It's happened. Flashpoint is over and the new DC 52 has begun. If you're anything like us, you got a hold of Justice League #1 the first moment you could. Was it worth the wait?
Here are 5 things we liked (and 5 we didn't) about JL #1.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
What we liked
Oh, sure. He might be hard to mess up, but nothing could be more important to begin a book about the Justice League than Batman in the thick of the action. What we like best is that we seem to be getting a blend of comic Batman with the one most people know from the Batman Begins film series. This Batman believes that the world being afraid of superheroes is "necessary," which strikes us as very familiar in tone to the speech Bale gives in Dark Knight about "the hero this city needs." Speaking of which ...
Fear of Superheroes
If this new world order has one thing going for it, it's that it's got an edge that the old one sometimes lacked. As the Justice League begins to form, its members first have to learn to trust each other—and the rest of humanity has to trust them, too. In issue #1, the world is terrified of the caped-crusader set to the point where they govern by the rule "shoot first, ask questions later." Watching the journey from that to a status quo where Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, et al. are the world's saviors is chock-full of potential.
Green Lantern's Powers Getting a Good Showing
One of the nice things about comics is that what might look silly in the silver screen works great in the panel-to-panel. Hal Jordan's imagination is hyperactive in this issue. He uses his ring to make fire engines, bats, giant safes and even fully realized people as he and Batman face off against an alien threat. It's nice to see Hal's abilities take center stage in such a fun and exciting way.
Darkseid Set Up
The action never really lets up in Justice League #1, but in the midst of all the excitement one of the aliens that Bruce and Hal are chasing after utters one word—Darkseid. For longtime fans, Darkseid is one of the most dangerous and menacing villains in the DC Universe. For new readers, the name alone has a sinister quality that would make anyone uneasy. Bottom line—if this is our first major villain, it's a great choice.
Batman vs. Superman
Okay, so this is just the cliffhanger [we DID say there were *spoilers ahead*, remember?], but, man, that's the way to end an issue. If there's one thing everybody loves, it's that adversarial relationship between Clark and Bruce. Whenever they face off against one another, a thrilling story is all but assured. In short, it's the right cliffhanger.
What we didn't like
Jim Lee's artwork
Jim Lee is a living legend in comics, so fans of his work expect a lot from him. On this occasion, he just didn't deliver. These new character designs just aren't as good as what we've been used to. Plus, his choice of angles and the way he's expressing motion from panel to panel gets very confusing. A lot of the time there's simply too much going on, and the pages feel overwrought and busy. We get that this is a big issue, but sometimes simpler is better.
Hal Jordan's characterization
There's a moment between Batman and Green Lantern where Hal Jordan utters the line "You're not just some guy in a bat costume, are you?" to Bruce, and it was beyond grating. That line, in addition to all the many "I got this because I'm the Green Lantern" Hal utters, sets an unfortunate tone. Green Lantern is, frankly, totally unlikable here. Hal may be cocky, but, in this issue, there's simply no balance. If this is someone's first experience with the character, it's not a great one. And speaking of ...
Who is the audience?
We kept asking this question of ourselves over and over again, each time we read this issue. Is this supposed to be for DC fans, new readers, kids, adults ... who? There are aspects that are too silly and childish for adult readers to enjoy and points that are too dark and convoluted for kids to get. Ultimately it feels as though Geoff Johns was trying to grab everyone at once and, in the end, didn't really write something that would appeal to any of these groups.
Who has heard of whom now?
This might seem like a nitpick, but, really, when something happens in the first few pages that makes no sense, it can ruin an entire story. Case in point: When Green Lantern first runs into Batman he says, "You're real?" as though that was something he might have a hard time believing. Hal Jordan received a power ring from a dead alien that can create anything he can imagine, and he is now in charge of protecting the entire solar system. Batman is "just a guy in a bat costume." Who should be more surprised here? We're just saying. Silly. And unbelievable. It took us right out of the story.
Where's everyone else?
Ask people what words they'd use to describe Justice League #1, and one you'll hear a lot is "short." Part of that is because it moves at a rather fast clip, favoring action over substance. It's a #1 issue, though. Couldn't it have been a little longer? Moreover, there are an awful lot of heroes on that cover, and most of the issue deals with only two of them. Where's Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman? This is our very first issue of a brand-new DC! Make it double-sized and show us everyone.
That's what we think. What about you?