Three of A Kind: Continuing the 52 Pick Up with Justice League #1-3

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Okay, I understand it’s been a while. Apologies for the lack of posts, but we’re starting up again. And given that Justice League #1 was the last DC New 52 comic I reviewed, though I was late with it since it was the first of the New 52, I’m going to review the last comic I reviewed…first. Yeah, that sentence works.

In fact for DC’s New 52 line, to make up for lost time, I’ll be reviewing issues #1-3 of several comics from the line.

1. So I saw Justice League #3 for sale last week on the front counter area of Comicopia, and I thought, “They actually came out with issue #2?” Maybe I just didn’t believe that Jim Lee had three years to work on this and wouldn’t miss a deadline, but it’s weird how amidst all the DC hype I actually missed it.

2. This has been stated before very well, but moving into issue #2, I have to say that Superman is pretty generically badass and boring in this. I wonder if Geoff Johns just wanted to give Jim Lee an image comic with fight scenes. Typical splash-paged misunderstanding? Check.

3. Another writer could have made this scene funny.

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“Talk before I finish strangling you, Batman. Oh, wait…”

“Wait, Batman. Are you doing charades? Oh, let me guess. Can’t…walk…with…on…throat…hands…handy? I’m so bad at this…”

4. A while ago someone condensed the first issue of Justice League, making a good case against Lee’s decompressed style. I know it’s impossible, given how much time Lee had to take for each page, but when I saw this two page spread in issue #2…

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I still couldn’t help but wonder if that was Jim Lee’s way of saying, “No! I will uncompress anything I want.”  Heck, to me, it even looked like a enlarged regular panel.  Very unlikely, I know.   Still, I wonder…

5.  So The Flash is introduced in Issue #2.  It’s interesting that even with the dialogue between him and Green Lantern is so terse, I thought Flash was less tolerant of Green Lantern than Batman. However, it seems that no one is really friendly and everyone hates each other.  Maybe the book is following the typical action movie tropes a bit too closely and by issue #6, they all become friends.

6.  Of all the things in the first three issues, Vic Stone aka Cyborg as written by Johns is the most disappointing.  Johns had already dropped hints in (*shudder*) Flashpoint as to what his version of Cyborg would be like in this new DC, mostly a hero trying to please an estranged father.  When we finally see this play out, it makes no sense. Vic Stone is a hard working high school athlete who wants to make his own way in the world without handouts, and his father is some kind of vague good-for-whatever-the-plot-entails scientist who is disappointed in his son. Why? Because there are superhuman beings and aliens in the world, which in the father’s mind makes his son’s athletic pursuits irrelevant.

Meaning…what? That Vic should go out and get bitten by a radioactive animal? Or wait in a laboratory to get hit by lightening? Well, wait, that last one has merit given the last page of issue #2.

Seriously though, forget Darkseid causing the accident that gets Vic in the end. I’m starting to think Cyborg’s dad secretly staged everything to give his son superpowers. Kind of the way I always suspect that TV’s Doctor House secretly infects his patients with all the rare diseases only he can diagnose.

7. Oh, please. We’re three issues in, and 7 points down, so don’t complain to me about spoilers.

8. Speaking of spoilers, why do they announce it’s Darkseid from issue one. It’s the problem with most of the relaunches. There’s no sign of any surprises, no hint of suspense, in any of the titles I’ve read except maybe Action Comics and Batman. They COULD have kept it a little mysterious in issue #1 and built up to the Mother Boxes a bit more. It’s like they have to show all the cards up front just to keep the new readers interested. “Hey, kids, guess who the main villain is in Justi–IT’S DARKSEID! IT’S DARKSEID! And guess what he’ll look like?!?”

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He looks a little eh, it seems.

10. For those who don’t understand my frustrations with this, read JLA: Rock of Ages by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. A flawed book, but it still had a great way to bring in Darkseid, as drawn by an artist with very 90’s sensibilities, to bring in a parallel to both Lee and Johns.

11.  Most of the stuff in the first three issues I’m “eh” about.  While the introduction of Wonder Woman didn’t piss me off, it is a little off putting seeing her a) without pants again and b) seeming a little flighty and going on about the ways of man’s world and whatnot.  Less Amazon and more “Sheena: Queen of The Jungle.”

12.  I just admitted to seeing “Sheena.” I have lost all creditability. Skip to part 20 and get this article over with.

13. I’m not bothered by the sexuality allegedly inherent in Lee’s Wonder Woman. Which is to say, I’ve never seen much in the way of sexuality in almost any of Lee’s characters. And I’ve followed Lee’s work since the 80’s with Alpha Flight. His work must do something for someone, but not for me. Any remarks on women and Wonder Woman’s newfound lack of pants will have to be addressed by someone else with more investment in the fight.

14. What I will say is Aquaman’s look by Lee (last page of issue #3) is kinda boring compared to the character’s own New 52 book. On top of that, Aquaman’s characterization in just the page worth of words seems in direct contradiction to how he’s written in his book by the same writer. What the hell?

15. The part I really like, however fleetingly: As Vic Stone’s transformation to Cyborg becomes complete, he seems to see visions of Darseid and Apokolips. They could be setting up Cyborg as the hero the one who not only knows the most about the situation in the room, but is also essential to winning the battle. This would be a great way to introduce Cyborg into the team and make him relevant to the team and a lynchpin to the book itself. I say I like this “fleetingly” because I am almost 100% confident that Johns will all but purposefully find a way to screw this up.

16. The part that bothers me the most is that by buying this series (and none of us at WGI get review copies yet), I feel that we’re rewarding Johns and company for the false bill of goods that was Flashpoint. How the collective fan base goes from vomiting onto copies of Flashpoint to lauding Justice League doesn’t make sense to me and only sets the bar lower for DC when they plan their next big event.

17. This series could have gone out as part of that eventually failed “Earth One” series. Why it didn’t? Well, see the “failed” part in that last sentence. Still, I wonder if years from now, we’ll find out that Johns and Lee were working on this series as a potential “Earth One” book way before The New 52 was even a concept and came up with Flashpoint as a way to jump start their version of Justice League and everyone else’s future books off.

18. My theory would go a long way towards explaining why some series are obvious reboots and others are just continuations of what has gone before. As mentioned in the blog link above, this was also the case with the first major Crisis on Infinite Earths revamp decades ago, but this seems even sloppier than the Infinite Crisis hack job.

19. This would also go a long way to explaining the book’s timeliness under one of the slowest artists in the business. Rags Morales needs additional artists on two out of three issues of Action Comics so far, but Lee is on point? Something seems amiss!

20. If you skipped to here, you likely know what Sheena is and even saw it, you hypocrite. Go back to 12 and read on.

21. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, no one in the DC Universe remembered anything except the Psycho Pirate. With Infinite Crisis and Flashpoint, no one in the real world of comics fans will want to remember them except for Geoff Johns.

22. Justice League is not a bad book per se. The dialogue is functional overall, and the artist draws good ad images for DC, but is there anything behind the hype and the praise to suggest that this made Flashpoint worth going through? Or that the work will survive Flashpoint and the New 52 as its own concept (the way Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman survived the All Star line)? Not yet so far, I’m afraid.

23. Ha. I mentioned above that we don’t receive review copies “yet.” That’s rich.

About Chad Parenteau

I'm a poet. I run the Stone Soup Poetry series in Cambridge that runs every Monday night. I review comics in my spare time.
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