You all know that the DC Universe is getting rebooted. You all know that it starts here, with the Justice League. You all know that this is written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee. The big question is: should you care?
For being the grand re-opening of the DC Universe, there is little substance to account for the substantial amount of fanfare that led us to this point. The cover says “Justice League” and sports a “new” magnificent seven for a new DC: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Only four of these characters actually make it into this issue. Of that, one of them appears for a dramatic cliffhanger splash page and another hasn’t even assumed his heroic mantle yet, so the League isn’t much of a League to begin with.
This issue is filled with a setting of the table, and that setting is, unfortunately, limited to Batman and Green Lantern. Geoff Johns writes the “first” meeting between an overly-confident Green Lantern (who happens to be Hal Jordan, but seems more like old school Guy Gardner) and a brooding (surprise!) Batman. Batman, in this case, is on the run, avoiding the police of Gotham City while Green Lantern comes to the Dark Knight’s city on the trail of an alien who is planting pinging, box-like devices (yeah, you might think that and you wouldn’t be wrong) around Gotham.
In the interim, there’s a peek into the life and times of Vic Stone, stud high school football player who happens to see the previously mentioned duo of Green Lantern and Batman streak across the sky following his own brilliant on-field performance.
This is where it gets a little boring. Jim Lee resorts to cliched storytelling and imagery, with the American flag flapping in the breeze behind Vic as the future hero hauls in a pass that leads to a game-winning score. It’s heavy-handed and just doesn’t seem natural in the pacing of this story. Sure, we all know from the cover — and the back matter of this issue – that Vic (soon to be known as Cyborg) is destined for a place on the League, but the sequence doesn’t do much to thrill or even add to the story.
Cyborg stepping up and accepting a League membership is something I look forward to with this series, as well as the long-awaited return of the bad guy alluded to in the course of this issue. Otherwise, this League doesn’t seem to do much in the way of blazing a new trail, which may have something to do with the fact that the story is set “Five Years Ago.” DC isn’t doing much to instill confidence when they kick off a bold new direction through retconning and backstory.
This first issue is simply that: a first issue. The new initiative, with its day and date release of digital books alongside the printed copies, hasn’t changed much when it comes to presenting stories for an eventual collected edition down the road. I had hoped for something different, but it appears that hope was a little misplaced. I’ll give this series another look with issue #2, but if that doesn’t offer some serious changes to the roster and pace of the story, I might just have to resort to trade-waiting. Wishing for more than I received on this issue, I’m looking towards the other fifty-one debuts with tempered expectations.