Optimous Douche reviews JUSTICE LEAGUE #1!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Caution, this review will spoil more than Irene’s attack on America’s refrigerators.

Catharsis.

Above all else this first entry into DC’s new 52 feels like a purging, as if the old DC universe has been smashed into smithereens like Samsonite luggage inside a gorilla’s cage. Yes, the remnants of the old are still scattered about this storyline, but make no mistake that is our baggage. Johns and Lee have
effectively created a new ground zero with JUSTICE LEAGUE 1. It is now up to us to decide whether we will share in this collective amnesia, or vehemently hold on to what is no more. Personally, I prefer to live in the here and now, even when the here and now starts five years ago.

We’ve all seen the preview pages of Batman running from Gotham’s finest, allowing us old timers to easily recognize that we are in a time before the Dark Knight was Jim Gordon’s parachute. What we didn’t get a glimpse of from that morsel a few months ago is how drastically Hal Jordan has been
transformed inside this new world. Brash, arrogant and almost whimsical are how I would describe Hal’s new demeanor and in this I see why this reset was so damn necessary. Time irreparably damages us all, including our favorite fictitious entities. Think about everything Hal Jordan went through during his existence in old continuity. At one point in time, which I believe scholars call the silver age, Hal Jordan was a fun guy. Then a few life changes happened…decimation of the corps…possession by a spiritual entity…killing millions of people…decimation of the corps. I think about how affected I was when I found out my dog has hip dysplasia; I was bummed out for days. Take that minor psychological effect and multiply it by a billion to begin to understand that when Hal Jordan was “resurrected” into a human form a few years ago, why he could never again be truly human. The same could be said for Batman or any other hero over the past few years, the events that made them who they were also made them wholly inaccessible to humanity. As much as we want to look up to our heroes we also still want them to once have understood the mortal condition.

I now understand BLACKEST NIGHT, it was like Amish tradition of Rumpspringa where the kids party their asses off before living a life of prayer and butter churning. BLACKEST NIGHT was like letting the DC pal of darkness and foreboding go on its own Rumspringa, so the universe could emerge from the darkness and once again embrace virtue, goodliness and optimism that should be the bedrock for anyone we collectively designate a hero.

Hal Jordan actually “plays” with his constructs during this encounter with Batman and the subsequent clean-up of Gotham from the baddie he and Bats are chasing in this issue. Fire Trucks put out blazes, but also smash across roof tops as Hal forgets that not every construct should be used for the same job. Again…inexperience and whimsy, much like a teenager doing donuts in a parking lot the first day they get their driver’s license. There’s a truly inexplicable glee in the dialogue and mannerisms of Hal, that will make fans of old smile (especially you silver age folks) and (assuming this strategy works) new fans laugh at the cavalier attitude of this ring wielder space protector.

I was worried when I read in the solicits that the first issue was mainly going to be the Batman and Green Lantern show, but again I was thinking old skool yo! Batman’s surliness, serious and utter abhorrence of flair was a wonderful “Odd Couple” dichotomy to Hal’s playfulness and utter disregard for any earth bound authorities.

Together the two chase Batman’s foe into the nether realms of the Gotham sewer system. Now here comes the big spoiler. As this entity affixes something to a wall when cornered by Bats and Greenie, they utter one word before blowing themselves to smithereens suicide bomber style.

Darkseid! (Nice nod to Johns in the dialogue for phonetically spelling out with some good old ribbing this age old grammatical cluster).

Post-Crisis (OK really post Morrison), the JUSTICE LEAGUUE has been brought together because you know…there’s always been a JUSTICE LAGUE. The worst example was post Identity Crisis, when the trinity was picking out new members with photos like I used to swap baseball cards. The JUSTICE LEAGUE has always had a solitary purpose that simply got lost over time: a banding of the greatest heroes to face only the most dire of threats! It seems simple, but alas the phenomenon of giving B-listers time in the sun bastardized this mandate to no end. No more it seems, Darkseid is as big and bad as they come.

Of course our heroes have no idea what the hell a Darkseid is, this being genesis and all, however the little alien box (I’ll bet my precious taint that it’s a Mothrbox even though it’s never implicitly stated as such) left behind sends our heroes to Metropolis to look for answers from the only known alien on earth: Superman.

On their way to way Metropolis inside a big green jet, the two pass over a football field. Here we get to see the everyman POV to reaffirm that no one knows what to make of this new meta phenomenon. What’s important here though, is that playing on the field is a young running back hotshot named Victor Stone.

Everyone has been pretty @$$ed up about new origins from their favorites, Cyborg being no exception. For now, I sure don’t see it. Victor is still doing sports to rebel against his scientist parents. Perhaps more will change later, but for now this isn’t really that drastic of a change.

After this interlude the two land in Metropolis thanks to as Hal describes it his “alien GPS,” to finally find Superman. Or in this case Super Young Man might be more appropriate. End scene…

Of course the story is way richer than this review. Johns leverages his keen skills in dialogue to truly build a world that is ours today and seeing these heroes for the first time. Some of our heroes know of one another (especially Batman, who it looks like will have the same panache for paranoia and absolute control of information he had in the old DCU), but knowing of and truly knowing is a chasm wider than the Grand Canyon. Lee’s art is sharp and has truly matured over the years. Face differentiation? Check!

Action – not posing? Check! A Superman that is finally young without looking like Christopher Reeve? Double check! Lee exceeded my checklist of expectations in spades.

Now, what will be truly interesting is the question of what’s next. I’m hoping as the other titles start churning off the presses next week, the decision to set JUSTICE LEAGUE five years ago and every other book in present day doesn’t paint the universe into a complexity corner. I know there was decision made to hold on to old continuity simply from the titles that have been announced. If you have four Robins still, guess what, you still have old continuity. I’ve been a proponent of a reboot for years, especially after reading SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE and JUSTICE LEAGUE fits the bill, even though I personally would have started over with just ACTION 1 and DETECTIVE 1 and let the rest of the universe build organically from there as it did so many years ago. But then again, I don’t have to worry about revenue so my ideals can have the luxury of purism. But after reading JUSTICE LEAGUE II want the rest of the universe to have the same feeling of newness for purely selfish reasons. I hope beyond hope that the same confessional purging I felt after reading JUSTICE LEAGUE stays strong with all of the new titles, because this was not only a warranted move by DC, it was most most welcome.

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4 Comments to “Optimous Douche reviews JUSTICE LEAGUE #1!”

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    I’m with you for the most part sir! I will say that I thought some of the John’s dialogue was a little wonky though. And Bruce talks a little bit like the Frank Miller Bats, at least in the beginning. But later in the issue I liked that he opened up a little bit more. And I was annoyed at the fact that Hal kept referring to himself in the third person! “Green Lantern will handle this”. Makes him seem like an uberdouche.
    Jim’s art was stellar though, absolutely. He rocked this issue.

  2. JD (Host) says:

    I have to say, as much as I didn’t really care about all this at the start, I’m definitely have a curious excitement to see what’s coming in the next couple of weeks!

  3. FlannelGuy says:

    Well, I didn’t read it yet, but from the 6 pages I read in Previews, I did get that Frank Miller vibe….but it might have had to do with Jim Lee being the artist too.

    And from what you’re saying about Green Lantern and how he presents himself, I have a feeling its mostly because each hero is presenting themselves to the world in a different way. I mean, they want to belong and trust since this is the first year for them….and since Hal is used to being cocky and obnoxious…this could be how he hides his identity. I mean, you remember how Hal was in the movie? He was like Buzz Light year.

  4. Optimous Douche says:

    I don’t get the Frank Miller hate these days.

    There’s too kinds of Miller. Dark Knight Returns and All Star Batman & Robin.

    As bad as ASBAR was though, it was still the same core. Personally, I’m OK with Batman slipping into the grittier self from time-to-time.

    I don’t think it was the dialogue that was wonky as much as the plot seemed rushed. I understand teh need for it though. This is THE book to bring in that new reader demographic DC has been thirsting for. Johns can’t do his usual infinitely slow burn.

    I’m kind of intrigued by a cocksure Hal. Although after reading this week’s GREEN LANTERN, Hal did a hell of a lot of maturing in five years.

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