In a word—Majestic. Justice League #40 opens with a celestial narrator offering his view on the order of the universe, reality, and the fraying ends of existence as a whole. This omniscient voyeur is Metron, one of the New Gods, and DC Comics’ resident all-seeing-eye.
In his Mobius Chair, his task is to chronicle all of life’s events from the beginning of time to the present, not only in our universe but all parallel and unseen corners of time and space as well. He has been a mysterious observer in comics for decades, popping up if only to denote that whatever story he appeared in was of critical importance to the fate of the universe. So when he shows up in the prologue issue before the Darkseid War storyline that will come out this summer, we know we’re in store for some high stakes action.
DC Comics has a long-tried tradition of creating timeline skewing events whenever they need to clean house for continuity’s sake. The resulting timeline that arises after said ‘crises’ become the remodeled DC Universe, which is a clever way of changing canon without any need for explanation. It turns out this method is not only trying on an audience’s’ suspension of disbelief, it also causes havoc on the very nature of existence. Metron interprets these canon changes within the franchise as epic cosmic wars. Condensed to a few brilliantly rendered pages, these pocket Ragnaroks paint a dramatic tableau that reads as biblical apocrypha. The most important moment in the history of DC are recounted here, making this one of the few comics of the ‘New 52’ (the company’s branding title after the 2011 relaunch) actually feel connected to a larger whole. It allows new readers to feel a part of something beyond their expectations and treats long time readers with the storylines that defined their childhood, a needle DC has been trying in vain to thread since the relaunch.
Make no mistake, this issue is nothing more than a teaser trailer to the summer’s big event, Darkseid War. It serves as vehicle to introduce readers to the Anti-Monitor who will be at odds with aforementioned granite despot, think Hitler versus Darth Vader, but it does so with such epic pomposity that even this jaded Gen-Xer got a little excited for the last page reveal, which I won’t spoil here. This issue not only stands out this week, but is also a high-water mark for the New 52 which has been sorely lacking for any sense of connection to legend and lore of DC’s past.