Some people have complained that the entire Justice League wasn’t teamed up in the first issue of this series. I’ve read a lot of these complaints on various message boards, and even reviews on websites that shall not be named weren’t too favorable. Some people have even gone so far as to suggest that this isn’t even a “real” Justice League comic, and they cite previous incarnations of the team (such as Grant Morrison’s run, and the original team in The Brave and the Bold #28) which had every member united by the end of the first issue. I couldn’t disagree with these complaints more. This first story arc of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Justice League bucks the trend of having the whole team together in the first issue, and it instead features a slow build up to the inevitable gathering of the entire group of superheroes.
Don’t get me wrong, just because Johns is writing this comic as a slow build-up to the formation of the Justice League doesn’t mean that it’s boring. In this issue, Batman and Green Lantern fight against Superman. This is the classic superhero team up, where at first a misunderstanding leads the heroes to fight each other before they realize that they’re on the same side. Lee’s art is outstanding in this fight scene. His double page spread of Superman approaching Batman, who has used all of his special gadgets against the Man of Steel but hasn’t even scratched him, is undeniably awesome. Lee has this meticulous attention to detail, and he can make even the dust from the battle look interesting and eye catching.
I could write this entire review about just how good Lee’s art is in this issue. He has a nearly full page spread of Green Lantern attacking Superman with wrecking ball constructs. He captures the motion of these wrecking balls slamming into Superman so well, and you really get the sense that these are two tremendously powerful metahumans battling each other. This image is followed by an incredibly awesome double-page spread of Superman shattering the green chains with which Green Lantern tried to restrain him. Lee illustrates this spread with an intense amount of detail. Individual links in the construct chains fly towards the reader, and you can practically feel the energy as Superman violently shatters the chains.
I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t mention that Alex Sinclair’s colors in these images are beautiful. Sinclair colors Green Lantern constructs with a sort of translucent quality. Instead of just solid green blocks of color, Sinclair depicts the constructs as these semi-transparent objects. The way that he gives these constructs this strange, almost holographic look is one of the coolest depictions of Green Lantern’s powers that I’ve ever seen. It’s not often that I comment on the colors in a comic book, but I truly believe that Sinclair’s work in this comic elevates Lee’s art to the next level.
Despite the complaints, I think Johns’s decision to not introduce the entire team in the first issue is actually the smartest way to initiate new readers into the world of the Justice League. This series, perhaps more than any other in the New 52, is obviously designed to attract new readers to the DCU. If Johns had shoved all seven members of the Justice League into his first issue, it probably would have been too much for a new reader to handle. Instead of just packing every superhero in the team into his first issue, Johns utilizes decompression techniques and writes a widescreen comic in the vein of a series like The Authority. This action-packed build up to the inevitable formation of the Justice League is a clever way to avoid overloading new readers with too much information at once while also sating their appetite for blockbuster action with Lee’s incredible fight scenes.
I have one minor issue with this comic. On the back of Superman’s cape, we see that he has a solid black S-shield instead of the traditional yellow S-shield. In the Superman series written by George Perez, this S-shield on the back of his cape is a transparent outline, but here it’s solid black. I have no problem with the way that the solid black S-shield looks. I actually think that the black S-shield looks good (although I prefer the yellow s-shield), and it reminds me of that phase Superman went through after Our Worlds At War when he had a similar look. However, I don’t understand the inconsistency between the two series.
I don’t want to come across as a cheer-leading fanboy, but I have to say that this is an extremely good comic. Jim Lee’s art is just unbelievably good, I really can’t stress that enough. While it’s true that the entire team has yet to be assembled, I think Geoff Johns is approaching this in exactly the right way to intrigue new readers and slowly introduce them into the world of the Justice League. If you like well-written and illustrated superhero stories (And who doesn’t?), then this is a comic that you have to read.