DC Comics kicked off their New 52 reboot last August with Justice League #1, putting two superstar creators–who also happen to be members of the company’s management team–on their flagship team title.
Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee told a six-issue story about how this new version of the League came together to fight Darkseid and an invasion from Apokolips a few years back. That story ended a month ago, and this month brings a new chapter and a guest artist to the comic, as Johns teams with Gene Ha for a story that gives longtime Wonder Woman supporting character Steve Trevor a role with the League. Also of note in this issue is the beginning of a back-up tale featuring the New 52 debut of Shazam!
So what do folks think about the League’s jump to the present day? And what about the Billy Batson back-up? Here’s a round-up of what a few people thought …
“The Villain’s Journey, Prologue”:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “With Justice League #7, Geoff Johns and guest artist Gene Ha jump the series forward to the present day and I’m sure most readers will be saying, ‘It’s about time.’ Reading this comic, I can understand why and it makes me wish we’d started at this point all along. Thanks to a lack of ‘this is how they all met,’ we end up with a much zippier pace. A threat raises its head, the Justice League shows up and quickly defeats it. Each plot point is hit quickly and effectively and then the story moves forward. Johns also shows us how the different members are getting along with one another and longtime Wonder Woman supporting character Steve Trevor is given a larger role as well. As the new addition to the line-up, Cyborg’s position within the League is well-defined, in some ways taking the spot that Oracle had in Grant Morrison’s JLA. It makes more sense to have him on the team now, and it’s nice to see him working out without either dominating or fading into the background of the comic.”
Minhquan Nguyen, Weekly Comic Book Review: “Sad to say, but Justice League is browning in the oven quick—and yes, that’s a terrible metaphor, but there’s a reason why I’m reviewing fiction now, rather than writing it for a living. Johns didn’t do the greatest job developing the team in his first arc, as they came across as little more than straw men (and woman), spouting short blurbs that merely echo personality. Six issues of work, and you didn’t really connect with them at all.”
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “The central plot — about a villain in the making, striving to take down the Justice League — isn’t all that interesting, to be honest. The story and the new, unknown antagonist come off as rather generic in tone. Fortunately, the character-driven stuff and subplots are far more engaging. Johns explores the Justice League as a force for political change, not only in America but the world over. Yes, the notion boasts a strong Authority riff, but it’s not often we see DC casting its more marketable icons in such socio-political roles. I also appreciated the contrast between the public’s perception of the team as a group of friends who always know what to do and the reality of the in-fighting and improvisation that make up their everyday interactions and activities.”
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous For A Girl: “After his introduction at the start of this run, it’s good to finally see how Trevor acts as the League’s handler, though it’s also disappointing. Good, because we have a Steve who’s smart, brave and ready to bat for the League when Congress start tightening the leash, and as a Wonder Woman fan of old, that makes me happy. Disappointing, because the League, hiding away in their satellite above Earth, are like a bunch of bratty frat kids, waiting for their ‘parents’ to send up another parcel of goodies.”
Sean Elks, Player Affinity: “Without being told otherwise, I would have assumed this story took place a few months after the origin story or at the end of the first year at the outset. The reason for this is that there is so little development apparent in this issue. When the Justice League shows up to save the day from Spore, it’s the exact same Justice League lineup from five years ago. They even look exactly the same with the exception of Aquaman, who does look more mature with neater hair and the lack of additional jewelry. The interaction of the team members does nothing to make up for this either. The bickering and immaturity from the team’s early days is still present as if no development has taken place between these people. The world loves them now, and you could almost claim that as a difference from their origin. You really can’t, though. We saw them winning over the public at the end of that origin story, so that’s hardly a development that feels like it took years to happen.”
Erik Norris, IGN: “Regular artist Jim Lee gets a break this month, replaced by Gene Ha for the main story focusing on Steve Trevor. Ha’s strengths lie in the character moments of the issue, when the action settles down and characters just talk. Ha is easily able to convey emotion with his pencils and it really sells the drama in Johns’ script. However, when scenes get a little more action-oriented, Ha’s hyper-detailed pencils seem to get muddled. ”
Walter Richardson, Multiversity Comics: “This is certainly shaping up to be a better read than the previous story, but that’s not saying much. Is it great? Certainly not. It’s a good enough way to kill five minutes? Sure. On the other hand, it isn’t necessarily worth $3.99, but with the backup it’s certainly worth it more than a few titles on the shelves. I would recommend many issues before this one, but if you’re already the type to buy a bunch of superhero comics, there will certainly be a lot of comics you’ll regret buying more than this one.”
“The Curse of Shazam!”
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “I’ll tackle the easy part here first; the art looks fantastic as ever. Frank can get the little personal moments down pat, like Mrs. Glover tousling Billy’s hair at the foster system office or that cold look in Doctor Sivana’s eyes. (Where did his glasses go, though?) When we get the glimpse of Philadelphia around Christmas, it’s in many ways exactly what I was hoping for from Ha in the main story. From the different types of lights in people’s windows to the bystanders on the street, it feels richly detailed and beautiful. Getting a regular dose of Frank art in Justice League is reason to celebrate.”
Sean Elks, Player Affinity: “Gary Frank’s art is… Gary Frank’s art. I generally like his art, and I do here. It’s just that maybe he wants to draw Superman still instead of this. I found it hard not to see Billy as a young Clark Kent, and I’ll be damned if anyone can say the new Dr. Sivana doesn’t look exactly like Lex Luthor in glasses.”
Minhquan Nguyen, Weekly Comic Book Review: “The ‘Shazam!’ feature feels more fleshed out, better paced, and better constructed than the main event, truth be told. Its only flaw lies in the protagonist; from his traditionally goody two-shoes demeanor, he’s been re-envisioned as a shameless brat who manipulates and mocks the foster parents who wish to give him a better life. It’s difficult not to detest him—no doubt something Johns wants, for whatever reason—so you’ll need to take a big leap of faith to believe a hero lies in this boy’s heart.”
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “The focus here is on modernizing the Shazam! legend. Johns seems to have decided that a negative, harsher tone is called for in order to do so. Even the new Shazam! look looks darker and slightly grittier. It’s ironic that while the characters and the narration refer to the return of magic (literally) in this story, Johns seems to have stripped the property of its magic, figuratively. Maybe he’s planning a bait-and-switch. Maybe when the magic comes back, a brighter, more wondrous tone will come with it. But that’s not the vibe opening episode is giving off.”