this story. Snyder and Tynion effectively use Kamandi for a bit of comedic relief while still keeping Kamandi consistent with his core character traits. Kamandi yelling out “Awesome” in Tiger was just a fantastic moment. You can tell that Snyder and Tynion appreciate Kirby’s Kamandi. I mean, just compare how well written Kamandi is in Justice League #31 to the generic way that Bendis handles the character in Legion of Super-Heroes Millennium #1. It is just no comparison.
Of course, it was awesome seeing the Justice Society of America assembled and doing their roll call. I absolutely adore the JSA. It makes be full of the warm fuzzies to see these iconic classic characters back and better than ever. Snyder and Tynion do a fantastic job with all of the JSA members’ characters and personalities.
Jay Garrick gets the spotlight. Jay has that quiet confidence that oozes off the page. I love his calm but firm presence no matter what is going on around him. You can tell that Jay has a kind heart, but he is not going to take any shit from anyone and never loses control of the situation during the confrontation between Barry and John and the JSA.
Alan Scott is also well done. Scott also exudes quiet and calm confidence. I also like how Snyder and Tynion wrote Hawkman. Carter Hall is the aggressive hothead that he should be. Wildcat does not get much dialogue, but what he gets is spot on. Wildcat is as gruff and tough as always.
However, my favorite character work might have been with the Atom. This is an example of phenomenal writing. In just one panel, Snyder and Tynion are able to effectively and accurately convey Al Pratt’s personality. That is amazing. Truly talented writing is being able to deliver a clear personality in an incredibly short amount of time. Snyder and Tynion deliver the absolute perfect response from Al when Barry comments about his size. That scene was pure gold.
Al Pratt is a short guy. In fact, I believe that he is just 5’ 1”. Al is the ultimate plucky underdog. He was trained by a boxer named Joe Morgan who also trained Wildcat. Later, Al gains super strength and agility. To compensate for being bullied when he was young and his lack of size, Al Pratt is extremely pugnacious, scrappy, and never backs down from a fight. Ever.
In general, Snyder and Tynion deliver plenty of good character work throughout this entire issue. It is not just limited to the Justice Society of America. All of the characters in this issue have unique personalities. The dialogue is always well crafted. The characters all have well defined external voices.
There is also plenty of well-timed humor. Mainly in the form of Jarro’s dialogue. Snyder and Tynion continue to demonstrate a good sense of how much humor is needed in the issue and never go over-board or deliver it at improper moments of the story. All of the humorous lines are also in keeping with the personalities of the characters. All of this great character work and dialogue enable Snyder and Tynion to create some wonderful chemistry between the characters in this issue.
All right, now let’s talk about that insanely good hook ending that we got in the final page of Justice League #31. I dig that Snyder and Tynion are finally looping Aquaman back into the mix. We have not seen him since the end of the Drowned Earth story arc. Now, I have not been reading Aquaman’s solo title mainly because I have never been impressed with Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing. So, I have no clue what Aquaman has been doing since the conclusion of Drowned Earth. Hopefully, Snyder and Tynion will weave Aquaman back into the story without the reader having to have read Aquaman’s solo title in order to understand what his role is going to be in Justice League.
I love the shocking twist that the Anti-Monitor appears to have no desire to work with his two brothers or the Justice League. This is made even more dramatic by Aquaman’s agreeing to fight alongside the Anti-Monitor and against his old friends in the Justice League. I love it whenever you see old friends lining up on opposite sides of a conflict. It always makes for some excellent drama.
This also fits Aquaman’s character. Outside of Batman, Aquaman is the next member of the Justice League that would be most likely to fight against his former teammates. Ever since Peter David remade Aquaman into a more bad-ass character he has retained a more renegade and loner mentality. Aquaman taking a role averse to the Justice League is consistent with his personality. I love a more renegade Aquaman and I am looking forward to learning why Aquaman would agree to join the Anti-Monitor and fight against the Justice League. I am confident that Snyder and Tynion have something cool in store for us with this stunning plot twist.
Jorge Jimenez delivers plenty of solid artwork. Jimenez’s art does tend to get weird with body proportions and anatomy at times. But, for the most part, Jimenez delivers a quality looking issue. My favorite panel? The shot of Aquaman’s face at the end of the issue. Badass!
The Bad: I have no criticisms of Justice League #31.
Overall: Justice League #31 was an absolute blast to read. It has action, adventure, stunning surprises, wild Sci-Fi concepts, crazy super-hero plot-lines, and strong character work that is all wrapped up in an entertaining story. Seriously, I have no idea what a person could want more from a super-hero comic book than what Justice League #31 delivers. This issue is just pure unadulterated fun. And that is what super-hero comic books are all about. If you still have not hopped aboard Justice League then you absolutely must do so immediately. This is a title that is always worth the cover price.
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