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Comic Book Review – Justice League #1

By Adam Basciano

The new era of DC Comics has arrived. The New 52 is well under way with the release of Justice League #1.  The book opens with the GCPD in pursuit of Batman, who himself is scouring the rooftops of Gotham City after an unknown alien creature.  Batman narrowly evades police fire and engages the creature.  Just when it looks like Batman is set to experience a world of hurt, Green Lantern comes to the rescue and impales the alien foe with a fire engine construct.  That gives law enforcement a clear shot at the two not so super friends, but Green Lantern’s got that covered to. The extra terrestrial transforms into a bug-like creature and heads for the sewer.  Batman and Green Lantern follow, to find the little critter fusing an alien device to the wall.  The device explodes.  After realizing that the alien box (a mother box perhaps?) is still in tact, they ponder whether the device is connected the alien known as Superman.  The book then takes a brief moment to introduce us to Vic Stone, a rising football star with paternal issues, before rejoining the dark knight and the emerald ring slinger. They’ve tracked down Superman, who abruptly flies into the issue as it closes with a standoff between Batman and Superman.

This book works great as an entry point for  the new DCU.  For new readers, you are given the basics for the events of the issue, nothing more, nothing less.  The generalities of the two main heroes in the issue are given through some banter between the two heroes, which prevents the bit of necessary exposition from becoming preachy.  Speaking of our two heroes, they are the focus here.  With the exception of brief cameos by the future Cyborg and a fresh-faced Superman, no other Justice League member makes an appearance.  That’s my only real gripe with this issues.  I would have loved some cameos from all the core members of the team   As a result, the book feels like an issue of the old “Brave & the Bold” comic book rather than the Justice League, but what can you expect from a decompressed origin story.   Having said that, the banter between Batman and Green Lantern was one of the highlights for me.  Their interaction felt like one of those “buddy cop” films.  You know, the ones where these two partners are totally different, and have no business being pared up together, but when they are, the result is a fun adventure. The scene where Hal was questioning Batman about his powers, or lack there of had me laughing loudly and often.  As much as Geoff Johns is aiming to attract new audiences with this story, it should please long time fans as well.  At the end of the day, Green Lantern and Batman are still the same characters at their core.  Sure Hal seems more cocky in costume then the previous continuity, but I think that’s a pretty realistic reaction from a guy who just got a ring that can do anything he thinks up in his mind.  I mean, wouldn’t you walk around thinking you were invincible too? As for Batman he’s back to being a vigilante again, just the way I like him.  Over the past decade or so, many of DC Comics’ “event stories” have been rather dark and serious in tone.  For me, the key success of this issue from a writing standpoint is that Geoff Johns is able to imbue a sense of fun back into the DCU.  This issue is a tasty cocktail mixed with the right amounts of action, adventure, seriousness and humor.

No matter what iteration of the DC Universe we’re dealing with, there is no doubt that Jim Lee is a modern master of his craft.  While the costume changes have been a major talking point among fans since the announcement, Jim Lee’s art was so organic and seamless that the new costumes didn’t become a focal point.  They felt natural to me.  This is especially true when it comes to Batman.  Whether he’s running around in armor or cloth, Jim’s depiction of Batman is iconic, and nothing more needs to be said.  I haven’t had much exposure to Lee’s version of Green Lantern, but I’m impressed. The attention to detail in the constructs Hal creates is incredible, specifically the fire engine scene.  The only image where the costume alteration was noticeable was the last page. The splash page of Superman was incredible.  The Kryptonian Armor looks great here.  Lee’s take on Superman is so stylistically different then his usual  depiction.  This image gives us a fresh and revitalized look at a classic hero, and perfectly mirrors one of the goals of the New 52. The 3D gimick has been tried in comic books before, but Jim Lee’s work naturally feels like its popping off the page, that they might as well have labeled this issue as 3D.  If I have one complaint where the art is concerned, it’s the cover.  The characters all look fine, but the absence of background is unappealing.  Not to mention, that half of the roster of heroes on the cover don’t even appear in the issue.  A cover featuring Batman and Green Lantern battling that alien suicide bomber would have been  far more eye-catching and content specific in my opinion.

This issue sets the book on solid footing.  It doesn’t set the world on fire, but then again it doesn’t have to.  It’s part one of a multi part origin story about DC Comics’ greatest super team.  As such, it checks off all the necessary must have’s for what it is.  At the same time, this is the first monthly DC book not titled “Green Lantern” that had me excited to read it as soon as I bought it.  From a  Justice League perspective, I havent been this excited for this title since Brad Meltzer’s run on the book.  Justice League #1 is like sampling food at Costco. I’ve had a small taste, getting a sense of the flavour, but now I’m even hungrier and ready for another bite.

Overall Grade: 7.5/10

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One comment on “Comic Book Review – Justice League #1

  1. This issue was definitely a great way to kick-start the new DCU. It felt a little juvenile, but I mean that in a good way, insofar as it felt accessible to new and younger readers. I certainly hope more kids than adults wind up buying this issue.

    If anything, it feels like it has the air of a Saturday morning cartoon to it, like an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For the first time since the Justice League cartoon, I feel like its members have widely different personalities from each-other.

    Like

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