New Justice League premieres–“in the beginning…”

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s finally here after all the chatter over the summer.  The new DC 52.  The first issue out, Justice League, definitely is a jolt in the fabric of the DC universe, much in the same way as Crisis on Infinite Earths, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis (we can all be glad they didn’t title this re-launch with another “crisis” metaphor).  It’s a jolt that will keep the readers that picked up 150 copies at my local store and everyone else across the globe to come back next week to try on the other new titles that will be trickling in this month.

Happily Jim Lee’s art is familiar and reliably well done.  It’s not like his work on Hush, but it has a lot going for it.  Alex Sinclair’s use of color is the next big item to stand out.  We don’t get enough of the story to be able to make a pronouncement yet on Geoff Johns’ story.  A lot is going on here.

Somehow I had not figured this would be an origin or first meeting story.  We start five years before the present-whatever the present is.  There are hints, like a reference to “transformers” that would seem to place the new origin of superheroes in our own recent time, as opposed to an origin in the middle of the last century with past continuity.  Without spoiling it with the details, we are first introduced to Batman who quickly encounters Green Lantern.  There is no indication whether this is Bruce Wayne or Hal Jordan, but it seems pretty likely.  We see a pre-superhero character that will likely become the Cyborg character on the cover of Issue #1, who looks like he may be the “kid” team member.  Despite the presence on the cover of Aquaman, Flash, and Wonder Woman, they do not make an appearance in Issue #1.  Superman makes only a brief appearance, our first panel look at the new Superman suit.  To most readers the new Superman suit will not come off as changed much.  No red bloomers on the outside of his outfit this time.  The new suit looks good because it does not incorporate a lot of obvious change.

A two-page Jim Lee mini-sketch book follows the main story.  It includes an awesome Aquaman suit that was rejected, a version that would fit right in with Aspen Comics/Michael Turner’s Fathom series.  And  Wonder Woman with a leg belt holding a knife like Lara Croft.  Also rejected.

The story ends with a lead-in to Issue #2, a battle between Batman and Superman.  No time is wasted in this first issue, starting with a team up straight out of the Brave and the Bold.  As much as I like a pairing of Green Lantern with Green Arrow, a pairing with Batman and Green Lantern at the foundation of the new Justice League would be my second choice.  The funny bit in this issue is a reference to who has what superhero powers–Green Lantern’s reaction to Batman’s response is funny.

There is no discussion of a League yet–we are clearly early in the story.  And something that I have not seen discussed anywhere–the drop of “of America” from the decades-old team.  No doubt our global economy/marketplace/communications was the impetus behind losing the rest of the team label.   I do find myself asking whether Metropolis, Coast City and Gotham fall in the same state or not.

Earth’s first villain in the DCU is a strange alien, “changeling” type of menace.  But with one whisper we learn who will be the first major villain for the League to encounter: Darkseid.

So the first issue of the new DCU looks good, appears to be a good start, includes some uncertainty, and reveals some changes.  All in all a lot going on in only 24 pages!

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