Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Justice League #1 - Review

Well. That was... okaaaaaaay. I guess.

Actually, it's kinda funny that this issue had a special midnight release (a first for a comic book!) and still, there are like no reviews of it online anywhere. Hardly any message board talk. It's awful quiet out there. Is that a sign of things to come?

Alright, so Spoiler Alerts on high after this point. First of all, ignore the (multiple) covers, because this issue doesn't star the Justice League. Set five years ago, this opening storyline will tell of the formation of this team, so in the beginning they operate entirely on their own, to the point that they're not even sure if the others are real or urban legends. It's evident that the general populace is aware of Super Humans, but these beings haven't become icons yet, with the possible exception of Superman. So, no, you don't get to see the full assembled might of the Justice League this early on.

This is modern decompressed story-telling at it's most decompressed. In other words, it'll probably read a lot better in the trade, another sign of the times. I'm not complaining, but as much as I want to continue reading monthly comics, it sucks getting just a tiny snippet of story. You don't watch a movie in ten minute increments (one a month, no less!), why are you reading a similar type of story that way? I think we may eventually see the death of the "floppy" to be honest. Folks don't mind waiting two years between installments of a movie or book series. I think comics needs to embrace and adopt that. It would have been brilliant to get the ENTIRE first story arc of the Justice League, even knowing it would be six months to a year before I'd get to read the second.

I don't know if this is simply the way the story organically flowed from Geoff Johns or if it was a wink-wink, but the ONLY heroes featured in this first issue are Green Lantern (whom Johns is responsible for making a super star, which led to him getting his own movie this summer) and Batman (the character, illustrator Jim Lee is most identified with at DC). You get two cameos, a teenage Vic Stone, not yet a Cyborg and... maybe I shouldn't say, but another hero pops up at the end and it's not really a surprise.

Prior to this, they kept saying that even though the line was relaunching, this wasn't a hard reboot and a lot of the stories that have been published over the years would still remain intact. One story that obviously won't is the original origin of the Justice League as this story isn't it at all. (But let's be honest, the first origin wasn't exactly the best story anyway.) What we get is Batman and Green Lantern crossing paths as they both pursue a fire-breathing, shape-shifting extraterrestrial. Long-term DC fans should recognize the alien's basic design as one of Darkseid's Parademons, but the fire-breathing and shape-shifting are new... and not entirely uncool additions. Let's face it Parademons were just monster-y, flying soldiers with ray guns. Making them actually kinda demonic is a neat idea.

The Parademon plants a Mother Box (another element familiar to longtime readers) then self destructs, hoping to take the two heroes out with him. (Obviously that doesn't happen.) It's probably just me, but the thought of Parademons planting bombs at various locations recalls both the Super Friends story featuring the Global Guardians that I wrote about recently and the episode of Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians called "Seeds of Doom." Yup. Just me.

The take on Batman is pretty definitive and straightforward; somber, determined, precise, excellent at what he does. Oh and likes skulking in shadows. Then you go and throw big, glowing Green Lantern in the mix and the sparks fly. I must say though, I was very disappointed in GL here. He is supposed to be kind of cocky and all, but he kept saying over and over "My ring can do anything!" And it seemingly can, as he uses it to do far more than fire rays and make giant boxing gloves. I dunno though. The Power Ring fire department was a big much for me to swallow. But Lee's art is as hyper-detailed and energetic as was to be expected, so these are the most intricate ring constructs I've ever seen! Even so, hate to say it, GL comes off as an arrogant asshole. Batman's always kind of an asshole, but there should be something more affable about GL.

Fans of the other heroes will be disappointed. None of them makes an appearance, beyond like I said, one who pops up at the very end, to set up next issue. So far the story flows organically. I guess it's kind of neat that they didn't go the traditional route with this and delivered something new.

GL and Batman were two who got off easy on the costume do-overs, so they pretty much look how they are supposed to. We'll have to wait and see how well Wonder Woman and the rest look once they show up. There isn't enough for me to really say how well this story will end up being, but it's off to a decent enough start.

I suppose after all the build-up, there was no way this was going to come out and just melt fans' brains. It works. That's all I can really say about it. It didn't suck. I shall continue reading.

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