For the last year, DC Comics has been setting up something big with their villainous characters. In one corner, the Justice League has been facing a terrifying new Legion of Doom, and in another the mysterious Leviathan has been coming for the DCU’s secret societies and spy organizations. In Year of the Villain we get some big teases of where those stories are going, all only for a quarter.
This one shot is split into three chapters, plus a half dozen pages of bonus content. The first story – “DOOM”- is by Scott Snyder, Jim Cheung, Tomeu Morey, and Tom Napolitano. The second story – “LEVIATHAN”– is by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, and Joshua Reed. Last comes “JUSTICE” by James Tynion, Frances Manapul, and Napolitano.
Although all three stories are good, the highlight by a large margin is “Doom”. Snyder’s Lex Luthor has been the best thing about his relaunch of Justice League by far, and this story highlights that. Cheung and Morey’s art is full of energy, and they give Lex a level of arrogance that makes him a commanding presence, even among much more powerful beings. It’s also the one story of the three that feels most like a full story than just a well-written teaser, even with its cliffhanger ending.
“Leviathan” probably should have closed the issue, because it’s tonally a big disconnect from “Doom” and “Justice.” However, Bendis gives us some fun teases for how his Action Comics story is going to start affecting the larger DCU prior to the larger event. His take on Batgirl is probably the best Babs Gordon since Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey days. Maleev’s art is always gorgeous, and his Batgirl and Green Arrow are dynamic presences on the page, while his Leviathan- the masked villain at the center of the story, making his debut here- is imposing and threatening.
“Justice” is a counterpoint to “Doom” with the League attempting to stave off the effects of the Source Wall’s destruction while preparing for the coming of Perpetua and Luthor’s plans for the Legion. Tynion kicks it off with a brief action sequence, then spends several pages setting up the stories to come through the next few months.Manapul’s art is always gorgeous, and his take on the League and the Legion is dynamic, even when they’re just sitting around a table. It also features the best moment of the one-shot, a gorgeous two page spread of basically all of the DCU’s active heroes.
The rest of 2019 is going to be a lot of fun for the DC Universe, at least for us as readers. For the heroes, it’s going to be hell.
Year of the Villain is available now from DC Comics.