Justice League of America: Rebirth gives us a first look into what this title will be like, and in doing so, Steve Orlando decided to pull a page out of David Ayer’s book from Suicide Squad. Yep, that’s right, we’re starting this series off by highlighting the cast… And that’s about it.
I know my intro can come across as negative, but I promise, it isn’t. I enjoyed this issue a lot! I’ll be honest though, if you were hoping to jump directly into an adventure, then you might be disappointed. While there is some action peppered here and there, most of the issue is nothing more than a character focus… Now do you know why I like the issue?
While reading this issue, I immediately thought of Brad Meltzer’s Justice League of America #1 from 2006. In that issue, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman sort through various heroes to determine who should be part of the Justice League. Although Justice League of America: Rebirth doesn’t involve the Trinity landing on a team, it does highlight each member that Batman is recruiting, covers their strengths, and why they’ll be great for the team.
The issue starts with Batman taking Killer Frost to Happy Harbor! And just like that, Steve Orlando is winning already! Seriously, this made me so happy! Apparently Batman has had this location for a while, just didn’t have a reason to use it… Or didn’t realize the potential anyway. Once he reveals the base, Batman begins the journey recruiting heroes, starting with Black Canary, athe which point the issue turns into a character spotlight/ reel. In case you weren’t sure what to expect from each team member, you’ll get an idea here, as well as where there might be some conflict or association with personalities.
We got a solid sense of this during the JLA Rebirth one-shots, but what excites me the most about this series, is Orlando’s take on these characters. It’s clear that he understands the roster he’s working with, and that alone is going to drive the success of this book.
The Art: Ivan Reis covers art for this issue… That’s really all I should have to say. The guy is amazing, and I get excited whenever I see his name tied to a book! He’s a master of his craft. A number of his panels are cinematic in their design, and his characters emote beautifully. Reis is one of those artists that creates so much narrative with unspoken word – the perfect partner to Orlando for launching this iconic series.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
For this issue, I’m not going to list a “good” or “bad” assessment, but I’m going to recap the characters instead.
Batman – Batman essentially serves as a narrator here, but he feels very much like the Batman we would expect. He’s manipulating a situation, giving the team members just enough information for them to feel invested, and isn’t sharing information that is clearly the cause for him building this team… Which leads me to the question: Why is he building this team? In fact, what’s up with all of the teams? Justice League, JLA, his Bat family… They can’t all be for random purposes, so I’m certain he knows something we’ve yet to figure out.
Black Canary – Dinah just might walk away as the MVP of 2017. With featured coverage in Green Arrow, Batgirl & the Birds of Prey, and now this, she’s going to receive more than her fair share of exposure. Orlando’s interpretation of Black Canary reminds me more of how she was portrayed at the beginning of the New 52, and pre-Flashpoint. She’s a little more direct, a total badass, and not afraid to punch first, then ask questions later. In other words, I’m a fan. Her confidence also reminds me of her portrayal in Young Justice, so for fans of the series, you have that to look forward to. Unfortunately, she doesn’t appear to be taking a leadership role in the Justice League.
Lobo – Lobo is Lobo, through and through. Every exchange he has in this issue is pretty much exactly what I would expect! In fact, unsurprisingly, he has most of my favorite moments in the issue (his exchanges with Canary, Batman/ Atom, and Killer Frost). The only thing I question, is him honoring his favor to Batman. I hope there’s more to the story here, and I honestly don’t expect Lobo to stick around past the first arc or two, so I’ll move past my uncertainty and enjoy him for as long as he’s here.
Vixen – Surprise, surprise! It looks as though Mari will be the co-captain of the team! I really like Vixen, and I think she’s a great character, but considering how new she is to the vigilante business, I’m not certain she’s ready to be a leader… not for this team, anyway. Mari, as a person, is a natural leader, so she has that working in her favor. I guess only time will tell.
Killer Frost, Atom, & Ray – Killer Frost receives the same treatment that she’s been getting the past few issues, but Orlando’s presentation feels less forced. Other than that, she isn’t featured heavily – buy let’s be honest, she’s had a substantial spotlight leading into this issue. As for the Atom and the Ray, both receive a small spotlight, and while their awkwardness is entertaining, these two don’t stand out from the rest of the pack. There is potential though!
The teaser – Here’s the “whoa” moment of the issue. With so much character focus, there’s barely any plot to this issue, aside from seeds that are planted strictly based on character personalities. In the teaser for things to come, we get a glimpse of Lobo and the Ray going head to head, but I think we all knew Lobo wouldn’t play nice the entire time.
The next panel is of Killer Frost on Themyscira… interesting. I’ll bite. But the last two panels really drive the excitement with Batman holding a shield (I’m assuming Agent Liberty’s or Lady Liberty’s) while being threatened by an unknown foe. And finally in the last panel, shows the Atom confronting an Assassin’s Creed looking character, who might be Ray Palmer… And just like that, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue!
- You enjoyed Brad Meltzer’s run on JLA.
- You prefer a character focus to your stories.
- Batman and Lobo are working together!
Overall: Orlando delivers a solid debut that, while lacking in plot, packs one hell of a punch. The characters here are strong, and represented well – solidifying my certainty that Orlando and team will deliver the goods over the next few years!