Friday, September 2, 2011

Phreak Reviews: "Justice League #1" (2011)

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Jim Lee (Pencils), Scott Williams (Inks), Alex Sinclair (Colors)

          I have to say I was really worried that the new 'Justice League' was gonna' suck. I had my reasons, my love of the Morrison-era 'JLA' notwithstanding. But in all honesty, I liked 'Flashpoint', the cross-over that set up the new DC, ended and was very cautiously looking forward to this new take on the classic DC title. 'Justice League #1' is the first look we get of the 'New 52' and sets up this new and slightly familiar world. So, with cautious optimism at the ready, what happens?

          'Justice League #1' opens on a "5 Years Ago...." premise, at a point in history when superheroes aren't organized and the public has yet to accept them. The Gotham City S.W.A.T. team is trying to take down Batman, while he is chasing after a armored, green skinned creature. Batman gets away from the police and is almost taken out by the  creature before Green Lantern shows up and drops an fire engine construct on it's head. 

         GL helps Batman escape from the trigger happy cops and we get our first team-up of this new universe as they continue to pursue the creature, who survived the fire engine upside it's head. They pursue it into the sewers and confront it once more. The creature affixes a strange cube-like device to a sewer wall before self-immolating (that means it burned itself to death) while screaming "For Darkseid!" 

Foreshadowing, kids! 

         Upon examining the cube & discovering the device is alien tech that not even his ring recognizes, GL surmises it maybe connected to "That guy in Metropolis". Batman cautions against it before Green Lantern generates a fighter jet and takes off for Metropolis, Batman in tow. As they arrive in Metropolis, we get a brief intro to pre-Cyborg Victor Stone. The two heroes land at a LexCorp construction site that looks like a bomb went off. Ignoring Batman's warning, Green Lantern enters a building, intent on questioning Superman. The Man of Steel promptly punches Green Lantern out and exits the ruined building to confront Batman. 

         All in all, I did like the plot of this first issue. Johns did an okay job of introducing us to the 'New 52', setting up the idea that the average man is none too trusting of superheroes and some are even hunted down by the police. His characterization of Batman and Green Lantern is pretty on point. Batman is driven and totally committed to the job and Green Lantern is pure test pilot-cockiness, completely self-assured. 

         The plot breezes along at a decent pace, even taking a small pause to introduce us to future Justice Leaguer Cyborg, in the days before he is injured and gets his bionic parts. The only problem with the story is it is too predictable. This is the intro to the 'New 52', an all-to predictable team-up? Batman & Green Lantern have some decent back & forth banter, but it seemed stale. I liked what i read, but I've seen it many times before.

         I loved the artwork in this debut issue. Teamed with Scott Williams on inks and Alex Sinclair on colors, Jim Lee's art is expressive and vibrant, capturing the classic feel of John's story. Superman, Batman and Lantern's 'armored' costumes don't come off nearly as toy-like as I had thought they might, based on the previews that I've seen. 

          Even Lee's designs for GL's ring-constructs are very nicely detailed and colored in a way that they  actually looks like holograms. All in all, I think Lee, Williams and Sinclair put a lot of honest work into this issue's art and it shows.

          As a whole, this first look at the 'New 52' is, quite honestly, kind of weak. Not weak in a bad way, just weak in that for the first issue into a whole new DC Universe, it's kind of 'blah' and predictable. The story, while it does give us some insight into the backtory of the 'New 52' and does set up the first storyline admirably, it has been done before. While Jim Lee was providing his usual stellar art style, it cannot make up for Geoff Johns' lackluster story. 

          I give this first issue of the new 'Justice League' 6 out of 10. It was a predictable story with some very good art, but that does not a good issue make. Here's hoping the rest of John's first story-arch kicks it up a notch. 

                                           Please, please, PLEASE don't suck!


  1. For starters you don't mention the solid facts. Price, number of pages, anything like that wasn't even mentioned. You didn't mention anything about physical medium versus digital distribution which I felt was far more important than the content. To be fair any retard can write a passable superhero story and with all due respect Jim Lee's art speaks for itself. I wanted to know about the new frontier of digital distribution! Should I buy this on my Android phone? Should I get it if I had a tablet or on the Comixology reader for PC? Should I get it in the store on dead tree or does that add anything? Did you pirate it (legal in canada)and if so what was the source material? Was it the digital version spread around or did someone scan the dead tree as has been the norm?

    For what it was I am glad to know that superheros are gonna keep being super and any story involving Darkseid is a plus.

  2. All valid points, Kleed. I will them into consideration next time I do a review.

  3. Just for the record, Piracy remains illegal in Canada, it is simply no longer targeted by police investigators, who are too busy trying to clamp down on underage sexual abuse images. Not really the same thing as "legal".

    And it is still short-sighted, immoral and just generally pretty shitty to read or view pirated copies of anything, especially comic books, which are well into the hail mary stage (as we've seen with the reboot), desperate for fan dollars. The RCMP no longer pursues what they consider "personal use" however, I'd imagine the guys running this site would someday like to make money from it (if they aren't already), so I would certainly hope that the books and films reviewed or mentioned on this page were gotten through legitimate means. If not, I have to admit, I would lose a lot of respect for the webmasters, because this site certainly does not constitute "personal use".

    But the rest of your point is well taken, Kleedrac, the different ways of viewing the story has meant slight variations in dialogue and also presentation, these facts would and should factor into a review--especially one with so many panels taken directly from the comic.

  4. Personally, I couldn't agree with Kleedrac less. First, it's really hard to write a good comic. There's an entire industry of writers out there and only a small handful that are constantly entertaining and capable of offering something new to the medium.

    Second, who gives a s$!t how you read a comic, whether its in your hands or its on a screen really means little as to whether or not the story and art are good. Same goes for how much the comic costs and how big it is. I've read amazing stories for free that were 1 paragraph long, I've also read amazing comics in TPB form that I paid lots of money for and were huge. Page count and cost, while being informative, have very little to do with quality. Way to get your priorities bass-ackwards!

    I think you wrote a very good review JT.