Tag Archives: Justice League of America

A Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 Review – What’s Our Motivation?

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1, 2017, Ivan ReisTITLE: Justice League of America #1
AUTHOR: Steve Orlando
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: February 8, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This book is a little confusing. Historically, when DC has put out an alternate Justice League title, the group typically has a distinct mission or commonality that separates it from the traditional League. For instance, Justice League Dark had an obvious paranormal theme. The 2012 Justice League of America book was about the team serving America’s interests.

This new Justice League of America title is either about giving people “mortal” heroes they can relate to, or giving its team members a chance at a fresh start. Maybe both. The problem is neither of those concepts are sufficiently fleshed out to the point that they make sense. So there’s not enough there to get us invested in our heroes and make us care.

After the events of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Batman has recruited former Squad members Killer Frost and Lobo to be part of a new incarnation of the Justice League. He also recruits Black Canary, Vixen, the Ray, and Ryan Choi (protege of the Atom, Ray Palmer). He sets the team up at the Justice League’s original base at Happy Harbor. That’s about it in terms of what this issue gives us. Granted, that’s assuming you haven’t read any of the character one-shots that have come out. But there’s no looming threat, villain, or indicator of what the plot might be going forward. We get a Geoff Johns style page at the end that previews stories to come, but it’s nothing specific. That’s not to say the first issue of every team book needs such things. But without them, this one feels flat.

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1, Killer Frost, Batman, Ivan ReisThere are a few lines in this book about the new JLA not being “gods,” which presumably means they’re not as ultra-powerful as Superman, Wonder Woman, or the Flash. I like that idea. The problem is, this team doesn’t really fit with that M.O. In Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Batman literally blew Lobo’s head off. He proceeded to grow it back. We also saw Killer Frost use her powers to incapacitate the League’s most powerful members. I’m not very familiar with this version of the Ray, but in the past he’s been virtually invincible. As for Vixen, we’ve seen her fly like a bird, harness the speed of a cheetah, and do any number of things that humans aren’t meant to do. So if the goal is to show people heroes that are “like them,” Batman and Ryan Choi are the only ones on this team who really belong. You can add Canary to the list if you’re a little more liberal about it. But most of these characters would be more than capable of holding their own against a Superman or Wonder Woman.

Then there’s the whole second-chance/rebuild-yourself idea. I understand that approach with Lobo and Killer Frost. He’s a killer and she’s a villain. But Vixen wants more of an image rebranding than anything else.Black Canary is seemingly there just to help supervise. And why exactly do the Ray and Ryan Choi need a fresh start, anyway?

In a first issue like this, there’s nothing wrong with strictly doing team-member introductions like this. But there’s a lack of consistency here that’s frustrating. These characters are all so different, which is a good thing. But when that’s the case, you usually need a strong commonality to justify putting them together. Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 doesn’t give us that. And without an intriguing enemy or opposing force, the premise of the series falls apart before it really begins.

justice-league-of-america_-rebirth #1, group shot, Ivan ReisOn the plus side, the use of the Secret Sanctuary, i.e. the “original” Justice League base in Happy Harbor is a great use of classic DC continuity. We get a nice full-page shot of the inside, showing us it hasn’t been used in some time. Batman calls it “a remnant of a bygone era.” I find that a little funny, considering when the New 52 started, superheroes had only been around for about five or six years. With this “Rebirth” initiative, the timeline is even more vague. So exactly how long ago was this bygone era?

Ivan Reis is no stranger to the Justice League, and he’s always going to turn in quality work. He’s complimented wonderfully here by inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert, and colorist Marcelo Maolo. What I found particularly striking here was Reis’ rendering of Vixen. She’s very much the stunning supermodel the story calls for. But Reis also gives her a nice edge. She’s gorgeous, but also hardened. In certain panels you can see that wild, animalistic side lingering behind her eyes. Simply put, it’s one of the best takes on her I’ve ever seen.

It’s just a shame it had to be in this book. Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 needed to hook us. It didn’t. We could have a great series coming our way. But JLA now has to work that much harder to win me back. Because as of now, I have no clue why I should be shelling out money to read it.

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Best of Batman & Superman: Superman #165

***Batman and Superman are friends. It’s an unlikely friendship, and one that can put them at odds. But ultimately, it’s a friendship based on mutual respect and trust. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on the horizon, we’re going to hear a lot about these two fighting. “Best of Batman & Superman” will show us the opposite end of the spectrum. These are the moments that showed us why Superman and Batman are better friends than enemies.***

Superman #165, 2000TITLE: Superman #165
AUTHOR: Jeph Loeb
PENCILLER: Joe Madureira. Cover by Ed McGuinness.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL PRICE: $2.25
RELEASED: December 2000

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Don’tcha hate it when your arch rival becomes President of the United States? Man, that sucks…

We all knew tough times were ahead for Superman after the 2000 presidential election. In one of their wildest stunts, which actually stuck for a few years, DC Comics opted to make Lex Luthor the President of the United States. Naturally, this was a huge blow for the Man of Steel. When he’s written well, Superman is essentially a man of the people. So what does a man of the people do when the people make a potentially catastrophic choice?

For Superman, the answer was turning to those he trusted. Not just his wife, but his friends, colleagues and confidants in the Justice League of America. Superman #123 takes place in the aftermath of Lex’s election, and sees Superman visit with each member of the League. As it’s the holiday season, he gives each one a small gift. This issue is drawn by a number of artists, each of whom pencils a particular encounter. But naturally, we’re focusing on the Superman’s time with Batman, which is drawn by Joe Madureira. The scene is only three pages long. But it’s an interesting glimpse into how the Superman/Batman dynamic works.

Superman #165, Batman, Joe MadurieraClark and Bruce had disagreed about how to handle Luthor running for president. Batman had some even more bad blood than usual with Luthor due to his involvement in the events of the recent No Man’s Land storyline. When it looked like things were turning in Luthor’s favor, Bruce wanted to dig up dirt to use against Lex, whose reputation was squeaky clean in the eyes of the public. But Superman questioned the ethical nature of such a move, and insisted they trust American voters to do the right thing.

Obviously, they didn’t.

The tension between the two is obvious when we open the issue. Batman’s cartoony scowl aside, while all the other meetings started with friendly dialogue, this one begins with silence.

Bats then asks: “Wasn’t it you who said we have to put our faith in the America people to do the right thing?”

Swallowing his pride a bit, Clark then gives Bruce a small magnifying glass (Get it? He’s a detective.), with the words: “This…is from Lois.”

Batman replies with a thank you. Then we get the line that truly makes this exchange special: “When the time is right, we’ll take Luthor down.”

Superman #165, BatmanIn the final panel, after Batman has left, Superman repeats quietly to himself: “When the time is right…”

This may seem fairly small and insignificant. But to me it illustrates the compromise that makes the partnership between these two men work. It’s that balance of optimism and cynicism. Batman wasn’t wrong to be wary the country potentially choosing Luthor. But Superman’s ethical argument wasn’t wrong either. Superheroes shouldn’t necessarily have to stoop to playing dirty. Especially when it comes to politics, which quite frankly, is dirty enough already.

Still, Luthor won, and Superman had to eat crow. But in the end, Bats still trusts Superman enough to work with him in defeating this enemy. And Superman trusts him too, despite their differences.

Clark takes Bruce’s words to heart as the issues ends on the next page (pencilled by Ed McGuinness), as we see Superman and Lois Lane beginning a brief vacation in the Bottle City of Kandor. Tough times are indeed near. But after spending so much time with his confidants, Superman chooses to take some quality time with his closest confidant of all.

Both our heroes look pretty jacked up here, which isn’t really my cup of tea. But as a style choice, it’s fine. The only thing I don’t appreciate here is the aforementioned scowl on Batman’s face, which stays with him the whole issue. That’s not to say he has to get sentimental, or even look particularly happy. But Superman’s expression changes in the scene. So why can’t Batman’s?

On it’s own, this scene stands up just fine. But it’s even better when you consider taking Luthor down is exactly what our heroes do a few years later in another Jeph Loeb story, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. One might consider this scene a nice little prelude to that story. Luther may have gotten himself elected. But in the end, justice came calling.

For more “Best of Batman & Superman,” check out our look at Gotham Knights #27.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Justice League of America #1 Review – The Team Comes Together

Justice League of America #1 (2015)TITLE: Justice League of America #1
AUTHOR/PENCILLER: Bryan Hitch
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: June 17, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Yeah…yeah, this feels good. This feels right. This feels like a Justice League book!

Bryan Hitch’s extended love letter to the Justice League begins with Superman’s dead body. A whole PILE of dead Superman bodies, actually. The mysterious and elusive Infinity Corporation has been using the “Stones of Forever” to retrieve Superman’s corpse from the near future over and over again. The theme seems to be that once Superman dies, all is lost. A short time later, the League faces off the The Parasite. But how is The Parasite connected to the Infinity Corporation? And how is the Infinity Corporation connected to the massive revelation at the end of the issue?

Justice League of America #1, interiorThere’s a certain purity to this issue that I love. Geoff Johns’ run on Justice League has done much more right than it has wrong. But at times iit still falls victim to the trend of “over-Baturation,” i.e. overblowing the importance of Batman within the context of the League. There’s no over-Baturation in this issue. The story thus far is very Superman-centric, but that’s because the coming story largely deals with Superman’s mythology. And even then, we get the sense that no member of the League is more important than another. We’re not constantly being reminded how bad ass Batman is, or how many overblown constructs Green Lantern can create. I came away from this issue believing in the League as a team.

And wouldn’t you know it, they actually act like a team! They look out for each other during battle. We see Batman and Cyborg strategizing. They refer to one another by their first names (Which is weird in the context of a battle, but oh well.) They feel like a well oiled machine that’s been operating for over five years. That’s a vibe that Geoff Johns couldn’t create after Justice League: Origin, and one can argue he has trouble with it to this day. To Hitch it comes very natural. He creates an interesting sense of unseen history between the characters.

Justice League of America #1, Aquaman, United NationsWe also get a subplot where Aquaman talks to the UN about a trade agreement with Atlantis. We’re reminded that Atlantis is indeed the largest nation on Earth, and Aquaman assures them that Atlantean technology will not be used against the surface world. This is obviously a seed planted for later. But for the time being, it’s nice to see Aquaman getting some extra emphasis.

I can’t complain much about the art here. There is a panel about mid-issue where The Flash looks a little…stretchy. But that’s the biggest criticism I have here. Our opening scene is beautifully rendered, as we see Superman amidst the end of the world. The Parasite is also wonderfully drawn. In an interesting twist that I personally haven’t seen, Hitch renders him getting bigger as he gains more power. That’s a nice touch, and it really sells The Parasite as a menacing monster.

Justice League of America #1, The ParasiteWe’re only one issue into Hitch’s run. But as far as I’m concerned, Justice League of America is already as high a priority as Justice League, if not more so. My early impression is that this is a good book for longtime fans to pick up, as it restores some of that camaraderie among the League that’s synonymous with stories dating back to the Silver Age, and the very birth of the League. The fact that Hitch could inject that old school appeal into this book, while still staying true to the New 52 and modern continuity, is pretty damn cool to say the least.

Image 1 from fanboysinc.com. Image 2 and 3 from comicvine.com.

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A Justice League of America: Team History Review – Will the Real JLA Please Stand Up?

Justice League of America: Team HistoryTITLE: Justice League of America: Team History
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLER: Mark Bagley
COLLECTS: Justice League of America #38-43
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Some of the creative decisions surrounding Justice League of America in the past year or so have really left me scratching my head. Certain characters have been in the League for a little while, then left, only to be replaced by other characters, who then leave, and are replaced again. The cast/team line up has been in a constant state of flux.

James Robinson’s would-be epic, Justice League: Cry For Justice, is partially to blame for that. First they were going to make that book into it’s own series, then they decided to just make it a miniseries, and that seems to have screwed things up. Robinson was put on the main Justice League book, and proceeded to give us an almost entirely different team.

Still, he and Mark Bagley put on a decent show with Team History.

Justice League #38 (2010)The book begins in the aftermath of Cry For Justice, with Vixen, Plastic Man, Dr. Light and Red Tornado contemplating whether the Justice League should even exist in its current incarnation. Soon, the events of Blackest Night kick in, and Zatanna must confront her zombified father. Meanwhile, Vixen and Gypsy face their old teammates from the Detroit Justice League, and Dr. Light deals with her villainous counterpart of the same name.

Then we jump post-Blackest Night, and everyone but Dr. Light and a bodyless Red Tornado remain on the team. So Robinson throws Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Batman (Dick Grayson), Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Mon-El, The Guardian, and The Atom together. Plus, we get Congorilla and Starman, who were featured in Cry For Justice. They take on, among other threats, a trio of villains who gain access to the Justice League Watchtower.

For my money, the first part of this book overshadows the second. Robinson does a really nice job with the confrontation between the good Dr. Light, and the sadistic rapist Dr. Light. He taps into some of that Identity Crisis magic really well. The fight with the Detroit League is fun too. I was pleasantly surprised.

Justice League of America: Team History, group shotThe book gets convoluted during its second half. The assemblage of the team is done well enough, but the bad guys are introduced via a series of flashbacks that left me scratching my head. I knew who/what the threat was, I just wasn’t sure how they got to be a threat or why.

What frustrated me the most about this book, is that the new team seems to start imploding before their first adventure is even over. The events of The Fall of Green Arrow/The Rise of Arsenal start to take over, and there’s a big question mark left hanging over the entire team. Plus, based on events that have taken place since Justice League #43 was published, it’s looking like at least a couple of these heroes won’t be sticking around for the long haul.

Team History is a decent book on its own, but it left me frustrated at the lack of consistency in the Justice League’s roster. Heck, even the characters themselves seem to be getting frustrated. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have even complained about the Teen Titans, and saved my frustration for the League.

Seriously…will the real Justice League please stand up?

RATING: 6/10

Image 1 from craveonline.com. Image 2 from dreamwidth.org.

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