I’m a little sheepish to admit, but even though DC’s most recent events (Metal and No Justice) have been ambitious, epic, and incredibly creative, I’m in a bit of an Event funk. Unfortunately, the new Justice League book by Scott Snyder and Jim Cheung doesn’t do much to shake me out of it.
And it’s confusing! Snyder has assembled a wonderful core roster, crafting a team almost exactly like the animated Justice League while still reaching out to other fringe members. He also immediately injected camaraderie between the members by way of their interactions across the mental link created by J’onn.
We also have to pause and comment on just how well Snyder wove the Martian Manhunter into the story. He did a great job honing in on Martian Manhunter’s place in not just the Justice League but also the DCU, letting the reader get a good sense of how his place as newly elected Chairman of the Justice League is earned and not forced. The snippets of J'onn's life are resonant, especially when the focus lands on his child - that lens lets the reader quickly understand why J'onn is so invested into the makeshift family of heroes he now coordinates.
Jim Cheung, new to the DCU, provides some of the best art DC has seen in a while. His distinct style frames the Justice League in their best looks, their individual body language conveying even more than their pitch-perfect dialogue. His action scenes are rendered with electric intensity, and his attention to detail is uncanny. Mark Morales (inks) and Tomeu Morey (colors) bring his pencils to life in a way that resonates, and should be commended for their immaculate labor.
But it still just doesn’t feel right.
I don’t know if it’s because we’re injected into the story mid-chaos, or that the impending dread is so many levels above a standard Justice League mission, or that there’s too much going on, but on some fundamental level this feels a little out of sync.
And again, this isn’t to disparage Snyder or the art team at all; Snyder made a great narrative decision by using third person omniscient, while Cheung and crew’s interpretation of the characters is simultaneously refreshing and familiar. Hell, the way Snyder describes the Hall of Justice and how it's portrayed by the art team is phenomenal!
I fear it might be a little bit of Event Fatigue here, which is a bummer. It’s hard to keep stories going with continual high stakes. It’s hard not to burn out an audience with Crisis-like intensity. And yet this is still a damn good debut with a lot to its credit. I definitely plan on following this book closely, especially to found out what exactly the Totality is…