Justice League #1 review

Posted by David On September 2, 2011 ADD COMMENTS


Story: Justice League Part One

Released: Oct 2011

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciller: Jim Lee

Inker: Scott Williams

What you need to know

The first of the New 52!

Set 5 years ago, part one sees the first meeting between Batman and Green Lantern during the former’s chase of a nasty looking follower of Darkseid and attempted evasion from Gotham authorities. After some quarrelling, Green Lantern reveals that there is another possible extraterrestrial on Earth, in Metropolis. The heroes decide to team up and confront him.

On a side note, we are also introduced to football star and future hero Cyborg, Vic Stone.

What we thought

DAVID: The build up to this comic was amazing. It far surpassed any ‘event’ I can think of and may well be the shot in the arm the comic industry needs to get it out of the slump it is currently in. A slump that is quite paradoxal – Sales have never been lower, but creativity has never been higher. A lot is riding on this event and expectations are high.

RICHO: 200,000 in pre-sales alone is an enormous achievement on DC’s part. At a time when comics selling even 100,000 is uncommon, it’s great to see a book hitting such huge sales figures. That doesn’t even factor in digital sales, and I’m sure DC is rushing to get a second printing out there. DC has taken a huge risk with this relaunch, but if Justice League is any indication, it will pay off for them.

DAVID: There has been a lot of animosity directed at this event and part of me understands their points, but what a lot of them seem to misunderstand (or ignore) is that this isn’t for them. This is for new readers. The comic industry’s audience is changing. A new generation is coming along and they just don’t seem to go for the continuity heavy comics out there at the moment. Their knowledge of the main drawcards like Spiderman, Batman, Superman etc are from the film versions and most neither know or care that there is around 50 years of stories out there. They just want to get on with it.

RICHO: It’s interesting that comics have failed to attract new, younger readers at a time when nerd culture is at its zenith. Billions of dollars of revenue is coming in from movies, TV shows, games and merchandising, yet neither DC nor Marvel has been able to translate that into increased comic sales. The comic industry needs a shot in the arm, a way to get that next generation to cross over into the medium that created the characters they love watching in the movies and playing in the games. If DC can pull this off, then the entire industry will reap the benefits.

DAVID: Personally I decided to go into this with an open mind. Yes, the DC Universe has been altered and mostly all past continuity doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t still enjoy reading those stories. Nothing is stopping me from taking older DC comics off of my bookshelf and enjoying them for the great stories they are. And on the flip side I will now have a bunch of new stories, at the start of their continuities. It’s a win/win.

RICHO: Reboots don’t really bother me these days. I’ve lived through several, including Crisis on Infinite Earths, the reboot that started it all. So I have no problem with DC relaunching yet again. And not all continuity has been wiped out. Some books remain relatively untouched, such as Batman and Green Lantern.

And that’s where my concern lies. I hope DC editorial has figured out what’s in and what’s out continuity-wise. That lack of knowledge caused all kinds of problems post-Crisis. I don’t want to see a repeat of the Donna Troy/Power Girl/Hawkman type problems that plagued the original reboot.

DAVID: So, with that being said I can honestly say that this issue left me with a sense of ‘meh’. It’s all ‘flash’ (no pun intended) and ‘wow’ without any substance. John’s tries but still seems to be in the slump he’s been in since Blackest Night. Brightest Day and the Green Lantern titles since that epic event have been very tired, bordering on boring and this story is definitely a step in a better direction, but only barely. The meeting between Batman and Green Lantern appears forced and the dialogue is very bad, especially from Hal. Hal has always been cocky, but here he’s just a dickhead.

RICHO: For a relaunch issue designed to attract new readers, this issue does fall a little flat. To me, it reads more like an issue of Brave and the Bold, a Batman team up with Green Lantern. I was entertained by the issue, but it didn’t really feel like the beginning of an epic Justice League story. For a double-sized issue, it also seems very light on actual story. While this isn’t 15 pages of talking heads, I read the issue very quickly and felt dissatisfied at the end. As you say, flash without substance.

I don’t think the dialogue is as bad as you say. There are some genuinely entertaining moments in the interaction between Green Lantern and Batman. But I agree that some of it does feel a little forced, almost like Johns is trying too hard to be cool.

DAVID: It also seems a bit weird to have a cover showing the entire team but not even mentioning some of them. Surely an expositional roll call was called for? Or something in the background drawing attention to them? Or better yet, don’t have them in the cover?

RICHO: I have to disagree with you here. This is a big relaunch and needs an iconic cover image to help sell it. Having a full team shot on your first issue has been a staple of comics since team books began and I think DC made the right call here.

DAVID: My favourite bit was actually the brief glimpse into Vic Stone’s life. It’s only a few pages but it tells you everything you need to know about him. He is a favourite of John’s and it shows.

RICHO: The Vic Stone scene is definitely the standout moment in the issue. It gives us a good glimpse of his character and sets him up nicely for what’s to come. There’s a depth to this scene that isn’t present in the GL/Batman scenes.  I’d have liked to have seen similar scenes for the other team members, a glimpse of who these people are and why I should care about them. I’m far more interested in Vic’s story than I am in the bickering between Batman and Green Lantern.

DAVID: To be fair it is only the first issue and may pan out better as it goes, but a #1 should grip and intrigue the reader and make them to want to read the next issue, and this issue just doesn’t do that. But as I mentioned in earlier this wasn’t written for me and I’m sure DC’s new target audience will lap it up.

RICHO: It’s hard to tell how new readers will take this issue. For a supposedly exciting relaunch, this issue feels light. It’s a slow build issue with a lot of style but not a lot of depth. But hey, maybe that’s what the kids want these days. This issue felt more like the beginning of a summer blockbuster, which I’m sure was DC’s intent.

Having said that, the promise of Darkseid is enough to bring me back for more. I love the New Gods.

DAVID: Onto the art. Like many comic readers, I am a Jim Lee fan. He has a dynamic style that is hard to fault. But I have to say that his costume designs are terrible. I approve of the loss of the red undies, but why does Superman have bits of armour on his suit? He doesn’t need armour, he’s frigging Superman! And why do Aquaman, Hal and Supes all have the same collar styles? Did they all go to the same super tailor? (Edna Mode obviously had a sale going). Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the others look ok, but I did think that they should have stuck with her wearing pants (not because I’m a prude, it just seems more practical) and the loss of Hal’s hologram chest symbol is a shame. They all scream 90’s and that isn’t a good thing.

RICHO: I may be only comic fan out there who’s not totally enamoured with Jim Lee. I agree he has a dynamic style, but his storytelling leaves a little to be desired at times. Like the story in this issue, his style is more flash than substance. But that may be just what this titles needs. As the flagship of the new DCU, this series needs dynamic art that will catch the eye of the reader.

As for the costume designs, I don’t really have too much of a problem with them. They’re not the designs I would have used, but for the most part they keep the core dynamic elements of the classic designs and just update them. They seem to have been influenced by video game designs, which is probably a smart move of DC’s part if they’re hoping to attract younger readers. Only Wonder Woman’s design leaves me completely underwhelmed.

DAVID: Overall I give this issue 2 Lukes. I have seen far worse, and despite its flaws I hope it is a huge success. As Richo mentioned above, pre-orders on this topped 200,000 so I’m sure it will be, and that is good for comics.

RICHO: 2.5 Lukes for me. It was an entertaining enough read, but not really what I want from a Justice League title. I’d love to know what new readers thought of the issue, as they’re really the target audience here.

What do you think?

Nerd Culture Podcast will be covering all 52 titles on the podcast itself, with our next episode covering the first 2 weeks of releases so tune into that when it is released around September 12th (on both this site and iTunes). We may also cover some of them on the website so make sure you check back here as well.

What did you think of Justice League #1? Do you agree or disagree with our opinions? Let us know! Send in your thoughts to feedback@nerdculturepodcast.com, or leave a comment on this post. We would love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply