Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Justice League #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee
Company: DC Comics

Well, the wait is over...Here comes the Justice League.  Much has been speculated over these past few months, these oh so long months, since DC announced a relaunch to their entire Universe.  There have been skeptical comments, hushed whispers of problems behind the scenes, so many people making fun of popped collars, and of course, the great debate of whether or not Wonder Woman will have pants or sport her more classic attire.  Now though, the wait is over and we finally get to see just how Geoff (Green Lantern) Johns and Jim (X-Men/Batman: Hush) Lee set sail in this new and magical DCU.

So, now the big question:  How was it?

The short answer to that question is easy.  It was pretty damn good.  It certainly fit the criteria that I was looking for when it was first announced.  That criteria, in no particular order being:

1.  Is it fun?
2.  Does it have action?
3.  Does it feel new?

The having action was a big issue for me.  Remember a few years ago when the announced a new Justice League of America being relaunched?  A new number one promising so much, when in fact for the first few issues it was Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman all sitting around a table trying to decide who was in and who was out?  Yeah, I feared that we might see that again, but all that worry was for not, as there is action here.  Action that screams fast, furious, and more importantly, fun.

The story itself, which sees these characters come into contact with one another for the first time, works as well.  Yes, there is some similarity to things we've seen before.  That can't be escaped, but there is a newness there as well.  The way that these characters interact with one another, and the way they react to the world around them (and vice/versa) is such a key element in this first issue.  The way Johns handles it doesn't feel hammed up or boring, it feels organic and as they have been saying, slightly more realistic.  Johns also doesn't neglect the creation of a fun mystery for our heroes to solve, this being the villain of the piece.  The choice that is made makes sense and I can't wait to see what's done with it.

Like any other writer, Geoff Johns has his ticks and crutches that he falls back on, but with Justice League, I didn't see many, or for that matter, any of those ticks.  The humor that we see could be called a little schticky, but I thought it worked with the story being told, and that's really all that matters in the end.

From page one we are thrust into the action as we are quickly introduced to a new and more lethal Gotham City and a police force that isn't quite as happy with their bat eared defender as we are used to.  Johns' Batman isn't a departure from what we have known him to be, but there seems to be more pep in his step, which leads to a few scenes that gave him a much more lively, if a little dangerous, side to him.  In conjunction with that, we also get a Hal Jordan that we haven't seen before.  It's something that I found to be one of the more interesting aspects of the entire issue, as we're so used to the character that Johns has written for so long.  It's, for lack of a better word, neat that Johns is able to take a character that we think we know and then turn him on his head and come up with something else.

On the other side of the equation we have Jim Lee on art.  It's been awhile since we've seen sequential art from him, but that gap certainly doesn't seem to have hurt his stride.  Lee has always been able to throw together some great action, there's no question about that.  Here he's able to continue to do that as we see the GCPD pursue Batman and the way that Green Lantern uses his power ring for various problems along the way.  His lines are dynamic and feel very heroic, which makes sense.  I will also say that the way that he draws each characters new suit has made me much more comfortable.  Nothing feels out of place and each design works for the character.  My one gripe about the entire issue is that during an action scene, a blur filter was used to express the weight of impact for an object.  I've always objected to this and several other "tools" that have made things have a more cinematic feel to them, as there simply not needed in comics.  Beyond that though, there are no complaints from me.  He exceeds the bar that was set for him.  My one fear is that time will get the best of him and things will start to slip.  I hope that does not happen and Lee can keep on task with these issues.

So yes, the Justice League has returned better than it's been in quite some time.  Will it stay that way?  That question can't be answered, but if Johns is able to create a story that is just as engaging and capturing as his Green Lantern stories, then I think we may be in for a great deal of entertainment.

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