I never thought I’d see Kevin Maguire work in a “Justice League” title during the New 52, but that is exactly what opens “Justice League” #40 as Metron descends upon one of the afflicted survivors of the Amazo Virus. The self-proclaimed “keeper of all knowledge past and present, archivist of ideas and timelines” brings a hefty amount of inner musings that letterer Rob Leigh contains in a smattering of caption boxes that struggle to find room throughout the opening pages.
This is Geoff Johns’ first in-depth visit with the New Gods, and “Justice League” #40 is less about the adventures of the Terran-based Justice League and more about the New Gods and their influence upon the structure of reality. As such, Metron narrates the issue and gives readers a quick rundown of what has led to this point in time. Metron serves as DC’s version of Marvel’s Watcher, but Johns amplifies Metron’s thoughts so readers can share in the mysterious, Mobius-chair riding being’s interpretation of events. It makes for a thick, slower-paced read, but Johns gives his artists ample opportunity to play around in the DC Universe.
Those artists, which include some of the best in the business, draw some magnificent scenes. As noted earlier, Kevin Maguire opens the issue, introducing Metron, Highfather, Highfather’s son Scot and Orion to readers. Maguire keeps Darkseid as mysterious as possible, as Johns’ story and Leigh’s letters comply with that mystery. Phil Jimenez contributes a surprise double-page splash that interprets events associated with “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway and Scott Kolins race through events of “Zero Hour,” “Infinite Crisis” and “Flashpoint.” Jason Fabok provides a double-page drawing of the inciting event that brought the members of the League together and Jim Lee closes out the issue, bringing readers to the present day and a pointed conversation between Metron and the Anti-Monitor.
Johns’ story raises eyebrows with revelations and plants plenty of subplot seeds and further developments for the upcoming “Darkseid War.” The stinger at the end of “Justice League” #40 points readers to the Free Comic Book Day release, “Divergence,” as the page it is on leaves readers in a lurch, with mysteries just starting to bloom. This issue spends a great deal relating passive observation, but the contributions from the talented all-star art team provide enough eye candy to maintain reader interest. Now that “Convergence” has reached the halfway point, Johns and crew seem ready to elevate the League to appropriate marquee status, even if it doesn’t quite happen with “Justice League” #40.