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    Review: Justice League #1

    By | August 31st, 2011
    Posted in News | % Comments

    Written by Geoff Johns
    Illustrated by Jim Lee

    Comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history! In a universe where super heroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World Greatest Heroes!

    This spectacular debut issue is also offered as a special combo pack edition, polybagged with a redemption code for a digital download of the issue.

    It all starts here. The DCnU starts here with the biggest book in the DC universe reimagined by its biggest writer and its biggest artist. It’s a pretty big deal – maybe the biggest comic release in…well, I can’t even remember how long. It’s a hail mary and a half, but is it a good comic?

    Find out after the jump.

    This book is in a tough position from the start. No matter what, because of the nature of the book and the creative team, this book is expected to be not just great, but revolutionary. Justice League #1 – as the first book of the DCnU – comes with the need to be the beginning of a new movement, of a day highlighted by new comic book fans.

    Under those expectations, Justice League #1 is a spectacular failure. If it was supposed to be a book that hooked a new generation of comic book fans, it missed the mark and then some.

    But as a standard, every day, run of the mill comic, it delivers at least partially.

    You can tell that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee approached this book from an angle that said “we need a big splash first and we’ll build the rest later,” as this issue comes in the form of a big budget action movie where it begins in media res (yet somehow still in a flashback).

    This type of approach fits Lee very well, as his pencils (save a few gaffes with faces and anatomy as well as an awkward football sequence) are somewhere inbetween very good and spectacular throughout. He and his long-time collaborator/inker Scott Williams deliver a visceral and attractive book, even making the redesigned Superman costume somehow palatable and making the rest soar. The first splash page we receive – the one with Batman being chased by GCPD – is an incredible piece, and it throws me back to my childhood where receiving a splash like this from Lee was a monthly occurrence, not however long it has been since we last saw his art.

    Action set pieces (of which the issue is almost entirely comprised of) are dynamic in Lee’s hands, especially the rooftop sequence that leads off the issue. There’s a visceral quality to it that makes those sections really stand out.

    Colorist Alex Sinclair really makes their art pop, as the colors are perfectly rendered and achieve the very elemental nature of each character we’re introduced to.

    While the art isn’t perfect, as I said, it is definitely the highlight of the issue. The script and plotting from Johns on the other hand is less than perfect.

    While there are petty gripes amongst my list of complaints, such as Green Lantern’s desire to refer to himself in the third person (“Green Lantern’s got this!”), the bigger complaints I have lie with the overall nature of the story and the handling of the characters. Besides Batman (who, for the only character of the lot Johns has not regularly written in his career, is very well handled), the rest of the cast feels a little…well, off. Granted, this could be their new world, but no one feels like who we thought they were. Not only that, but their introductions all just feel jarring and disconcerting. Nothing about these characters really read as natural. The dialogue between these characters often feels stilted and awkward as well, and that kills any sense of flow to the storytelling we can derive from it.

    I think that ties back to my original statement: this book does not work that well as a launch book, especially one where the onus is so great upon it. For me as a reader, I found myself at a distance from the story, and not really connecting with any part of it on any more than a basic level. Even with my greater sense of familiarity with the concepts and characters, at best I thought it was solid and at worst it was a bit messy.

    Continued below

    There were elements that worked, as I said. Batman was definitely handled well, and I found him to be an exciting blend of the dark and the light poles that so dominate him typically. Vic Stone’s story is being developed more from the beginning, and that is a smart decision given the lesser known nature of the character. At its core, it’s a good time in the way a mindless action flick is, and it breezes through its 20 pages quite effortlessly.

    As a superhero comic, overall, it is a kind of fun book with superb art. Nothing special, nothing really awful, just pretty basic stuff that feels like a decent rendition of the comic book medium.

    But as a landmark launch book that is the shining example of the quality of the new DC universe? Justice League #1 completely misses the mark.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – Browse

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).