Justice League of America #1 “Power & Glory”
Written by Bryan Hitch
Art by Bryan Hitch
Inks by Daniel Henriques, Wade von Grawbadger, and Andrew Currie
Colors by Alex Sinclair and Jeromy Cox

There have been quite a few questions and reservations surrounding Justice League of America. To be fair, these questions and reservations haven’t just been directed at this title, they’ve also been directed towards DC in general, as readers are curious to understand this slightly confusing approach to continuity. So I’m sure most of you are wondering… does this book fall in line with continuity, or not? The best answer I can provide, at least at the moment, is that it doesn’t fall in line with current continuity. Bruce Wayne is still Batman. Superman has his powers. Green Lantern isn’t a rebel on the run… but that doesn’t mean that the story isn’t part of continuity. For all we know, this story could technically be part of continuity from earlier in the League’s run. But with that out of the way, let’s focus on the story at hand.

I felt a range of emotions while reading this book. There were times that I loved it, times that I wondered where it was going, and times that I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it because the pieces didn’t really seem to connect. We start off rather dramatically with a defeated Superman talking to an unseen antagonist… and then the Earth explodes. Yes, you read that correctly… the Earth freaking explodes! If you ever want to grab the reader’s attention in the first two pages, just blow up the Earth, and send Superman hurdling into space. Cool? Great!

We then presumably go back in time to see Clark arriving to work at the Daily Planet. There’s an invitation waiting for him from the Infinity Corporation, asking him to attend an important event, followed by a note to dress appropriately… but there’s more than meets the eye here. Within the invitation is a secret message for Superman, and considering his identity is secret at this time, this is a little unsettling for Clark. Naturally he looks into the event, but is guarded upon meeting members from the company. It doesn’t help that the two people he meets are annoyingly cryptic as to why Superman was summoned. After discovering a pile of dead bodies – all of which happen to be him – he becomes a little more forceful in gaining information. The team then admits that they contacted him in hopes of saving him.

I’m totally on board at this point, and have moved past my reservations for this title. Hitch got my attention with the first two pages, and he’s snagged my interest yet again with all of these bodies. I mean, think about how unnerving it would be to come across a pile of dead bodies, and every single one of them is you. The two associates try to explain the circumstances of the situation and what will take place, but it’s just… odd. There are pages of cryptic warnings about Superman’s looming death, as well as the world’s destruction, but there aren’t any actual details as to how it will happen. All we get are multiple warnings that become redundant, and I begone to feel like I’m chasing rabbits. At this point we’re about 20 pages into the book, and I’m starting to feel a little disinterested because I hate one of the featured characters from the Infinity Group, the book is quickly losing momentum, and none of the other League members have been featured (aside from a few pages featuring Aquaman, but I’ll get to that later).

We finally get to see the rest of the team, as the Justice League encounters Parasite. In the end, most of the book focuses on this altercation, and thankfully, it’s an enjoyable fight. Hitch did a solid job of capturing the characters here, and everyone gets a chance to be featured, while working rather well as a unit. And it didn’t feel like “filler action.” I was invested in what was taking place, and curious about what would happen. As entertaining as the fight was though, what I really enjoyed was the set-up. I won’t give it away now, but you can find more details when I reveal some spoilers below.

There’s quite a bit of mystery throughout the book, and it surfaces in multiple plots. Interestingly, it’s not a single mystery that’s driving the entire plot of the issue – at least as far as we know. Instead, there appears to be a couple of questions that surround each plot. While in the midst of reading the issue, it almost felt clunky and disjointed because the narrative appeared to jump from plot to plot without ever actually giving any resolve or progress. However, by the end of the issue, you can begin to see the formation of storylines converging into one plot. And if there wasn’t already enough story in this issue, there are two big reveals within the last few pages!

Before you continue reading, be warned that there are spoilers below!

The Art: I really need to give Hitch credit. While his art isn’t amazing, he still delivers solid work. I also think there’s something beneficial in having a single person covering writing and art duties. What you see is typically their creative vision. Nothing gets lost in translation. There’s no compromising (except with the editor). And the final product tends to feel more cohesive. That’s what we get here. Yes, I could knit-pick various aspects of his art – and at some point I might if it becomes a distraction – but overall, I was more than satisfied. Where Hitch’s art falls short in technicality, he makes up for it in engagement. I’m not an artist, and if I have one glaring opportunity when critiquing comics, it’s speaking knowledgably towards the art, but I felt his art was extremely inclusive and engaging.

 

Check out some of Hitch’s work and the spoiler tag! I’d love to hear your thoughts – especially if you’re an artist. Give your perspective in the comments section.

Spoiler

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The Good: 

Invitations. Invitations played an interesting part in this book. There’s Superman’s invitation to meet with the Infinity Group, but then there’s also the invitations that the rest of the League received. They didn’t just happen upon Parasite… they were brought there by the Infinity Group as well. The question, is whether or not the Infinity Group planted Parasite, or if there’s something else at work.

Aquaman. I didn’t mention this above, but out of the multiple plots that kick off in this issue, I’m actually most intrigued by Aquaman’s. Meeting with government officials to negotiate sharing Atlantean technology in weapons is definitely foreshadowing some future plots. And I think we all know the government isn’t going to just sit back and take “no” for an answer when Aquaman delivers it. They’re going to do whatever they can to get their hands on the stuff. Now, this isn’t a new approach or earth shattering in any way, but it was done extremely well.

The two reveals. Holy cow… two big things back to back. First, the Infinity Group – as well as their building of operation – has completely disappeared at the end of the issue. It’s almost like Superman had gone crazy and imagined everything, but the lot where their offices were is just a construction site now. Then… THEN… freaking Rao appears on the last page? Just give me the next issue.

Its fun. No, this book doesn’t fall in-line with currently continuity, but as I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t part of a previous time in continuity. Ultimately, the book is fun. It kind of feels like the comic adaptation of a Justice League animated film. I don’t think that’s a bad thing!

The Bad:

The Infinity Group. Yeah… I hate these guys. The two characters we meet are extremely annoying, and they’re gathering their intel from magical, talking rocks… I mean, seriously?

Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of the Justice League.
  • You don’t want to read a story that’s bogged down by continuity in other titles.
  • You just want to read a fun, engaging story rather than worrying about how to change the status quo to be fresh and original.

Overall: While Justice League of America isn’t perfect, there are a lot of fun, positive moments that appear to be building towards a complex arc grounded in the characters. It’s an over-sized issue at an inflated price, but I think its well worth it!

SCORE:  8/ 10