Staff member
Writer extraordinaire, Scott Snyder has been indelibly putting his mark upon the DCU since his horror tinged turn on Detective Comics. His Black Mirror arc is now the stuff of legend and he has since gone on to pen one of the best Batman runs since Grant Morrison’s mind-blowing Batman oeuvre. Now Snyder has expanded his vision to encompass the Justice League in all its universe spanning glory. Beginning with the DC event Metal, Snyder has meticulously crafted a narrative that spread through the DC Universe effecting an A list roster of characters and forever altering the status quo of the DCU as a whole. The events of Metal dovetailed into the Justice League: No Justice miniseries that followed leading into his current run on the eponymous Justice League title. That brings us up to speed chronologically, however if you have not been reading these titles you are denying yourself the pleasure of following what could arguably be the greatest era in Justice League history.
Snyder writes from an immense love of comic books, he knows DC continuity the way a Jesuit knows scripture and that comes through in the intricate details of his work. It is a thing of great beauty to behold Snyder at his world building best here in the current issue of Justice League. He has perfected the voices of these characters as many and varied as they are, he nails each and every one of them with the precision and accuracy of a surgeon.
This issue begins the road to Drowned Earth, an Aquaman-centric crossover and as a prelude to an epic story this one couldn’t be any better.
As a writer with such a vast knowledge of the DCU and particularly the Justice League it stands to reason that Snyder would employ an expansive roster when forming his team of heroes, not just expansive but expanding. In this issue we see just how inclusive that roster is with the appearances of Adam Strange and Firestorm, characters that have otherwise gone underused, if not forgotten.
The inclusion of such eclectic characters is not the impressive thing here, it’s that Snyder uses them in such a well thought out way. His Justice League narrative feels epic and we are only ten issues in, imagine how all-encompassing this run is going to feel by the end. It’s as if he has a significant role for every JL member throughout league history to play, not just to be an Easter Egg, but to more fully tell his overall story. As is evidenced in this issue, Snyder focuses on the team as a whole by moving them into smaller groups allowing us to more completely absorb the nuances that make some of these characters so great. This also allows us to see how certain characters interact with other characters we may not have seen in such intimate pairings, particularly in this issue, Arthur and Diana. This tale is basically told from Aquaman’s perspective, so Snyder very astutely provides us with as much detail as possible from that vantage point, although subtle at times this approach can also be used to completely focus on deeply personal aspects of character development as we see here on the opening page.
The issue begins with a young Arthur recalling a conversation he shared on the deck of a sail boat with his father. The young boy possesses an inquisitive nature which Snyder uses to perfectly juxtapose the events of long ago with a much more perilous present day. The narrative has the weight of Arthurian Myth as we see Aquaman and Wonder Woman examining one of Poseidon’s bottled ships. The deck of the miniature Viking boat is bustling with a full crew and full sails.
The ship in this bottle is of particular importance because it is said to bear the mark of Arion, Atlantis’s greatest champion.
Since the team is somewhat fractured in this issue, the communication that links them all together is of paramount importance and Snyder does a fantastic job with the dialog. Batman’s role as strategist has become his sole responsibility on the team since being all but imprisoned in a full body cast. However, the Dark Knight Detective’s role is not a diminished one, in fact his voice has become more unifying than it has been in the past. In fact because of his restricted movement, Batman must focus on the team as a single entity to advice and direct each of the individual units. Snyder’s ability to immerse himself in each of these characters is really on display in this issue in large part because of the structure of the narrative and the distance between the individual league members. There is a subtle humor to this issue that Snyder is not afraid to play up when called for, the piece of Starro in a jar for example, very clever and soundly amusing.
Visually, artist Francis Manapul’s dynamic staging and precise facial expressions heighten the emotional element of the issue. The human factor that he brings to the bombastic events unfolding in this issue is perhaps one of the most impressive artistic accomplishments in a book full of them. There is an electricity to his work here that is more explosive and kinetic than even his work on the Flash. This is a beautiful piece of comic book art my friends, just a gorgeous issue.
Overall, this issue is just a tiny step on a universe spanning journey of cosmic proportions. Scott Snyder not only knows exactly where this is headed but, he has the course meticulously plotted out. For my money Justice League ,under the direction of Snyder, has been consistently the most engrossing, exciting and entertaining book on the racks and I’m going back to Metal. This is the way Justice League should always be handled, its big, epic tales of heroics with nothing less than the survival of the universe hanging in the balance. Justice League is our Arthurian Legend, our Greek and Roman Mythology and our Heroic Sagas. Its Homer and Shakespeare all rolled into one and that’s how Scott Snyder writes it. There is an urgencey to his Justice League that has been missing for too long and I for one am so grateful its back. Cheers Scott Snyder. 5/5