The Not So New 52 – Andy Burns on Justice League #1

Even if you’re not a comic book reader, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about DC Comics big reboot of their entire comic line. Ended were all of their monthly magazines (including decades-old titles like Detective Comics and Action Comics); in their stead, 52 brand titles, all starting at issue #1. For better or for worse, the reboot got the company a ton of mainstream publicity, everywhere from Entertainment Weekly to Deadline Hollywood to the New York Times. Pundits were calling it the biggest thing in comics this decade, maybe the biggest since X-Men #1 was released in the early 90’s and went on to sell 8 million copies. Speciality shops around North America were open for midnight sales on August 31st, meeting the demands of fans eager to get their hands on a copy of Justice League #1, the first issue of the New 52. Walking in to Comics and More, my local shop, along with Biff Bam Pop’s J.W. Ward and JP Fallavollita, I was surprised and pleased to see the tiny store packed with people of various ages. It seemed DC had come up with an idea that was sparking a lot of interest. Maybe the New 52 would be a bold, crowd-pleasing venture.

Then I got home and read the comic. And I shrugged my shoulders.

This was it? Written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, two of the heaviest hitters in comicdom today, and all I got was this?

What a rip-off.

Take a look at the cover. Take a good look at Aquaman, The Flash and Wonder Woman in that group shot, because that’s the only place you’re going to find them in Justice League #1. As for Superman in his new duds and a few years younger than the previous incarnation, he shows up for one panel. One! Instead, we’ve only got Green Lantern and Batman, meeting for the first time in the New 52, battling an unknown villain while pretty much rehashing the old tropes from their previous incarnations.

Now, I’m well aware that we’re beginning fresh with this first issue, but I think it’s totally deceiving to have the Justice League on the cover of a comic and not actually feature them. I was looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman and Superman – especially Superman, since he seems to be receiving the biggest facelift of all the DC characters. But, to paraphrase a famous song, don’t bother trying to find them; they’re not there.

While Jim Lee’s work is pretty much as you’d expect it to be (he’s one of the best artists of the last twenty years), I really felt Geoff Johns’ writing was forced and didn’t come across as genuine. I’m no expert on Johns and I’ve enjoyed much of what I’ve read by him (his Superman: Secret Origin is wonderful), but when Green Lantern says lines like “what is that? A Transformer?” or “You’re not just some guy in a bat costume, are you?”, they just don’t feel real to me.

On the plus side, DC did a smart thing by offering up a combo-pack edition of Justice League #1. For $4.99, I got my physical copy of the issue, along with a download code that I could use to get the issue digitally into my Comixology account. It’s a great value. In fact, if DC (or any comic company for that matter) keep doing something like this I’d be inclined to actually purchase the physical copies of their books, as opposed to sticking with the digital copies that have become my method of reading.

While I was seriously let down by the lack of characters in Justice League #1, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was at least intrigued to see what comes next with the first meetings between this iconic characters. However, for long time comic fans, I think what’s supposed to be new is really just more of the same, just dressed up in new clothes.

What’s your view on the New 52? Did you check out Justice League #1? If so, will you keep reading?

2 Replies to “The Not So New 52 – Andy Burns on Justice League #1”

  1. This was one of the biggest let downs this year in comics. Horrible cover and lackluster introductions to what was suppose to be DC’s flagship title. Jim Lee will destroy the DCU and Geoff Johns took a back seat to this travesty. The only thing DC gained from this was perhaps new and younger fans who like pretty art and watered down stories.

  2. The fear is that they’ve pitched the concept of getting away from the recent tripe being published and doing something new; but instead of getting rid of the old ways of doing things, they are using the same tired methods with a new continuity.

    I think they should do solid stories, like All-Star Superman, and have that be their template; that and Batman: Long Halloween, for Bats. Do solid stories, and see where they can go with them.

    It’s weird starting with Justice League, considering it needs to be a team-up of their best characters. Who are the best characters, considering we haven’t met this continuity’s stars?

    And is the title a title in its own right, or just a showcase?

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