WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #29 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Bruno Redondo, Hi-Fi and Tom Napolitano, in stores now.
The Justice League title has been slowly building to the cataclysmic Justice/Doom War, which is set to kick off in Justice League #30. But before the war between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom begins, Snyder, Tynion IV and Redondo offer a bit of a breather in Justice League #29. The issue not only sets the final pieces into place for the upcoming confrontation, but it also works as a recap of the entire series, stretching all the way back to Justice League #1.
On top of all that, Justice League #29 also works as a showcase for the iconic team of superheroes' latest recruit: Jarro, a heroic surviving remnant of Justice League villain Starro. Jarro effectively considers Batman to be his father, and he fancies himself the greatest Robin of all time.
It's rather fitting then that, on the eve of battle, Justice League #29 features a beautiful, hopeful moment between the starfish-shaped alien and his surrogate father.
The heart of the Justice League series is about the eternal struggle between justice and doom, between nature and nurture. And nowhere is this duality better reflected than in Jarro, the offspring of a creature meant to conquer. Starro was once a terrifying villain feared throughout the cosmos, a product of his planet's own twisted evolution. Even though Jarro is a remnant of Starro, he is not like him. Thanks to his time with the Justice League, he has developed a different conscience, and he chooses to fight for good instead of evil.
But in Justice League #29, Jarro lets his emotions get the better of him. Fearful of losing the inevitable battle against the Legion of Doom and the possible death of the entire superhero team, Jarro makes a power move by taking over the minds of every Justice Leaguer. His hope is to take the entire team back to his home world, where he'll be able to keep them safe and alive. It's not something he wants to do, but something he has to do to ensure their survival. It's might not be the best means, but it definitely comes from the right place.
However, Batman is able to break through Jarro's hold. In that moment, Jarro believes that the only way to win is to become the Conqueror he was destined to be. But Batman gets through to him, by telling him that he is not a monster, that thanks to his heart, he is something better -- something bright. Bruce understands that Jarro is simply lashing out, reacting out of fear. So he tells him that the feeling is mutual: "We're afraid of losing you too, kiddo. I'm afraid of losing you. That's why we'll win."
And that is when Justice League #29 delivers what will become, arguably, the most powerful hug of the year. Batman hugs Jarro reassuringly with a heartwarming embrace. While seeing Batman hug a sentient, telepathic blue starfish is something we never thought we'd see, the emotional weight the page carries is a testament to the Justice League creative team, who have managed to make us care about the father and son relationship of Batman and Jarro.
In Jarro, Justice League #29 presents a microcosm of the series' main theme, by showing how Batman and Starro's mutual love can overcome Starro's need to control. Through love and compassion, the forces of justice just might prevail, regardless of how dire the circumstances seem.