The finale of the "Justice/Doom War" story leaves the entire DC universe on uncertain ground. Over the last several months, Justice League has taken readers into the not-so-distant past and the far future to pull together one of the biggest storylines in recent DC history. The Justice Society of America, Kamandi, Justice Legion Alpha and countless other heroes came to aid the Justice League as they tried to stop Perpetua, the evil Super Celestial that created the DC Universe. The conflict ultimately boiled down to a simple choice, given to the residents of Earth—would they side with the ideals of justice, or would they give into faithlessness and "doom?"
Scott Snyder, Jorge Jimenez, Daniel Sampere, and Juan Albarran answer this question in Justice League #39, and it's a rather surprising one. Despite the re-emergence of Martian Manhunter and his last ditch psychic plea to humanity, Earth ultimately sides with Doom, which grants Perpetua the power she needs to gain control over the entire Multiverse. While watching the Justice League lose was a surprising choice, it makes sense in the context of today's society. Cynicism, futility, and anxiety are the dominant forces in the news today, and it seems harder and harder to imagine a "better world" given the growing cultural and economic divides found in just about every country. In a world as polarized as today, is it really a surprise to see it side with "Doom?"
The comic itself is divided into two distinct parts, one which wraps up the Justice/Doom War storyline and one that sets up... whatever comes next. Of the two parts, I enjoyed the first half much more—not only did it provide the surprise "twist" of the series, but Jorge Jimenez's art is simply astounding. He does some of the best work of his career in these pages, building to Earth's fateful choice with a mix of tense and dynamic energy. Everything flows very smoothly in the first book, and it builds to an excellent climax. Had the comic ended with the Justice League disappearing and Perpetua standing victorious over the Earth, I would have come away from this comic intrigued by the ending.
However, that's not where this issue ends. Instead, we get a 12-page epilogue with the Justice League on the moon contemplating their next steps. Drawn by Sampere and Albarran, the second half of Justice League is more of a mixed bag, filled with inexplicable costume changes, too much standing around, and an attempt to bring together DC's disparate events (including Event Leviathan and Doomsday Clock) into some sort of common context. The lackluster ending might not be the creative team's fault—Scott Snyder clearly knows the next chapter in his big DC Universe-spanning story—but the comic ends without giving any sort of tease about what will happen next. Whether that's because DC hasn't announced Snyder's next project (a reunion with Metal co-creator Greg Capullo), or because DC is still trying to sort out its big 5G initiative is uncertain. Whatever the reason, it feels like the second half of Justice League #39 really drops the ball, and leaves readers with more questions about how Perpetua's victory will affect the DC Universe moving forward, and what DC is going to do next.
The "Justice/Doom War" arc was ultimately a fun but uneven storyline, one that struggled to balance its big conceptual ideas about life and human nature with flashy team-ups and big, epic moments. After sticking the ending, Justice League #39 almost immediately squanders it by being too vague about the future and not providing any real pathway forward for the DC Universe.
Published by DC Comics
On January 29, 2020
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jorge Jimenez, Daniel Sampere, and Juan Albarran
Colors by Alejandro Sanchez and Hi-Fi0comments
Letters by Tom Napolitano
Cover by Tyler Kirkham and Arif Prianto
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