Call me crazy, but shouldn’t variant covers be more visually impressive than the originals? I’m always excited to see what the variant looks like for Superman, Batman, etc. each month, but this month the variants are really falling flat. Have you noticed? I mean Action Comics’ variant was a goofy botox faced superman in front of a white background while the regular cover was him looking furious in an electric chair while unseen gunmen pointed the barrels of their rifles in his face. The same thing happened with Justice League this week. The variant looks almost identical to the #1 regular cover, which is just the ensemble cast running through space or something (how is Batman keeping up?). Why would I pay extra for such a boring cover when the regular priced version is Superman pummeling Batman while Green Lantern tries to break ’em up? My comic shop was trying to sell that variant for $12.99. I’ll pass.
The Young and the Reckless
Now that I’m done talking about the cover, let’s move on to the actual content. One of the most notable things about the Justice League series is just how immature our heroes feel. I know that it takes place 5 years ago and all, but Batman is the only hero who doesn’t sound like a teenager. It kind of feels like kids meeting at a summer camp rather than joining forces to stop an alien invasion. “Hey, where are you from? What sort of super power do you have?” It was funny the first time, but it’s getting old. It’s starting to feel like a cliché high school film from the 80s where Hal is the smart-ass, Barry is the good kid who just wants to stay out of trouble, Superman is the misunderstood tough guy…Batman is still Batman though. But Justice League, like Geoff John’s “Aquaman” series feels more like a comedy than a serious action adventure right now. Batman just seems to play the role of the straight man so we can have a funny line every now and again when Bats has to set the team straight when they get carried away talking about who has what super power.
Batman vs. Superman
An unprepared Batman versus Superman. This shouldn’t last long. Either Batman has some kryptonite on him or he doesn’t. Since they’re meeting for the first time—it’s a pretty quick fight. If you can call it that. Green Lantern gets a few hits in, but it turns out that Superman is strong enough to bust up Green Lantern constructs which is the most impressive physical feat Superman has done in the new 52 so far (keep in mind he’s even younger in “Action Comics” and can’t even fly yet—that’s a good book by the way. “Superman” however, is a pretty dull series).
Lucky for us we get a little bit closer to a full Justice League in this issue with the addition of Barry Allen, The Flash. And we even get to see his personal life working in the crime lab. This not only make The Flash the most human of all the heroes we’ve seen so far, but Flash is more interesting in this book than he is in his own title. And yes, he gets in on the Superman fight as well and it’s pretty entertaining.
The whole book is basically the Superman brawl. Which, don’t get me wrong, is neat and all, but does it really go anywhere? You pick up this book knowing what’s going to happen. We’re a very story-literate culture after all. It’s a book called “Justice League”…we know that these guys will be the Justice League…they aren’t the Justice League yet, but they’re fighting now…it’s pretty obvious that the fight isn’t going to last and everyone’s going to be friends by the end of it. They just have to calm Superman down. And as far as that goes, Superman either has anger management issues or he has selective super-hearing. All throughout the fight Batman tries to say “Let’s not fight. We’re after the same goal.” (paraphrasing), but Superman continues to brawl with Green Lantern and Flash (who are not meeting for the first time, turns out they’re buddies). How does Superman not hear what Batman is saying? He’s Superman. He should be able to hear a pop-tart bursting from a toaster in Cheboygan, why can’t he make out what Batman is saying? (No Christian Bale Batman voice jokes, please. It’s too easy. You’re better than that.)
So it’s a cool looking fight what with Jim Lee’s art and the fantastic inks and colors of Sinclair and Williams. I’m sure some of the imagery will make many a fine message board avatars and desktop backgrounds, etc. And the dialogue between the characters, although unnecessary and a bit immature, is funny and entertaining. Justice League is a fun book that’s just having a bit of trouble…moving. For every 8 pages of witty banner we get one mention of “Oh, yeah, so about this alien cube and the threat of someone called Darkseid. Anybody got any thoughts on what that’s all about?” This is going to be a big deal and I’d like to see the heroes take this a bit more seriously. But again, they’re still young and naïve (except Batman who is stern and kind of boring) and they’re more interested in making super-friends than stopping the apocalypse. They’ll learn. I don’t think any of these heroes have faced a foe yet that could threaten the world entire. Maybe that’s why they’re so casual about the whole thing?
But amongst all the Superhero bonding and fighting and threat of Darkseid’s invasion we have the subplot of Victor Stone: high school wide receiver. He’s getting scholarships thrown his way from every top college in the country if he just plays ball for—WHO GIVES A #%@&! You have the biggest characters in all DC comics fighting each other while Darkseid is about to invade the planet and you want me to feel bad for this wealthy, future Heisman trophy winner because his dad won’t come to his football games? We all know you wanted to make the Justice League more diverse so you dropped the Martian Manhunter and tossed in the first black super hero that came to mind, but there aren’t better black heroes in the DC universe than this guy? Anybody more relatable or at least interesting or necessary to the team (the team NEEDS someone who does/has knowledge of magic). If color was all you were interested in then why didn’t you go with Static Shock? People like him. Blue Beetle is likeable too and he’s Hispanic. Oh, and you created an Asian Atom a few years back. I could see that guy finding something to do on the team. He actually has an ability that nobody else possesses! Batman has tech and weapons covered. No need for a cyborg. Oh, and Martian Manhunter was the last Martian. In the universe. It doesn’t get more diverse than that.
Buy it or Browse it?
I’d give it a buy, but a low-buy. Granted, there are no surprises here. You can guess everything that’s going to happen in this book from what you read in issue #1. But, it’s a fun read with ultra-cool illustrations and some laugh-out-loud dialogue. What’s holding it back from being a must-have book is the lack of story progression (we have yet to see Aquaman, Wonderwoman or learn what Darkseid wants) and any sense of urgency to the threat at hand. And the awful Cyborg subplot jars the pacing and has no place in the story.