The much anticipated Justice League: No Justice #1 finally hit the shelves this week. This big event mini-series serves as a continuation of the Rebirth rebooting of the DCU. This big event also sets the stage for Snyder taking control of the Justice League franchise. The creative team for this title is absolutely stacked. You have Scott Snyder as the lead writer. Then you have James Tynion IV also on board who is an excellent writer. And then you add Joshua Williamson on top of that! I am thrilled to see Williamson being involved on a high profile Justice League title. Williamson has been absolutely killing it on The Flash and deserves more high profile work from DC. DC has been teasing this big event as a massive cosmic spanning story. I am confident that Snyder has something quite special in store for us. Let’s hit this review.
Words: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson
Art: Francis Manapul
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the Green Lantern Corps arriving at the break in the Source Wall. Hal Jordan asks what is going on. John Stewart replies that the Justice League (See Dark Nights: Metal) caused a break in the source wall. Johns says that an cosmic ocean of destructive energy is coming through the crack in the Source Wall. Guy Gardner replies that the Justice League broke the damn universe.
We shift to Earth where Brainiac’s robot army has attacked five cities: New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Metropolis, and Happy Harbor. We see four different teams fighting the Brainiac robot armies in the various locations. The teams consist of the Suicide Squad, the Titans, the Teen Titans, and the Justice League. One by one, the members of the Suicide Squad, Titans, and Teen Titans all fall to Brainiac’s robots.
We focus on the Justice League in Metropolis. Brainiac is present as his robot army overwhelms the Justice League. Superman flies in and punches Brainiac. Superman says that he won’t let Brainiac take this world. Superman says that Metropolis has numerous protocols in place for evacuation in event of an attack. Superman says that all the buildings around them are empty so he does not have to hold back. Superman smashes Brainiac through multiple office buildings. (Well, yeah, no lives are in danger. But, the amount of damage being done is going to cause massive financial problems for both the insurance industry and Metropolis itself.)
Brainiac says that he is here for help. Brainiac then connects his brain to Superman’s brain and downloads Brainiac’s thoughts into Superman. Brainiac says that Earth’s heroes are bonded by fragile emotions. That they have never lived up to their full potential. That each of Earth’s super hero teams can be beaten with a mathematic formula. Brainiac says that he has just done so to the Suicide Squad, Titans, and Teen Titans. Brainiac says that he did not come here to attack Earth. He came here for the heroes. The remaining Justice Leaguers assemble to attack Brainiac and then they are all taken out by a large weapon.
We cut to Zatanna, Starfire, Harley Quinn, and Beast Boy all waking up in a futuristic room. They realize that they have been captured. They exit the room and walk down a hallway that leads to a large meeting room full of small glass containers like the one used to house the shrunken City of Kandor. We see Martian Manhunter, Ryan Choi, Doctor Fate, Robin, and Raven in the room. Ryan Choi is marveling at the shrinking technology of the glass containers. Robin is arguing with Doctor Fate about Fate’s suggestion that they must first figure out why they were taken here and who else is here before formulating an attack plan.
Suddenly, Brainiac walks into the room along with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Cyborg. Starfire asks the Justice Leaguers what is going on. Superman says that it is hard to believe but that Brainiac is their ally. Brainiac holds Wonder Woman’s golden lasso to prove that he is telling the truth about being their ally. Robin is disgusted that anyone would believe Brainiac.
Brainiac proceeds to explain his plan. Brainiac says that the breach in the Source Wall has woken the oldest beings in the universe. The Four Brothers. The Omega Titans. They are cosmic gods. Each on possess one of the fundamental energies of sentient life. Each one believer that their core energy was the dominant power of intelligent life. To prove themselves right they planted seeds of cosmic energy in all the worlds in the universe. At the end of the universe, the Omega Titans are to return to the worlds that grew and evolved and to weight which energy was supreme. The winning brother would re-absorb the worlds. That this will lead to the systematic destruction of all sentient worlds until nothing is left.
Brainiac reveals that one of the Omega Titans is about to consume his home world of Colu. Brainiac says that it is possible to stop all of this. That the heroes need to restore balance to the four energies. Brainiac says he has redistributed the heroes into four teams with each embodying the energy of an Omega Titan. Brainiac says that in these new configurations that success may not be likely but it is possible.
Batman points out that the nodes on the heroes’ new costumes marks which team they are being placed on. Beast Boy notices his nodes indicate that he is on Team Batman. Beast Boy also turns into a human sized bat while saying this. Batman says that the numbers for the four teams are unbalanced. Batman asks if Brainiac has more heroes.
Suddenly, Lex Luthor, Sinestro, Deathstroke the Terminator, Etrigan the Demon, and Starro. Lex Luthor says that he doesn’t know if he would say “heroes” but if the shoes fits. Starro laughs and says “Now this is a Justice League!”
We hop over to Amanda Waller at her secret base. Waller asks if the Apokoliptian satellite relay is working. She is informed that it is working and they are mapping Brainiac’s brain system and should be ready for data-mining. Waller says that it is about time that the United States Government had a full understanding of the threats out there.
Waller says to make sure that Task Force XI is ready to go. Waller says it is time to hack Brainiac. We see numerous chairs all hooked into a computer. There are various psychics in the various chairs. Some of the characters include Maxwell Lord, Jemm, Hector Hammond, Doctor Destiny, Dubbilex, Doctor Psycho, Mento, Captain Comet, Psimon, and Looker.
We hop back to Brainiac’s ship. We see Martian Manhunter standing alone and staring out of the window into space. Lex Luthor approaches and asks if Martian Manhunter read Brainiac’s mind. Martian Manhunter replies that from the parts he could safely probe that it appears Brainiac is telling the truth. Martian Manhunter then notes that Lex’s mind is shielded from him.
Lex says that it must be overwhelming for Martian Manhunter comic back into so much chaos after being gone for so long. Martian Manhunter replies that when he left Lex was still a villain and now he hears that Lex is playing a hero.
Lex says that it will take more than energy nodes to bind these teams together. Lex asks if Martian Manhunter is ready to take up the mantle of leader once again. Martian Manhunter says that they will have to see. Martian Manhunter says he has watched worlds die before. He says that he is afraid that they cannot stem the tide of destruction. And that even if they can then he fears what they may become by the end of it. Lex replies, “Well said, and J’onn…if you try to read my mind again, I will burn you alive.
We cut back to the main meeting room and see Starfire clashing with Sinestro. Starfire says that she is not going to fight alongside a tyrant like Sinestro. Sinestro snaps that he has been saving planets before Starfire was born. Starfire comments that Tamarans never needed a ring bearer for protection and that she is not afraid of him. Sinestro replies that his ring says otherwise.
Raven comments that there is so much distrust in the room and wonders how they will ever be able to work together. Etrigan says that they must put aside their petty grievances to save the universe.
Batman tells Robin to stay close to him no matter what Brainiac says. Robin says that Batman is making a mistake by trusting Brainiac’s plans. Robin cannot believe that they are going to work with monsters and villains. Harley Quinn takes offense to Robin’s statement. Harley points out that the last time they worked together that Robin left her for dead. So, who is the real monster?
Starro comments how he could use his psychic might to make them kill each other. Lobo asks Ryan Choi if Ryan could shrink down and get inside of a person’s intestines and then grow to normal size and make the person explode. Ryan replies that he could theoretically do so. Deathstroke then pulls out his sword and says that Starro is in his head and he cannot control himself.
Brainiac then yells, “ENOUGH!” Brainiac says that they have arrived at Colu. Our assembled heroes then gaze upon the massive Omega Titan towering over Colu. The heroes are all stunned silent. Brainiac says that the Omega Titans are not gods. They are destroyers.
Brainiac says that since Colu is the home to the smartest race of sentient life in the universe it is the Omega Titan named Wisdom who has come to consume Colu. (The most misused word for comic book writers is the word race. Coluans would be the smartest species of the universe. Not race.)
Brainiac says that if they can re-ignite the other three energies on Colu then they have a chance of saving Colu. Brainiac says he has arranged the heroes into their four teams based on their most ideal configurations to best embody each of the four energies. Brainiac says their only chance of survival is to follow Brainiac’s every word. That any deviation will doom Colu and Earth. Brainiac reveals that when he was on Earth he made sure that the seed on Earth would attract the Omega Titans. So, if the heroes fail to stop them on Colu then there will be no hope for Earth. Earth will be next.
Brainiac says that they must follow his plan exactly or else the universe is doomed. We cut to Waller giving the order to being hacking Brainiac’s brain. We then see Brainiac grabbing his head. Brainiac says that something is wrong. We cut back to Waller who is being informed that the strain on the psychics is too much. Waller says she doesn’t care and to keep pushing.
Superman lovingly cradles Brainiac in his arms. (Oh, this panel will make for some great memes.) Superman asks Brainiac what is wrong. Brainiac replies that he cannot think. Brainiac’s mind says that it is experiencing an overload. Suddenly, Brainiac’s head explodes.
Our heroes stand their stunned. Beast Boy asks, “Uh, guys, what are we gonna do?” Lobo chimes in, “We’re so fragged.” End of issue.
The Good: Justice League: No Justice #1 was an absolute blast to read! This issue far exceeded my expectations. I will openly admit that I was guarded about this issue. I was highly suspect of Snyder’s concept for various themed teams with what seemed to be a random selection of character assigned to each roster. However, Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson have completely won me over with Justice League: No Justice #1.
What I love most about Justice League: No Justice #1 is how the writers completely embrace all that makes super hero comics the best genre of comic books on the market. This is why I love this genre so much. Justice League: No Justice #1 is exudes excitement and fun with each and every page.
The strength of Justice League: No Justice #1 is the excellent world building that the writers deliver with this issue. I love Snyder’s cosmic mythology that he started constructing during his Dark Nights: Metal story. Snyder builds off of the events of Dark Knights: Metal in a pleasant and organic fashion.
What is also great is that the writers’ cosmic mythology that they unveils in Justice League: No Justice #1 has a Kirby-esque feel to it. Which is only proper since Kirby is the father of much of DC’s cosmic mythology when he created the Fourth World mythology. The Fourth World mythology sprouted from Kirby’s stories on Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, New Gods, Forever People, and Mister Miracle.
The foundation for this big event in Justice League: No Justice is the crack in the Source Wall that we saw in the end of Dark Nights: Metal. Snyder already hinted that this crack was going to lead to a universe spanning threat.
The Source Wall was not specifically unveiled by Jack Kirby. However, the Source Wall is based on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World mythology. In New Gods #5, Kirby has Metron exploring what Metron calls the “Final Barrier.” Kirby has Metron state that “…somewhere beyond–lies the Source: the greatest of mysteries.” Metron also describes the Final Barrier of the Source as a “Promethean Galaxy–a place of giants–where all roads to the Source come to an end–.”
The panels in this scene in New Gods #5 show a double page splash shot of a giant fused to an massive piece of rock. There is another panel with a large head of a female cosmic being who tried to achieve “the maximum state” and failed.
Kirby also had Metron say that “beyond all the knowledge and sweeping concept at our command, the mystery of the Source lies–serene–omnipotent–all-wise.”
Kirby’s description and design of the Final Barrier for the Source became the foundation for how the Source Wall would be depicted. Now, the first actual appearance of the Source Wall as we know it was in The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans by Walt Simonson and Chris Claremont back in 1982. Simonson said that he and Claremont created the Source Wall by clearly extrapolating from what Jack Kirby had done in the New Gods. Since the official appearance of the Source Wall it has been a concept that has played a prominent role in any Fourth World story.
In Justice League: No Justice #1, the writers build off of the ending of Dark Nights: Metal by revealing that the threat of the break in the Source Wall to be the Omega Titans. The Omega Titans are four brothers representing the four universal energies. The Omega Titans certainly invoke images of Kirby’s other great creation in the Celestials. The Celestials are cosmic god-like beings who are credited with evolving primitive life across the universe and then judging the planets at a later day.
The writers’ Omega Titans evoke enough of that Jack Kirby vibe while still being their own unique and creative concept. I love the concept of the Omega Titans and their role in the universe. This is a neat idea that adds another layer of texture to DC’s cosmic universe. The writers succeed in adding a new dimension and theme to DC’s cosmic universe and does so in an organic fashion that builds logically off of DC’s established continuity. The writers deserve so much credit for creating something new for DC’s cosmic mythology that does not seem discordant or out of place.
The Omega Titans representing four distinct universal energies is a great concept. This makes them seem like proper universal forces of nature. This plays into writers’ decision to have multiple Justice League. Now, when I first saw the preview art for four separate teams with what appeared to be odd rosters for each team I was less than impressed. However, the writers has totally won me over.
I love the idea of four teams that embody each of the four universal energies. I also like the concept that each team is specifically designed to defeat their assigned Omega Titan. Yeah, this is a bit cheesy. But, this is the kind of good cheesy that make us love and adore super hero comics! The Omega Titans and the four themed super teams designed to take on each Titan has the vibe of the type of concept you would get in Japanese manga or anime.
The writers are diving deep into the cosmic mythology of the DCU with this story. And the heart of the super hero genre has always been mythology. That is all super hero stories are at their core: modern day mythology. DC’s super heroes shine their most when given grand scales stories of mythological proportions. That is exactly what the writers are setting up to deliver with Justice League: No Justice.
Another example of the writers embracing the crazy goodness of the super hero genre in this story is Waller’s wild plan to use a team of psychics connected to a massive computer and employing Apokoliptian to then allow the psychics to hack Brainiac’s mind. Fantastic. It is creative mad scientist stuff like this that helps make super hero comics so damn fun.
The writers’ concept of the Omega Titans, the four universal energies, the four themed super hero teams, and Waller’s team of psychics using Apokoliptian technology to hack Brainiac are pure wild imagination and fun. I absolutely love it. The writers are embracing what makes super hero comics so great. The writers are wrapping his arms around the crazy and exciting aspects of super hero comics and turning them up to 11.
I love that the writers are basking in all that is glorious about super hero comics rather than distancing themselves from it or trying to make excuses and explain it away like so many writers have done. I do not need writers constantly poking fun at super hero comics, or apologizing for the sillier aspects of super hero comics, or rejecting the super hero genre trappings and trying to replace them with an indie comics vibe. Justice League: No Justice #1 is Snyder and company doubling down on what makes super hero comics so fantastic, awe-inspiring, and fun.
Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson combine to deliver a read in Justice League: No Justice #1 that does everything that a debut issue of a mini-series should do. This issue picks up right after the ending of Dark Nights: Metal. The writers quickly fill the reader in on the lasting effect of Dark Nights: Metal, assemble the rosters for the four teams, introduce the main threats in the Omega Titans, clearly state the objective for our heroes and the mission statement for the title, and then end the issue with an incredible hook ending. There is absolutely nothing more you could ask for a debut issue of a new title.
The writers deliver a story that is excellently plotted and paced. The writers know when to hit the gas pedal and then when to ease off and deliver some critical world building information. It is impressive how the writers were able to lay a strong foundation for this story without ever making the issue a dull and slow exposition dump.
Justice League: No Justice #1 begins with a good three page scene designed to recap how the ending of Dark Nights: Metal impacted the DCU. This was a necessary scene to help fill in readers who may not have read Dark Nights: Metal. This is a smart scene that helps make this issue new reader friendly. This introductory scene also effectively establishes the massive stage and scope for this story.
We then got a four page scene revealing Brainiac’s attack on Earth. This was followed by a four page scene of Brainiac battling the Justice League. These two scenes were vital by injecting some action into the story before the writers engaged in the slower task of establishing the foundation for this story in dialogue heavy scenes. These scenes also helped to crank up the intensity of the story and get this mini-series started with a bang.
The writers then pump the brakes and slow things down for the following nine page scene where Brainiac explains everything about the Omega Titans and why he has captured our heroes and his plans for the four themed teams of heroes. This is the part of Justice League: No Justice #1 where the writers perform all the heavy labor of laying a strong and logical foundation for this mini-series. This is also where the writers deliver the heroes’ quest and the mission statement for the title.
The impressive aspect was that the writers built a strong foundation for this story in an entertaining fashion. Often laying the foundation for a story can be boring and can be too much of a dull exposition dump. However, the writers managed to use the character conflicts between our heroes and the villains in order to help keep the work of laying the foundation from being dull.
We then got a two page scene that unveiled Waller’s team of psychics and her plan to hack Brainiac. This was a good transition scene as the writers ended the nine page scene focusing on foundation laying of the story and began ramping up the intensity as we headed to the climactic hook ending.
Next was the one page scene with Martian Manhunter and Lex Luthor. This was a strong short scene that set the mood and tension between our heroes and the villains.
That one page scene was followed up with a solid two page scene devoted to showing the dissension in the ranks and creating a feeling of hopelessness for team continuity.
The writers then deliver a dramatic five page final scene. This scene ended the issue with an exciting and riveting ending. The writers deliver several surprise shock moments and then close the scene with a massive cliffhanger ending.
This was such a masterfully written scene. The writers go out of their way to emphasis that the only way the heroes can beat the Omega Titans is by following all of Brainiac’s commands down to the smallest detail. That anything less will lead to failure and defeat.
After setting the stage for how Brainiac is essential to any success in defeating the Omega Titans the writers then deliver the first shocking reveal that Brainiac activated the seed on Earth so that if the heroes fail in saving Colu that Earth will be the next planet attacked. This surprising reveal adds serious consequences if the heroes fail.
Then the writers deliver the shocking destruction of Brainiac which leaves our team in peril. This was brilliant writing. The writers took pains to build up how Brainiac is the only person who knows how to assemble to teams and that Brainiac is the only person who knows how the four teams can defeat the Omega Titans. That without Brainiac the heroes have zero chance of success. And then the writers remove Brainiac. Absolutely fantastic writing. This leaves the reader full of hopelessness as the heroes seemingly have no way to win given the vital importance that Brainiac played in this story. That is how you deliver a massive hook ending.
Of course, an excellent comic book is not just about delivering a well plotted and paced story. It is not just about checking off all the boxes of tasks that a debut issue for a new title should deliver. Nor is it just about great mythology and world building and cool super hero concepts. You also have to have strong character work. And the writers in Justice League: No Justice #1 deliver that as well.
The writers deliver some quality character work in this issue. The reader gets a good sense for the personalities of the various members for these four teams. From Beast Boy’s naturally silly personality to Starfire’s warrior outlook to Lex’s supreme confidence to Brainiac’s cold computer mind to Martian Manhunter’s quiet and thoughtful nature. Despite the fact that the writers are dealing with a huge roster of characters they still managed to get across the basic character personalities as best as possible.
The writers also craft some good dialogue. Most of the characters have their own unique external voices. The writers are also able to generate some solid chemistry between the characters.
And this leads me to the next aspect that made Justice League: No Justice #1 a fun read. The writers give us plenty of friction between our assembled heroes and the assembled villains. The testiness between our heroes and our villains immediately sets up some enjoyable tension to the story. This also helps build up the feelings of hopelessness at the end as the reader is left wondering if these characters can set aside their differences in order to defeat the Omega Titans. This is a time-tested approach to story telling and when done correctly can lead to a fun read.
The best character moment happens in the one page scene with Lex Luthor and Martian Manhunter. This was a short but highly effective scene. This scene is an excellent example of the fact that, the vast majority of the time, less is more. There is no need to drone on for page upon page of talking heads to get over the personalities of characters. The writers are able to succinctly get over with the readers the core personalities of both characters.
The writers have pulled together an excellent roster of characters. There is not a single character in this issue that I do not find interesting on some level. The diversity of power sets makes the assembled heroes interesting. I also like that we have a multi-generational aspect to our heroes as well. This should make for some interesting interactions between the various generations of heroes.
And then we have the villains. The only character out of the six villains that does not particularly interest me would be Lobo. The fact is that Lobo’s character remains a tough character to integrate into the mainstream DCU. Lobo is a satirical character that simply operates the best by himself.
The rest of the villains? Fantastic. Starro is a classic Justice League of America villain. Everybody loves a psychotic starfish. Starro is a character who cannot be trusted and will certainly stir the pot of dissension whenever given the chance.
Sinestro is the ultimate tweener. Neither hero nor villain. Sinestro’s role as a Lantern makes him an obvious choice to help save the universe from a massive cosmic threat like the Omega Titans. Sinestro’s personality will also serve as an excellent source of conflict with his teammates.
Lex Luthor is similar to Sinestro in that he is a villain who also plays the role of the hero. However, Lex is more egocentric than Sinestro. Add on top of that the fact that Lex hates aliens and his prideful of Earth and you should get some interesting moments considering the number of aliens on the rosters of these four teams. There is no doubt that Lex will be willing to sacrifice any other planet in the universe in order to save Earth.
I adore Deathstroke the Terminator. He has always been my favorite DC villain. Like Sinestro, Deathstroke is also a tweener. Deathstroke is a survivor whose number one focus is himself. His number two focus is making money. Deathstroke cannot so either unless he helps save the universe from being destroyed. So, his motivation for helping our heroes makes sense. Deathstroke is a lone wolf with a take no shit from anyone attitude. Deathstroke will conflict with his fellow villains as quickly as he will with the heroes.
Last up is Etrigan the Demon. Etrigan is a classic Jack Kirby character. I also would not call Etrigan a villain given his long history prior to the New 52 of partnering up with various members of the Justice League. I guess that the writers had Etrigan being introduced with the villains because he is an outside. Etrigan operates on the fringe of the DCU and is a wild card who is not always trustworthy.
All right, let’s talk about the artwork for a moment. Francis Manapul delivers a fantastic looking issue. Manapul’s style of art is an excellent match up for this cosmic super hero themed story. And this does not come as a surprise to me at all. Manapul was the artist to Jim Shooter’s Legion of Super Heroes title back between 2008–2009. Manapul did a stunning job on that title. And you can’t get much more of a cosmic super hero title than the Legion of Super Heroes. Manapul’s work on Legion having to draw such a massive roster also means that Manapul has zero problem drawing such a large roster of characters in Justice League: No Justice #1.
There is no doubt that Manapul is able to effectively convey the grand and epic scale of this cosmic tale. Manapul cranks out some dramatic double page splash shots and some stunning single page splash shots. Manapul can certainly deliver exciting action scenes, too.
Having said that, Manapul also excels at the smaller and more dialogue heavy scenes. Manapul gives all of the characters excellent facial expressions that help to inject plenty of emotion into the story. Manapul’s artwork adds a layer of depth and energy to the story.
I also love Manapul’s panel layouts. They are highly creative and engaging. The diversity of the panel layouts make this issue exciting to read and visually stimulating.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: Justice League: No Justice #1 is a fantastic start to this mini-series. Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson have more than exceeded my expectations. I firmly believe that we are in store for a real gem of a super hero romp with Justice League: No Justice #1. Snyder and company are treating the reader to a wildly imaginative and fun super hero tale. This is exactly what super hero comics should be all about. Justice League: No Justice #1 is absolutely worthy of your hard earned money.