Review: Justice League: No Justice trade paperback (DC Comics)

Big events beget big events in Scott Snyder's Justice League: No Justice, immediate sequel to his Dark Nights: Metal mega-crossover. It's odd, perhaps even a little exhausting, to be going back to the "event" well so swiftly. At the same time, whereas Metal was the larger of the two stories, its focus was smaller, mainly just on Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman; No Justice does well in letting some lesser heroes shine and representing more of the scope of the DC Universe. What is really actually different after No Justice remains to be seen, and in the wake of Metal I'm not wholly convinced this wouldn't have been better as just the first storyline of the new Justice League series, but No Justice is small, cogent fun as this new era slowly gets underway.

[Review contains spoilers]

Jumping all the way to the end, No Justice is in large part about about new and unfamiliar super-groups banding together in recognition that the old ways don't work like they used to. That's a fine concept, and assuredly what modern comics severely needs is the element of surprise. It's hard to know if No Justice delivers, however, when for instance Batman's Brainiac-mandated "Team Entropy" consists of Lobo, Deathstroke, and Lex Luthor -- the headline is meant to be "Batman's unlikely allies," but given that he partnered with Lobo in Justice League of America, Luthor in the Justice League just before Rebirth, and Deathstroke fought beside the League as recently as Christopher Priest's final issues, the story has altogether fewer teeth than it purports itself to.

And none of these hero/villain pairings follow into the new League series (except adversarially), so for all its talk of doing things differently, No Justice doesn't actually end up there. That's fine, ultimately; I don't begrudge Snyder some hype, especially of the aspirational sort. I am nonetheless interested in these spin-offs, not in the least the Rebirth Azrael Jean Paul Valley out in space (wish James Tynion still had his reins but we'll see how it goes), and putting Wonder Woman in Justice League Dark is a nice "League" hook for the general public. I also liked the plug Snyder and company give to Bryan Hill's Detective Comics and "Outsiders" stories, not seeming for much reason other than continuity and collegiality, which was what made the plugs at the end of Metal so good, too.

Whereas Metal was a rollicking story of conspiracies and multiversal invaders, No Justice is more direct, even formulaic for better or worse -- taken to the planet Colu, the four teams of heroes switch off fighting their respective "Omega Titans." It reads a bit like Jim Starlin's Cosmic Odyssey, and more so when the heroes fail to stop the destruction of a planet -- this time, Colu -- and in the specific pairings of aliens Superman, Starfire, and Martian Manhunter (Team "Mystery"). Odyssey would have continuity repercussions but was in the short term self-contained, among the rare breed of non-expansive event miniseries, and No Justice might sort of be the same were it not coming out of Metal and going straight into the new Justice League series.

In the first and second chapters, I was glad to see some good old-fashioned superhero crowd shots of the kind I don't think we've seen in a while -- not in Metal, I don't recall, and perhaps not since Trinity War or Forever Evil. Snyder and company make interesting casting choices -- excluding Nightwing, which downplays some of the natural connections between the characters, while emphasizing Damian; continuing to bring the New 52/Rebirth Raven to the forefront, in what feels like a natural offshoot of Dark Nights Metal: The Wild Hunt; and not, perhaps surprisingly, doing much with the Suicide Squad beyond Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller. Beast Boy fares exceptionally well here; that's a character who can be solid or annoying depending on the writer -- and I wouldn't have taken bets here -- but Batman and Lobo bucking up Beast Boy is among the better and more original parts of this story.

Francis Manapul's first issue is gorgeous, among Manapul's best work among great work; surely it's a treat to see Manapul draw a swath of the DC Universe. That everyone gets new costumes for this story is bizarre and wonderful and I hope Snyder keeps writing it in, the same as with Metal. Manapul and Marcus To both do good work in the second chapter, though I'm not sure their styles quite match; neither do To and Riley Rossmo, but Rossmo has such a unique take on these characters that I'm thrilled to see him here regardless. (Rossmo and the writing team depict Lobo strangling young Vril Dox in the third chapter, a sequence that threatens to crack continuity in that Batman knows Dox and Dox wears a LEGION armband but Lobo and Dox share no recognition.)

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Justice League: No Justice

Justice League: No Justice is perhaps the Midsummer Night's Dream of the "New Justice" era, unless it's the New World Order. Therein lies the rub, that wedged between Metal and Justice League Vol. 1: The Totality, if you offer event on top of event on top of event, at some point it doesn't really feel like a story -- see indeed Trinity War and Forever Evil. But I believe Scott Snyder that he's got a plan, not in the least because of how fifty issues of Batman built subtly to Metal, and at least No Justice came out all in a month with the new Justice League hot on its tail. Someday, we know, all of this is going to beget another new Justice League, and another, but I'm along for the ride and wishing them well.

[Includes original covers, DC Nation #0 story, sketchbook]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Justice League: No Justice
Author Rating
3 (scale of 1 to 5)


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