Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Justice League #1

Story: Geoff Johns
Art: Jim Lee, Scott Williams
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication date: August 31, 2011

The good. Whether we are all in, or we're partially interested or we have officially abandoned DC, the new DCnU is here. Today is the day. I have to confess that, as critical as I have been of this reboot, I find myself pumped and excited about more stories than I thought I would and Justice League was one of them. It does well as it opens with a bang of visuals, splash pages and action worth of a good number 1 issue. Jim Lee is spot on drawing a "new" universe for a new generation of readers that looks indeed exciting. The wink-wink moments hinting at the big bad wolf around the corner, which is the reason why these heroes will band together, are well written. A lot of Batman, a character Johns has not touched, is done relatively well as well.

The bad. This was to be Geoff Johns' day. Only two DC titles are being released and both are written by him, shepherding the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. It's a big deal. And yet, while Flashpoint #5 suffers from one of Johns' most recent problems in writing big events (see review), JL#1 feels remarkably brief and flat in content for being *the* relaunch of this new universe. Johns' Batman, while decently portrayed, feels a lot like a rehash of Miller's All Star Batman (admittedly, Jim Lee's involvement and the interactions with GL could play a big role in this impression). But something feels off with the caped crusader, and it's not only the fact that this is 5 years later and our heroes are younger, brasher and less used to each other and the larger superhero community. On a similar note, Hal Jordan is even more unrecognizable. This is Johns' "baby" though! This is the man he brought back from the dead and turned into a book I looked forward to in every delivery. And yet, Green Lantern suffers from the Bob Dole syndrome of speaking about himself in the third person, over and over again. This is not a cocky Hal Jordan meeting the world, this is just downright annoying. It's also interesting that while both books are multi-character big event comics, both Flashpoint and JL have only a fleeting cameo of the most iconic DC (and all comics) character: Superman, while instead focusing on relationships between Batman and other main players (Barry and Hal) that feel forced and out of character.

The ugly. I did not find anything particularly ugly about the book per se, but more about the repercussions of releasing a mediocre first delivery of the new DCnU. I am looking forward to many books and many stories despite what I see as unnecessary sacrifices of some of my favorite stories in the old DCU, and I'm intrigued to see what specific people do with specific characters in what I think will be magical combinations (Snyder's Batman, Simone's Batgirl, Azzarello's Wonder Woman, heck even Johns' Aquaman). But this was the day for DC to shine and show us how it all was going to change and I really think it felt incredibly flat and underwhelming.

The grade: C+

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