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'Justice League' #39's conclusion is exhausting and DC's pattern of meta-escalation needs to stop

DC's major event storylines are caught in a pattern of constant escalation that stopped being fun four Crises ago
'Justice League' #39 (Tyler Kirkham/Arif Prianto/DC Comics)
'Justice League' #39 (Tyler Kirkham/Arif Prianto/DC Comics)

Spoiler alert for 'Justice League' #39

Large scale cosmic myth has always been a big part of DC storytelling, but it's starting to get overwhelming. It began with Geoff Johns, who built up 'Blackest Night' which led into 'Brightest Day' that led us to New 52 through 'Flashpoint' which built up to 'Trinity War' as a lead in to 'Forever Evil' that spawned 'Darkseid War' that was all REALLY in preparation for 'Doomsday Clock.' Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's 'Batman' run then set up a long game story that bound Batman in several mythic metals and used him as a door to open the Dark Multiverse in 'Dark Knights: Metal,' during which the Source Wall was broken and we find out that there are not only multiverses and dark multiverses, but that they're all bound together in a greater omniverse and just...just stop, DC. Stop. 

Snyder has been expanding the DC...omniverse? Metaverse? Whatever you want to call it, it's been expanded in a whole new way through Snyder's 'Justice League' run, introducing new cosmic villain Perpetua. Perpetua was created to be an even bigger threat than the Monitor, Anti-Monitor and the Forger of Worlds combined - a fact confirmed when the three literally did combine to try and defeat her. Snyder's Justice League have more or less been pawns desperately trying to keep up with battles that keep shifting in scale in increasingly ridiculous ways. Most of it has been played straight, making it hard to tell how much of it you're supposed to take seriously. 

When it's obvious what to enjoy for the sheer ridiculousness of it, 'Justice League' was one of the most fun books on the market. It had things like Jarro, a smaller clone version of Starro the Conquerer who just wants to be another Robin and moments like the one that saw Batman turn the Hall of Justice into a giant mecha. When the comic escalates its scale to establish bigger and bigger and bigger stakes, however, all it truly ends up being is exhausting. 

Snyder's 'Justice League' run has been especially tiring because the League has, for 39 straight issues, kept losing, at every turn. Seeing heroes fail only to rise up again is part of what makes comics great, but there's a limit to how much can be taken - especially given how little agency the Justice League seems to actually have. 'Justice League' #39 is thus especially disappointing, as what was billed as Snyder's farewell to the League and the conclusion of his 'Justice/Doom War' storyline is instead just another loss, teasing an even greater battle at some unspecified point in the future. Not even the sight of Wonder Woman with a mythic chainsaw can inspire anything but weariness for how absurd things have become.

Absurdity is at the heart of comics, yes, but the stories ultimately work because the absurdity tends to be balanced by more grounded human emotions. The current run of 'Justice League' has been leaning far too heavily away from relatability, apparently seeking to inspire a constant sense of extremeness and awe instead. It hasn't let up but with the reins of the 'Justice League' being handed over to Robert Venditti and Jason Mendoza, there's hopefully a little time to breathe before we find out what other prefixes can be added to "-verse" to show us all that things REALLY matter, now. 

'Justice League' #39 was written by Scott Snyder. For pages 1-11, art was done by Jorge Jimenez with colors by Alejandro Sanchez, and pages 2-21 were drawn by Daniel Sampere & Juan Albarran with colors by Hi-Fi.