Justice League #39
Years in the making, Justice League #39is upon us and thus ends Scott Snyder's run on the book. The conclusion sees the final blows in "The Justice/Doom War" but what will that mean for the DC Universe moving forward? What follows is a loose reading of my interpretation of this somewhat puzzling final issue.
***WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!***
In the end, the greatest shock of all is that Doom wins out. With Martian Manhunter returned, the tide of the war seemed firmly in the hands of our heroes as he cast out his mind and reasoned with humanity to side with Justice. They did not. The heroes were cast out and Perpetua won. In the final cryptic pages, though, the Quintessence returns and offers the heroes another chance. As the issue closes, the Justice League is restored and charges off into a brave new world with only the thinnest hope driving them.
But what are they running towards?
This enigma, built from the smallest details of the sweeping epic, reads to me almost as a mini-Crisis unto itself. The connective tissue with Geoff Johns’ own universe-altering event, Doomsday Clock, feels the key to unlocking the mystery. The Quintessence presents a door for League to charge through colored in a familiar azure hue and glow, at least gesturing at the possibility that in the wake of defeat at the hands of Perpetua, the events of Doomsday Clock and that particular cosmic rebirth may leave this universe behind. In a single panel, we see reference to the return of the JSA and the defeat of Black Adam as seen in Doomsday Clock to further solidify that theory but only if you have read Doomsday Clock.
There is significance in such a connection. Justice League has, historically speaking, not been a particular tent-pole book at DC Comics. The Justice League, certainly, but their book tends to operate according to its own rules that keeps it separated from the greater DC Universe of titles. Various events and mini-series often draw Justice League into the fray but rarely is it the title that sparks an event or yields major change to status quo. If Snyder’s legacy on this run plays out to its fullest, that could be a significant change moving forward after several years of Justice League being firmly at the heart of what happens across the rest of the canon.
Aside from helping to line up the status quo changes the severely delayed Doomsday Clock put into place for the future of DC, was there an underlying message in Snyder’s Justice League run?
I believe this final issue helps to create at least an abstract vision of a sociopolitical commentary that was always there but slightly out of focus. When the ever hopeful Superman laments the arrival of the Doom Sigil, not understanding how it could appear after Martian Manhunter reached out to the people of Earth and beyond, Batman solemnly states “We lost the vote.” Given the state of US politics in this, an election year that finds great turmoil and diviciveness in the voting public, it doesn’t seem a far stretch to begin to configure key elements of this narrative into the social and political discourse and see the potential of a warning, just as the one Martian Manhunter received in Justice League #1– a scream into the abyss against an inevitable outcome. I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to extract from that potential analogy what you can.
And thus we come to the end of an era, for better or worse. Snyder’s Justice League was complex from the opening pages and a complex ending should surprise nobody who stuck around to the end. Perhaps it was overly complex in the end given the droves of internet comments of people who couldn’t stick with the book for various reasons. Those of us who did stand by, though, were treated to something that certainly pushed the boundaries of comics narrative. The art fluctuated throughout but landed nicely in the end. And though the run is ending and the future of Snyder’s level of involvement with DC Comics moving forward remains somewhat unclear, the impact of this run will certainly continue to be felt by fans and creators alike.
SPOILERS AHEAD: Scott Snyder's multi-year epic comes to a close (of sorts) with Justice League #39 (Snyder, Jiminez, Sampere, Albarran, Sanchez, HI-FI, Napolitano).
Justice League #39: Beautiful Losers
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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