Justice League of America #16
Writer: Steve Orlando
Pencils: Felipe Wantanabe
Inks: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Andy Kubert and Brad Anderson
Variant: Dave Wielgosz
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Last time: Ray Palmer was trapped in the Microverse, with a new love and a new ally. After Ray was finally discovered by Ryan Choi and a portion of the JLA, he was in the middle of revealing how he got lost, and why Doctor Aron Aut is going to bring doom to them all.
As a child, Aron Aut was fascinated by the simplicity of numbers. A concept that represents infinite possibilities in a finite plane, and every number works in the way that they represent a different part of it. Outside of one number, and the strangest of them all; zero, nada, nothing, the concept of nearly pure void. And when the quantum storms happened, nothing made more sense than nothing itself. In the nothingness, Aut became The Null. The Null captured Ray Palmer after they discovered the damage at the source of the Quantum Storm, explaining that the moment he saw the wound in reality, he knew it was beyond any possible repair. Ray’s hope would get in the way of cold, hard reality. If the Microverse got wiped out by the storm, then it would become nothing, and nothing would become something again. As Ray concocts a message to Ryan Choi from within The Null’s cell, he manages to send off a distress beacon and get into a clash with the nihilist, managing to strike the very belt he gave him as a gift in a way that activates it and sends him off in his own void to a distant planet, where the JLA found him later. As Ray, Ryan and the rest of the JLA prepare to stand off against Aut now revealed as the Null, the fate of the Microverse begins to stir.
Reed Strong’s Strong Read:
This arc has been a slow burn, but an important one. Everything Ray Palmer had been up to was a big part of the initial Rebirth mystery, and finding out the real deal with Aut has helped kind of bring things full circle. The Null is a simple concept purposefully, taking the idea of nihilism and zeroes to a literal conclusion and a literal execution, letting us have another villain who does want to end the world still manage to strike us with a unique impression. The Atom is a character who hasn’t had the largest rogues gallery, the only one that shamefully comes to mind for myself is Chronos, and even though The Null seems to just be here for the moment, giving Ray Palmer any new foe to fight is going to stand out in my mind for a long while. When this story reaches its conclusion which seems to be sooner rather than lately, it’s going to be a rather quick read-through and should help iron out the somewhat slow month to month pacing. This issue is just another puzzle piece to the larger puzzle of Orlando’s JLA plans, and I’m ready to see the final product.
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