Review: Justice League # 1
I’ve read more Justice League # 1’s than I would care to count. Each time we get something drastically different from the previous iteration, making it hard, for me at least, to say exactly what makes for a definitive Justice League book. Grant Morrison’s run was pretty damned fantastic. As was the JLI group. The earliest incarnations of the team I’ve only read a handful of, mainly because I don’t have a ready access to the back issues the way I do with the JLI to present. (I have all of JLI, the Morrison era JLA book, and dropped the last volume of the book around Final Crisis)
I wasn’t going to bother with DC anymore. I’ve been slowly working my way out of monthly comic buying and sticking to trade releases and only keeping the books that I have the strongest of attachments to. JLA wasn’t one of those books. But I have to admit that the hype around Geoff Johns and Jim Lee tackling the book in an all new continuity was enough to make me pick up the first issue. The (arguably) biggest names DC has to offer working on a title that should be their premiere book of the lineup is not something that comes along everyday. I’ve likened it to putting Bendis on New Avengers back in 2005. How it took six years for DC to figure out a winning formula is beyond me. Johns alone would have been enough to sell the book but Jim Lee is a demi-god to most of the loyal comic buying public. The early numbers for the book indicate as such, what the actual sales translate to is another question entirely.
But what about the book itself? Is it any good?
That’s a little bit harder to answer. The book reminds me of a fine mixing of Bendis’ work on the early days of Ultimate Spider-Man as well as Johns’ own work when he relaunched Green Lantern. Like USM, this is an origin story, and it’s decompressed quite a bit. The days of a team assembling, fighting a threat, and moving on to the next issue are long gone. In this issue we get Batman, still being hunted by the police as they’re not yet aware that he’s “one of the good guys” as he tries to take down a monstrous looking villain that I at first mistook for a revamped Killer Croc.
Eventually Green Lantern gets himself involved. We soon learn through his banter with Batman that super-heroes are a relatively new phenomenon here and that the world doesn’t quite know what to make of them as of yet. Green Lantern is then surprised to find out that Batman is just some dude in a mask, bereft of any real superpower. The writing here is quick, snappy, breezy, and light. It covers a fair amount of ground in setting up the status quo and getting the ball rolling. The timeframe for this issues is fairly short, so by the time you get to the end of the book, some people might be a little let down, regardless of the somewhat tantalizing cliffhanger where we’re introduced to this new continuity’s Superman.
I can’t say this is a bad book. Jim Lee is on his A-game and there’s quite a bit to cover in a world where the rules haven’t been defined yet, so no matter what there’s a sense that no matter what Johns crammed in it would never be enough. If anything, the only thing I can say is that the book is promising. It’s an origin story where they have free reign to play around with the elements as they please. It looks like we’re seeing some tweaks already with the way they handle Cyborg, who we see as a high-school football player in this issue. The elements are there and only the rest of the arc will tell us if this was all worth our time or not.