This is it! Questions are finally answered here in the pages of Justice League #16. But before we uncover mysteries that have long been kept hidden away lets check out the covers for this issue.
The regular cover to this issue is by Jim Cheung, and while The Martian Manhunter takes center stage in a very dramatic pose. The inclusion of Lex Luthor and the cover text has left me a little confused as Lex doesn’t appear in the issue and the cover text doesn’t really have an impact on the story. This cover does however remind me of how incredible The Martian Manhunter’s design is.
The variant cover is by Will Conrad and Alex Sinclair and features Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and The Martian Manhunter. I love how this cover is very much shot from ‘our’ perspective. This is very much me looking up in awe at heroes who’s exploits I’ve followed for years and years in pure wonder.
The secrets of the universe begin to unravel, as The Martian Keep who is held captive within the vaults of Thanagar Prime informs J’onn J’onzz of secrets that span time and space. These secrets have come full circle and threaten the entirety of the multiverse. This issue alternates between the exchange involving The Martian Keep and J’onn J’onzz, and the forces of Thanagar Prime taking on John Stewart and Hawkgirl. Who are also within the confines of the vault system beneath the surface of Thanagar. The inclusion of the Green Lantern Corps lead by Kilowog goes a long way to highlight the cohesive nature of the DC Universe. Even though this issue is extremely dense and dialogue heavy with lots of new information relayed to the reader, Justice League #16 flows nicely thanks to the story alternating between incredible action sequences, and exposition that pushes the narrative forward.
Justice League #16 opens with the reader alongside The Martian Manhunter learning a great secret kept for a millennia by the Maltusians who would later evolve into the Guardians of the Universe. This secret would involve an entity called Perpetua, teased in the last issue, and the universe she helped shape while wielding the ‘seven energies of creation’. We learn this is a dark and dangerous universe that was designed never to die aided by a predatory army that had been genetically engineered.
J’onn J’onzz then learns the secret relating directly to Thanagar Prime. Specifically how it maintains its seemingly unbreakable universal dominance, and the mysterious appearance of the Savage Hawkman. This tale isn’t just relayed by The Martian Keep, but the reader also learns that she is a crucial part of this mystery. Not only that but the reader learns how these feats are achieved specifically by using an artifact called the Absorbascon. The final reveal to come from The Martian Keep doesn’t get any more personal, as it ties directly into the origin J’onn J’onzz.
While this fascinating exchange takes place, the action is intense and hard hitting between Shayera and Kendra as the battle ebs and flows between the two warring factions. Interior artist Stephen Segovia does a fantastic job in regards to combat, and the way he incorporates flight and the wings that adorn the characters, in particular Kendra AKA Hawkgirl. As The Martian Keep’s fate is finally decided, her secrets manage to end the conflict and go some way to healing the wounds inflicted on Thanagar and to Shayera who carries and feels every single one of them. The issue draws to a close on a very positive note as The Justice League are reunited alongside a composed and confident Starman. This segment of the issue is illustrated by Jim Cheung and just looks phenomenal.
Once more the team of Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have created a very dense, yet free flowing issue that introduces new ideas and new aspects to DC’s cosmic mythology. I love the idea that the disruptive Guardians of the Universe are yet again some how embroiled in another potential cataclysmic event. As a long time reader of Green Lantern, I’m more than aware of how sanctimonious and meddlesome the Guardians can be. If they believe something, that really is the end of the discussion. Their inclusion in this story arc as catalysts for hiding the secret history of Perpetua is very on brand
The ‘Reconstitution’ of Kendra and Shayera seen at the end of this issue is very much a complex concept, and is deeply entrenched in DC Comics law. The idea has been tackled successfully most recently in an episode of Arrow and the most recent ongoing series of Hawkman. I really like that it has been tackled once again in the issue, and for Starman to be at the heart of it only adds to the characters significance. You really believe that Starman is here for a reason and not just shoehorned in. This is a character of immense power with a real role to play in proceedings.
The way this issue ends, it really feels like the season finale episode of a TV show. Lots of pressing questions answered, familiar characters dealing with their new status quo, and the start of a brand new journey just as one has come to a close. I like that alliances have been created in this issue and that we finally have an idea of who the main villain is. I’m more than prepared for a showdown between the Green Lantern Corps and Perpetua’ army as it was teased in this issue. I can’t wait to see what happens next.