As you may know by now, DC Comics is scrapping (almost) all of the last 80 or so years of their Comics and starting over with a fresh batch of 52 different #1 titles, including re-boots of every character from Superman on down. It’s a bold move, a polarizing one, with the potential to cost the publisher as many fans as it awards them. I, for one, am exactly the kind of reader DC is trying to pick up. I’ve been collecting since I was 12, but for the last ten years only pick up a handful of books a year due to budget and continuity concerns. For example, I tried following the ‘Death of Bruce Wayne’ plots last year but got lost quickly and gave up. Now, with all new plots and clean slates, I will be (tenatively) checking out a few titles to see if this is something I can get into. After reading Justice League #1 however, it’s no sure bet.
This #1 is officially the first title of the new Universe, the only one released this week before DC starts pumping them out a dozen a week. This is our first look at a new, younger, more current group of classic superheroes. With seven figures blasting off our cover, we delve into Justice League #1. And we get…cops chasing Batman.
Huh. That…that seems like pretty familiar territory. As the text tells us, it’s “Five Years Ago” and Batman is leaping after an unidentified figure, Gotham’s finest following in helicopters, ordered to “bring them both down.” Rough. So, yea, it’s very much Year One styled mayhem here, as Bats dodges the cops and keeps up with the creep. His first line of the new Universe by the way?
Here’s the thing about this new Universe that I didn’t really explain yet. It’s all new…sort of. See, the minds behind this move have chosen to keep certain things going here, and set up certain characters as they were at odd times. Best case in point. Barbara Gordon is again the original Batgirl, going back on the events in Killing Joke. But, Dick Grayson, the original Robin, is still Nightwing, his persona after he grew up. So, we are to presume that within the first few years of Batman’s existence, he had several Robins, a Batgirl, a Batwoman (don’t forget her) and a slew of other adventures that previously took him decades to accumulate? Does this Universe have a Jason Todd? Is he dead? Too many Questions to begin, and that’s only one character.
Anyways, Batman grabs his prey, an alien looking brute with glowing eyes, and proceeds to question this creature like it’s a regular street thug. “What were you doing at the docks?” Uh, there’s probably more pertinent questions here, Batman, like what Hell is that thing? After the alien bashes him around a little we are introduced to Green Lantern, who drives a truck through the bad guy, and seems positively stunned to find the Batman really exists. So now it’s clear what we’re doing here. Each and every member of the Justice League has to actually meet face to face. Oh man, you guys. This could take awhile. I mean, we spend the next dozen pages exploring these two beloved characters like we’ve never heard of them. Green Lantern can do what? How? Wow!
It’s totally necessary, I know, if you’re acting like no one knows each other. You gotta do it right, but this gets tedious quickly. Although I do love Lanterns reaction to finding out Batman has no actual powers.
Basically, both these guys come off as cocky, self absorbed power trippers. Lantern especially takes a cavalier attitutde to his power, much like Ryan Reynolds did this summer in theaters. Can’t help but feel like writer Geoff Johns isn’t really trying anything new as much as retelling an old tale with new dialogue bubbles. And really, that is what makes this #1 a fairly underwhelming read; it’s entertaining yes, seeing Batman do anything is entertaining. But, we are just meeting our old characters in new tights, I guess I need to know why.
So, the alien they’re kinda sorta going after as they banter (the cops are long gone threats) blows hisself up real good while Batman presumes rather than deducts everything and Lantern just acts all “I got this bro” showy and we get a brief cutaway to some high school football game outta nowhere. Well, this four page detour is all a set up to our token black hero, football star kid named Vic Stone who’ll soon com to be known a Cyborg when some crazy accident or something makes him get all bionic. I’m just guessing all that, all I now for sure is his daddy is too busy studying superheroes to come to his games, wah wah.
Anyways, the alien is dead, but he left a box. Batman presumes it’s a computer, and Lantern’s all, “hmm, it’s alien technology. You know who’s an alien? That guy Superman in Metropolis. Let’s go ask him about it.” OK, I guess that’s a good reason to go meet Superman. They do and yep, they find him, and Superman immediately looks for a fight. Typical Kal-El. And that’s where we end, with a young looking Superman ready to rumble with Batman and Green Lantern. At this pace, it should take about 8 issues to meet everyone and probably another 8 to get them to stop fighting each other and form a League of heroes. I just don’t know if this story is good enough to commit to yet. I figure that DC Comics is a pretty big beast at this point, being 52 titles strong. Surely, that’s a helluva load to get off the ground, but if Johns and crew can get it up in the air, we might get to see some interesting places. Just don’t hold your breath.