Title: Justice League
Release: August 2011
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Jim Lee and Scott Williams
Image via Anime Sentinel
First, a disclaimer: I am not a comic book expert and I promise I won't pretend that I am. I did not read comics much growing up at all. For my friend Mock, though, they are a major, life-long passion. Last summer, while we were at a party at his house, I casually asked him about his own comic interests. He sent me home with three boxes full of dupes and other cast-offs from his own collection of thousands. Several more stacks have come my way over the past year. Through his generosity and encouragement, I have been fully immersed in a whole new medium.
He also clued me into DC Comics' relaunch of 52 titles this month. I am nothing if not a sucker for a good marketing campaign. Besides, what better time to jump into the stories than at the beginning? Despite all warnings that the title might already be sold out, I dragged Our Girl with me to Earth Prime Comics in Burlington to see if we could find a copy of the first release: Justice League #1. Those of you in the hobby know that the 200,000 books initially printed were sold out before they even hit the shelves. A second printing has already sold out. Rather than waiting for the madness to subside to get my own copy, I decided to try the online version, available via https://read.dccomics.com/ at the same price.
From the outset, I decided that I would approach the New 52 not as a collector but as a reader. Instead of shelling out $200+ in a crazy effort to get all 52 originals, I would focus on a few titles in a quest to find stories I genuinely enjoy. My main question for each would be, am I genuinely curious about what happens in issue #2? It is with this consideration that I offer my review.
While I didn't read many comics growing up, I watched plenty of television and Hanna-Barbera's Super Friends was one of my favorites. As such, the characters in the Justice League are the ones most familiar to me in the DC universe. The members beyond Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were always the most interesting to me. Forced to choose, I'd say Aquaman was my favorite.
Image via Kay Nou = Our House
Mock is also fond of the ensemble casts and has given me loads of Justice League, Avengers and X-Men books. While I enjoy them all, the number of characters in each of those story lines is pretty cumbersome for the newbie. With all three, what I'd really like to do is trace the stories from the beginning so I can see how the groups and the individuals evolved over time. So, a relaunch is perfect.
Before I get to a few minimal spoilers, I will say that Justice League #1 passed my test. I am genuinely curious about what happens in the next issue and in the spoiler section, I'll explain why. The online interface is really pretty cool. There's no download involved. You essentially pay to have access to the book on the DC site. My Wife points out that means I don't really own anything but at $3.99, I can live with that. It's more important to me to read it than to own it. As this one passed muster, I'm prepared to give others in the Justice League vein a try.
There's a lot to like about Justice League #1. Most of all, I appreciate the fact that characters are being introduced slowly: initially just Batman, then Batman meets Green Lantern, then the Cyborg back story, finally Batman and GL meet Superman. For the first issue, that's it. From the blurbs for the next two issues, it appears we won't get anybody new until Wonder Woman in #3.
To give you an idea of my own ignorance, with Cyborg, I thought, "Oh cool, they're introducing a new character right away." Then I looked him up on Wikipedia and saw he's been around since 1980. Yup, that's 31 years ago. Like I said, I'm no expert.
The artwork is impressive, of course: sharp lines and vivid colors of the style I've come to associate with DC. If anything, the images may be too busy. I think there should be a few poster worthy pictures in a book - beyond the cover. Our first glimpses of both Green Lantern and Superman are satisfying full-body shots. The best Batman shot is probably on the title page. But we actually never get a decent full-body picture of him - a lot of partial images with funky angles and lighting. Perhaps that is meant to reflect his more mysterious persona. We never get a fully-satisfying image of the alien invaders, either, though that also could be considered appropriate for the story. We may need to wait on the full-body shot of Cyborg until he discovers his superhuman persona.
I love the ribbing between Batman and Green Lantern: Batman for his lack of superpowers and GL for his lack of subtlety. Even for a novice like me, these superheroes are well-established titans of pop culture. I think it's great that DC encourages us to have a sense of humor about them.