Review: Justice League 1
The cover of Justice League 1 invites you in bold gold text to DC Comic’s “New 52”. It’s not just the headline either. The costumes look different, the attitude looks different, and we’ve even got a brand new logo for it. It’s too bad that the actual content doesn’t feel all that different. Geoff Johns provides a serviceable first issue that works as a good opener to the New DC, without trying too hard. It’s an enjoyable read, but nothing substantial.
Justice League 1 opens big. Batman is running across rooftops trying to catch a bad guy while Gotham helicopters fly above, chasing him as if he was another criminal. The monster is about to get away, when Green Lantern smashes the beast into the ground with a green firetruck. It does the trick, but now the police see them. Batman vulnerable and the Green Lantern in plain sight, the helicopters turn their guns and fire. It’s good stuff, it just ends far too early to mean anything. Justice League 1 feels like the first half of a television pilot. Except, the reader has hit a commercial break that’s going to last a month. Regular comic readers will probably take this in stride. At least they got three extra pages, compared to the 20 page standard. As for the mainstream crowd DC is hoping to extract, they might be more disappointed.
However, Johns must be commended for writing a story entirely free from continuity. This is a brand new origin for the Justice League, there’s no reference to the other universe or how things used to have been or might have been. It’s a straight forward introduction to these characters and to this universe. It may not be entirely satisfying, but at least it’s not confusing.
The biggest complaints are for the art. The art in itself is not bad, as expected, Jim Lee has a good grasp of how to make superheroes look impressive and larger than life. The cause for concern is the layout. It is perhaps one of the least dynamic layouts done in a recent comic book. Most pages are three panels long or entirely symmetrical. The lack of fluidity and variance, doesn’t wreck the comic in any way, just makes it on a whole, less interesting to read. Alex Sinclair has moved over from Flashpoint to colour this series as well, and his work is again one of the highlights of the issue. While he seems paralyzed by some of Lee’s busier scenes, on the whole he makes Lee’s pencils pop.
Justice League 1 is a safe comic, in every sense of the word. It’s decompressed without being atmospheric, it has a layout from the early 80s, and feels almost like a buddy-cop show. It’s only real innovation is that Johns doesn’t rely on prior continuity. This is a blessing for new readers, but for a book that is meant to usher in a new DC for new and old, it just doesn’t offer up a big enough bang.