Just as Batman pulls together his own Justice League and gets them started with some junior league missions, a cosmic threat appears on Earth to save it! Time to call in… Wait… Save it? Did I read that correctly? (Pauses and re-checks the issue.)
Yep, I read it correctly.
Doctor Doom Lord Havok and his generals are here to save Earth! Go home JLA! You’re not needed this week.
I’m going to be frank: Brian Hitch’s Justice League sucks. I don’t know what happened with Hitch, but he’s dropped the ball and DC desperately needs to get a new writer asap! Because of that unfortunate fact, all eyes are now on Steve Orlando. Justice League of America needs to be good for the sake of the Justice League brand. There’s a big, looming concern though… Despite the strong build-up (Justice League vs Suicide Squad and the JLA: Rebirth one-shots), a number of readers are skeptical of the roster – or at least certain members – the fact that half of these heroes are “new” to their gig, and the reality that these characters don’t get along… That’s anything but a winning combination. Right?
Apparently not, because Justice League of America is a lot of fun! And go figure that out of the two JL teams, Orlando’s band of misfits and rookies are the ones that actually feel like a team! This is the first thing I noticed when I read this issue. Despite the fact that they shouldn’t work or mesh, they do. No, they’re not familiar with each other, and no the team hasn’t built a rapport yet, but they are still more team oriented than the regular Justice League.
This issue is mostly action, with some minor plot development. Orlando starts off by splitting the team up to assist with a few, minor missions – a perfect way to kick of the series. Why? Because it creates an opportunity to showcase characters’ strengths and weaknesses. Witnessing Batman and Vixen discuss the team, Canary inspire Ray and coach him in how to use his abilities… It creates an inspiring dynamic that is void from the main Justice League title. Meanwhile, at Happy Harbor, Killer Frost and the Atom connect over the intellect as they work to get the Troubalert functioning. Conveniently, the moment the Troubalert is up and running, the League receives a signal of an invasion. Sure… I’ll go for a convenient jump start. Why not?
Batman and the League meet up to confront the invaders, who happen to be Lord Havok and his Extremists. The most interesting aspect of the issue is actually Havok’s reason for coming to Earth – he’s trying to save it. Havok’s idea for how to do that may differ from the League’s though, and free will has a role in that concept. Seeing the JLA go big on their first mission is enjoyable, and the characters are each represented well, but none of them really get a moment to shine. Within time, I sure this will change, but for now, I’m satisfied with the action, exposition, and balance of characters. The real win – which I continue to repeat – is the voice of each character under Orlando. This is where Justice League of America succeeds! I’m already excited to read each issue simply because of the character dynamic, but if Orlando can develop a well-thought, engaging plot, this will be amazing.
The Art: Ivan Reis covers art for this issue, and man does that make me happy! He’s one of my favorite artists working in comics today, and it’s always a real treat to dive into his work. His attention to detail, texture, and the way his characters emote is masterclass! There’s also something about the way he draws Batman that I love. He has such a menacing look, without being over exaggerated. The work is just spectacular all around.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Team Dynamic. As I mentioned above, Orlando’s use of these characters is superb! Each hero feels as though they’re represented honestly, with a slight exception of Lobo, but only because it’s hard to see him as a team player. Aside from that, his voice is spot on though. Overall, there is a solid team feeling, as Batman plays a pseudo “head coach” type of leadership role. The one thing that’s certain, is that it’s clear Bruce has a vision for this team, and he’s doing his best to push them to their potential as a team, as well as individually. There are beginning stages of cliques that could foreshadow future conflicts and sects within the team, so it’ll be worth seeing how these relationships develop.
The Extremists. I’m not too familiar with Lord Havoc, and I was concerned that he was going to feel generic. While we don’t get a very detailed look into him as a character, learning his motivation proved interesting. This wasn’t the typical, shallow, “I’m here to rule/ destroy your planet! Bow before me!” menace that so many writers have turned recently. There’s some actual depth hinted at with these antagonists, and I hope it’s explored.
The action. This is another praise for Reis’ incredible art, but the action kicks ass. He has a lot to accomplish with very few pages, and while he doesn’t have the room to create some epic moments, Reis does deliver some solid – albeit brief – sequences.
There’s still some uncertainty of the direction of Justice League of America. Beyond that, I can’t help but feel as though this team is temporary. And I don’t mean in the, “we’ll probably lose Lobo after two arcs” sort of way. I can’t help but feel a chunk of the team will move on within time. I have no basis for saying this, it’s just my prediction.
- You’re ready to see the Justice League of America in action.
- You like it when your teams are quippy.
- You like action, action, and more action!
Overall: Steve Orlando doesn’t have me doing back flips with Justice League of America, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is a respectable launch to the series. His characters feel true and are captivating, but the quality of the plot is a bit of a question still. I get the feeling that Justice League of America will be one of those books that gets better with time as characters and plots slowly build on one another. So why wait? Go ahead and jump onboard now so you won’t be forced to catch up.