By Jonathan Edwards
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t exactly excited about this book, and that’s mainly because Scott Snyder is in the driver’s seat. Don’t get me wrong; I like him well enough as a writer. However, the Snyder-spearheaded Dark Nights: Metal only just wrapped up back in March, yet here he is with another crossover event impacting the whole of the DCU. Okay, sure, James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson are co-writing Justice League: No Justice, but Snyder’s the one with top billing. And, regardless of the actual quality of his work, that starts to be just a little bit too much company-wide creative control for a single writer for my taste. But, despite going in feeling that way, I still quite enjoyed Justice League: No Justice #1.
Following a short preface featuring the whole of the Green Lantern Corps assembling at the breach in the universal “source wall” (which serves to establish said breach resulting from Dark Nights: Metal for those who didn’t read it), the story proper begins on Earth, where Brainiac is launching a coordinated attack on multiple cities. We see the Suicide Squad, Titans, Teen Titans, and, of course, Justice League fighting back, but they are all eventually overwhelmed and knocked unconscious. Beast Boy, Harley Quinn, Starfire, and Zatanna Zatara awake together onboard Brainiac's ship and quickly discover that the rest of respective their teams, as well as several other individuals including Martian Manhunter, Doctor Fate, Lex Luthor, and Deathstroke, are all there too. What’s more, Brainiac is recruiting them to save the Universe and only attacked to show that each group had weaknesses that could be exploited. As such, he rearranged them all into four new teams, one for each of the four cosmic entities, called “Omega Titans,” that the Universe needs to be saved from.
As you might expect, all of that comes with quite a bit of exposition, but there are two major factors that keep it from ever truly bogging down the pace of the story: economy and character dynamics. Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson use each of this issue’s twenty-some pages to great effect. Seriously, there’s no excess here. The exposition is all saved for two, maybe three, dumps, depicted with two-page spreads where there’s always something else (either visual or character-driven) going on that juxtaposes all of the text. This lets them focus the rest of the pages on the massive cast of characters interacting with one another. Obviously, we aren’t able to check in with everyone, yet the several scenes we do get are short but oh so sweet. Damian gets in Doctor Fate’s face, Starfire refuses to work with Sinestro, Lex Luthor has a heart to heart with J’onn J’onzz, and much more.
Art duties are in the capable hands of Francis Manapul, and boy does he deliver. He imbues every important story moment with an almost tangible weight, and there’s a tremendous sense of the scale and scope of everything. Although, if I did have to nitpick one thing, it’d be the number of two-page spreads. I don’t think there’s an inherent problem with having multiple two-page spreads in an issue, but there are literally ten here, and half of them occur in the first eleven pages. Yes, ten of the first eleven pages are two-page spreads. Some of them, especially those used for the exposition dumps, work really well. And, it’s not that the others don’t; it just seems like they’d work at least as well, if not better, as normal pages.
Even though I was dubious at first, I’m going to straight-up recommend Justice League No Justice. The whole miniseries. It’s easy to tell from this first issue how much it’s just a damn entertaining event comic that takes the time to provide both blockbuster spectacle and smaller, more personal character moments. Plus, while Dark Nights: Metal was very much meant to be dark and edgy, this one really isn’t. Well, the title kind of is, but even given the total doomsday scenario Brainiac present, there’s still a lot of lightheartednesses to go around. And, most important, this issue ends on a legitimately surprising and well set-up cliffhanger that I can’t imagine wouldn’t at least make you want to come back for issue #2.
Justice League: No Justice #1