After the previous issue of Justice League of America setup Chronos as one of the most dastardly villains in the DC Universe, this one went ahead and solidified his terror. What really did the trick for me wasn’t Chronos’ typical villain dialogue, which was well done and included both taunting the heroes and telling henchmen to shut up. It also wasn’t the way Chronos took the fight to the JLA via a literal army of sycophants from throughout history (a classic move used often at Marvel by Kang the Conqueror). What made Chronos so compelling to me was the triviality of his motives. He seemed to embrace and own his status as a straight up bad guy (a fitting motif given our current political climate but that’s another discussion…).
As I noted in my review of issue #27, Steve Orlando is a writer who really lives in the heads of characters he writes, giving his books a more well-rounded feel than most, a sense that even small lines and brief actions matter, even if it’s just to create a more robust picture of what’s happening in this world with these people. There have been signs that Chronos was a petty man from the start, that his motives were entirely vindictive, and that he was messing with the God of superheroes, Ahls, simply to humble the League and take them down a notch for being altruistic, which has been a recurring motif in this run.
By the end of this issue, Chronos all but confirms as much, with Ryan Choi subsequently noting that Chronos had started as a petty thief, a dim man with a chip on his shoulder for being degraded by the superior intellects of first Ray Palmer and now Choi. This is all very much in keeping with behavior we’ve seen from Chronos, and it’s yet another example of what I’ve often said about Orlando’s JLA: it’s a well-wrought and complex run that rewards readers for investing deep levels of focus and attention.
Another thing I’ve really enjoyed about this current arc is that it leans in to being a story of superheroes. Orlando is also a writer with real passion for the tradition of his work, often taking close consideration of continuity when scripting character interactions. This passion shows in the lack of cutesy winking found in JLA. This is a book that takes story very seriously, and, as a reader, it’s hard to not follow suit. Of the talented artists Orlando has worked with throughout this run, Hugo Petrus’ work best embraces this total buyin. There are some truly fantastic superhero panels here, including one of a battle in which Black Canary lunges from the foreground at a foe, giving us a glimpse at an immense and impressive depth of field.
Overall: Justice League of America #28 is the penultimate issue of a book that has been a real treat, and I’m sad that things have to end. Not many of the characters from this team have been teased as part of the League moving forward, with the exceptions being Batman (of course) and Lobo, who is at least involved with No Justice. Still, getting nearly 30 issues with this eclectic and disparate group has been a treat, and issues like this illustrate why. 8.8/10
Zack Quaintance is a career journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.