by Geoff Johns, Andy Khubert, Sandra Hope, Jesse Delperdang, Alex Sinclair, Nick J. Napolitano, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Rob Reis
Justice League #1
by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair, Patrick Brosseau, David Finch, Richard Friend, Peter Steigerwald
Well, that sucked...
Every time DC gets around to revamping their shared universe, the outcome only underlies the limitations of this course of action. The company tears its universe apart, sifts through the rubble for anything useful, ends up using most of it to rebuild, then stands back and acts surprised when the structure starts to crack under its own weight. As a story, Flashpoint bears the imprint of those past initiatives. There are plenty of nods to Crisis on Infinite Earths. But Flashpoint is easily their worst effort, and a sign that pushing the reset button one too many times only results in diminishing returns.
This enormous undertaking was accomplished by torturing Barry Allen a.k.a. the Flash. This is the guy who died saving the multiverse in 1985, stayed dead for so long that readers were beginning to think it would be permanent, only to come back to life and make life a living hell for everyone else. That's the big reveal of issue 5 - it's all Barry's fault.
throughout Flashpoint, Barry is presented a nightmare vision of a DC Universe that's out of control. It's portrayed in the most gratuitous, joyless, and morbid way imaginable. Everyone dies or becomes a broken shell of themselves: Hal Jordan never becomes Green Lantern and dies, Superman was never raised by the Kents, Bruce Wayne never becomes Batman because he dies in the alley where his parents were supposed to be murdered, Wonder Woman and Aquaman become genocidal world conquerors. And that's just scratching the surface.
|Diane Nelson wants her new universe NOW!|
All of this is laid at the feet of Barry because he was trying to stop a time-altering murder perpetuated by his greatest foe, Eobard Thawne a.k.a.the Reverse Flash. It's a ludicrous burden to accept. And what's frustrating is that Flashpoint never delivers a believable argument for why Barry should be culpable, or more culpable than Thawne. And even if I were to buy into the idea that Barry is to blame, it offers no good reason for why he couldn't eventually come up with a solution that produces the best possible outcome and returns things to what they were. The only explanation to be found is on the metafictional level - the much hyped DC 52 relaunch. But it's demoralizing that this newly revised superhero universe is being built on the impotence and cynicism found in Flashpoint. I call bullshit on it.
Arriving on the heels of the final issue of Flashpoint is the first issue of Justice League. They meet again, for the first time! Yes it's as by-the-numbers as it sounds. The now familiar cover portrays the team's core members, but the story within only introduces about half the lineup. Most of the issue is devoted to Batman and Green Lantern arguing about their respective crime-fighting methods. Is that just convenient to the story, or is DC pushing them as some kind of heroic team-up? It does quickly establish characterization: Hal is still brash and Bruce is still a jerk. They spend the first half of the issue chasing a super-powered mook. When it reveals that it's working for Darkseid, it just gets used as a setup for a lame joke. Way to inspire a sense of dread in your readers!
As for the character designs of Jim Lee, I can't really say I care for them. They're mostly tweaks to their more traditional looks, filled with a lot of extraneous lines. I'm not the first to think that those neck collars look ridiculous, especially on Superman. But there's also something oddly clumsy about how they're rendered. The way that Lee gives everyone pseudo-shoulder pads and chest plates make his characters look less like people and more like reticulated action figures, or puffed-up gridiron players. And then, there are the sketches at the back of the book which show how truly bad it could have been.
|This is why Batman hates reboots|
This issue is basically your standard meet n' greet, and on its own terms it's not terrible. But Justice League #1 is the first comic of DC's relaunch. And as an introduction to the new status quo, it doesn't exactly impress either. There isn't anything here that would sway someone still on the fence. Wasn't the whole point of the relaunch to bring in new readers and find a new approach? Or am I misreading the intent? What I find in these pages is not significantly different from what DC has been publishing just before the relaunch, except it's now conveniently reset so that newbies don't have to worry about catching up to the story. But then again, look at who wrote it. And it's this sense that nothing has changed that makes for an underwhelming experience.