Review: Justice League #1 By Geoff Johns And Jim Lee

Justice League #1

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair

 

Everything changed in Flashpoint, but it all begins here. Justice League #1 is finally here, in my hands, and already read. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee doing Justice League, no delays, no step in pencils, sorry if I’m rambling, but I can’t remember the last time I got a Jim Lee pencilled issued on the originally solicited release date. It’s actually a good choice for the first issue to launch for the DC Comics Relaunch, as the first arc being set five years in the past gives Johns a nice launching point to set up things like law enforcement and the military disliking superheroes or just how much trust and faith the world has in aliens. These things come across naturally in the context of the story told here, without feeling shoe horned into place.

The majority of the issue focuses along the first team up between Batman and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and it’s interesting to see just how different these two icons are in their younger years. The two are obvious choices for a few reasons, I mean, they’re the two top selling DC properties, they’re two characters who aren’t really seeing any changes due to the relaunch, and they’ve also frequently been at odds since Hal returned several years ago. Their dynamic is one that Johns has explored in the past, and one that he’s now able to create a new beginning for.

Hal is obviously a rookie here, and his demeanor and attitude are proof of it. I’ve read many claims of people thinking he’s a jackass, but I don’t really see it. I mean, yes, there are all the making of a complete and utter jackass, but when I consider that he’s still young and probably only a few months into his career I can get it. Here he is, a superhero space cop meeting the urban legend of all urban legends in the ‘cape’ community…for as fresh as it is. He wants to impress Batman, who isn’t really interested in Hal’s self promotion. Hal comes across as a guy with something to prove, and I’d be surprised if he were even as old as I am. Now, couple this with the fact that the completely human Batman, with no super powers, doesn’t seem at all phased or impressed by what he can do. It drives him nuts because to him it’s the most awesome thing ever and this guy doesn’t care.

Batman doesn’t feel like a rookie of any sort, and he’s better because of it. The man with no powers who will stand as an equal with those far more powerful than him isn’t going to be a new guy at the table. Early previews and interviews classified Batman as an urban legend for years, and Hal’s early reaction gets that across. He also feels a lot less dark and gritty here, and I could stand for that to be a lasting change. I like seeing Batman smirk after making someone look stupid, it’s funny and it would happen often. Finally, while he’s prepared, he doesn’t come across as paranoid, which I really hope carries over into the present day stuff.

The characterization is the bulk of the issue, and I personally enjoyed it. On top of our ‘big two’, we also get Vic “Not Quite Cyborg Yet” Stone as a football star in high school. Cyborg’s origin being a part of the League’s origin will be interesting, but his origin in the modern era is even more interesting. After all, he was a Cyborg created in 1980, whose look changed plenty over the years only to eventually wind up looking the same as ever. That isn’t his current look, if the cover has anything to say about it. I’m looking forward to seeing how his origin plays out from here.

I could tell you that Jim Lee is the star of this issue, but I don’t think that would be much of a surprise to anyone. Jim Lee’s name on this book is one of they key selling points that DC was counting on, and he doesn’t fail. This issue looks spectacular, the action is explosive, the characters have an incredibly iconic look to them, and there’s an insane amount of detail. Jim Lee is one of the best, and while I was putting over Andy Kubert earlier for how amazing Flashpoint looked, I’m kinda glad I wrote that before reading this because I would have probably added “But he’s still no Jim Lee”. Maybe it’s the nostalgia that comes from growing up with his work, but really, this issue looks fantastic. And in one page he completely sells Superman’s new costume to me, and that’s after months of just being very ‘eh’ about it.

The issue really does feel like a part one of ___ kind of issue. It has a lot of qualities of a first issue, but at the same time it’s essentially one big Batman/Green Lantern team up that’s bound to lead into the formation of the Justice League. Our main villain for the arc is teased pretty definitively, and while it’s a curious choice (i.e. a bit too big of a threat for a rookie league), I’m very interested to see how Johns plays it out. Even more so, after all the talk about their thoughts on aliens in this issue, I’m curious as to how the meeting with Superman goes next issue. I mean, after this issue I have a general idea, but I’m curious.

There is no mention or glimpse at all of Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman in this issue which doesn’t bother me too much. Introducing the entire cast in the first issue would have wound up giving nobody the time to really flesh out their character; and Johns did a nice job with the characters he did use here. Yes, it’s a gathering of heroes story, but he’s trying to have them be more than a group of powerful people who decide to group together because they’re powerful people. Ironic since this is, in fact, a group of powerful people deciding to get together because they’re a group of powerful people, but the characterization is a nice touch. Johns has never really written Batman for an extended length of time, and I’m REALLY excited to see how he does.

It’s the first issue of the relaunch, the book they felt so strong about that they released it first to make it the cornerstone of everything that they’re doing. It’s not the perfect issue, it’s really enjoyable but not perfect, but it does manage to be exactly what DC wanted out of it. This is our introduction to the new DC Universe, and it succeeds in making me wish that it wasn’t the only New 52 book out this week. Here’s to the future of the DC Universe, and here’s to Jim Lee making deadlines!

 

Overall?

8.5/10

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