Pick of the Week
What did the
- Pick of the Week - 05.15.2013 - Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.08.2013 - Thor: God of Thunder #8
- Pick of the Week - 05.01.2013 - Animal Man #20
- Pick of the Week - 04.24.2013 - Uncanny Avengers #7
- Pick of the Week - 04.17.2013 - Captain Marvel #12
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
Variant cover by DAVID FINCH
Size: 40 pages
I think you can call this a chutzpah award. It’s not so much that this was an amazing comic book, but rather that it exists at all. It was a very good comic book, as stated by my colleague in an earlier review, but more than that, Justice League #1 is this… thing that’s doing something we haven’t seen before. We’re talking about DC Comics, this company who relied so heavily on their own tradition and history, and a writer who made the whole DC legacy the lynchpin of the stories that made him one of the most popular and successful creators of our time. Then they tossed it out and started over. This isn’t an alternate universe. This is what the world of DC Comics is now. I’d realized the significance of that previously, but now that I’m holding it in my hand, it’s sinking in exactly what that means.
If you’ve ever spent any time around Geoff Johns, you’ll know about his grin. You could see it at comic conventions, or signings, or if you happen to spend a little time with him. The grin occurs when you ask him something about his comics work, and he’s not supposed to answer it. So he doesn’t answer it, but instead, you get the grin, and some sort of vague comment, that leaves you a little confused, and oddly, just a little excited for something you don’t know anything about. I imagine that grin served him quite well in his early dealings with editors. You want to believe that grin. You want to trust the grin. Now, let’s hop back to a scene a few years back, Geoff is super hot, Blackest Night being a huge success, and one of my partners (I can’t remember which) asked him if he would want to write the Justice League. “Of course I want to write the Justice League,” he responded, and then the grin showed up. I don’t know what was in motion, but at that moment it became completely clear that Geoff Johns was going to write the Justice League at some point, and it was only a matter of time. So it came as little surprise when it was announced that he’d be helming the book. That he would also be doing it with Jim Lee, biggest of the big artists, and it would be part of an unprecedented line wide revamp was a bit of a shock. But it’s exactly what needed to happen. The grin is mighty.
So here we are, months later, and the book is a reality. As much as I respect the creators involved in this book, on the surface, it’s not really a book for me. Yet the further I kept reading, the more I realized how appealing this blank slate was. More interesting is that this isn’t an alternative history. This is the basket, wherein all the eggs are contained. They’re making this the thing. Batman is being hunted by the Police, with helicopters. He is not friends with Superman. Green Lantern is kind of a douchebag. Cyborg is not Cyborg, but rather he is Brian “Smash” Williams, possibly of Dillon Texas. Well, he’s similar anyway. There are still several members left to be introduced, and they’ve decided to focus on character, and take their time, rather than get to a splash page with all the characters come together by hell or high water before the end of the book. This is a good thing. While these characters are different, their essences are still the same. But there’s no baggage, except the baggage he wants to give them. Basically the ethos here seems to be, “let the runner run,” and if you’ve been a fan of Geoff Johns at his best, that’s an exciting prospect.
Because of that, you don’t need me to tell you what was good about the story. You don’t need me to point out that so-and-so did such a thing that was “badass”. Instead you can just know it. You can have faith in this creative team, and their motivations, and the opportunities that this title brings to the table, and the promise of what’s the come. Right now, that’s where my excitement is coming from. There were lines at comic shops all over the country at midnight last night to sell a comic book. That’s a good thing. Now, in front of us, is the hope that that promise will deliver, and why not think the best? That’s what this comic book represents.
While I’ve heaped a basket full of praise on Geoff Johns, Jim Lee is almost a bigger part of the equation. Jim Lee links all of existing comics fandom, as the best of the past and the present. I was never a giant fan, of his work, but I respect him immeasurably for his incredible skill at navigating and succeeding the in the world of comics. Again, getting back to chutzpah, Jim Lee has nothing to gain by drawing this book. He’s already at the top of the heap. He’s not going to make more money doing this than what he’s been doing. He’s not going to rise up higher in the DC corporate structure. The only reason to do this is because he can, and he wants to. It’s not easy. It’s a team book. It’s the team book, the original. All eyes are on him. People expect him to fall behind. People are watching for him to stumble. Pride is the only conceivable reason to take on this challenge, and stay up late drawing pages for a fickle fandom. He wants to show us that he’s got it, and that he’s never lost it. He’s going to prove himself, and the thing is, he totally doesn’t have to. As such, these pages have an incredible youthful energy and verve to them. These aren’t the pages of a seasoned pro who knows all the shortcuts. These are the pages of a man who wants people to know that, not only does he still have it, he’s got more of it. Yes, his artistic style helped define a generation of comics, but he’s not done. If that doesn’t get your comic loving blood pumping, you need to find a crash cart.
Was Justice League #1 a good comic book? You’re damn right it was, and it got better the further I went into it. Did it blow my face off? Nope. But the energy of the issue, and what it could represent for comics going forward is enough to get me excited, and that is no mean feat. Those magnificent bastards are doing it, people. They’re doing it.
I’m waiting for Hal Jordan to Get Punched in the Face