REVIEW: Justice League of America #1

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The new Justice League of America débuts with a whoppingly ridiculous 54 covers, with Geoff Johns on script and David Finch handling art. Will Justice League of America #1 have you declaring “America, F yeah!” or just mumbling “America… ehh… whatever…”? Stoke your patriotic pride as Major Spoilers reviews Justice League of America #1 (this reviewer got the Indiana cover).

JLA1CoverJUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Colorist: Sonia Oback with Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover and Variants: David Finch
Senior Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

 

Previously, in Justice League: Amanda Wall caught Wonder Woman kissing Superman, and now everyone is in a proper tizzy.

SHADES OF GRAY

Our own Matthew Peterson noted recently that DC’s New 52 landscape has become pretty homogenous. I agree, and from what I’m reading, it’s all going for a very gritty, bleak, 90s-style dynamic. When I opened the pages of Justice League of America #1 and found a cynical organization put together by none other than Amanda Waller, I was disappointed. For those not down with DC continuity, Amanda Waller is best known for running the Suicide Squad, an black ops crew of coerced supervillains. Having her at the helm of the JLA is the first sign that this organization isn’t going to be a bright, shiny beacon of American ideals and values.

Geoff Johns’ script introduces the characters decently (except for Green Lantern, who gets ridiculously short shrift), but curiously, he tends to tell rather than show. The bulk of the issue is a dialogue between Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller, as they explains why the likes of Hawkman, Katana, Catwoman and Stargirl will be joining the League. Only Vibe, Martian Manhunter and Catwoman get a chance to express their own voice, so as an introduction to the characters themselves, this issue is only halfway successful. I know who is on the team, but I don’t really know anything about them. And the would-be antagonists are barely there. The language between Trevor and Waller is snappy and fun, and while I’m interested in the basic premise, for such a high profile debut, I expected something more than adequate. Worst of all, I didn’t really like anyone on the cast, except for maybe Vibe. This is another book about compromised heroes doing compromised things, and while that angle might have been fresh, oh… when Watchmen came out, the New 52 needed a shot of something new.

BLACK, LIKE BLACK OPS! GET IT??

This book has darkness down to its very core, even down to the very pages itself. In a boggling graphic design decision, the margins between the panels are colored black. I suppose the idea is to emphasize the clandestine undercurrent in the story, but it is a decision that overwhelms the visuals in this issue. David Finch must have a large fanbase to be assigned such a high profile gig as Justice League of America #1, but I’m not part of it. His characters are stiffly posed; the men have veins popping out of every forearm, while the women have frozen masks for faces. I laud Finch for not cutting any corners when it comes to detail, but the end result still comes off looking rushed and busy. His intense use of crosshatching and heavy shading blends into the all-black margins, creating a shadowy, soupy mess on the page. At times, his perspective is dangerously Liefeldian. This issue was not a pleasure to look at.

BOTTOM LINE: NOT A JUSTICE LEAGUE I’M PROUD OF

I don’t mind a little cynicism in my comic books. But if I want to read about a superteam of assassins, criminals and killers, I am not looking at the Justice League of America. There’s so much of this sort of bland, muddy moral compromise in the NuDCU that everything blends together and it loses all meaning. I would feel differently if maybe Johns had started out with a more straight-forward superteam and subverted it slowly. Or if he’d just pulled it off with a little bit more panache, or if there was a more compelling artist attached. But as it is, this debut did not convince. Justice League of America #1 gets two out of five stars.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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