Justice League #1 could have been a pretty good first eight pages of an issue. There are a lot of classic hallmarks here for a classic Justice League opening. The world is in crisis by global-wide natural disasters and each core member of the team is shown in splash page glory doing something heroic. The Green Lanterns are in China stopping a tsunami, Cyborg is halting run-away trains, the Flash is saving people from collapsing buildings and Wonder Woman is…fighting Russian soldiers. Okay, it’s at least mostly here.
I want to say Bryan Hitch is making an attempt at showing a Justice League that’s not yet cohesive and is already being forced to spread itself too thin. The problems start, however, by splitting up a team book—in this case by literal continents—until what’s left is a bunch of disparate heroes dealing with disparate situations with a plot that feels less like a story and more like a series of montages.
There may not be much in way of characterizations or plot but there are plenty of heroic panels of characters pushing back vehicles and falling buildings. So while the art’s solid, it’s still stuck portraying something wholly familiar and without any added tension a story or character dynamics might bring. The comic medium has seen super heroes and especially these super heroes rescue innocent people and stop collapsing cities before and this fails to justify an entire issue dedicated to it.
Past the half-way point of the issue, the Justice League starts encountering the source of drama for the rest of this arc—this menacing, red-dialogue-bubbled hivemind taking over civilians and taking away super powers. The situation sounds promising. The Justice League having the people they’ve rescued turned against them at moments when they’re weakest is a solid concept. Only here it’s less of an interesting story development and more of a blatant “Tune in Next Time!” to the point where issue #1 feels like eight pages of story stretched to cover twenty-one.
A team book like the Justice League is allowed to be bombastic and large-scaled simply given the nature of their line-up but it can’t forget why we come to it in the first place—to see these heroes work together, interact and sometimes just plain hang-out.
Issue #2 of the Justice League could be a really interesting, exciting, and fun story. Issue #1 makes me want to see what might happen in Issue #2. It's unfortunate that Justice League #1 doesn't do a great job justifying me having to actually read Justice League #1.
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