Over the past two weeks, we’ve got a lot of Justice League content. Back to back, we have received both the Annual and issue 17, which continues to further the cosmic multiversal story that has defined the run thus far. We had a lot of big developments across both books, with some key character moments, action set pieces and interesting additions to the mythos. Whilst both can be read separately, it is much better to read them together, with Justice League #17 continuing on from what came before. Whilst the standard issue does do a succinct job of catching up those who fell behind with the Annual, it is still a far better tale when both are appreciated together.
There are a few standout characters across both issues that really help the narrative move forward and are integral to the teams that they are on. Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter and Lex Luthor are the three that I feel have the biggest part to play across these issues, with issue 17 especially becoming a tale of the previous friendship between the latter two – a surprising twist and one that is sure to flesh out the relationship between these two moving forward.
Martian Manhunter, in particular, is the heart of both tales, becoming the narrator and guardian to those around him. His relationship with Hawkgirl is interesting, with mutual love and respect between them. There is, of course, a defining character moment for Hawkgirl in the Annual as well, one that will garner further admiration within her universe as she was prepared to sacrifice herself for all eternity.
These two books are vastly different in tone, scale and substance…
These two books are vastly different in tone, scale and substance, however. Despite the artwork being consistently great across both titles, there was a huge difference in terms of storytelling.
The Annual sought to fix the source wall once and for all, taking the monsters we saw in No Justice and using them to repair the broken barrier. This plan ultimately fails with the arrival of Brainiac, who is now aligned with the Legion of Doom. Their plan to break the wall further and unleash Perpetua works in the end, with the villainous team taking her for their own devious ends.
The status quo has been massively shifted again and has made the Justice League series even more interesting. This crossover event was a lot of fun and showcased a variety of characters we don’t always see interact. These multiverse concepts are still being explored in detail and I welcome that.
The following issue is much smaller in scale and contains many more intimate moments. It picks up from what Martian Manhunter learnt on Thanaghar Prime; where he was used as a child in many scientific experiments to understand the links between Martians and Humans. During this forgotten period of time, he had befriended a young boy who was also being used. That boy it turns out was Lex Luthor, who also had this information hidden from him by his father.
This has further ramifications for the future but is just an extra piece of the puzzle, especially as the situation is so dire for the League. This wrinkle could ultimately lead to the downfall of Perpetua if Lex decides to side with his childhood friend.
There is a very clear sense of purpose and a set direction for the title…
There are many interesting themes of regret, failure and perseverance coming from these books and I hope to see more of it.
Both the Annual and issue 17 will receive the same review grade as they are both really great, although for different reasons. Both continued to set a high bar and have made this ongoing adventure even more interesting.
There is a very clear sense of purpose and a set direction for the title and the Justice League series hasn’t been this good in years!
Justice League Annual 1 And Issue 17
Both books deserve to be read. Together they tell one of the most interesting Justice League stories we've read in years. If you're a DC fan, this is well worth your while.