Justice League: No Justice

Justice League: No Justice gives a much-needed injection of narrative purpose to a crucial corner of the DC Universe.

The Green Lantern Corps ponders the breach of the Source Wall that occurred at the conclusion of Dark Nights: Metal, while alien villain Brainiac gathers a collection of heroes and villains and spirits them to his homeworld, Colu. Towering, ancient space gods called the Omega Titans, spurred by the Source Wall breach, are preparing to destroy Colu, with Earth next in its path. Groups of heroes and villains have to figure out how to work together to prevent universal destruction, while back on Earth, Green Arrow and Amanda Waller enter an uneasy alliance to attempt to resist the threat to Earth. The aftermath repositions several Justice League-related teams for a new era.

Oddly, Justice League was one of the few series that was more interesting during DC’s “New 52” era than it had been during “Rebirth,” at least before No Justice. The main Justice League title should be a flagship book for DC, but for the first two years of Rebirth it felt oddly disconnected from the rest of DC’s line. That manifested in small ways (Flash Barry Allen romanced rookie Green Lantern Jessica Cruz in the pages of Justice League while getting serious with canonical soulmate Iris West in his own book, with no attempt to reconcile the two situations) and big (Justice League featured Big Epic arcs that ultimately felt empty, with no impact beyond the final page of a story). Spin-off Justice League of America fared better, with a quirkier cast and more flexible narrative mandate, but outside of the rescue of Ray Palmer, wasn’t exactly required reading. Some related team books had some issues, as well. Teen Titans was mostly an entertaining showcase for Damian Wayne’s trademark misanthropy, but sent only minor ripples outside its own pages. Titans was more vital, pitching in crucial plot points toward the larger Rebirth umbrella story, but had come to a turning point just before No Justice. The entire League-related corner of DC’s line needed a jolt.

No Justice provided that, mixing up the four books (plus Suicide Squad) with a universe-spanning epic that tied into major DC events while setting up the bigger franchise for a more central role in the DC line. To some extent, the plot is a typical comic book McGuffin, steeped in pseudo-philosophical trappings that ape classic Kirby mythology without digging into it too deeply. However, writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson are too smart to get mired in the book’s set-up. No Justice is a quick read, buzzing through the main story without taking it too seriously. The writers are more successful at weaving in the effects of recent events and setting up a new status quo for the various League-related books. They also do some gratifying work with characterization, giving a few of the bigger personalities a chance to shine, while also having fun with some oddball combinations, nailing oft-misused characters like Lobo and Starro in the process.

By the story’s end, DC had primed its trio of new Justice League books while setting out new directions for the other related titles. It was a neat, economical story that gave readers some big action and spectacle, while knocking off the various items of editorial housecleaning in a graceful fashion.

As is common for a weekly series, No Justice tagged in a variety of artists. Star attraction Francis Manapul handled breakdowns for the entire four-part saga and illustrated two chapters himself. He was joined by Marcus To, Riley Rossmo and Jorge Jiménez at various points, with stunning color work from HiFi and Alejandro Sanchez. To and Jiménez produced pages close enough to Manapul’s clean, soft focus approach, to mix smoothly, with only the scratchier Rossmo contributions not melding in seamlessly (which is more noticeable in the collected edition). But given the fast pace of the story, even the brief stylistic blip wasn’t much of a distraction and the whole package was attractive and appropriately big ticket.

Justice League: No Justice never attempts to hide its reset agenda for the important franchise, but manages to be an entertaining, streamlined adventure worth reading on its own merits.

Author (Grievous Angels) and pop culture gadabout #amwriting

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