So I’m a bit behind on my regular schedule of comic book reviews, but I’m going to skip roughly the last months worth of comics I haven’t read yet, because I want to concentrate on something new, something that came out this week, and I feel is pretty important. This week, DC Comics only put out two comics, Flashpoint #5, the end of their event, and in effect, then end of the old DC Universe; and Justice League #1, the start of the new DC Universe. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but DC Comics is re-launching 52 new titles, starting at #1s for all of them. And this week was the end of one and the start of something new. So for this week, I’m just going to look at Justice League #1.
This book has heavy hitters on it, creatively speaking. Geoff Johns is probably DC biggest writer, and is important enough that he’s been promoted to Chief Creative Officers or something like that. Jim Lee is a legend, and one of the best pencillers in the business. and personally speaking, he represents an evolutionary step in my comic reading, when I discovered his work on X-Men in the early nineties, and brought me into reading Marvel comics. So expectations are high. And Justice League is DC’s big hitters, characters wise. I mean look who’s on the cover, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman are probably three of the most recognizable comic characters in the western world. And if you’re a bit more familiar with comics then you’d probably recognize Green Lantern, Flash and Aquaman. I find it a bit odd that Cyborg is in the mix, but whatever. Anyway, what I’m saying is, this team, both creatively and the actual team, bring big expectations, and it’s a new number one, launching a whole new chapter in DC’s publishing history, so that’s an awful lot of expectation for one little comic to bear. So what did I think?
Well, I really liked it. I’ve already read it a couple of times, and I imagine I might read it again. And the thing that’s got me coming back is the characters. We get to meet four of the seven from the cover in this issue, but we mainly spend most of the comic with Batman and Green Lantern. And this is their first time they’ve met. They’ve heard of each other, but this is the first time they’ve actually met, and the interactions between them is pretty enjoyable. You’ve got Batman being Batman, confident, slightly cocky, very aware of what he’s doing and experienced, and then you’ve got Green Lantern, who seems younger, more cocky and self-assured, but not necessarily with the experience to back it up. Which leads to some nice interactions between them. These are a couple of my favourites.
So this is very early on in everybody’s respective careers, they are not a known quantity yet, the band hasn’t gotten together. So this first series is going to be getting the band together, obviously having to deal with the threat that is being set up in this issue. And it works. We get to know the characters as they get to know each other. And I can’t wait to get to know them more. It was pretty smart not to start this series with Batman meeting Superman, it makes us hungry for next issue, It was also smart to start with Batman, who I think it could be argued is the most popular and recognizable character in DC history.
Anyway, I’ve talked enough about the story, kind of, what about the art? As I said earlier, Jim Lee’s art had a big impact on my comic reading life. His art sucked me in and is still some of my favourite stuff I’ve read. But, as time progressed and he moved over to Image Comics, I feel like it lost a little something along the way, and it was never as good as in the golden time I discovered him in X-Men. Except for his Deathblow work, that I really liked. So I was curious to see how I would react to this Jim Lee, since it’s kind of rare to get actual page content out of him these days. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. Certain panels leap out at me, some images are have a certain iconicness to them. Take this panel for example.
It’s a great shot of Batman, but it’s not as ostentatious as another shot of him just about 10 cm to the left. He’s not as large in the panel, there’s not as much detail, but I really like it. I think it shows him in motion, that kind of use of speed-lines in the background and in the lower half of his body. Also, being zipped through the flames adds a nice dynamic touch to it, and adds a bit of colour to it.
Anyway, let me just show you a couple more of my favourite panels, which I think are good examples of Jim’s art and Geoff’s characterisations of them.