REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
In conjunction with the DCNU reintroducing Vibe, they are also debuting the team he’s to be a part of, the Justice League of America. Because the team book encompasses all the characters, some of the continuity issues between JLA and Vibe will be addressed here. But it was a decent read, penned by Geoff Johns, who co-wrote Vibe (making the contradictions a bit less understandable).
The story has a prelude with Professor Ivo meeting someone in London, five years ago, hinting at schemes to come. The second prelude has a man in a black costume running for his life, thinking about how he’s about to die, hunted by what appear to be Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. We then move on to the main story.
Much of this issue is discussion between Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor. Stever is the former ARGUS liason to the Justice League, and he’s been replaced by Amanda. Amanda spends a good bit of time trying to convince Steve to go along with her plan of starting a new team, to help other heroes… or stop them if need arises. In what’s almost becoming its own over-used cliche, Waller and Trevor debate each individual member they are considering, the debate in text boxes as the character in question dominates the panels. Hawkman seems to be crazy, calling street thugs he fights “Byth,” a Thanagarian criminal. The agents plot to spin PR for him as a Thanagarian cop on Earth to hunt down criminals, a sort of twist on the Silver Age Hawkman’s story. Katana they plan to bait by helping her track down the people she is hunting, as seen in her book last week. Vibe’s recruitment was handled in his own title, already reviewed. We see the man in black, badly wounded, fleeing through the woods, worried more about stopping whoever is chasing him than his own survival.
Meanwhile, the next recruit discussed is Star Girl. History moment: Star Girl was created by Geoff Johns, originally as part of the JSA. She was made in honor of John’s sister, who died in the TWA Flight 800 crash off the East Coast. So of course, Johns was both going to bring the character back, and not send her off to Earth 2 with the JSA. Courtney (the name of both Star Girl and John’s sister) is now some kind of teen hero in Los Angeles, and is shown receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There are veiled references to the “previous owner of the Cosmic Rod” (Star Girl’s weapon) and the truth about her real father. As the agents discuss the Rod’s owner, Star Girl sees a star made of energy and mutters “Pemberton.” Sylvester Pemberton was the original Star Spangled Kid, later Skyman, founder of Infinity, Inc before the reboot (even before the Crisis on Infinite Earths). The agents mention her stepfather, Pat Dugan (pre-reboot Stripesy and later STRIPE), and then Amanda makes the distinction about her “real” father.
Discussed in passing are Martian Manhunter, Earth’s newest Green Lantern Simon Baz (introduced in the Green Lantern zero issue), and Green Arrow. Trevor says they need someone else, and he goes off to recruit Catwoman. They fight a bit, and he gets her interest by offering to help her track down “Selina Kyle.” Apparently, someone stole Catwoman’s identity (bold move) and Trevor tells her he can help her find the thief.
Back in the office, we finally see clearly a wall board that’s been hinted at, as Amanda reveals that this team is, in part, designed as a counter for the Justice League if they go bad. I’ll give the line up and my thoughts later. Amanda is called away, and one of the more amusing scenes happen, as Trevor says to the empty room “You can come out, J’Onn.” J’Onn appears, and he and Steve verbally spar a bit. J’Onn says he’s in, but he knows why Steve is really doing this. He also says that if Waller or her team move against him, he will erase her mind and then everyone else in the building, including Trevor. The issue ends with Steve summoned to the infirmary, where a badly wounded
Green Arrow is revealed as the man in black who has been lurching through the issue. He reports that he partially infiltrated the Secret Society, but they were on to him too fast. He hints at who is running the Society, but goes into cardiac arrest before he can share the name, leaving us with our cliffhanger.
Ok, a few things. In Vibe, they make it sound like the JLA’s purpose is to fight dimensional intruders and guard Darkseid’s daughter. Here, they are supposed to fight the League if needed? They also continue the odd unclear history about whether or not J’Onn was ever in the League. It’s been stated various places both that he was and wasn’t. Here, they make it sound like he was and left the team under bad circumstances.
OK, the line up I discussed. I’m going to list them this way: Justice League member vs JLA member, and then my thoughts:
Superman vs. Martian Manhunter–- I can see it. J’Onn could, in some scenarios, take Superman.
Batman vs. Catwoman–Umm, no. She’s good, but how often has she reliably beaten him in a fight?
Wonder Woman vs. Katana–HAHAHAHA— wait, they’re serious? Sure, allegedly crazy human with what might be a magic sword can take a demigod, why not?
GL Hal Jordan vs. GL Simon Baz–Let’s see… a rookie vs the greatest GL ever. How is this going to work?
Flash vs. Vibe–Interesting thought. A lot of Flash’s powers are related to vibrations. Of course, Flash can drop him before Vibe can even raise his hand to fire a blast…
Cyborg vs. Stargirl–No way to tell. We haven’t seen what the DCNU version of the Cosmic Rod does.
Aquaman vs. Hawkman–I don’t see it. Aquaman is stronger, tougher, faster and has mental powers.
In balance, this seems like a really unrealistic plan from an alleged pragmatist and master strategist like Amanda Waller. This also leaves out both Trevor and Green Arrow. This is the weakest portion of this book to me.
Overall, I like the idea, although the motives given in Vibe make a lot more sense to me than those in JLA. The membership seems iffy to me. A group of largely outsiders being manipulated into working together, with such hugely different personalities seems like a bad idea to me. Add in Amanda pulling strings behind the scenes, and her prison for supers seen in Vibe, and things are going to go badly down the road, count on it.
For plot, I’ll go a low 3 out of 5. It would be higher, but the who’s to fight who plan is laughable.
For art, I’ll go 3 out of 5. It’s decent enough, but David Finch seems to like not quite clear faces, with random shadows cast from no real clear point of origin.
It’s hard to judge how a team book will do when you don’t see any of them in the same room, but the very very slow build seems to be a requirement these days. I’m curious, and in for the next issue or two. We’ll see after that.
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