After months of speculation and all kinds of hype, it's finally here: JUSTICE LEAGUE #1. This issue kicks of the newly relaunched DCU as the first of The New 52 initiative that spins out of Flashpoint #5.
It makes sense that finally the Justice League gets to act as the flagship book of the DC Universe, it's rarely gotten to act in such a capacity, and it's supposedly a great entry point for new readers, to expand the universe around the book. However, it doesn't really act all that well as an entry point at all, thanks to some odd decisions. First of all, the team isn't assembled in this issue, in fact the majority of the issue features just Batman and Green Lantern, with one page of Superman. Instead of seeing heroes unite in a bright, exciting way, it looks like Johns is headed in the opposite direction, sadly. The series is set 5 years ago, which establishes guidelines for the timeline and continuity of this book and the characters in the DCU. Given what DC is saying still happened in terms of continuity given that short timeframe, that's a heck of a compression. The issue opens with the Gotham City Police Department tracking Batman and an unidentified assailant that Batman himself is tracking, and sets the tone for this world and this issue with there being gunfire, etc, showing that Batman isn't liked and is a target for police. It makes me wonder about Jim Gordon in this timeline, given the hostility shown here by the GCPD, and definitely starts this new universe out with a lot less hope and optimism than is usually shown in the DCU. The issue shows the first meeting between Batman and Green Lantern, and I can't get over how horrible the dialogue is here. It's quite rough, and it's easy to see the influence of the movie version of the character in Hal's glib dialogue. Their interaction is poorly handled, from Green Lantern's silly response to finding out Batmsn's real, to their brief mention of the Green Lantern Corps, aliens, etc. The end of the issue leads the pair, channeling a Brave and the Bold episode, to Metropolis, and into conflict with a certain Kryptonian.
I can't get over how big of a mistake this feels, to start off a new universe by telling a flashback tale about the formation of a team, and then not even showing the team in the first issue. This issue had to be a lot of things, to get the New 52 on the right track from the get-go, and I feel that it failed at this completely. We don't get to see the team, we see instead a very rough team-up between Hal and Batman, that just feels manufactured and uncomfortable. The DCU used to be a much more optimistic place, and this feels like Johns is just trying to needlessly dirt it up, in an effort of sorts to attain a sense of realism that no one really wanted in the first place.
The artwork in this issue is handled by Jim Lee, and he does draw some pretty pictures, although the overall quality of the artwork isn't quite up to his high standards. The new Green Lantern costume redesign really doesn't look good for the character either, given how the costume is created, and how clunky the costume actually looks. The constructs look great, but just as much credit for that should go to Williams and Sinclair on inks and colours, respectively.
This issue needed to be packed, full of excitement, showing how the greatest superhero team in the DCU came together to protect the planet, but instead the reader got a half-baked Brave and the Bold episode. If this was supposed to be the big thing that would entice new readers to become comic book fans, and DC fans in particular, it has failed in that quest. It's not what it needed to be, and was even a tad joyless, as we go through the motions once again, on the way to assembling a Justice League.