SYNOPSIS: Special extra-size anniversary issue! It’s the final chapter of “The Rule of War”-and all the rules are broken! On the alien planet Trotha, Empress Siddinx’s plan is revealed, and it’s nothing short of world domination-with the Justice League entangled in her puppet strings. But how can the team save a population that now hates and fears them?
Justice League #50 marks the conclusion of Simon Spurrier’s “The Rule of War,” a three-issue arc that focused on telling a stand-alone story largely separated from the larger events in the DC Universe. The question that readers could find themselves asking at the end of Part Three may very well be “what was the point?” In a world where there are tie-ins and crossovers and preludes and postludes and ripple effects into other parallel universes and where everything needs to be tied to the next big event, is there still room for a story untethered to the larger machinations of publisher plans?
Yes. Absolutely, there is.
I’ve been reviewing Justice League for at least two years here at Batman on Film, and much of that time span was spent with Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV acting as the Batman & Robin when it came to the title’s writing duties; crafting a long format tale deeply connected to all of the grandiose events in the DC Universe and often requiring some research to understand exactly what was taking place. It was big and complicated and fun, but since their departure, I’ve really enjoyed the mini-arcs showing up in JL. “The Invasion of the Supermen” was a blast, and “The Rule of War” is unique and intelligent enough that I don’t care if they are a bit on the fluffier side.
Spurrier has delivered a Wonder Woman-focused JL sci-fi story filled with themes of cultural division, military interventionism, media manipulation, and the ethical role of leadership. It’s a crazy hot-dish (Minnesotan for casserole) of ingredients that might not go down as the absolute best meal you’ve ever eaten, but it is certainly an enjoyable one that you will find yourself in the mood to have again in the future. On one hand, it has deep themes and works to say something beyond what is on the page. It functions as the best Sci-Fi does, showing us something true about our own nature by telling us a supernatural story. I’ve made the comparisons in my previous reviews, and while I don’t know that we’d ever get a 12 issue mega-event in the vein of Star Trek, a 3-issue tale that has the League “boldly going where they’ve never gone before” is both thought-provoking and entertaining.
The interesting thing about this storyline is that it succeeds almost as a result of having something serious to say while not taking itself too seriously. The “fluffiness” I mentioned earlier finds itself in one-note villains, predictable double-crosses, “children are the future” sentiment and an overly tidy wrap up to the proceedings. None of those elements detracted from my enjoyment of reading these issues or the arc’s conclusion but they are there as nits that could be picked if one is in the mood to pick them. For me, I see them as almost necessary byproducts of telling a fairly condensed story that is meant to be enjoyed on its own; the shorthand elements become more necessary to move from beginning to end while keeping things fairly tight.
I’ve been very complimentary regarding Aaron Lopresti’s artwork in previous reviews and this issue is no different. His recognizable, approachable, and detailed (if a bit commercial) style is a perfect fit for a fun team-up book of DC’s heavy hitters.
Overall, Justice League #50 and “The Rule of War” is a unique, fun, and surprisingly thoughtful addition to the anthology phase that the title is going through. Enjoy. – Garret Grev