With Justice League #25, writer Scott Snyder delivers a riveting prologue to “Year of the Villain,” DC’s upcoming company-wide event. By the end of the issue, the reader will be left begging for the official introduction to the expansive crossover.
Warning: this article contains spoilers for Justice League #25. Reader discretion is advised.
THE ONLY WAY OUT IS TOGETHER
Since March, the “Sixth Dimension” storyline has dominated Justice League; in this climactic issue, the team narrowly avoids yet another universe-altering crisis, as well as a conflict similar to Marvel’s Civil War. Batman plays Tony Stark’s role when he seemingly betrays his teammates by aligning with the World Forger. The Dark Knight believes his actions are essential for the heroes’ victory but, like Steve Rogers, the Flash and his allies refuse to compromise their morals by joining him. Another full-fledged battle between Batman and the Leaguers could be an enthralling story and hopefully we’ll get to see it someday. But, as it turns out, the Caped Crusader didn’t turn to the dark side this time; instead, he secretly had the heroes’ triumph planned out all along.
Seeing Superman swoop in and save the day might make the reader want to sigh with disappointment. Countless other times, the Justice League has faced an insurmountable threat, and Big Blue’s heroics are the deus ex machina that bails them out. While Snyder’s climax calls back to Final Crisis, where the Man of Steel overcomes darkness and doubt with his unfailing optimism, it tells a more intimate story. Unlike Grant Morrison’s famous event, Snyder’s tale individually focuses on the Last Son of Krypton; the hero must push past his own insecurities rather than those of the entire world. Subsequently, Snyder holds a microscope to Superman’s strained psyche. The hero’s time as a prisoner in the Sixth Dimension has eroded the Kryptonian’s persistently hopeful attitude. He can imagine eventualities where Batman will betray him, which demonstrates a steep drop from the Man of Steel’s legendary optimism. Still, when he’s on the verge of giving up, Superman reminds himself of his friends and teammates and draws strength from these memories.
“Together, we are more than we can even imagine,” Snyder narrates while Superman inevitably beats the World Forger. The Justice League may have bent under the pressure during “The Sixth Dimension,” but they certainly didn’t break. Though the heart-pounding conclusion to this issue doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the team’s future, the Leaguers’ latest test has only strengthened the bonds between them.
IT’S ALL COMING TOGETHER
DC’s Year of the Villain #1 gave fans an explosive preview of the titular event that could radically change the status quo of the DC Universe. In that one-shot, some of DC’s top writers, including Snyder, Brian Michael Bendis and James Tynion IV, revealed that many of the company’s worst villains are teaming up in another ambitious attempt to beat the heroes once and for all. Naturally, as the author of Justice League, Snyder hosts the opening round of this brewing war.
At the end of this issue, Batman, Superman and their teammates return home and quickly learn there’s no rest for the weary. During their absence, Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom saved the world from Mister Mxyzptlk, one of Superman’s classic antagonists. Luthor used the victory to globally broadcast a devastating speech in which he told billions of people that, thanks to the Justice League, the multiverse is dying. Snyder crafts a masterful monologue for Luthor, who tells everyone to reject the Justice League in order to save themselves. With just one broadcast, Luthor has turned the world against the League. Plus, thanks to his self-sacrifice, first seen in DC’s Year of the Villain #1, he made himself a martyr. Mera delivers these world-changing news updates to the League and, just like that, the “Year of the Villain” has begun.
The heroes begin to deliberate their response(s) to these developments (finding the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor and assembling a multiversal army), but Luthor’s schemes have the League on the ropes, if not already defeated.
What did you think of Justice League #25? How do you think “Year of the Villain” will change the DC Universe?