What lies beyond the Source Wall?
DC Rebirth was a boon to so many characters and franchises, but oddly, the Justice League line never seemed to benefit in the way so many others did. Part of that is simply that writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok are a hard pair to follow. But more importantly, there’s never been a sense that the Justice League as a team has a clear direction of purpose in the Rebirth era. The team has been needing a big, ambitious overhaul, and No Justice could be just what the doctor ordered.
No Justice is a weekly four-issue miniseries that sets the stage for DC’s new Justice League lineup – Justice League, Justice League Dark and Justice League Odyssey. It’s also a followup to the recent Dark Nights: Metal crossover, though all you really need to know is that the Source Wall has been breached and new dangers are spilling into the DC Universe from realms unknown. The idea being that the Justice League has to become bigger and better if it’s going to face these new threats, and the only way to do that is to forge an alliance with one of their fiercest enemies.
You certainly can’t fault No Justice #1 for its scope and ambition. This issue crams in pretty much every Leaguer and Teen Titan of significance as Brainiac rallies Earth’s heroes to confront the cosmic villains entering through the Source Wall. The villains themselves don’t leave much of an impression. They’re pretty much your textbook, Jack Kirby-inspired cosmic devourers. It doesn’t help that both No Justice and the relaunched Avengers over at Marvel are focusing on such similar antagonists right out of the gate.
Still, these villains are more a means to an end at the moment. Writers Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson and James Tynion IV are clearly more concerned with their large cast of heroes. There’s a palpable excitement driving this issue as so many iconic heroes and villains join forces for the common good. It reminds me of nothing if not Kirby’s Super Powers comics from the early ’80s, where a who’s who cast of DC heroes ran face-first into the cosmic grandeur of the Fourth World.
Despite having three writers, this issue manages a cohesive, unified voice. It surely helps that this isn’t Snyder, Williamson and Tynion’s first tag-team effort. And despite the massive cast, the writers find ample opportunity to allow individual characters to shine. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between Martian Manhunter and Lex Luthor (the latter of whom seems to respect J’onn in a way he doesn’t most aliens) and the banter between Robin and Doctor Fate. Starro’s deranged, manic voice also makes for a fun addition to the mix. With any luck, these memorable character pairings will come into focus even more as the massive cast splits off into smaller teams.
Not that it’s hard for a book to make a strong first impression when it’s drawn by Francis Manapul. Manapul’s sleek, expressive figures and sweeping panels capture the full scope of this conflict. Manapul makes a concerted effort to open up his art and rely on double-page spreads as often as possible. As such, this may be one of those rare cases where reading in print form rather than digital is the way to go. The art needs that extra real estate in which to breathe.
Hi-Fi’s colors are equally impressive. With so much emphasis on cosmic energy and otherworldly enemies, the vivid colors are crucial in capturing the right tone and making this story feel as dramatic as it does.