Review: Justice League #20

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writer: Bryan Hitch
Artists: Bryan Hitch, Daniel Henriques, Andrew Currie, & Paul Neary

Summary
This issue begins with the death of a Leaguer. In the wake of a large explosion, Green Lantern Jessica Cruz breathes her last, with the Flash helpless to save her.

An unnamed villain, apparently responsible for the explosion, is brandishing a device and ranting that he will kill the Flash “like he killed them…” Who the Flash is supposed to have killed isn’t made clear.

Barry runs toward him and suddenly the scene cuts to before the explosion. Barry and Jessica are on a breakfast date, when an explosion rocks the diner and they leap into action. This villain is ranting about how they killed his family. When he attacks Jessica with his device, this triggers the explosion that kills her.

Suddenly Barry is thrust back to just before his date with Jessica, and it starts to become clearer. The earlier shift was not a flashback, but Barry is stuck in a time loop. However, each time he seems to move further back in time. Plus, he’s starting to remember the events from previous iterations of the time loop.

Eventually, Barry travels back further than the event that triggered the time loop in the first place. The villain is a scientist demonstrating a zero-point energy device that he has invented.

Due to the Flash’s memories of the device exploding, the League intervenes and tries to prevent the explosion. However, just as the Flash touches the device, the Speed Force in him reacts with the device, causing an explosion that kills everyone watching the presentation, including the scientist’s family.

As the League recovers from the explosion, the scientist uses the device, causing a massive explosion.

Positives
This is quite an interesting and thought-provoking premise – assuming you enjoy stories involving time travel and paradoxes. However, this sort of thing is typical fare for the Justice League, and the Flash in particular, so most readers should enjoy it.

The cliffhanger leaves things very vague. Has the explosion restarted the time loop once more, or has it set off some new calamity that the League must sort out? The vagueness of the cliffhanger makes it nearly impossible to predict how it will be resolved in the next issue. This will likely make the month-long wait for next issue both fun and frustrating, as we try to speculate what comes next.

Also, I like the idea that with time looping, almost anything can happen with the characters. We all know that the Leaguers will eventually come out of this adventure alive and well, but during each loop, we don’t know who will survive. Any or all of the League could die, until they are resurrected when time loops around again.

Negatives
I find myself a bit confused how the continuity of this story fits in with the events happening in the rest of the DC Universe. The story should be one of the most recent things to occur, as Superman is clearly the Superman Reborn version (as we can tell from his red boots). However, in recent issues of The Flash, Barry is in a relationship with Iris. Why does he seem to be still pursuing a relationship with Jessica then?

Also, what’s up with the Flash’s costume? His symbol has a red background, but it’s white in his own title, and his costume seems to be missing the fine yellow/gold detailing lines. Does Barry wear a different costume when he’s with the League? However, this is just quibbling, and can likely be written down to different artists’ interpretations of the costume.

Verdict
A fun and head issue. If time paradoxes give you a headache, you might want to skip it, but if you love wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff, then be sure to pick this issue up.

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.