I am always excited for the newest issue of Justice League. Scott Snyder and James Tynion are delivering one of the most fun and exciting superhero stories on the market. I am confident that Justice League #34 is going to be another excellent read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Scott Snyder and James Tynion, IV
Art: Bruno Redondo and Howard Porter
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in Atlantis in 1941. Cheetah, Sinestro, and Grodd are using Poseidon to crack the defenses of Atlantis. We cut inside of Atlantis where our heroes including Aquaman, John Stewart, Barry Allen, Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, Hawkman, Sandman, Starman, Atom, Wildcat, and Hourman are pleading with Vandal Savage and his Legionnaires Club to help them defeat the Legion of Doom.
John Stewart tells Savage that they are from the future. That Lex will kill Vandal and take the Totality and use it to bring Doom and enslave the entire universe. John gives an “inspirational” speech about how he prefers fights with contingencies. However, this fight with the Legion of Doom is one with no contingency. That the entire fight across time against Lex and the Legion of Doom comes down to what Savage chooses to do here in this room.
Hourman whispers to Alan how the Green Lantern name is in good hands. Alan replies that he couldn’t agree more. (Yeah, yeah. We see what you are doing here. And it is not particularly subtle.)
Savage agrees to work with the heroes. Alan then tells John that the future does look a little brighter to him today. John thanks Alan. (Ease up, hoss. This is laying it on just too thick with having our older heroes giving the modern heroes the rub.) Alan then replies that the JSA still has better style in their time. John laughs and agrees.
We shift to Metropolis in “The Future.” Brainiac has Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman captured. Suddenly, we see Kamandi teleport onto the scene and with him is every version of the JSA and JLA from all across the Multiverse. (This is cool. You can play spot the different characters from past DC stories.)
And with this, we have a big ol’ braaaaawl. Kamandi frees Wonder Woman. Kamandi says that he used the Justice League’s white dwarf ship to go around the Multiverse and recruit all the heroes he could find. Wonder Woman says that Kamandi has done an incredible job. Brainiac says that the heroes cannot defeat him.
We zip to the fight between Perpetua and the Ultra-Monitor and between Lex Luthor versus Starman and Kendra. Starman urges Kendra to go lend her power to the Ultra-Monitor so that they can defeat Perpetua. Starman says that he can hold off Lex by himself.
Kendra says that Lex is weakening and that they can take him down. (Kendra is going to fuck all of this up. Calling it now.)
We hop back to Atlantis in 1941. Vandal finishes completing his machine that will use the Conch of Arion to sent a signal to all of the Starman across time and space. Starman then uses his cosmic rod to communicate with all of the other Starmen.
Starman tells the other Starmen that he has the piece of the Totality. That the Starmen need to combine their powers and open the gates for all the teams from across time and space to come back to the Hall of Justice with their shards of the Totality.
Starman (Will) says that he will open the gates to the Hall of Justice. Then Starman will open a gate to take all of the heroes here to the final battle against Perpetua and Lex.
Perpetua and Lex freak out that the tide is turning against them. Starman tells Kendra to get into position. That Kendra needs to be ready to bind her power to the Ultra-Monitor once Starman brings the pieces of the totality to them. Kendra replies that Lex is distracted and will not see her coming. (Yup. Kendra is going to screw the pooch. Don’t send Kendra to do a job suited for Shiera.)
We see Starman opening gates for all the team in 1941 and the team in “the future.” The two teams then appear in the Hall of Justice with the pieces of the Totality.
Starman then creates another gate to take the two teams from the Hall of Justice to the site of the battle against Perpetua and Lex.
We see Kendra attacking Lex from behind. Lex dodges her attack and then stabs her in the shoulder. Ultra-Monitor begins to have an internal struggle as Mobius believes that fighting against Perpetua is madness.
Suddenly, Starman says that the gate is closing. Lex holds a defeated Kendra by the back of her head. Lex says that enough of Earth has sided with Doom. The seventh energy is unlocked and the balance is tipped in favor of Doom.
Perpetua says that she can feel the power of Doom emanating from all the villains throughout the Multiverse. Perpetua fully powers up and says that she has officially risen.
Perpetua calls out for her son, Mobius the Anti-Monitor to join her. That Perpetua will give Mobius back his Anti-Life. Suddenly, we see the Ultra Monitor split back apart into the three brothers. Anti-Monitor says, “Hail, Perpetua!”
Perpetua grabs Starman (Will) in her palm and says that his power is nothing compared to her. Perpetua then tells him to die as she crushes him in her palm. Perpetua then says that there is a while Multiverse to reshape in her image. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #34 is a fast-paced thrill ride. Snyder and Tynion crank up the tension to a fever pitch as this issue progresses to the intense final page. Every page is crackling with nervous energy as the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride that appears to have our heroes about to pull out a victory only to be suddenly thwarted by the villains in a stunning last-second reversal of fortune. Justice League #34 is packed full of action. There is never a slow or dull moment at all.
Snyder and Tynion take so many plot lines that they have been juggling and slide all of these intricate pieces together as we arrive at the climactic point of Perpetua’s official return to power. It is masterful storytelling in terms of both plotting and pacing.
I also love the structure of Justice League #34. Snyder employs perfect scene cuts and transitions. This issue has such an excellent flow to the story. There are so many twists and turns that evolve organically out of the prior scene. The structure of this issue successfully sucks the reader into the story, gets their heart beating faster, and brings them to the edge of their seat by the time we arrive at the climactic final page.
To be sure, Snyder and Tynion also deliver some quality character work and dialogue in Justice League #34. However, those qualities of the story take a clear back-seat in this issue. Justice League #34 is all about the plot progression, action, and big dramatic moments.
The opening three-page scene in Atlantis in 1941 is easily the quietest and most character-driven scene in Justice League #34. It is also the weakest scene. More on that later.
Luckily, the intensity and the excitement gets cranked up with the following four-page scene set in the future in Metropolis. This scene picks up the pace and introduces plenty of big cinematic action.
I love this scene because it focuses on two things that I love: Kamandi and the Multiverse. It is cool to see Kamandi getting the hero moment by coming to the rescue and saving Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The interaction between Wonder Woman and Kamandi is perfect. It is a small moment, but it delivers some great character work and natural chemistry between these two characters.
It is also so damn cool to see all of the heroes from the Multiverse. I love taking time and picking out the different characters from different Earths. You see characters from Multiversity, Kingdom Come, Watchmen, and more. My favorite sighting was seeing Dr. Mid-Nite from the JSA. You can barely see him, but he is there!
We then get the two-page scene at the edge of the universe. This scene continues the trend of big exciting action. The Ultra-Monitor is such a cool concept. Seeing two giant cosmic characters in the Ultra-Monitor and Perpetua locked in battle help to frame the massive scale of this conflict. This scene also sets the stage for Kendra being the loser of this issue.
Next is the thirteen-page scene that is the heart of Justice League #34 and runs to the conclusion of the issue. This scene is the most gripping part of the issue that draws the reader to the edge of their seats. Snyder and Tynion construct a masterful scene as the reader watches the heroes rally back from what was a sure defeat to suddenly being in control and about the win the battle. This alone is a dramatic and adrenaline-pumping swing in the tide of the battle. The way that Snyder and Tynion slid everything into place for our heroes to make this dramatic comeback was organic and well constructed.
However, just when the reader thought that this story could not get any more nerve-wracking, Snyder and Tynion then pull off another huge plot twist and have the villains make an unexpected reversal of fortune thanks to Kendra being an idiot. This was the very definition of Kendra snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The intensity and the energy of this story hits a fever pitch as the reader watches Perpetua assuming full control of her powers as the seventh energy is unlocked. We then get the additional swerve of the Anti-Monitor turning sides and joining his mother, Perpetua. We also get the shocking “death” of Starman. Justice League #34 ends with our heroes having seemingly lost the Justice/Doom War with no hope left. This is how you end an issue in style with the reader anxious for the next issue.
As far as Starman’s “death” I remain unconvinced that Will is actually dead. This is comic books and characters often make dramatic returns. Maybe Will is the one big casualty for this story. But, I know better than to ever believe that any death in comic books is actually real. We shall see how this story unfolds.
Snyder and Tynion really hung the loss in Justice League #34 on Kendra’s shoulders. And I am totally fine with this. To be fair, I must admit that I am a Shiera Hall/Shayera Hol fan. I have never liked Kendra’s character. Kendra has always come off as one-dimensional and lame. So, I am fine with Kendra wearing the dunce hat in this issue.
Bruno Redondo and Howard Porter combine to deliver some fantastic artwork in Justice League #34. The artists bring Snyder and Tynion’s story to life in a vivid and exciting fashion. The artists also treat the reader with plenty of cool and dramatic cinematic moments.
The Bad: The moment of weak and uncreative writing in Justice League #34 came in the opening scene with Snyder and Tynion having Alan give John Stewart the rub. Now, this is an old technique that is used in comic books and in pro wrestling. It is when an older established character that is immensely popular endorses a younger, newer and less popular character. The hope is that the reader/viewer will become a fan of the newer character/wrestler. Unfortunately, this is such an old technique that it is no longer effective on readers or viewers. This approach is now rather hackneyed and cheesy. Readers are savvier these days and recognize this technique as not being genuine or organic. Instead, readers view this as a corporate mandate to force readers to like a character that they may not enjoy.
What makes this approach in the opening scene between Alan and John even more bizarre is that John is an old established character! John Stewart 47-year-old character who has been around since 1972. John Stewart is the last character who needs a rub. This approach would have made far more sense if it had been Alan giving the rub to either Baz or Jessica Cruz. Now, those are two newer characters who have failed to catch on with readers. But, to treat John Stewart in this manner is simply insulting to John’s character.
Overall: Justice League #34 is another excellent read. Snyder and Tynion continue to make Justice League the most fun and exciting superhero comic books currently on the market. If you are a fan of classic superhero stories then I would definitely recommend jumping aboard Justice League. I would also urge any fans of DC’s Multiverse to give Justice League a try, too.
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