Sunday, September 25, 2011

Justice League #1 Review

Sometimes terrible things happen. Horrible, unspeakable, unimaginable things. Like a loved one being diagnosed with a terminal illness or a beloved family pet running into the path of an oncoming car. Or, ‘gasp!’ the worst, your local comic book shop neglecting to pull you a copy of Justice League #1, only the most colossal, groundbreaking and sought after comic publication since the death of Superman in 1992. Sadly, such was the case with me when after months of build up and anticipation the book finally hit the stands prompting a storm of midnight release parties in which literally hundreds of copies found their way into the yearning clutches of many an eager fan boy and girl. Perhaps it was the machinations of the Legion of Doom or some cruel karmatic force coming back to bite me for a prior misdeed. Whatever the reason, the proud writer of this blog came frighteningly close to tearing his clothes and cursing the fates when a customary weekend pilgrimage to his local comic shop ended with the soul crushing discovery that a copy never made its way into the protective custody of his subscription file. However, the store employees, being the awesome folks that they are, acted quickly to certify a second printing with my name on it and this past Wednesday, three weeks in to DC’s historic, new 52 relaunch, my long wait was over as I quickly uncovered JL #1 nestled cozily in my stack.
Now that I have talked a little about my struggle acquiring the book I bet you are curious about what my thoughts are on the comic itself after actually having read through the thing. Though not a whole lot seems to transpire in the course of the first issue, the narrative does a superb job achieving its goal of acquainting the reader with the truly volatile and unpredictable world that is the new DCU. Especially in the latter parts of the old DC continuity costumed heroes were more or less viewed by the public as celebrities, adored, imitated, and idolized. A striking bronze statue of The Man of Steel stood tall in Metropolis park erected as a kingly tribute to its unearthly protector while in Central City, the Scarlett speedster had an entire museum dedicated to his many heroic exploits. Heck, even the edgy, anti-social Dark Knight who for the longest time had taken such extreme measures to preserve his anonymity as an urban legend had become somewhat of a public figure with his international recruitment campaign for Batman Inc.
In the new DCU, no such admiration yet exists as JL #1 introduces to a world that is still very leery if not downright hostile to this abnormal wave of costumed crime fighters. Such is illustrated in the opening pages of the comic which sees Batman chasing down a terrorist while he himself is being doggedly pursued by a Gotham City swat team. The issue continues by showing us the first encounter between Batman and Green Lantern. GL, believing the terrorist to be of extra-terrestrial origins which are his specialty, persuades the Caped Crusader to let him lend his interstellar expertise to help get to the bottom of the creature’s agenda.
The team up gets off to a bit of a rocky start as we see the two heroes’ oil and water personalities result in some genuinely funny exchanges. A couple of examples of this are when Batman steals the ring right from Green Lantern’s finger without the other noticing and, flustered, GL summons the ring back warning Batman of the its power to give life to his thoughts to which the other sarcastically replies, “I would be afraid if I thought you could think.” Another occurs when GL materializes a glowing green jet to fly him and Batman to Metropolis. When Batman criticizes him for their less than subtle arrival, GL wittily responds “How else were we supposed to get here talk in a deep voice?” As the issue draws to a close the two Seek out the Earth’s only known alien inhabitant who they are led to believe is implicated somehow in everything that is going on. Not exercising much in the way of precaution, Green Lantern is dispatched with relative swiftness by their new adversary resulting in a vintage cliffhanger ending teasing a showdown of epic proportions between the company’s flagship characters, Batman and a certain red and blue wearing Kryptonian.
Though the issue itself doesn’t quite live up to all the hype surrounding it (how could it?) it is still a really fun read and lays the ground work perfectly for a truly epic story arc that sees the very first teaming of the world’s mightiest heroes. As always, Geoff Johns displays an intimate knowledge of who these characters are in his writing while Jim Lee’s artwork is absolute candy for the eyes. Despite my prolonged suspense Justice League #1 was well worth the wait and I am truly excited to see what happens next.


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