Wednesday, August 31, 2011

REVIEW: Justice League #1


I’m writing this splitting my attention between the book itself and the poster that DC passed out free to fans with its bold “Holding the Line at $2.99” slogan, and glaring with dissatisfaction at the $3.99 cover price for this book that brought me out at 12:01 am to pick up. I’m sure I have more than a few friends who will hear that I didn’t like Justice League #1 and say “Well, that’s to be expected”, after all, I’m pretty much a Marvel Boy through and through. But let me be clear: I WANTED to like this book…in fact, I wanted to LOVE this book. I wanted to get excited by what DC served up in their flagship offering for their new continuity…but what they served up was a small sliver of a story wrapped in beautiful art.

The cover of the book SAYS “Justice League”…the cover of the book SHOWS the Justice League…however, the book I paid freakin $4 for doesn’t have a Justice League to be seen anywhere within its 24 pages.

Maybe I’ve been spoiling myself by spending so much time reading Silver Age comics lately, but those books knew how to tell stories that were both satisfying and engaging AND made you feel like you got your money’s worth. I guess some small part of me believed that DC was serious about getting new readers and would take a page or two from the storytelling methods of the classics and apply them with modern day sensibility…I was wrong. It's a fact that when you opened the pages of "Fantastic Four" #1 that there was no Fantastic Four, but when you closed the cover of the book, there was a Fantastic Four. The same can be said about the X-Men, the Avengers, the Doom Patrol, the Teen Titans...the list goes on and on. Unlike what Marvel was working with back in the 1960s, DC had the advantage of almost everyone in the world already knowing who Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, et al are. They don't need an entire issue introducing two characters to the audience and to each other. If you want a slow burn origin, wait until the second story arc...or the second issue. DC had captured the attention of the entire comic buying populace with this issue and they wasted all that anticipation by putting out 24 pages of water-treading.

This book is essentially a glib, Buffy-esque conversation between Batman and Green Lantern (arguably DC’s two most popular heroes), thinly disguised as a battle in, under, and above the streets of Gotham City. It’s the first meeting of these two, taking place “Five Years Ago”. They don’t know each other, and they don’t like each other much either. Justice League is extremely light on dialogue and heavy on Jim Lee’s art which serves as a distraction to keep you from realizing that there’s actually nothing below the surface.

And while I realize that this is a whole new DC Universe, and that we need to forget what we know/think we know about the heroes that are familiar to us, I think even a brand new reader off the streets would look at some of this and think “That doesn’t make any damn sense!” I’m talking specifically about page 13…Gotham City is burning, but Green Lantern has “Got that Under Control” as green firetrucks constructed by the Green Lantern ring are dispatched all over putting the fires out…because…apparently the Green Lantern Ring can now make actual water too? If that’s NOT a new function of the ring then it’s one I can’t say I ever remember seeing, and if these rings can now actually create elements then…well…I don’t think we actually NEED 51 other heroes. Only slightly less ridiculous than the Green Water constructs that actually function like water is the Green Ring Construct force field on page 9 that comes complete with Green Ring S.W.A.T. team members holding up Green Ring Constructed shields. I think a Green Bubble would have probably sufficed…

As I said, Green Lantern and Batman are arguably the most popular heroes in the DC Comics stable, and with that in mind, it almost makes sense that the focus be on this pair…but in a book that’s called “Justice League”, I wanted to read about the Justice League. And I didn’t get to do that…and I won’t get a chance to next month, or the month after either since the only thing “Justice League” #1 actually showed me was that my money is better spent somewhere else.

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