Never has such a strongly executed comic faced such enormous criticism. This week saw the release of the first of the new DC Universe with Justice League #1. Unfortunately for it, perhaps, it was only my second favorite comic of the week. A week that only had 5 comics total.
For me the failing is that it is an origin story and I always believe that it is the stories after the origin that are strongest. You see an origin story has no Justice League in it. We’ll only get them at the end of the story.
What do we have?
Green Lantern, an interstellar space cop, is tracking down an unauthorized alien in downtown Gotham. This leads to his first meeting with Batman, legendary vigilante. The alien is setting fire to the downtown and proves a handful even for the brave and bold duo. When they lose track of the alien, they decide to check in with another alien on Earth – this one located in metropolis. Meanwhile Vic Stone is a promising young high school wide receiver with some parental issues.
Here is what the book doesn’t do. It doesn’t provide a credible threat to cause the formation of the League. It gives only a tenuous like to follow to Superman. And it really only focuses on two members of the future League.
Here is what it does. The book is fun. It takes its time with several action scenes and showing off the strengths and falws of both Batman and Green Lantern. It establishes that both heroes are fairly new. It establishes that Greent Lantern is brash and cocky and what the general abilities of his ring are. It shows that Batman is cool and reasoning and that his skill and determination can be a match for raw power. In a short few pages it lets us care about Vic Stone. And it drops a nice cliff-hanger leading on into issue two.
On the whole I approve.
The book is done by a star creative team. Geoff Johns on words and Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair on art. Johns gives Lee room to do what he does. Engaging action, imaginative ring constructs. I thought the first Gotham rooftop fight was a little busy, but the rest of the comic looked great.
I think the comic meets its mandate. I look forward to the next one. I think the whole book will be stronger once the origin story is done and gone.
You should hear the howling on the rest of the Internets. The biggest complaint seems to be that either they don’t like Lee’s art or they think Green Lantern is a bit of a jerk. To both of those I say, Bah! Bah! Lee’s art was a given going in. This wasn’t going to be the comic where we saw him experiment with an entirely new style. And I like the over-confident Lantern – an he does get his comeuppance, not once, but twice in the book.
This is the flagship book of the new line. In trying to appeal to the core market – and what the folks at DC perceive to be the core of what they hope their new market to be, it won’t appeal to everyone. But I judge it a fun and engaging effort solidly in the superhero genre.