Scott Snyder has been nothing short of pure brilliance on the Justice League franchise. I have completely adored Snyder’s run on Justice League with the very first issue. We are now finally arriving at the climactic conclusion of the Justice/Doom War. I am confident that Snyder has another excellent read in store for us. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Justice League #39!
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: Jorge Jimenez, Daniel Sampere and Juan Albarran
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez and Hi-Fi
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Martian Manhunter back and better than ever. J’onn thinks about how his friends want him to connect their minds together as he did before. J’onn reaches out to all of the people on Earth. J’onn tells the people of Earth to side with the heroes. That if they fought together in love and hope that they could become something more than themselves.
Perpetua attacks J’onn. Kendra then grabs the Singularity. We see the sigil of Justice appearing on the Singularity. Kendra says that the people of Earth are listening. Kendra uses the Singularity to bind Perpetua. Perpetua screams for her martian/human hybrids to aide her. Perpetua screams for Lex to come, aide, her. We see Lex stunned and confused. Lex apologizes to Perpetua.
J’onn continues to reach out to all of the people of Earth. J’onn tells them that together they are more and together they are heroes. J’onn asks all of the people of Earth to join them.
We then see the Doom sigil appear in the sky. Batman says that they have lost the vote. Perpetua breaks free of the binds from the Singularity. Perpetua says that she wanted the heroes to make their full-throated plea to humanity. Perpetua knew that in the end, the people would choose her.
Perpetua said that she made the universe. That she is the beginning and the end. That she left pieces of her cage for Vandal Savage to find across time and for the Luthors to find. Perpetua says that she designed it all from the beginning. Perpetua says that the people of Earth made their choice and it was a real and honest choice. Perpetua says that there is no longer any place for the Justice Leaguers in this world.
We see a massive flash of light and the Justice Leaguers all disappear. Perpetua then says that she is ending this story as it was always meant to end. Perpetua says that she is now going to start a new story.
We cut to a dark starry sky. We see crackling energy and then watch Martian Manhunter being recreated from nothing. J’onn stands on the moon and looks at Earth. There is a large Doom sigil on Earth. J’onn tries reaching out to the people on Earth but he cannot reach anyone. His mind is alone.
Suddenly, we see the rest of the Justice Leaguers appearing on the scene. They are all dressed in black outfits. Wonder Woman says that it feels like they are not a part of things anymore. Someone asks if they are dead. Aquaman says that he was just dead and that this is something else.
Superman tries to fly but simply jumps into the air and lands back on the surface of the moon. Superman says that this cannot be how it ends.
J’onn says that he knew it would end this way. J’onn says he had a premonition of this exact moment. He just hoped that they could change it or stop it.
Suddenly, the Quintessence appears on the scene. The Quintessence is comprised of the Highfather, Phantom Stranger, Shazam, Spectre, Hera, and Ganthet. The Highfather says that they saw the ending to this story, too. Ganthet says that this was always the Justice League’s fate.
Suddenly, our heroes’ black clothing transforms into their costumes. Highfather says that they saved the Justice Leaguers and brought them to this space and cloaked them in their energy. Perpetua planned to return the other heroes to the past and future, but she planned on killing the Justice Leaguers.
Phantom Stranger says that they have not played a role in the Justice/Doom War because they were staying away and protecting something mortal. Superman asks what the Quintessence is protecting.
Ganthet says that darkness overcame the universe. We see the events of Doomsday Clock. We see a Superman character riding a Pterodactyl. We see the events of Young Justice. Ganthet says that events outside of what the Justice League was doing have taken place. Some disconnected from their reality altogether. But, all deeply felt and impactful. Ganthet says that the universe has been divided by evil and in division comes to fear, anger, and disillusionment. No single action or wonder or victory can correct such a tide.
Superman asks again what the Quintessence has been protecting. Spectre says that they shall show the Justice Leaguers. A mystical door of white energy appears before our heroes. Spectre says that behind the door likes a faith that connects all actions, past, present, and future. That the fight is bigger than Doom and Justice. That it is everything.
Phantom Stranger says that in opening the door the heroes will bring everything to bear and give reckoning to every story and every event throughout history. The ones they know and the ones they do not.
Batman and Superman agree that they have to open the door. Our heroes agree that they matter by making every life matter and honoring every story. That they fight Perpetua by making everything matter. Wonder Woman says it is time for one last fight for everything. The giant mystical door opens and the white light pours out of it. The Justice League then run into the light. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #39 was a surprising end to Scott Snyder’s legendary run on Justice League. I have not been shy about my love for Snyder’s work on the Justice League franchise with the very start of Justice League: No Justice. Snyder has created an epic story on a truly grand scale that still managed to deliver strong character work that gave this cosmic tale a soul.
Snyder showed off plotting skills at the level of Jonathan Hickman and Geoff Johns in constructing this Doom/Justice War event that began all the way back in Justice League: No Justice #1 in May 2018. This nearly two-year journey has led us to the curious ending of Justice League #39. I admit that I expected Snyder to neatly wrap up the Justice/Doom war with the inevitable defeat of Perpetua. I then figured that Snyder might make a few changes to the Justice League’s continuity and then place all the toys back into the toy chest and leave a relatively clean slate for incoming write Robert Vendetti. This is a customary approach that writers take when leaving a franchise and turning the keys over to the new writer.
Well, Snyder pulled a fast one on everyone. Instead of the predictable defeat of the big bad villain, Snyder had Perpetua win the Justice/Doom War. And it was a clean win. The people of Earth voted for Doom. Perpetua sent all the heroes back to their own pasts or futures. Our Justice Leaguers had to rely on the unforeseen actions of the Quintessence in order to escape from being killed by Perpetua. The big bad in Snyder’s Justice League run got the decisive win. I cannot imagine that anyone predicted that Snyder would close out his run on the Justice League franchise with a Perpetua victory.
Snyder also took his Justice/Doom War and folded it neatly in with other big stories taking place in the DCU like Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock and Brian Bendis’ Young Justice. And then, in another surprising twist, Snyder reveals that the grand Justice/Doom War that Snyder had been building up as a cosmic tale is actually just a smaller chapter in a much larger story of the DCU at large. Snyder then leaves the Justice League to Vendetti to continue telling a story that includes one last fight for “everything.”
I love this stunning twist. I love that Snyder recognizes that even a massive tale like his Justice/Doom War is truly a smaller piece of a much larger narrative of the DCU itself. I am not sure many writers would subordinate their ego in such a manner. Snyder truly helped set up Venditti as he begins his run on Justice League. Seriously, Snyder has given Venditti a phenomenal foundation for what should be an incredible story.
Of course, Snyder is also helping himself out by making his Justice/Doom War a smaller part of the overall DCU narrative. The final page of Justice League #39 informs the reader that this larger story will continue in Justice League #40 and Hell Arisen by Hames Tynion, IV. After that, the story will continue in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s unannounced project. We know that Scott Snyder is teaming up with Greg Capullo for a still not officially announced big event. I am more than excited to see where Snyder takes this larger narrative in his upcoming project. I also am glad to see DC with an apparent master plan and having writers like Snyder, Tynion, and Vendetti all working together in unison to deliver a cohesive narrative.
I also liked that Snyder used the theme of the DCU as a story. This is a continuation of Grant Morrison’s use of the theme of the story to describe and explain the DCU. Morrison first delivered his meta-take on the DCU during his Animal Man run that took place right after the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Morrison presented the DCU and the recently defunct Multiverse as a collection of stories. Of course, Morrison took it so far that he even had Animal Man realize that he was just a character in a comic book and everything that happened in the DCU were just stories. Morrison revisited this theme of the DCU and the Multiverse as being a story during Final Crisis.
Snyder continuing Morrison’s theme in Justice League #39 helps to give the DCU consistency in its presentation. It is also an interesting manner in which to examine the DCU in general. Snyder’s use of the theme of story to explain the DCU is also a major signal from Snyder that some changes are coming to DC’s continuity.
Snyder has the Spectre tell our heroes that what lies behind the door is a path that connects all actions, past, present, and future. Snyder has Phantom Stranger warn the heroes that in opening the door the heroes are going to be giving a reckoning to every story and every event throughout history. The ones the heroes know and the ones that the heroes do not know. This is clearly Snyder telling the reader that the upcoming story will touch on every single aspect of the DCU in its entire history and involve every big event and every version of the DCU that we have gotten over the years. That even stories that have been retconned away by various big events will still matter. It appears that Snyder has something big in store for the DCU that impacts its continuity throughout its history.
The Quintessence is an excellent surprise in Justice League #39. Snyder assembles a fantastic collection of cosmic characters who represent the mystical powers that bind together the DCU. Highfather, Phantom Stranger, Shazam, Spectre, Hera, and Ganthet are all excellent characters. Snyder positioning these characters as pillars of the DCU help to further flesh out the DCU and the central roles that these characters play as the foundation of the DCU. I love the continual world-building that Snyder has done all through his run on Justice League all the way up to the very end.
I am excited to see what they have hidden behind the mystical door. Snyder really has done Venditti a real favor by setting him up to kick his run off in epic fashion. There is so much potential going forward with the new story direction that Snyder reveals at the end of this issue. There is little doubt in my mind that we are in store for another incredible ride.
Jorge Jimenez, Daniel Sampere, and Juan Albarran all combine to deliver a nice looking issue. Snyder did not give the artists much to work on this issue. The vast majority of this issue is either inner narration while characters stand around or exposition dumb while…characters stand around. Still, the artists made Justice League #39 look as good as possible. I particularly enjoyed the dramatic reveal of the Quintessence.
The Bad: Justice League #39 is not without its warts. J’onn’s narration just devolved into an interminable soliloquy. It is way too repetitious and ponderous. It is boring and brought the story to a slow crawl. It drug on for way too long and occupied far too much of Justice League #39. J’onn’s narration is not that novel or intricate of a concept. Snyder is simply giving the reader the basic message that love and hope are good while hate and anger are bad. Also, the basic message that we are stronger together than apart. Got it. We pretty much got the basic messages the first time this debate was brought up during this Doom/Justice War. As a result, for some readers, Justice League #39 may be too slow and lacking in action. This issue is basically just one large exposition dump through panels of talking heads and inner narration.
While I definitely enjoyed Snyder’s theme of the DCU as a living story, I am concerned that we are headed for another retcon or reboot of DC’s continuity. If Snyder is headed to simply finishing what Rebirth started and finally fully delivering the pre-Flashpoint DCU back to its former glory then I am okay with this direction. However, if this is DC once again changing its continuity into something different all together then this is a bad move. DC has to stop constantly messing with its continuity. DC is excessively picking at a scab and making it bleed and get re-infected. It is not healthy for DC.
DC needs to establish its clear continuity and then stick with it. For a good long time. Then, maybe make some changes if the need warrants it. Or perhaps, going forward, DC should take the soft retcon approach that Marvel has always taken over the decades. Marvel has never done the hard re-sets to its continuity the same way that DC has done between the Golden Age and the Silver Age, then after Crisis on Infinite Earths, then Infinite Crisis, then after Flashpoint, Convergence, and then once again after Rebirth. So many hard reboots and retcons of the DCU have left it fractured and a complete mess. DC ends up looking like a schizophrenic publisher. It also makes DC’s comic appear impenetrable and confusing to newer readers.
Overall: Justice League #39 was a good issue and Snyder ended his epic run on the Justice League franchise in a truly surprising fashion. I do not think any readers saw this particular ending coming. Snyder should be commended for doing such a classy job of setting up Robert Venditti to have the most success possible with the beginning of his run on the Justice League. Snyder also did a fantastic job getting readers excited for his upcoming mysterious big event title.
I am definitely sad to see Scott Snyder leave the pages of the Justice League. Snyder’s Justice League has immediately become my favorite run on the Justice League. Period. However, I am full of hope that Robert Venditti is poised and primed to deliver an entertaining Justice League as well.
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