Spoilers ahead for this week's Justice League #7.
Justice League #7 might be the end of Scott Snyder, Jorge Jimenez, and Jim Cheung’s first storyline on the title (and does wrap up the overall battle), but there are a slew of surprises and still-mysterious plot points as the issue ends.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the issue was that three Justice League characters will have to die soon, according to the Will Payton version of Starman (that Snyder promised would show up).
Any bets which League members will die?
And Justice League will soon be featuring Lex Luthor working with the Batman Who Laughs, the character that Snyder introduced in Dark Nights: Metal.
In other Justice League #7 developments, John Stewart obtained a mysterious new green ring, Barry Allen became all still and full of dread, and the League learned that the maker of the DC Multiverse might have actually wanted it to be crappy. (Cue fanboy jokes.)
Plus the Earth was saved from Umbrax, the Legion of Doom was defeated (for now), and Hawkgirl out-fought Lex Luthor.
How did it all happen in one issue? Let’s take a look:
As the Justice League #7 begins, Snyder and Cheung give readers a history lesson of sorts, at least the history of Vandal Savage and the Totality (that enormous Epcot-sized ball that fell to the Earth when this story began).
At the dawn of man, Vandal Savage was humanity’s champion, his name “Vandaa” (meaning “judge” in an unspecified language) reflecting that he brought justice.
And, as Metal taught readers, Vandal was the king of the Wolf Tribe, which was one of the three original clans.
But now, Justice League #7 reveals that, as he was leading his tribe in a war, Vandal saw a fragment of the Totality fall to Earth - a fragment that phased through time and landed in pre-history.
And when Vandal discovered the secrets of that fragment, he took on a “new mission and a new name.” He became a bringer of injustice.
Up to Speed
In previous issues, Umbrax, the central power battery of the “Ultraviolet,” was near Earth, attracted to the “hidden emotions” that power the Invisible Emotional Spectrum.
But on the final page of the last issue, because of the efforts of several Justice League members, the Earth turned into a White Lantern, an embodiment of human life.
Up next? Barry Allen needs to access the Still Force and start the universe expanding again. But slowing down is tough for the Fastest Man Alive (or at least one of the fastest). And what he senses behind the Still Force concerns him.
Sinestro takes the opportunity to taunt John Stewart, and Umbrax begins to unleash the power of its “planetary army” on the Earth. The energy will either enslave the Earth’s life force or will destabilize the core and destroy it.
So, yeah, either way? Not good.
Superman starts fighting the planets, deflecting some of the energy with his X-Ray field (but practically killing himself in the process). ‘Cause, you know, Superman!
Aquaman and Wonder Woman try to hold Grodd, Manta, and Cheetah back from distracting Barry. Aquaman even attacks the villains with a ginormous shark. ’Cause, you know, Aquaman!
Finally, Flash enters the Still Force in full, reaching “Super-Position” (which apparently means complete stillness). He sees what he sensed before, learning that the “secret machinery” of the universe is perhaps actually dark and even cruel.
“He feels what Vandal Savage felt all those years ago,” the narration says.
But Flash holds onto the Still Force, and somehow, his efforts close the cosmic membrane so the Earth is saved.
And at that moment, something appears on John Stewart’s hand: a new green ring, and it allows him to create a life-sized skyscraper and drop it on Sinetro’s head.
Meanwhile, just outside the Totality, Hawkgirl is fighting armored Lex Luthor. Her wings are glowing and the effects of the Totality are not affecting her negatively (like they do other humans). Hmm.
She wants to stop Lex from entering the Totality, insisting that “ancient truths” should inspire humility, not a power grab.
But Lex says he hears something alive inside the Totality, something that’s calling to him.
“It calls to doom!” he says.
But Hawkgirl wins the fight.
She enters the golf-ball-shaped Totality.
Lex is instantly transported away from the Totality (by Joker, we think?), and he orders Joker to also transport Sinestro, Manta, Cheetah, and Grodd away from the fight.
The Justice League realizes the fight has ended. They’re joking again, with Superman doing an imitation of Batman (like he did at the beginning of this storyline) and Batman not happy about it (while he’s wearing his body-cast suit).
Hawkgirl is on her knees in a huge crater, the Totality now the size of a bowling ball, still glowing and emitting lightning-type flashes.
Martian Manhunter informs the other League members that the Totality is “the oldest energy source in existence, the living power core from which our reality was sculpted before it was encased in the Source Wall.”
In other words, it has all the answers, including who built the Multiverse and why.
And, they hope, the Totality holds the key to saving the Multiverse (‘cause, you know, it’s dying).
“We will attempt to heal the breach,” J’onn says, “but should we fail, this, The Totality, might be our best chance of saving our realm. Even so, the power it contains, the truths …
“Do we dare possess it?”
Hawkgirl grabs the Totality. She delivers it to the Hall of Justice, where various members of the Justice League are shown along with the Justice League Dark and other heroes like Animal Man, Green Arrow, Vixen, and Adam Strange.
Hawkgirl’s wings are healed. She doesn’t understand why they were glowing when she was near the Totality, and she wonders if it has something to do with her transformation into Lady Blackhawk (in Dark Nights: Metal #4).
Barry’s still a little scarred by what he saw while he was harnessing the Still Force.
“The pieces were somehow connected,” he says. “The White Martians in that base, the seven powers, even you, Kendra, the lives you’ve lived. It’s like one big design, but it felt so … angry?”
John Stewart is still trying to figure out the new ring that just appeared on his hand.
And Superman is being all Superman-y, tying up the story’s theme by saying some inspiring things about “sharing our weaknesses” and fears.
“That’s what that White Lantern light meant,” he says.
Martian Manhunter announces that he’s returning to Thanagar Prime to find some answers from the “Martian keeper of memory” he found there. He thinks she’s hiding something. “The planet is a lockbox of secrets; some of the oldest records of the universe are kept there.”
He is afraid that, if the League opens the Totality, they might learn Flash’s suspicions are right - that everything is cruel and life is supposed to be predatory and dark.
“What if we’re the villains?” J’onn says. “What does the ‘Justice League’ do if it finds it’s on the wrong side of everything?”
“We justice harder,” Batman answers.
Aquaman and Wonder Woman warn their respective homelands about impending danger and prepare themselves for the fact that something bad is coming soon from Black Manta and Cheetah.
After all, the villains have promised to harness more of the “forces” that Lex promised.
(And as Snyder explained to Newsarama, those forces will be the opposites to Wonder Woman’s “Force of Divinity” and Aquaman’s “Force of Life and Evolution.”)
With a “Boom!,” a figure appears in the Hall of Justice. It’s the Will Payton version of Starman.
“I have the answers you seek, but to learn them, three of you must die!” Starman says.
At the other end of the world, Lex Luthor considers what the late Vandal Savage did with the information he found in the piece of Totality he found. Lex decides he must do more.
Lex descends a staircase beneath his headquarters, revealing that chained in the basement is the Batman Who Laughs.
Lex says to him, “You were right. I need your help.”
The Batman Who Laughs lets out a cackle and says, “I thought you’d never ask.”
The story continues in September 19's Justice League #7.