New 52 – Justice League #5 review

Alright, let’s talk about Justice League #5. The first delayed book in the New 52, part 5 was supposed to be on shelves last week. Was it worth the wait? Well, yes and no. It’s exactly what I expected to get, but it’s hardly the best bat book of the month (Batman #5), or the one that’s going to spark real debate (Batgirl #5; Sarah Essen and No Man’s Land may no longer be canon). No, what you get with Justice League is the blockbuster action adventure that Batman: The Dark Knight wishes it could be.

First, let’s talk about the cover. It doesn’t get much more Michael Bay than this: explosions, gun toting robots, big muscles, bigger boobies, laser eyes, and the American flag! Pretty much everything you could w–where the hell is Batman? He does the most out of almost everyone in this issue, yet he’s only featured on the variant cover, which is a nicer cover by the way. At least in my opinion. What do you think? And why does Cyborg feature so prominently here? The guy has maybe five lines in the entire book and has yet to contribute anything to this “team”, a term I use loosely since they have yet to truly work together and after 5 issues and $19.95 + tax, I’m getting a little impatient with the way this book has been paced. Not that I pick up Justice League for the story, mind you. I doubt anyone could. This book is essentially there to introduce readers to big-time DC characters they wouldn’t otherwise check out, and it acts as fan service, not that that’s a bad thing. It’s great to see all of our favorite characters in one book fighting the worst villains in the universe, but it’s even better when they are drawn by Jim Lee and vibrantly colored by Alex Sinclair, Gabe Eltaeb, and Tony Avina.

The art is hands down the biggest draw here. Darkseid has a face that’s chipped and cracked like asphalt, the crushing blows delivered to Green Lantern look as painful and powerful as they should, and every member of the league looks heroic, larger than life, and 100% iconic. You’ll see Flash and Superman outrunning omega beams, Darkseid shattering constructs like glass, and Batman downing a parademon with his bare hands—issue #5 has everything you could want from a Justice League comic…visually.

Breaking Down a Few Characters

Story and characterization are another matter entirely. Plus, I’m sure a lot of Superman fans are going to debate the destructive power of an omega beam after reading this issue, too!

Let’s start with Darkseid: I’ll be the first one to say that I’m ignorant when it comes to Superman’s mythology, but from what I’ve gathered in the animated series episodes, DC direct movies, and handful of comics I’ve seen this villain in…he never struck me as the kind of guy to just show up on the street and start wrecking things like Godzilla. Instead he seemed rather intelligent, and strategic. The kind of villain who would hang back and let his suicidal army of parademons do all the dirty work for him while he sat on a throne like the final boss at the end of a video game. This Darkseid is blasting away at buildings and heroes immediately and has said nothing but his own name like a mindless monster.

Then there’s Green Lantern. Please, correct me on this if I’m wrong, but isn’t Guy Gardner supposed to be the douchey Green Lantern? I know Hal is cocky and sure, he just got the ring recently and has had nothing but success so he’s going to be extra arrogant, but this guy just seems like a frat boy stereotype so far. He’s the loud mouth of the group who is also the first to run into a fight. Does he really need to be this foolish and abrasive?

I have to say the only hero in the Justice League who really acts like he’s mature and has proven himself to be a resilient hero time and time again in this book so far is the Flash. The hero who has done the absolute least, however, is Cyborg. He’s just this robot kid who showed up out of nowhere and all these other heroes are like “Sure, he can tag along…I mean, he’s a robot.” But he seems really unnecessary. He’s not added anything to the group in terms of character or as a useful weapon against these bad guys. And an even bigger question regarding Cyborg is why doesn’t he have his own book? I know I’m not the only one who has criticized the way his character has been shoehorned into this series but if you look at the entire Justice League, every member has his or her own series except for Cyborg. If he had his own book, it would add a lot of legitimacy to his role in the League. If he’s not a strong enough character to carry his own solo title, why in the hell does he deserve to be here?

It’s supposed to be a book about a whole super hero team, not a Brave and the Bold two character team up. Where were Wonder Woman and Aquaman at? They serve as little more than extras in this issue and at least they made it onto the cover. Batman on the other hand didn’t. And he’s the one who seems the most out of character.

Batman gives this big speech to Hal about how they need to set aside their egos and become a team. Leading by example, Batman removes his mask and then pulls the Bat symbol off his chest…like a sticker…I dunno. That was a WTF moment, but the heart of his message was good. It’s a good scene, an important one that serves the purpose of maturing Hal so that he can rally the team together. But it’s not Batman. It’s just not. See, not only does the Dark Knight take off his mask but he tells Green Lantern his name and his entire origin story as well. I know its apparently the end of the world to these characters right now so what the hell, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around a Batman who would give up his identity to the one guy he has gotten along with the least and who absolutely cannot keep his trap shut. That felt very, very out of character. What did you think?

Do I have my problems with Justice League? Yeah, but not to an offensive degree. I want it to be more of a TEAM book and the characterization could be better for some people, but the art and the action are too good to stay mad for long. It’s an energetic, fun book and I think anyone could pick it up and find something to appreciate as long as your inner child isn’t dead. It’s the comic book equivalent of a kid bashing their action figures together which is a book that can only succeed if it’s drawn by an artist as good as Jim Lee. Also, if you enjoyed last month’s STAR LABS secret files supplemental material you’ll be pretty disappointed by what this book has to offer: New 52 character designs—essentially what we’ve seen at the back of every DC New 52 book for the past 5 months.

It’s thrilling, and it’s pretty, but you’ll likely never read it more than once.

SCORE: 7/10