Always wanted to get it and now I did.
The cover of the first issue of the New 52 Justice League has become the symbol of the New 52 relaunch itself – and why not? All the major heroes are in the League + Cyborg, and it’s drawn by Jim Lee.
The Creative Team
The work itself is headlined by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, both have a very strong track record, so I approached the seven issues in this collection with expectations of having a good read.
I’m reading this through Comixology using the Guided View feature. So I’m getting panel by panel blowups on my phone. And for the smaller panels, Lee’s art seems rough and hurried. Comparing this with George Perez’s art in Crisis on Infinite Earths, well, even in the small panels, Perez aced the art. I have a feeling Lee had too many things on his plate and had to rush the smaller pieces. The big art panels are fine pinup pieces – everything we expect of Jim Lee.
The writing was something right out of the Silver Age. It’s a a team building story but it was done so clumsily any fan could have done it. Green Lantern meets Batman, they both meet Superman, GL calls his old friend Flash. They all bump into Wonder Woman. Aquaman and Cyborg pop up. Really? That’s the plot? I can’t help but think that it could have been much, much more creative and engaging.
I also think that Vic Stone getting into a serious accident, being fitted a robot body and being able to participate in the fighting as Cyborg – all done in a matter of days – really challenges believability. That Cyborg body should have taken months followed by even more months of being traumatized at no longer being fully flesh and blood. I would have been okay at Cyborg not joining the League immediately. It would have been more believable.
On a positive note I really like the character designs on Superman and Batman; their armored look is a refreshing change. I also like the characterization that Johns was able to bring across in the midst of all the action of a team book. It makes sense that Green Lantern would be cocky and dismissive of the powerless Batman. Superman is the smiling invincible jock besides the equally cheerful prom queen Wonder Woman. Flash is the kid with the amazing powers. Batman is the thinker, the most mature of the group. As for Aquaman, the book went out of its way to show Arthur Curry as being a tough and dangerous character – which made me snicker a bit because it strikes me as a sign that the creative team was overly conscious of Aquaman’s wuss image to the point that they had to just show him stabbing an opponent in the face with a trident.
Will I buy the next volume? Yes. First, because I’m a really big fan of Jim Lee even when he’s not doing his best work. And secondly, because this book is a key book in the new 52 line and the stories here might, might, be instrumental to a greater appreciation of the other new 52 story arcs. But mainly it’s because of the art. Gotta have my Jim Lee eye candy.
My second reading of this volume finds it’s faults receding into the background and it’s merits jumping out.
Front and center is the Jim Lee art. The second reading finds me dwelling on panel after panel. Unsurprisingly, this is really some of the best pin-up style art of some of DC’s top heroes.
Having just seen the Wonder Woman movie, I also noticed that the part in the comic where Diana shows appreciation for ice cream was replicated in the big screen.
Lastly, I’ve become aware of a vibe that permeates this book. This book captures DC’s optimism, and, yes, joy, at launching the New 52 era. I’m a working guy so Friday night means something to me, something wonderful and joyful, and that is what this collection feels like – it feels like Friday night.