JUSTICE LEAGUE has been digging deep into the origins of the Multiverse and, in JUSTICE LEAGUE #16, we start getting a clearer picture of what’s going on. Writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV finally tell us what hides behind the Source Wall, what it means for the universe, and what the League will face in the future. There’s a lot to unpack in this issue, and any hardcore DC fan is going to have a lot of references to get giddy over.

Warning, potential spoilers for JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 are below!

Her Name is Perpetua

JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 starts with the Martian elder, held captive by the Thanagarians, telling J’onn about the history of the universe. She starts at the beginning with Krona and the Maltusians, who discover a widespread myth. That myth was based on the universe previous to ours. In it, an all-powerful being used the Seven Energies of Creation to create a perpetual, predatory universe. So Krona studied all of the available data and decided to hide anything relating to Perpetua, fearing that if people uncovered her history, they’d resurrect her.

The destruction of the Source Wall has upset that delicate balance. The dark energies once held back have now been unleashed. Shayera is tapping those energies to use the Martian elder to recreate Thanagar Prime from the memories in the Absorbiscon. The recreated world won’t last, however, because the elder is dying.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #16
JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Maltusians would become the Guardians of the Universe, and Thanagar Prime’s vaults held the knowledge of Perpetua. That knowledge included a myth that warned of a great army, returning to conquer the universe. That army is actually a hybrid of Martians and Humans, who were created to complement each other. One had the fire to sow chaos and destruction, the other had the power to do so. J’onn’s arrival in Earth allowed scientists to sample his DNA and rebuild that dreaded army.

Thanagar Prime… Lost?

The pitched fight between Thanagarians, Green Lanterns, and Justice Leaguers ends when the Martian Elder finally dies. The illusion of Thanagar Prime goes with her, including the Savage Hawkman. John Stewart wants to arrest Shayera Hol, but Kendra Saunders gets him to relent. Shayera herself is indifferent, as she fears the universe will spurn her people now that the illusion is gone.

Just as Shayera announces that they’re trapped in the vault with no escape, there’s a big flash as Starman, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman appear. So Starman is now in control, and brimming with the power of the Totality. Starman uses that power to fix the broken thread between Kendra and Shayera, something he suspects Perpetua wanted. He also helps everyone teleport out of the vaults, and encourages Shayera to rebuild, as he foresees the people of the universe coming to her aid.

Shayera, relieved, reveals to Kendra that the map on her wings is a map to the highest plane of existence. J’onn also reveals that he needs to find someone who might be able to help them against the Legion of Doom, while Starman tells Kendra that she’s the key to fixing the Source Wall. The race to save the Multiverse is on!

Snyder and Tynion Revisit Familiar Themes

JUSTICE LEAGUE #16
JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Snyder and Tynion IV are treading some familiar ground with this arc. The idea that a universe existed before this one isn’t new. Neither is Krona, who has been a universal threat in the past. Modern comics is about reinvention and reintroduction, and the writing team does this well. The reintroduction of Thanagar, Krona, and the origins of the universe — as well as the tweaking of the DC Multiverse — is executed very well by this writing duo.

A good example of reinvention and reintroduction in JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 is Perpetua’s symbol. The structure on the top half of it represents justice, in Martian mythology. It resembles the Hall of Justice. The line in the middle represents the Source Wall. The Source Wall holds back and suppresses the bottom half, the negative aspect of the Seven Energies of the Creation. So if you invert the Legion of Doom symbol, it lines up with that bottom portion. Two sides, doom and justice, in opposition. Very clever, if a bit on the nose, by Snyder and Tynion.

Segovia and Cheung Do Good Work in JUSTICE LEAGUE #16

Stephen Segovia and Jim Cheung finish out their arc with JUSTICE LEAGUE #16. Segovia is much more minimalist here, but it fits thematically with the plot point of the Martian Elder. The fading world as the Elder slowly dies is rather poetic.

Jim Cheung’s contrasting, hyper-detailed art was brilliant as usual. If neither of these artists continues to the next issue, I’d want to see them return in the future. Both of done some good work on this series and JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 was no different.

Can the Justice League Save the Multiverse?

JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 has given us a clear goal for the Justice League: repair the Source Wall, stop Perpetua and the Legion of Doom. That doesn’t sound easy, but it does sound like an epic tale; one fitting the World’s Greatest Heroes. JUSTICE LEAGUE is shaping up to be one of the most exciting books in DC’s lineup.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #16 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Cheung, Stephen Segovia, Mark Morales, Tomeu Morey, and Wil Quintana
Art
Characterization
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Summary
Writers Snyder and Tynion craft a satisfying ending, setting up a much larger story with the Source Wall and Perpetua. Segovia's minimalist art and Cheung's hyper-detailed work offer wonderful contrast, as the League may finally have turned the tide against the Legion of Doom.
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