JUSTICE LEAGUE #17 / Writer: Scott Snyder / Penciller: Jim Cheung / Inks: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, and Walden Wong / Colorist: Tomeu Morey / Letterer: Tom Napolitano / Publisher: DC Comics / Release Date: February 6th, 2019
J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, is the heart and soul of the Justice League. Lex Luthor, hellbent on unquestioned domination, is the founder of the Legion of Doom. Needless to say, these two men could not be any more different. And yet, a shared secret brings the two of them to the wastelands of Mars, where they form an uneasy truce (while avoiding a violent death by a hungry colony of quonars, aka psychic moon dragons).
Writer Scott Snyder returns to solo scripting duties with this issue, which is a change of pace from the big-concept storytelling the series has been tackling. By scaling back and focusing on J’onn and Lex, Snyder can highlight their dueling ideologies as well as their similarities—and that Lex has potential to become someone better than the monster he perceives himself to be.
Also returning to the title is artist Jim Cheung. Cheung has long been one of my favorite artists, and this issue shows him in top form. From the panel where J’onn and Lex leap off a cliff to avoid the quonars, to a quiet moment where Lex collects his thoughts, the art (inked by Cheung’s co-collaborators Mark Morales and Walden Wong) truly leaps off the page—thanks, in part, to Tom Napolitano’s gorgeous colors.
Snyder described this issue as the beginning of Act II of his Justice League saga, and what an opening it is. There is an earthshaking revelation that fundamentally alters J’onn’s origins, as well as a hushed epilogue that hints at a new side to our villain. I was literally on the edge of my seat while reading; very few comics have managed to do that for me.
Whether you’re on the side of Justice or Doom, there is more than enough to keep you coming back for future issues.
FINAL VERDICT: 5 out of 5 moon dragons.