"I know when Hal gets like this, things happen. . . things change." Ollie Queen says what's on his mind, and fortunately or unfortunately, his mind is set to support his closest friend, who opens this issue with a tirade pointed at the ineffectiveness of the JLA.
What seems like a lifetime ago, I was working on the "Hawkman Companion" and had the privilege of interviewing James Robinson. The two of us were chatting on the phone and I asked him what else he was working on besides "Superman." He mentioned "Justice League," but then quickly asked me to keep that out of our interview. That was February of 2008. In May 2008, Robinson chatted with our own Jeffrey Renaud about the book. The two revisited their conversation in May of this year. In other words, this title has been a long time coming. Is this title worth the wait?
Yes. Yes it is worth the wait. Not only is it worth the wait, but Robinson himself provides insight as to why there was a wait and how the title has evolved. Under the $3.99 point on the cover, there is a twenty-two page story, a two-page origin story (written by Len Wein), and six text pages. In a sense, this is the first episode, presented as a director's cut.
Robinson presents the stories of four heroes, seemingly unconnected, other than by the violence that has bled into their lives. Within each of these adventures, the focal hero demands justice. Justice, however, seems as though it could fall into the realm of vengeance, as Mikaal seeks the miscreant who claimed the life of Tony, Mikaal's boyfriend. Ray Palmer is looking to balance the scales for a slain colleague. Congorilla is compelled to avenge his fallen troop. Hal Jordan is spurred into action after reflecting upon fallen comrades from the League.
Certainly given Jordan's history, concern is raised as to what will happen next. Robinson plays upon this fear among the characters in the story and indicates that he will provide more insight in future issues while relating the behind-the-scenes to the reader in the text pages.
Mauro Cascioli's art is worth the price of admission alone, although some of his layouts seem heavily posed and contrived. Contrived or unpretentious, Cascioli has a comfortable mastery of the anatomy of these characters. This is especially evident in the scene featuring Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi -- two Atoms - fighting side-by-side. These two characters have similar build, matching powers, and comparable costumes, yet they are distinct on the pages of "Justice League" #1. Beyond the characters themselves, Cascioli invests himself in his work, whether in the wood grain of the hardwood floor of Killer Moth's hideout, the quiet streets of Opal City, or the harsh reality visited upon the gorillas in the Congo, there is no shortage of detail. Cascioli's style is distinct and unparalleled in floppy comics today.
The extras of this book confirm its worthiness to be included in your weekly stack. The text pages at the back are akin to the "Companions" put out by TwoMorrows Publishing, except in this case, we receive new content direct from the publisher and insider info from the writer set to take the reins of the regular "Justice League of America" series.
This is a rare book for me in that I am impressed with the complete package and can easily see this becoming a book I regularly go back to re-read. As such, I've already committed a slice of my comics budget to getting the rest of this series in floppy format -- as I cannot wait for the next issue already! - as well as hardcover. If we're getting this level of "extra" material in the "normal" book, certainly the collected edition will have some more gems for us lucky readers.