In the first of our comprehensive series exploring the game-changing relaunch of DC Comics, we take a look at the highly anticipated Justice League #1.
Who's it by?
Justice League #1 is written by DC's chief creative officer Geoff Johns and drawn by DC co-publisher Jim Lee.
What's the history?
The Justice League of America has gone through various iterations since its debut in The Brave and the Bold #28 in 1960, featuring DC mainstays Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman.
It has gone through many lineups, with runs including Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis's Justice League International and Grant Morrison's JLA proving to be huge successes with critics and readers. Others have been more divisive, and in recent years the title has been largely ignored.
Justice League is the cornerstone of DC's relaunch, and the only title to ship alongside Flashpoint #5 - the concluding issue of the summer event - earlier this week. The publisher has made this book its showcase, with a creative team consisting of DC Universe architect Johns and fan-favourite Lee. The original lineup of top superheroes is back (with the substitution of Martian Manhunter for the lesser-known Cyborg). This is where the relaunch kicks off - our first look at the retooled universe - and DC is going to be focusing on pleasing their long-term fans while trying to lure the new readers the comics industry so desperately needsin order to address its dwindling, ageing fanbase.
Justice League #1 takes the first meeting between Batman and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) as its focal point, with the heroes battling an Apokaliptian Parademon across the roofs of Gotham. Spliced in are scenes of Victor Stone - the talented high school athlete destined to become Cyborg - and a last-minute appearance by a very familiar face.
What's the verdict?
The resulting comic is easy to criticise. It has its flaws, and may feel instantly disappointing to long-term fans with high hopes. However, the issue is not without its strengths.
The meeting between Batman and Green Lantern is handled well, highlighting the differences in their methods without painting either as a complete idiot. Victor serves as the everyman character, while those better informed will feel an air of pathos as they await the accident that will initiate his transformation.
The overall setup of the new DCU is subtle but strong, giving a sense of the newness of these superheroes without ramming it down the reader's throat. Lee is also on top form here, with a great contrast between dark Batman and Green Lantern's bright, bold constructs.
But there is a glaring problem - where is the Justice League of the title? Four members of the team appear in these pages, but one never meets the other three and three more are entirely absent. This pacing is concerning - a team book is promised but so far lacking.
There is plenty here to entertain - nods to old fans and accessible storytelling for new - and enough that we will certainly be coming back for Justice League #2. If the pace remains the same, however, there will be problems. Readers are here for a book about the Justice League, not a drawn-out story of the formation of the team. Justice League #1 has promise, but the title is yet to prove itself.
> Buy the digital version of Justice League #1