Monday, September 19, 2011

Justice League #1

The Ronin here,

Like many people I obviously had some mixed views on the DC relaunch/boot, however I tried to be positive, and some of the new titles seemed interesting. Hopefully over the next few months I can share with you how I felt about some of the issues. First up is, well the first issue they released Justice League #1. Obviously the Justice League is DC's premiere superhero team, featuring some of the most recognizable characters in the world. Who does not know who Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are? Green Lantern just had a big budget movie made, and a HUGE advertising push for him, so at the moment anyways he should be well known. Aquaman is also well known though perhaps not as universally beloved as the 'trinity'.

One of the things DC wants to get back to is the idea of Superman as the 'first' superhero, or at least the first superhero who fights in a bright costume in the day light. Which of course mirrors the actually history of comics. There were plenty of heroes before Superman, and a number of costumed or masked detectives, but Superman was the first modern 'Super' hero. Many of the tropes and conventions of the genre go right back to the original 'Action Comics #1'.

So I found it rather curious that they were not starting with 'Action Comics #1', but rather with Justice League #1. I find it odd that the team book comes out before the characters are introduced elsewhere. Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash are all set to debut in their own titles after 'Justice League #1'. But, hey like basically every other comic fan in America I picked up 'Justice League #1', the only book besides 'Flashpoint #5' DC had that week. It sold well too, as expected.

Where I am coming from: I have not read very many Justice League comics, but like most people I am familiar with the characters, and I am a huge fan of the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon. I have not been reading very many DC books though, and like everyone else I am completely new to this new continuity. So how did I feel about it,? Read on and find out.

The Goals of this issue were pretty clear, introduce brand new readers, Marvel readers and lapsed DC readers into this new universe of DC heroes, and to the new version of the beloved characters on the cover. It should bring in new readers, and make them give a shit about the characters and universe, and really capture their imagination. It is also supposed to elevate Cyborg to A-list status.

How is the Cover? Well its pretty generic, it shows the league in their new costumes rushing towards the side of the reader, as previously discussed the characters are all pretty well known with perhaps the exception of Cyborg and even Cyborg was featured in a popular animated series for years.

The Art is good, although I think new costume designs are fine, and pretty similar to the originals comic fans will of course complain over any change. Does it promise anything in this book? Nothing aside from a 'Justice League'. This cover really doesn't need to stand out though, it is basically the only new DC book out that week. Just by having any number of the well known characters on the cover it will be picked up. No Intro page, but we don't need an intro page on issue #1, of a brand new universe and brand new title. The price is 3.99, so clearly they weren't holding the line that hard. I have no problems paying 4 bucks for a comic, but I wonder if the price shouldn't of been ridiculously cheap to draw in more people? 1.99? .99?

Our story jumps right into the action, one of the first things we see if Batman running across roof tops after a fleeing monstrous figure. We find out right away the police don't seem to care too much for this Batman, as they actively open up with a machine gun on what I can only assume are occupied buildings in an attempt to stop the two mysterious figures.

Firing machine guns in a crowded city to stop someone who looks mysterious seems a little reckless
Bats managed to catch up to the monster when it is hit with a big glowing green firetruck. Bats looks up to discover, a glowing green figure above him: Green Lantern. We quickly find out the two have never met before. Green Lantern explains to Batman and the reader that he is a member of the Green Lantern Corpse, Space policemen who patrol entire sections of the galaxy, the two don't get along very well but end up working together. There is an amusing scene where Green Lantern tries to guess Batman's super powers.

What the fuck is stealth?
The story progressed and GL and Bats enter the sewers looking for the monster (readers familiar with the 4th world might guess at this point that the creature is a parademon). The creature sets up something that the heroes guess is a bomb and set it off after claiming “For Darkseid!”. Green Lantern, who despite having access to the Oan records has never heard of 'darkside' wondering if its some kind of band. The heroes survive thanks to Green Lantern's constructs (If only his movie was as bomb proof.) and they investigate the device left behind and the Green Lantern ring recognizes it as alien, but of no known design (So perhaps the Guardians have never met the new gods?). They both remember that the guy running around metropolis is some kind of alien, so maybe he has answers!

I find this odd, does Green Lantern assume all aliens know each other? Shouldn't he be the guy in the story who understands that they aren't all the same ? It would be a little bit like a professor of Latin American studies deciding that a strange Colombian artifact might be connected to a random Mexican guy he heard of once, because after all they are both from Latin America. I might be reading to much into it. Either-way our heroes are off to Metropolis to find the mysterious alien called Superman.

On their way to Metropolis our heroes are spotted by a young man playing football, and we get some panels of his back story and his current situation. This young man is to become the superhero known as Cyborg. However at this point he is but a promising young athlete.

Green Lantern and Batman land in Metropolis and quickly find a building with a hole smashed in the side, inside is Superman. Green Lantern traps Batman in a cage and tells him he will handle the alien. Suddenly a blue and red streak smashes through Green Lantern's constructs and leaves him floored, the Alien in a final splash page quips “I don't handle easy.” It is of course Superman, we are left with the promise of next issue Superman vs Batman!

Green Lantern rings are not what they used to be.

The story was pretty easy to follow, but man it is a short read. It probably took you longer to read this review then it does to read the book and personally I was left with the impression that nothing happened in it. I mean we did get GL and Batman to meet up, and a few pages of Cyborg's back story but that is it. And this was a four dollar comic book. I am left very confused by this, who thought this was the best first issue for the new 52? Why not release Action Comics first? Hell it takes place before this issue and its no where near as decompressed. Furthermore I recently learned that 'Justice League #1' was supposed to be a week 3 book, and it was moved ahead for just this issue, so issue #2 will take 7 weeks to get out. Holy shit, that is a long wait for the theoretically 'new reader.'

The art is good and the coloring especially around the Green Lantern constructs was great. So how was it? As a stand alone issue it is crap, but as part of a 6 issue arc it will probably be pretty damn good, unfortunately that means it will read much better in the trade, and that really wasn't the goal of this issue was it? Does this issue grab the 'new reader' and not let go? Will they be waiting with baited breath for issue #2? I doubt they will even remember this issue when #2 comes out.

It is a Justice League comic book that has only 2 members of the League in it. And 2 others show up in cameos, one is not even a superhero yet. Did it require any back story? No not really you can just jump right in, and that is a good thing. This was a good issue for a decompressed comic book, but this was a terrible issue to be released by itself on the first week.

I was a little disappointed by this but I will pick up the following issues to see where it goes

Batman who decided this would be a good first issue to introduce people to the 'new 52'?

  Next Action Comics #1

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