“Justice League of America’s Vibe” #2 may have a title that is a little ungainly (no doubt thanks to long-running periodical “Vibe”), but I’ll give Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg, Pete Woods and Andres Guinaldo credit where it’s due. They’ve taken that qualifier and turned it into one of the central conceits of the series.
“Justice League of America’s Vibe” #2 follows Vibe as he prepares to join the all-new Justice League of America, while also being sent on a mission by the government to stop an interdimensional incursion in Detroit. It’s standard stuff on its own, but it’s the execution that makes it slightly interesting. Johns and Kriesberg are quickly establishing Vibe as a character who is ultimately being pushed into the superhero world not because of his powers, but because of how the government is using him. The conversation between Dante and Cisco about how Dante can’t believe that Cisco didn’t even pick his own code name is telling; this is a hero who is unwittingly being turned into a possession of the Justice League of America. Everything’s being chosen for him: his code name, his costume, his missions. “Justice League of America’s Vibe” isn’t just a way to get around a potential trademark problem, it’s a description of just how much Vibe is owned by his own team.
There’s also a bit of a build-up on everything else the government is up to behind the scenes, which is an interesting side story. Johns and Kreisberg take the character of Amanda Waller into some dangerous territory; up until now, she was someone who you wouldn’t mess with over in “Suicide Squad” and “Team 7” but whom you could more or less respect. With her actions in “Justice League of America’s Vibe,” that respect is rapidly evaporating. It feels like a deliberate choice on their part, but I hope there’s a larger purpose to what we’re seeing here, rather than just shifting another character into an evil bureaucrat.
Woods is joined this month by guest-penciller Guinaldo, and they split the workload between the two fairly well. Both draw in a clean, open style; it’s a contrast to the cover by “Justice League of America” artist David Finch, but I think that this style works much better for a comic focusing on the generally upbeat Vibe. There are a few little awkward moments here and there; Gypsy’s head against the glass seems to have her hair almost floating, and the final splash has way too many speed lines to be effective. But on the whole, it’s not a bad looking book, and I appreciated the lack of skyscrapers in DC. (Where the heck that conference room is supposed to be located is another story entirely, but I’ve grown to accept that the skyline of my city will never be quite right in comics.)
With Sterling Gates poised to take over “Justice League of America’s Vibe” in a couple of months, of course, all of this could change quickly. But for now, it’s not a bad start to the series. I feel like it’s going somewhere, and it looks nice. For a book that could have just as easily been dead on arrival, that’s no small feat.