Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review: Justice League #1

Justice League #1
Written by Geoff Johns; pencils by Jim Lee; inks by Scott Williams; DC.

(Spoilers here.)

When you've been told repeatedly for several months that the issue you hold in your hand is "historic," that it sets the tone for the relaunch of an entire line of comic books, and the creative team behind it includes two of the three people who conceived of and orchestrated the whole relaunch, yeah, it sets up a certain set of expectations.

Add to that the normal expectations that you have for any first issue of a new series. And the expectations you have for a comic book that features Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Batman, Flash and Cyborg on its cover.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I expected it to be awesome. In fact, I wasn't even sure I was going to buy it. The guy at my local comic shop was like, "Come on, you're not even gonna try it?" So I picked it up just to show that I had an open mind about this whole relaunch business. I'm also not a huge fan of either Geoff Johns or Jim Lee, though I think both have done some good work in the past. So, no, I didn't think it was going to blow my mind.

What I did expect, though, was... I don't know, some kind of hook? Something, anything, that would make me want to read the next issue? A hint of how awesome it is to have the "big seven" (well, big six, really, since Martian Manhunter has been replaced by Cyborg) reunited as the core members of the Justice League?

There is none of that in this book. What we get are Batman and Green Lantern being arrogant macho assholes full of themselves. And then on the last page, Superman shows up and hints that he's as much of an arrogant macho asshole full of himself as they are.

Basically, the theme of this book is MY COCK IS BIGGER THAN YOURS.

And that's pretty much it. There's no story. Batman meets Green Lantern. Cops in Gotham are shooting at them and the two superheroes are boasting that they can handle it and don't need help. Then they find a box and Green Lantern's ring is unable to identify it, which he says is impossible, but just by looking at it Batman is able to deduce that it's some kind of alien computer. From this, they deduce that this guy in Metropolis they've heard about might know something about it, so Green Lantern flies them there, and then Superman comes out and is like, "So, what can you do?" Then he pulls out his cock and Batman and Green Lantern's jaws drop.

Okay, I lied about that last part. What you actually get is a teaser that says, "Next: Batman vs. Superman." Because apparently this is what new readers are going to be interested in, a bunch of testosterone-filled frat boys fighting amongst themselves for the alpha dog title.

Yeah, it sucks. It's worse than anything I could have imagined. It's a steaming pile of burning caca. And if this is meant to set the tone for the New 52, things are about as grim and hopeless as I feared they might be when I started seeing some of those awful costumes redesigns several months ago.

The good news, for me anyway, is that I don't think that's true. I don't think the tone or quality of this book really has anything to do with what we can expect from the books that I am looking forward to. So I'm not going to give up on the New 52 because the flagship title sucks. Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Batwoman and the few other titles I'm looking forward to will succeed or fail on their own merit.

But what's depressing is that DC had so much riding on this book. I don't know whether non-regular readers of comics came into the shops last Wednesday to check it out like DC was hoping they would. But if so, are they really going to get sucked in by this? Are they going to come back to buy Action Comics #1 next week, or Justice League #2 next month? I find that incredibly hard to believe.

What would have made a better first issue? Start with a bang! Start with the Justice League already assembled and show us how awesome it is to have all these classic, iconic heroes kicking ass together. Show us how much FUN a comic like that can be. There's no fun in this comic. Just a bunch of angry dudes banging on their chests and asserting their dominance.

It's garbage.

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