08 August 2011

DC Comics: The New 52 - Justice League Spotlight

This assortment of titles from the DC Comics: The New 52 relaunch spotlights the Justice League and roster members.  Note that Batman and Superman are roster members, as are Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner, whose titles have already been covered in previous spotlights.  Links for those are at the bottom of this post.

Justice League
$3.99 - 31 August 2011
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and Cover by Jim Lee and Scott Williams
Comics legend Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history!
In a universe where super heroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World’s Greatest Heroes!
Note: DC Comics is also selling Justice League in a "combo" pack that includes a code to download the digital issue.  The combo pack is priced at $4.99.

DC released a preview online of the first six pages of this issue.  The police are pursuing Batman and someone in a cloak across rooftops from a helicopter.  Hal Jordan appears in the middle of the chase and freaks out to find himself face to face with Batman, whom he did not believe was real.  The art was admittedly terrific, but this speaks to the biggest problem I and many other readers have with contemporary comics: there's a lot of style but very little substance.  Someone pointed out that Stan Lee managed to tell Peter Parker's entire origin story in six pages of Amazing Fantasy #15, and after six pages of Justice League #1 all we know is what I said in two verbose sentences.  It used to take me almost a minute to read each page of a comic, so a 32-page issue like this would take me half an hour.  Instead, the first fifth of this issue took me all of about a minute.  That's entirely too dissatisfying, no matter how pretty the pictures.

Justice League International
$2.99 - 7 September 2011
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
Cover by Aaron Lopresti
With the growing presence of super beings around the world, United Nations resolves to create a new group called Justice League International.
Batman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, August General in Iron, Fire, Ice, Vixen and Rocket Red are charged with promoting unity and trust – but can they reach that goal without killing each other first?
Where to begin?  The solicitation text names Hal Jordan, but that's clearly Guy Gardner on the cover.  If the Justice League operates globally and maybe even throughout space, then it really makes no sense to have a second Justice League.   This is a point raised every time there are dual Justice League books, and it seems just as valid this time as any other.  The real appeal of this series is that it features a roster pretty familiar to 80s and early 90s readers like myself.  What's up with Batman being on both rosters, though?  I mean, he's supposed to be an urban legend nobody believes is real but he's so high profile that he's in two Justice Leagues?

$2.99 - 28 September 2011
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and Cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
Aquaman has renounced the throne of Atlantis – but the sea will not release Arthur Curry so easily.
Now, from a forgotten corner of the ocean emerges… The Trench! A broken race of creatures that should not exist, an unspeakable need driving them. The Trench will be the most talked-about new characters in the DC Universe!
So far, there have been three cool things to happen to Aquaman.  There's the ongoing subplot about making an Aquaman movie on Entourage.  Then there's the recurring advice sketch on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (which is even funnier when Tim Gunn substitutes for Aquaman).  The third was Peter David's run on Aquaman in the 90s, where he grew a beard and replaced a lost hand with a hook.  Notice that only three of these cool things happened in comic books.  Whether this run by Johns will make a fourth remains to be seen.

Wonder Woman
$2.99 - 21 September 2011
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art and Cover by Cliff Chiang
The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman could dare to protect humanity from the wrath of the strange and powerful forces. But is she one of us – or one of them?
To be honest, I've never really been into Wonder Woman.  I know it's strange coming from a history major, but Greek mythology has never really appealed to me.  For those who do enjoy Wonder Woman, now she wears pants.  Probably a more practical costume feature since I don't think she operates solely in warm climates.

The Flash
$2.99 - 28 September 2011
Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art and Cover by Francis Manapul
Variant Cover by Ivan Reis and Tim Townsend
The Fastest Man Alive returns to his own monthly series from the writer/artist team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato! The Flash knows he can’t be everywhere at once, but what happens he faces an all-new villain who really can! As if that’s not bad enough, this villain is a close friend!
The last time DC presented a reset of their continuity, Barry Allen sacrificed himself during Crisis on Infinite Earths.  For much of the last quarter century, The Flash has been Wally West.  Geoff Johns, however, has a thing for Barry so he's back.  Don't ask me what happened to Wally; I lost track.

Green Arrow
$2.99 - 7 September 2011
Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Dan Jurgens and George Perez
Cover by Brett Booth and Rob Hunter
Green Arrow is on the hunt. Driven by inner demons, Ollie Queen travels the world and brings outlaws to justice…by breaking every law.
Now, armed with cutting-edge weaponry and illegally gained intel (courtesy of his team at QCore), Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.
Oliver Queen has had several incarnations.  He was a playboy comparable to Bruce Wayne with a friendly disposition once upon a time, then he was rebranded an outspoken leftist outlaw-type figure.  Then he was killed in an incident involving Superman and succeeded as Green Arrow by his estranged son Connor Hawke.  Then Kevin Smith came along and decided he wanted to write Ollie so Ollie came back.  What any of this has to do with the relaunch, I can't say.  It doesn't really matter.  What matters is that the art is by Dan Jurgens and George Perez.  Yeah, I like the sound of that.

Of the books featured here, I'd only likely look at Justice League, Justice League International and Green Arrow.  To be honest, that vapid preview of Justice League has turned me off that book.  I might take a look at International, though, partly because I like Dan Jurgens and partly because even though that roster is inferior to the Justice League proper, they've been used very effectively over the years for lighthearted, comedic storytelling. Also, despite my objections to frequent crossovers, I'm hopeful that Hal, Barry and Ollie will team up periodically.  I always enjoyed those stories.

Other DC Comics: The New 52 spotlights
Green Lantern
Superheroes (Captain Atom, Mister Terrific, Hawkman, Firestorm)
Young Justice
The Dark
The Edge

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