Welcome back, everybody, to my read through DC Comic’s Justice League Event for 2020, Endless Winter. Today I’m taking a look at Justice League Endless Winter #2, Part 9 of Endless Winter. Over the past month, I’ve taken a look at each issue of this event, including tie-ins, and assessed the extent of this Nordic nightmare! I added each review to the master Endless Winter Reading Order and assessed which issues are essential and what tie-ins you can leave out if you like. For the most part, all the issues in this 9 part event have essential parts to them. Flash #767 was probably the least critical as nothing happened during the “Present Day” portion of the issue. The flashback sequence was still there, though, making it not a complete waste.
Releasing today, 12/29/2020, Justice League Endless Winter #2, takes all of the threads introduced throughout the previous 8 parts and resolves them in an interesting and satisfying way. No, this isn’t the status-quo-crashing, earth-1 shattering, crisis of DC continuity we have all become accustomed to ad nauseum. This is the self-contained resolution of the self-contained event. I’ve said it time and again while reading through these issues. This event was just FUN. If comics are entertainment and escapism, then this fit the bill. If anything, Endless Winter proves that every publishing initiative or event coming out of comics need not be a blatant political statement, social commentary, continuity-breaking crisis that will “have the DC Universe reeling for years”, or some catastrophic changing of the guard. To be clear, those things I listed are not necessarily bad in their own right, but I feel can become crutches if not used to communicate a deeper underlying theme or message with your story.
Check out the full solicit and then my review below. Beware, dear reader, spoilers abound ahead!
JUSTICE LEAGUE: ENDLESS WINTER #2
written by ANDY LANNING and RON MARZ
art by HOWARD PORTER and CARMINE DI GIANDOMENICO
backup story art by MARCO SANTUCCI
cover by MIKEL JANÍN
card stock variant cover by DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON
ON SALE 12/29/20
$4.99 US | 40 PAGES | 2 OF 2 | FC | DC
CARD STOCK VARIANT COVER $5.99 US FC
“Endless Winter” chapter nine! This is it—the final chapter in the five-week, nine-issue Justice League crossover! With the Frost King’s origin revealed, the Justice League must battle the mistakes of the past as well as the global freeze that now threatens the entire population. This issue is snow-packed with characters and action as Superman battles Black Adam while Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Queen Hippolyta, and Swamp Thing face the Frost King and his monstrous army! All of the world is watching, and the Justice League must make a choice.
During the flashback sequences of the previous 8 parts, we learned that the super heroes of the 10th Century fought the Frost King once before. Black Adam antagonized and escalated the battle to the point where Viking Prince lost his life and Frost King was frozen beneath the arctic ice for centuries. Hippolyta deeply regrets this as one of the major mistakes in her life. Black Adam apologizes for nothing.
In present day, Stagg Industries seeks to exploit the abandoned kryptonian crystals under Superman’s once fortress of solitude in the arctic. Meanwhile, the Frost King has awoken due to Stagg’s mining. A host of C-list villains have escaped Justice to Black Adam’s kingdom, Kahndaq. To top it all off, Aquaman has enlisted the aid of ancient lava giants, and Wonder Woman has enlisted the help of the spirit of the Viking Prince inhabiting a reanimated tuber as the Avatar of the Green (ala Swamp Thing). If this all seems a bit sudden and outlandish, its ok. All of this happens within Endless Winter with little build up to it, but you don’t seem to mourn any lack of explanation for these feats of the metaphysical, supernatural, and mystical. Why? Because it’s all so darned cool and enjoyable to look at!
Marz and Lanning’s task here was to bring all the disparate threads that had been woven for 8 issues back home to roost. I can gladly say that the task has been accomplished! The C-List villains come back on a fools errand under Black Adam, Hippolyta unites with her daughter for a multi-generational righting of wrongs, and justice prevails over brute strength and ignorance.
All stories need a beginning, a conflict, and a resolution at base. We know this. If Stagg’s mining was the beginning of the Endless Winter tale, Hippolyta’s and Black Adam’s respective competing views on the appropriate way to deal with the Frost King are the true conflict underlying the flash and flare of the ice avatars and the new ice age the Frost King has brought about. Of course, what would we truly learn if Black Adam merely beat the Frost King into submission in a fit of violence like their 10th Century bout before? Nothing. So, predictably, the more even-handed approach must prevail here. Predictable does not mean uneventful and unenjoyable, though.
For those who love seeing Swamp Thing in a giant Norse, battle-axe wielding form, this comic has that for you. If you want to see Aquaman command lava giants against a horde of ice avatars, there’s that. If you want to see said lava giants picked up by a carrier jet manifested by Green Lantern’s ring- yep. Finally, if you want to see a resolution to a story that actually addresses the root of a conflict, that seeks a more lasting resolution beyond mere overwhelming force, this comic is for you. If I had one complaint, it would be that the recruitment of the lava giants seems to have little pay off. I’d like them to have had a greater impact on the final battle, but there can’t be room for everything after all. Batman also seemed like window dressing in a cool new suit these past 9 issues, too. Batman gets top billing across DC’s section of your Local Comic Shop’s wall 52 weeks out of the year, though. So that’s not all bad.
Throughout Endless Winter, the man underneath Frost King has been grieving the loss of his family. He actually has no interest in casting a global winter to extinguish all life beyond those means’ ability to meet his ends of returning his family to him. So often we see a villain’s origin played out in a familiar way. The villain is a mild-mannered person. Perhaps they encounter radiation or an alien technology, but something gives them supernatural powers. Then, crisis strikes. Their loved one is taken from them. Forever more in comics continuity, that villain becomes a murderous monster, without redemption. I applaud Marz and Lanning for seeking to reform a villain. Is there another story here? Perhaps. But for now, it feels fine to let this be the resolution.
In the end, Frost King’s family cannot be thawed–yet. Black Adam continues to brood in Kahndaq, continuing to flout international laws and conventions and let meta-humans roam free. No, Viking Prince will not live on in a Swamp Thing shell, but return to Valhalla. There is no stand alone Viking Prince spinoff comic coming and Green Lantern didn’t inexplicably die for no reason. The Justice League resolved a global catastrophe and now its on to the next adventure. That’s not to say things haven’t changed. Superman sees his folly in abandoning the deposit of kryptonian crystals and re-establishes his fortress of solitude. Nothing as severe as the collapse of a multiverse, though!
The art succeeds in depicting the fantastical. If there’s too much serious continuity-breaking, status-quo-ending writing in comics, there is not enough bright and fantastic art. For all the hundreds of dark and shadowed pages of comics published, we need a spot of what we have here in Endless Winter. In a year like 2020, Endless Winter was the final catharsis I needed before the ball dropped. Happy New Year, Everywookiee!