3 Sept 2011

Cover To Cover: JUSTICE LEAGUE #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair
DC $3.99

Stewart R: When DC announced all those months ago that they would be renumbering, rebooting and relaunching their entire line of DC Universe comics there was an air of mystery and a clamour for details on just what this new look universe would be like and how it would differ from the current set-up along with a myriad of predictions of just which titles would make-up the now famed 52.

One thing from the very beginning was certain however: Justice League would return and spearpoint the tales of this newly reshaped world.

Geoff Johns, having crafted and calculated the chronological influences that the Flashpoint story would have upon the world, starts off by setting events ‘Five Years Ago’. That’s a tad confusing for me as it’s now hard to gauge if this is set five years in the past from the point where Barry Allen ‘reset’ this reality or whether it’s five years previous to a specific Justice League event or occurrence. Regardless, Johns quickly establishes that we’re now bearing witness to a world that isn’t familiar with the superheroes who operate in it and there’s plenty of mystery surrounding them from the public’s perspective and from the perspective of the individual heroes who are yet to make contact with any other do-gooders flying about in capes.

That quickly changes with a chase sequence across the brooding rooftops of Gotham City as the interests of Batman and Green Lantern collide when attempting to apprehend a dangerous visitor of alien origin. There’s a brief acknowledgement of each other’s reputation from the pair and Johns slips in a little reinforcement of the point that the authorities are afraid of these characters meddling and interfering in their affairs. Johns then drops in the clearest indication that DC are aiming for new, uninitiated readers by giving brief overviews of both heroes powers through a well realised conversation that tells long-term readers that at least this is still the Bruce Wayne that we know and love.

Through all of this Jim Lee has been working his penciller’s magic. Be it the Dark Knight’s leaps across the roof tops or the Green Lantern plowing down a foe with a fire engine construct, he’s showing just why he is held in such high regard and why the comic book world was more than excited that he’d be taking point on this title. Lee’s well suited to the dynamic action and occasional need for a grandstanding, poster-book moment or two and also manages a subtler line as seen with Vic Stone - soon to be the robotic-enhanced Cyborg we will assume - in his slightly shoehorned-in section. Perhaps I’m being a touch harsh there but Johns’ willingness to intersect Vic’s story, albeit it very fleetingly, with that of Bats and the Lantern at this early stage seems a touch unnecessary.

There are definitely plenty of positives to be found in this debut; the art is great, the reveal of the extra-terrestrial threat that seems likely to bring the League together is an exciting touch - obviously tipping a nod as it does to the origin from the 1960s - and there’s fun to be had with the banter-filled nature of Hal and Bruce’s early partnership. For the ‘newbie’ there’s certainly a decent origin story in the making and I’m sure many regular and long time DC readers may get a kick out of the familiarity that can be found in Johns’ characterisation which indicates that the heroes that have been known and loved for years aren’t a million miles away. But that’s where I’m not quite sold on this relaunch, it’s all a little too familiar and it seems that DC may be playing the game a little too safely. Admittedly it’s still very early in the day but here was an opportunity to really cut loose and get creative and importantly bring us something new. Shaking things up and making some controversial changes would -yes - provoke some outcry, but also deliver a fresh feel to their universe and show some ingenuity. Instead it appears that we might just be getting a cautiously tweaked and polished retelling of origin stories and characterisations that date back 50 years and that we have seen before.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be picking up Justice League #2 along with a good handful of the other 51 new titles and this debut is still worth picking up for sure. I guess I’m a little disappointed that I got a good comic book when I really could have done with great one... 7/10


ian walker said...

Well I think I'm going to have to disagree with you on that review Stewart and give the Justice League a 10/10.
For me it had every thing a good comic should have,a good solid story and cracking art and I'm really not one for going to in depth about a comic as I know I don't take comic's as seriously as some of us do out there,but don't get me wrong I love comic's and have done since I started collecting them in 1973 [I'm an old fan boy] but for me comics are a form of escapism,some place to lose myself in and I suppose that's why I miss the comic's of the 70's that weren't so dark and moody as well as depressing,what happened to the fun in comic's,and yes I know there's a market out there for dark,moody adult comic's but do we still really need it in our superhero comic's.
Just take a look at the Marvel universe it's so fucked up who the hell would want to live there.
I suppose what I'm getting at is I welcome DC's bold new 52,for me it really feels like being at the birth of a new comic company,it's just a shame Marvel have become so
arrogant over the past few years.
Maybe I'm right,maybe I'm wrong but I feel DC care more about us fans and Marvel only care about the money,and looking at the net today the Justice League has already gone back for a third printing and some of the other titles a second printing.
So that's it from me,sorry for going on but let's just embrace the new and try to forget the past.

comicheretic said...

Good review but I too would give a 10 Out of 10. Hit the notes right for me

Rob N said...

I do love the fact that Ian says:

"I miss the comic's of the '70s that weren't so dark and moody as well as depressing."

and then adds:

"let's just embrace the new and try to forget the past."


- Rob N

ian walker said...

What I meant Rob was let's forget the past of the old DC and embrace the new and the 70's comics I miss are those of Marvel which were the main one's I collected then,more fun then and not so fucked up as they are now,but thanks for pointing my little
mistake out,nice to know there's people out there checking out what people write even if it is of no important's.

Joe T said...

I think 7/10 is probably a fair assessment. It was a real good comic, but wasn't overly successful as a first issue of Justice League. As a first issue of The Brave And The Bold, this would have been an 8 or a 9, but as Justice League, not quite.

The artwork was absolutely brilliant, and I was surprised that when drawn by Lee in this issue, I didn't hate the designs at all. Jim Lee's Superman from the "For Tomorrow" story line looked too muscular and vicious, this Superman is better proportioned, and looks more heroic. His costume is still going to take some getting use to, but I'm not totally against it now. The Batman redesign works well though(even if I am missing the one David Finch debuted not even a year ago)

I'm not overly keen on how Johns writes Hal Jordan here. He seems more like Kyle Rayner.

Also, speaking of shoehorned, did you notice the mystery woman from Flashpoint made a cameo?

Joe T said...

An extra comment to say, I forgot to post that from my google account!

Matt Clark said...

Stew, the point where Allen reset reality was in his in his past, before he became the Flash and before the formation of the Justice League.

Stewart R said...

Ahh ok, thanks for clarifying that Matt!

Joe - Yeah fully agree with you on Johns' handling of Hal Jordan as something just didn't feel quite right and I'm waiting to see if we get a very different Hal in the main Green Lantern title when that rolls in in a few week's time.

And thanks for the other comments guys.

Lee S said...

I think thats an unfair thing to say about Marvel, Ian. I find a large number of the comics they publish fun to read, I can give you a list if you like? Take X-Force. Fantastic fun and dark. I think they do care about the fans, look at the movies they make. Thor and Cap were made with love and care, 100% better than Green Lantern. If you don't like the direction of a book the best thing you can do is vote with your wallet. Dont buy it! I agree JL #1 was great, its nice to be intrested in DC again a good 8/10 I think from me.

Matt Clark said...

Hal Jordan = Ryan Reynolds. This would have been written before the movie tanked so I'm not sure we'll see this brash, cocky persona for long!

ian walker said...

Hi Lee,
What's the list of Marvels you think I should be picking up?

Lee S said...

Journey into Mystery, Uncanny X-Force, The Mighty Thor, Ultimate Spider-Man, Invincible Ironman, Hulk, Thunderbolts, Captain Amerca and Bucky, X-men and FF! Hope that helps. All good Stuff!