By Steve Orlando, Hugo Petraus, Hi-Fi, and Clayton Cowles
What happens when you defeat a villain so many times that he has to resort to time travel to come up with a way to defeat the heroes he’s fighting against? That’s the question that proves to be the main focus of this new arc, “Dawn of Time”, which pits the team against Chronos. It’s an ambitious start, but unfortunately, Steve Orlando’s script never quite hits all the highs that you’d hope a book like this would be able to tell, especially given the potential of what the series has to display here.
There isn’t much of Justice League of America left on the horizon with this series having been cancelled and right now it’s looking like this book is about to go out with a whimper rather than a bang. The whole issue felt incredibly messy at times which is a real shame, because Orlando’s take on going back in time to kill superheroes before they were born is definitely a unique approach. It’s difficult to tell whether this arc was meant to be a finale, because the last arc felt like a much more natural conclusion. That said, it’s just the opening chapter, so there’s plenty of room for things to get a resolution that would end this book on a high note.
The artwork from Hugo Petrus is solid, adopting a more cartoonish approach and Hi-Fi’s colors are vibrant and kinetic, full of energy and life, bringing a sense of agency to the book that comes with a cool retro sci-fi feel to boot. It’s not afraid to embrace the weird and outlandish elements available in the DC universe. It’s hard to believe that the same Batman in this book is the same as the one in his core titles, as the tone between them and this is just so different.
The last panel has something really cool that genre fans would love (think something along the lines of space sharks in terms of sheer absurdity that only this title would get away with), and if anything, it certainly makes the prospect of the next conflict against Chronos being a unique one. Orlando hasn’t shied away from telling unique stories and whilst they haven’t always been successful, he has managed to create an interesting team dynamic here with a diverse group of characters that continue to play off each other well, with plenty of team interaction working well in each of the characters’ favors.
Orlando’s balancing of the characters pagetime helps give them room to shine in combat. It’s not the most character-focused issue and feels very action heavy, preferring instead to look at the central mystery at hand which it sets up the arc that we will spend the final issues of Justice League of America with. At this point if you’re still reading the series it might be a good idea to see with it to the end as there are only two issues left after this one, as the arc creates a compelling enough mystery to keep readers around, but those looking to jump on a new title with a new arc will be best served going back to the beginning rather than starting now.