Justice League #1 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Jim Cheung, Penciller; Mark Morales, Inker; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Coming off of Justice League: No Justice, the anticipation is high for Scott Snyder’s Justice League #1. An iconic “Big Leagues” team with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Cyborg, and the additions of Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter as the leader, it’s a timeless squad that still feels somewhat fresh. From the first page, Snyder makes clear that he will not be holding back, as an introduction to the League’s new/old headquarters turns into an epic action scene as the individual League members come under assault by an invasion of genetically enhanced Neanderthal warriors. These “Neoanderthals”, designed to take over the earth and supplant humanity as the alpha species, are, of course, sent by the League’s classic villain, Vandal Savage, an evolved caveman himself. The choice of J’onn as the leader here works very well, as he’s not only a good tactician – his telepathic abilities allow him to connect the League in ways they’ve never been linked before.
J’onn is the central character in this issue, with only a few other Leaguers getting much focus. That’s fine for the first issue – it always helps a team book to have a strong point of view. The League’s second crisis, involving a mysterious energy coming out of the Source Wall and heading towards Earth – across time, it seems – sets up an intriguing dynamic of conflict between the team, as they have to decide whether to preemptively attack it. However, the League splits the focus this issue with another group – Luthor’s Legion of Doom, which takes the fight to Savage and potentially eliminates him for good. Luthor’s agenda is intriguing, and his team of Sinestro, Grodd, Manta, and Cheetah is strong – but then there’s Joker. Snyder’s Pennyjoker monster is probably my favorite version, but I struggle to find any way he’ll be useful on a team given his instability and physical weakness. The issue is very busy, and maybe a bit rambling in points (like Luthor’s musing about “Justice” and “Doom”), but it does what it sets out to to – I’m excited on multiple levels to find out where Snyder is going here. Just like in No Justice, I’m sold.
Corrina: This issue is ambitious and perhaps overreaches with that ambition, but it does so in a fun way, and ambition and craziness of concept is not a flaw in a Justice League title. Rather, it should be a feature. I can see the influence of Geoff Johns (old-school villains and plan) and Grant Morrison (crazy comet across time!) along with Snyder’s own theme of the dual nature of heroism and villainy.
Strong recommendation: buy this in print, not digital, because the brilliant covers and splash pages lose a great deal on the device screen. Meaning: the art is eye-popping, so much so that I’d recommend buying this issue just it alone. When I think of all the characters, the various locations, the different times in histories, and how the art has to carry the continuity across all that, I want to give the team a round of applause, especially the lettering on J’onn narration boxes.
On the story, yes, it’s a busy issue, with the opening battle against Vandal Savage’s well-planned and multi-pronged assault serving as a great intro into how J’onn behaves as the leader of the JL. The sequence with Luthor and the other villains needed more room to breathe, however.
The overriding conflict, whether the JL should let this comet across time hit or not, is an interesting one, though I admit personally to universe-threatening plot device fatigue. But this is the JL, after all, and a huge threat is needed for them.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.