JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA 1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool)
Purpose: I’ve asked one thing from the JUSTICE LEAGUE since waaaaayyyyy back in the post FINAL CRISIS days, have a purpose for bringing together a LEAGUE. Back then the blunders were egregious, with the Holy Trinity picking heroes like baseball cards (and this is not hyperbole) to bring together a LEAGUE, because you know…there’s always been a JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Then came the New 52 and with it the promise of salvation. Not only were we getting a JUSTICE LEAGUE, but also a return of the Bwahahaha JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, a new JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK to handle magic threats, and finally oversight for all heroes in the form of STORMWATCH.
I’ve made my thoughts well known on these titles, but here’s a synopsis. Johns should not create with Lee. Before anyone throws goddamn sales numbers at me I will remind you that the 4th Batman movie was a box office success. People are sheep and marketing easily leads the masses, I know firsthand, I’m in marketing and my soul is one step above lawyers on Satan’s most wanted. When we peeked past the marketing though, the first two arcs of JUSTICE LEAGUE were wafer thin. I have my theories on why, and it basically equates to the fact that Johns is indie film and Lee is big budget and never the tween shall meet. Johns is not your splash page writer and Lee is not a cramped panel artist. Disagree if you like, but I haven’t heard a better theory yet. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL was less bwahahaha and more just plain awwww, hence why it’s no longer with us. STORMWATCH, don’t even get me started. It has been a mess since day one choking on its own hubris. These folks were supposed to be the ones who watch the WATCHMEN, but since they can’t get shit straight in their own house all we’ve gotten are a bunch of slap fights between Apollo & Midnighter and some kind of shadow council…or shadow puppetry…I’m not sure. I like JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, but part of that adoration lies in the detractors’ claims it doesn’t feel like it’s part of the universe. Fair enough, but at least it’s original.
JUSTICE LEAGUE redeemed itself with Throne of Atlantis, and I believe whole heartedly that JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA will rectify the missteps of the team books that have come before.
Not only does JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA have a purpose, but that purpose is steeped in actual continuity. Its purpose is also right in line with the marketing hype and a stark reflection of the current 99%ers feelings towards the 1% who pull our collective marionette strings. You want to know, “Who watches the WATCHMEN” or in this case the JUSTICE LEAGUE? Then you need look no further than JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.
While this is a straight-up introductory tale, Johns does a great job of keeping the book moving without it being a straight up Mickey Mouse roll call. He also builds off the history of the New 52, without making it required reading. Basically, there’s a pervasive fear in the government and leading the rabblerousing is our own favorite Queen of conspiracy theories, Amanda Waller. Uncle Sam fears the JUSTICE LEAGUES allegiance to the planet at large, and the US of A wants a way to ensure countermeasures should the JUSTICE LEAGUE side with someone other than the Stars & Stripes.
Now since Waller has her hands full with other skullduggery in the DCU, she turns to the Old League liaison Steve Trevor to corral and manage this new group. This leads us to a part of the book that confused me, but still left me enthralled. We’ve always known Waller will manipulate people to get her way, but she takes it to new heights in this book and I can’t tell if her concerns were genuine or simply pushing Steve’s buttons.
The kiss between Superman and Wonder Woman that made a thousand Lois Lane fans spontaneously combust apparently wasn’t only viewed by readers. American satellites caught this precious moment as well and got the think tanks pontificating on the damage these two could cause. We’re not just talking the shockwaves from bumping uglies, but also what could happen if these two could and would actually procreate. Again, Waller is a manipulative little gal, so did she mention this to get Steve to sign-on or was it a genuine concern? Maybe a little of both, but it does push Steve over the edge to go recruit his addition to the team CATWOMAN.
Just in case the purpose was unclear, after we see vignettes of each character as Waller and Steve discuss their place on the team, the issue ends with a direct match on who in the JLA will take down who on the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Some are clear jumps – Baz against Hal, Martian Manhunter against Superman and Catwoman against Batman. The match-up of Vibe against Flash makes sense, but it makes even more sense if you read VIBE 1 this week. But there are a couple I match-ups I question like Hawkman against Aquaman and Katana against Wonder Woman. In one case they could escape each other by going to their natural habitats and in the other case I think simple sword wielding does not make equal class balancing in a fight.
Finch and Johns go together perfectly and even in the heavy talky scenes between Waller and Trevor, the panels were visually engaging.
So, what about GREEN ARROW who is so prominently displayed on the cover, well that dear reader is a mystery that comes with the price of admission. His fate lies squarely in plot that wild rive this first arc forward.
I’d like to walk away with a suggestion for DC. Your team books are finally starting to come together, but your work is far from done. With the creation of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, I know have even less of a reason to read STORMWATCH, which is shame because they are characters I once loved Pre-52. At some point you need to either shit-can STORMWATCH as a the failed experiment it was or actually commit to its place in the DC Universe. Most fans will deride what I’m about to say, but I think the only salvation lies in a cross-over amongst the LEAGUE books and STORMWATCH. “We’re the JUSTICE LEAGUE we’re in charge! Fuck you, were the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and we’re in charge bitches!! Fuck all y’all, we’re STORMWATCH and we’ve been in charge since Jesus was in diapers!!!” I know crossovers are a verboten phrase, but when well-planned and crafted they can once again be as epic as they were initially intended to be.
The Johns-as-indie comment is unbearably stupid. He’s the only major comics writer that has never written an indie book. He has one creator-owned credit on a Wildstorm book. For over a decade, he’s been DC’s event guy. Sinestro War, Blackest Night, Final Crisis. He wrote two runs of JSA, where every single final page was a splash. This comes across as you having no idea what you’re writing about.
One page is different than every other page being a splash and compared to Lee, Johns is more indie than Geronimo. I’m sticking to my comment.
Compared to Johns, Jim Lee co-founded Image, the industry’s gold standard for creator-owned work. Your indie metaphors don’t mix at all.
Image is the gold standard now that Lee has nothing to do with it. Your memories are worse than my analogies.
Back in the day Image was all style and no substance, dig a bit below the literal guys.
You’re making a false equivalency by trying to equate the writing of Johns to independent film. It’s a flawed analogy. John has written literally dozens of books with splashes, two-page spreads, etc. While it is true that Lee does lots of splashes and spreads, insinuating that their use in JL was his fault and not Johns is bizarre. Go look at Flash: Rebirth. That story was much thinner that the two JL arcs, and had many spreads and splashes.
I get what you’re trying to say in terms of style vs. substance, but the independent film analogy is completely off. And YOUR own opinion of early Image or the founders as style vs. substance is irrelevant. They ARE the gold-standard for creator-owned work in the market. I wouldn’t have even introduced the discussion of Image if your analogy wasn’t so awful.
So you follow one bad analogy with another? We’re not talking about Image, we are talking about Lee and Johns.
Sure, FLASH rebirth had some splash, but I won’t call REBIRTH Johns’ best work hence why it wasn’t invoked in my review. And even with it’s splash pages it had more substance than JUSTICE LEAGUE.
JUSTICE LEAGUE was by far Johns’ most terrible creation and the only one he ever did with Lee. A+B=C