SYNOPSIS: After being off-planet for so long, the Justice League must try to pick up the pieces of their lives—but Lex Luthor has other plans. If he has his way, he’ll show all of humanity that the Justice League will never be there in the world’s time of need!
I’m a big fan of roller coasters. The higher the heights and the faster the speed the better. When a good roller coaster is giving you all its got it’s a huge adrenaline rush and I’m smiling and screaming and laughing, but you don’t get to those thrills without setup. You have to make the slow climb up the hill, you hit flat parts in the track that line up the next jarring twist or series of ups and downs. Those sections are equally important to the experience, if not as impressive when compared to the moments that blow you away.
Justice League #26 is a bit of the slow climb or the flat section of rail that inevitably is setting you up for the next rush. It’s good and it’s necessary, but coming off of the last few issues of the title it feels a little dull. That’s not to say that writer James Tynion IV and artist Javier Fernandez aren’t delivering a fine performance. In fact, this issue plays into Tynion’s strengths without leaning into some of his weaker tendencies.
Tynion typically does well with narration and big speeches and this issue delivers both. Martian Manhunter kicks things off giving the reader an overview of what has taken place on Earth since JL #25. People are turning towards actions of pure self-interest, inspired by Luthor’s worldwide message on the impending doom of existence and laying the blame at the feet of the League. In his absence, urban legends of a mysterious cloaked figure are being spread by everyday people whose actions have turned villainous. Manhunter details his investigation into each case, searching the minds and hearts of these people and the segment serves as a strong introduction to the storyline and solid character work for J’onn.
Later, Superman addresses the House of Heroes where Justice League members from across the galaxy have gathered to hear his plan on how to save existence. We get a full page of Superman being Superman, leading and influencing countless heroes to band together for the cause of justice. The speech reinforces the larger narrative at play and is a great Cliff’s Notes for the reader while giving the character the spotlight and his central role in the as the epitome of heroism in DC’s expansive multiverse. Tynion nails both of these passages.
It’s also in the House of heroes where Fernandez really gets to show off his skills. There are so many characters presented you could spend hours just staring at these panels and taking note of who all is present. He presents a strong grasp on detail even in the widest and most packed scenes. Fernandez makes the wise choice of keeping the background settings fairly underdeveloped and atmospheric, allowing all the characters to pop off the page and impress the breadth of the gathering upon the reader.
Not everything is as strong in the issue, unfortunately. The World Forger we encounter here feels like a different character from the one that was attempting to preemptively punish potential evil-doers and rewrite the minds of the Justice League to turn away from true justice. There is a lengthy sequence focused on Hawkgirl and Mera leading the reader through the research, planning, and training of the league members that are somewhat interesting but drags on too long.
Oh, and the cover stating “The Death of Starman?!” Is completely misleading and barely touched on in the story itself.
Every big thrill ride requires its set up. Not every issue can be a 70 mph drop through a blackened tunnel with strobe lights flashing in your face. Still, the switch from Snyder and Jimenez’s work on the previous issues is noticeable, especially after the thrilling end to the “6th Dimension” storyline. Justice League #26 is a good addition to the series but falls shorts of the previously reached heights. – Garret Grev