By Jonathan Edwards
Well, here we are. After all the buildup of several weeks, four one-shots, and the entirety of the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad limited series, we get to see it all come together. This is a book I've been somewhat eager to read for a little while now, and it's only in part because I liked overall what writer Steve Orlando was doing with those aforementioned one-shots. My interest has been piqued ever since I first saw the team line-up. Batman, Black Canary, The Atom, Vixen, The Ray, Killer Frost, and Lobo of all people? It's a strange enough mash-up of characters that I couldn't help but be intrigued as to how the character and team dynamics might play out. And, it was out of that interest that I opted to first call Justice League of America: The Atom Rebirth #1 for review. One of my big curiosities going in to this issue was how it might integrate and/or build off of what was established in its immediate predecessors. Unfortunately, Orlando didn't end up doing too much of that.
Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 is a fairly middle of the road issue. The plot is primarily concerned with following Batman as he assembles his new Justice League. We get some friction between the new teammates and a fair amount of the Dark Knight expounding his reasons for starting the JLA, as well as what he thinks each member brings to the team. It ultimately serves its function of getting the team together, but it's also little more than additional setup and not as much confluence as I'd have liked. Additionally, Batman refers to the JLA as a team of "mortal[s]. Not gods." He later elaborates by declaring that people need "heroes they know, not gods, to inspire them." That's all well and good, but I don't really see how this team-up would do that any better than the normal Justice League. I guess he might be suggesting that iconography and ideals that precede a hero aren't as effective as a sense of personal familiarity with a hero, even if one doesn't know who they are under the mask. If that philosophy is what Orlando's going for, I can't really say that I agree. And from a more superficial perspective, Lobo's presence seems to be rather antithetical to that idea, given that he's god damn immortal.
Now, despite feeling a bit underwhelming, there were a couple of things I think worked quite well in this issue. For instance, during the whole recruitment process, the hero that just joined the team would consistently help Batman find and convince the next one. Batman recruits Killer Frost, Killer Frost helps recruit Black Canary, Black Canary helps recruit Lobo, etc. In addition to being stylistically more interesting than just having Batman go by himself to convince everyone, we get more interactions between different characters and more of a sense of how they'll all get on. On top of that, I was honestly pretty amused when Vixen used bat flight to locate Batman, and I'm really interested to see the relationship between Lobo and Batman develop.
As far as art goes, I think it kind of speaks for itself. Ivan Reis is providing the pencils, and as one might expect, they're pretty strong. The inks and colors blend pretty seamlessly to ground everything while still being expressive at times. I don't have much else to say, as I really wasn't thinking much about the art while reading. And, some would argue that art is at its best when one isn't even really aware that they're experiencing it.
This book is really the fifth and final JLA prologue one-shot, and with the team having been successfully formed by the end of this issue, I'm hoping Orlando will start delving into some more substantial storytelling with the new Justice League of America ongoing series coming out at the end of the month. I'm definitely going to be checking that one out, even if I don't end up reviewing it. But frankly, I don't think this book will convince anyone to pick up that one. It's pretty much the same deal as all of the JLA one-shots have been (save for maybe Killer Frost). Pick it up if you're already interested and want some supplementary material.
Justice League of America: Rebirth #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics