Review: Justice League #2 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee

Story arcs right? It’s all about the story arc. And there’s no question that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are tailoring the writing towards that with this series. Otherwise, how do you explain a team book where three of the members don’t even appear in the first issue of the book, and two others are regulated to cameo roles?

Now me, I like story arcs. As a kid, I would giggle with delight at the words “To Be Continued” when it appeared as a black box on the last page of my favorite comic book.  (Sometimes with FIRE lettering, so you knew that meant something).

But, there is another school of thought, it’s going to take Johns and Lee six issues to form the Justice League and give them their first battle, but Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky were able to pull it off in a single issue.

Personally, I think stories and writing styles progress with the times.  Back then we were happy with single issue goodness, and were happy with the 2 x 3 standard box format.  Today, we can have art that stretches the page, character development, and take our time with plot and plot resolution.

As for Justice League #1, I found it to be  pretty average, but it  hinted at a greater overall story to come. The return of Darkseid from Grant Morrison Story Purgatory was a good enough reason for me to buy issue #2, but it gave me significant pause. Let’s see if my optimism was rewarded.

Justice League #2: Justice League Part Two
Writer: Geoff Johns | Penciller: Jim Lee

In the last episode, Batman is chasing a demon creature of some sort, while being pursued by the police. Batman gets an assist from Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). During confrontation, the demon blows up, leaving behind a small box. The two of them fly to Metropolis to confront Superman to see if he knows about the box. Green Lantern attempts to confront Superman, but is taken down first. The issue ends with Superman confronting Batman.

Synopsis

  • Barry Allen is a police investigator who is pulled off of a murder investigation, so he can his fellow officers discover the identity of The Flash, his alter ego.
  • Batman and Green Lantern do battle with Superman, both sides wanting answers about the boxes left by the demon creatures.
  • Green Lantern calls in Flash to help subdue Superman, and he is able to slow Superman down enough to allow Batman to talk to him.
  • At STAR Labs, Victor Stone’s dad is investigating the boxes too, which are appearing all over the world where there has been Super Human activity.
  • Victor confronts his dad about not being there for his football game, when all of the boxes (including the ones held by the heroes) start to ping.
  • The boxes explode with multiple armies of demons attacking STAR Labs and the heroes, and the explosion severely damages Victor Stone.

Analysis

This was much better. I started to get a much stronger sense of the team book that this is going to become. The interactions between all four characters really worked well. You could get a sense of the new interactions between the members.

I LOVED that there was an existing history between Flash and Green Lantern. If we were going to have to go through multiple character introductions, then this would get very boring, very quickly. This was an excellent shortcut, and really showed the character differences between Green Lantern (the hotshot) and Flash (the methodical investigator). And the following exchange was Priceless!

And while I’m not a comic book historian, I loved the nod to the Brave and the Bold team-up and the battling of Gorilla Grodd.

I thought that establishing Barry Allen as the peace keeper for the group was a really smart idea.  It fits with his personality and gives Barry a unique role in the group.  Barry used his speed to allow the group to ‘slow down’ (IRONY!) so that they could deal with each other.  Superman seemed impressed that The Flash could use his powers to give him pause, but do it non-violently. Batman respected him immediately because of his police background. And Green Lantern and Flash were already established as friends.

I’m not sure whether I like Superman having a temper. I might like it, but I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong. Anything to shake up Superman is an interesting idea, at least. But for me, Superman has always been the calm one, because he can afford to be.  When the power of the Green Lantern can be brushed aside in a few minutes, then you can take a minute to hear all sides. But now, he’s an attack first and deal with consequences later hero? Yes, he may mellow over the next five years, but this is still a change that is rather striking at the moment.

Biggest criticism of the book, is that it is one huge sausage-fest. This is one of DC’s premiere titles of the relaunch, and the title with arguably the biggest creator “star power.” And there’s not ONE prominent female in the first two issues. For a title that already suffers from a noticeable 6:1 male to female ratio, and an industry that already has a female perception issues, to not have ANY discernible female presence is pretty lame.

The action in this issue was good. Personally, I have seen the “heroes who don’t know/trust each other start fighting, even though we know they will become friends eventually” so many times that I’m sick of it. BUT, just because I’ve seen it too much, doesn’t mean everyone has. And, it didn’t seem forced here.

Victor’s dad admitting that he will never come to one of Victor’s football games was too over-the-top. I can see him saying to Victor that his work will always come first to a silly “football game”. But I just don’t buy someone admitting to their son’s face that their work is more important than their son’s dreams. I can believe in someone thinking it, acting on it, but intentionally hurting your son like that. Too over the top.

The colorist really needs to be taken to task for the Vic/father confrontation. Both of them wear similar blue hues, for no reason whatsoever, that I can see:

On my mobile phone, I had to go back and forth several times to determine which character was whom. I know it may seem obvious, but having one of the characters wearing red or green or yellow would have helped.

And Jim Lee? When was the last time you saw scientists wearing jumpsuits with high collars? EVER?

Can Dr. Stone have a first name. (Yes, I know it was Silas in the pre-Flashpoint DCU)  But is it too much to ask that he is given a name, by one of the characters, even just in passing?

Hal Jordan continues to act as a complete jerk throughout the book. Culminating in the suggestion to Barry that the two of them head out on their own. After portraying him as a jerk in the movie, and in his own comic book title, I wonder if Geoff Johns actually “likes” Hal Jordan. Cause this is practically character assassination this year.

Verdict

Much better than issue #1, which was mediocre with promise. This was a solid super-hero team-up tale. The introduction of Barry Allen was really a breath of fresh air, even more than Superman. The story is still a basic super-hero meet cute, but it’s well done and well-drawn. Enjoyable for all Justice League fans.

8.0 (Quite Well Done)

 

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