THIS REVIEW OF ‘JUSTICE LEAGUE’ #2 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
By Brendan F. Hodgdon. Dark Nights: Metal has been cast, Justice League: No Justice has been done, and now the future of the League is the present once again. With the new flagship Justice League title now two issues deep, we’re starting to see just how epic and gut-wrenching Scott Snyder & company’s story will be. And so far, it’s exactly the universe-breaking doozy we were hoping for. Following the harrowing and brutal events of the first issue, Snyder is joined by Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sánchez and Tom Napolitano for #2. And while this issue has a little less impact than the debut, it’s still a very good ride.
Snyder drops us right into the fallout of the League’s decision last issue, where they chose to make use of the cosmic Totality that has arrived on Earth. There’s a suitably bombastic example of the Totality’s influence and nature, and we continue to learn more of the Legion of Doom’s nefarious plot. What is particularly satisfying about Snyder’s script here is how he maintains the mystery without making us feel shortchanged. Enough big, notable things happen here to give us a sense of progress, and the themes are hinted at enough to give the action depth. And yet, it still feels like there’s so much left to discover.
Of course, Snyder being Snyder, there is a lot of great detail work that explores the characters and adds meta-fictional layers to the book. The Ultraviolet Corps reveal is a great example of this. First, the conceit that there is a power ring that draws on less-defined emotions feels like a natural (and revealing) development for the DC universe as a whole. But to then further tie it back to the color scheme of Sinestro’s classic costume, as “something he’s drawn to” adds a grand mythological heft to the idea. This is the sort of granular world-building Snyder has always been great at, and it continues here.
The characters are also well-handled here. While the first issue was primarily about Martian Manhunter, this issue gives more attention to John Stewart and Lex Luthor. The Luthor we see here is his classic supervillain persona, petty yet grandiose. Bolstered by his brutal actions from issue #1 and the cosmic forces at play around him, this Luthor is much more existentially terrifying. Snyder has said that he’s going to be focusing on the alternate trinity of Martian Manhunter, John Stewart, and Hawkgirl in this series; so far he’s two-for-two in making good use of this idea. Here, Stewart is depicted as his traditionally morose self, and like Luthor the particulars of the plot are used to highlight his core traits in compelling fashion. I can only hope that issue #3 sets up Hawkgirl’s arc as well as those of her teammates.
All of this is vividly brought to life this time by Jimenez and Sánchez, who work just as well with Snyder here as they recently did on the Metal one-shot segments. This team’s style is an interesting contrast to the work of Jim Cheung in issue #1. While Cheung is a tad more grounded and straight-faced, Jimenez has just enough of that Bachalo/Ramos attitude to make events feel more lively. The shift does feel appropriate to each issue, as #1 is more portentous and #2 is more frantic. How the give-and-take of these artists will fit the series as it progresses will be interesting to watch. (Though it does seem like Jimenez’s style is better suited to the throw-everything-at-the-wall approach favored by Snyder.)
What both artists have been very successful with thus far is the expressiveness and humor of the characters. The sardonic humor that Snyder deploys (often at Batman’s expense) is realized very well, as is the angst of J’onn and John. Jimenez, tasked with a busier script than Cheung was, does well with this chapter’s mix of elements. I’m excited to see him tackle extended action beats in future issues (as the one fight here is sort of backgrounded), but it’s going to be these quieter elements that really make or break the book. So far, it’s very much working for them.
Scott Snyder has been steadily upping his game throughout his tenure at DC, telling more epic stories as he goes. Justice League is a great continuation of this trend; the Morrisonian bombast is colored with Snyder’s particular brand of dread and danger, his layered storytelling still unimpeachable. While this second issue does feel like the connective tissue to more consequential chapters, it still does so much so well. Definitely check this series out, folks. It more than earns its status as a tentpole DC title.
Written by Scott Snyder.
Art by Jorge Jimenez.
Colors by Alejandro Sánchez.
Letters by Tom Napolitano.
8 out of 10
Check out this five-page preview of ‘Justice League’ #2, courtesy of DC!