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And so it begins: JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 (2011) REVIEW!

31 Aug

Its here folks! At last after all the hype and chaos that has been the news of DC reinventing itself and the madness of Flashpoint that sees its finale issue out this week, we see the first glimpse of the New DC Universe!

Apologies for the delayed post but I felt that waiting for a chance to read this and get the earliest possible review out to you all was worth delaying and postponing the scheduled post for today… ok, ok, you caught me and I really, really wanted to read it!

And for your consideration we here at Comic Addicts bring to you the all the gory details about the new face of the iconic names we have all grown up with and love.

(Click to enlarge)

Today we start with the first book out the starting gate: Justice League #1.

This opening salvo is written by recent DC architect for the Green Lantern franchise, Geoff Johns, a brand which he took from vague old title to the among the most popular and strong brands in the entire DCU line, except perhaps the Batman family. Johns is also the brains behind “Blackest Night”, “Brightest Day” and “Flashpoint” among many others.
And of course on art duties we have legendary comic creator Jim Lee who has been akin to a god for comic fans and was the architect and boss-man behind the awesome Wildstorm comics and co-founder over at Image.

And so now we come to a crossroads – the old DCU which we all had our own loves and hates with is being effectively put to a halt, much like the famous “Crisis on Infinite Earth” tried to do all those decades ago but only partially managed. This time an entirely new DC Universe is being brought to life with only selective connections to the past and all of that molded to fit this new Universe.
Is it worth it? Is this really a good and fresh start? Have DC shot themselves completely in the foot? Will this bring DC back to the greatness it once had and give new life to beloved characters? Lets find out together shall we?


Geoff Johns has been systematically revamping franchises across DC ever since his first success with the GL books showed his ability and passion for it. He followed this up with his version of Supermans Origin (which I didnt much care for I must admit) and then the Flash, with Aquaman and others in his sights for the future.
Well now he gets to take that to the next level and effectively has been one of the main minds behind this new universe and his helming of this new JL as well as Aquaman and having full control of the GL books even now (them being the only ones retaining the recent story-arcs) shows his standing and where all he is taking a hand.
But enough about all that stuff – on to the review!

Story:
I went into this both giddy as a school-boy with excitement because I’ve always been a sucker for alternate reality stories and because this was a great creative team doing that for one of the most iconic team-books in comic history and laying the groundwork for the entire new DC Universe. But at the same time the scale and pressure on this book also made me apprehensive that I would hate anything short of perfection simply by default.

A dangerous place for anything to find itself, but I have to admit, this Justice League incarnation thus far has given me pause and definitely given the kid hoping against hope within me some encouragement.

(click to enlarge)

Basically this first story arc of Justice League, as some of you may know, deals with the earliest days of the superhero community in this brave new world and shows how this Justice League came to become the iconic super-team everyone knows and trusts. Of course in this story the world has not HAD costumed heroes before really and at this juncture does not trust them – hence making this story a perfect opener and setup for the new status quo.
In all honesty when I think about it, this was a great opener! Full of action, good banter between characters, good pacing and the characters themselves seem familiar enough to the basics that we ascribe to them and expect, yet has a more dynamic and new feel to it which serves the purpose of this reboot.
However before everyone gets their hopes up I feel I should say that this is basically an early chapter in the story and seems akin to a Batman/Green Lantern buddy movie with none of the other leaguers getting any page time – except for a short bit in between showing a still normal Vic Stone who over the course of this arc will become the ‘chrome crusader’ we all know as Cyborg. Superman has a short appearance but going by it and the solicits for the next issue (see our solicit listing on facebook HERE) I don’t mind really.

How you like me now GL?! (click to enlarge)

We start of following Batman chasing down a bad guy and getting (unwanted) help from a very supercilious Green Lantern who thinks he’s “the best there is” and all that, well you get the idea. They have a good equation to read, entertaining and funny at parts.
Also made clear in this first issue is the main villain for this arc – Darkseid himself. Now I get the idea, its a great way to bring the team together being that ol’ Darky is a threat that pretty much none of them would be able to handle one-on-one and is a global level threat, thus creating a need for a team of the best of the metahuman crowd.
The only danger point I feel is that putting Darkseid as the villain right off the starting line, how do you follow that up? I mean really, he is like the biggest bad in the DCU and Im sure if they wanted to they could have found a substitute. But that is something we can judge when that moment comes, for now this looks good.
Lastly, what I liked about the way this has been approached is that its a good setup and gives you just enough without making the story a short one. It would have been easy to either put in too much or make it shorter and simpler, but the folks behind this seem to be building a nice story that will play out over several issues – and honestly if they can be as good (or ideally better) then this issue then I’m definitely going to be reading this regularly. 
The Wayfarer’s scoring: 4.5 / 5

Art:

Time to run home to mommy!

Fully drawn by Jim Lee himself and inked by Scott Williams, this is a great fun issue to read. The cover while nice is essentially a group hero-shot and personally is less important for me.
I’m still not too crazy about the weird collar and certain design elements of the new costumes (except Wonder Womans, I like that one!) but in this issue we are limited to Batman and GL and they are relatively alright. The Batman suit looks good and the subtle armoured look works for a ‘mere-mortal’ like Batman as he stands amidst near gods. Green Lanterns too is decent enough and honestly Im just relieved that Lee didn’t bring in something like the dog-collar that Kyle Rayner had once-upon-a-time in his earlier GL days. And the Superman costume – well I realised early on that these are all subjective and people will like or dislike based on their taste and nature – while its not spectacular, I feel it works really well for this new age Man of Steel and doesn’t look bad at all.
The action is intense and the art team seems to do adequate justice to the script they’ve been given with loads of explosions and flashes and things getting blown up and I have to admit that I went into this thinking Lee had not grown or evolved and we were going to get more of the same-old and expecting 90’s flashbacks! But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lee has done a good job maintaining his own unique look and feel while bringing a more pleasing look to his layouts then I’ve seen in a bit. I hope he can keep this up on a regular basis as the comic gets on track for its monthly scheduling.

Feel the power of my breakfast burrito!

There were small details that gave me pause like this one that I had to share with you showing a creature blasting some choppers and I have to say, is it just me or does it not look like the thing is blowing out both ends? Am I right?
Suitable and well put together artwork from the entire team – pencils, inks, colours all. 
The Wayfarer’s scoring: 4 / 5

Anyway, so there you have it. I could give you more details and spoilers but ask yourself – would you want me to or would you rather get out there and read this new adventure for yourselves? Thats what I thought.

As a last word I’d like to say that I’ve few mentions of how this new universe shown here and in the upcoming Action Comics by Grant Morrison brings us a world that does not like and fears the super-powered beings and is basically DC trying to emulate Marvel and such.
I won’t deny its possible, but I ask this question: If tomorrow a bunch of guys like the DC heroes popped up around the globe, would people take it in stride and all be hunky-dory? Or would there be pandemonium as everyone rushes to understand and deal with or destroy these new beings that are beyond the average human and upset the ‘way things are’ for us all?

Not the heroes they deserve, but the ones they need? (click to enlarge)

It is a reasonable starting point but unless they are really foolish, I don’t imagine DC will go entirely the Marvel route and will start here in a realistic and logical way as they have and the other comics to come which are in the “Present day” (as opposed to this first flashback story arc) will show us a world where the heroes have been around a while and while there are less liked ones, the big names and genuine heroes will be loved and trusted in varying degrees.
The big difference between DC and Marvel has almost always been that DC is more fantastically-inclined in their story-telling, dealing with bigger pictures and a more hopeful world where people adore and praise their heroes – while Marvel has been a more gritty and “real” world where people turn on supers just as easily as we turn on failures in the real world.
If DC goes the Marvel way, then likely this entire endeavor is doomed to failure in my view – if not financially, then definitely creatively because that would be killing the core of what makes the DC heroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Only time will tell, in the meantime I intend to enjoy what I can while I can and can afford! Till next time wayfarers!
Cheers!

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