Mild spoilers ahead.
In a move debated endlessly by long-time fans, DC has recently chosen to relaunch their entire universe, keeping core elements of iconic characters while also freshening them up with new perspectives and tweaks to more than their costume designs. 52 brand new titles - featuring both classic characters and some lesser-seen faces - are rolling out over the next month, and I have a grocery list of - currently - 33 of those titles.
But the ball was sent rolling with the release of Justice League number one, featuring the powerhouse team of Jim Lee (artist) and Geoff Johns (writer.) I picked up a copy early Wednesday from my local comic book shop, and sat down in the living room to enjoy it with my girlfriend.
Initially I was pleased with the sharp art. Having browsed back issues in my various trips to the shop, I’d learned fairly quickly that not all comic books are penciled alike. Sometimes a human face looks more like a pinched-up potato, and a gun is indistinguishable from a character’s ill-placed arm. Here there was no mistaking Batman’s expression as the spotlight fell across his face, the city in flames around his retreating figure.
As I turned the pages, I realized the art was more than sharp: it literally blazed, action represented so flawlessly that I could hear Batman’s cape rustle with his quick leaps, feel the roof shudder as his body collided with his target’s massive frame and they toppled together.
The dialogue leapt up to meet the fantastic art, with Batman’s brisk dismissal of the arrival of Green Lantern, and Hal’s “I can handle this” flippancy in sharp contrast. Effortlessly I was introduced to these characters, verbal clues dropped at necessary moments to clue me in on their personalities and backgrounds. Never enough to overwhelm, never too little to leave me lost. They are a mystery to me, but not to the extent that I feel disinterested in their identities; instead I am intrigued.
I laughed as Batman continued to brush his unlikely companion off, functioning as the fantastic detective we all know him to be while Lantern fussed in the background, drawing his own conclusions and taking Batman along for the ride - literally.
At precisely the right moment, the tension was brought into a new scene, flipping as easily as a movie sequence into the football triumph of a lonely teenage boy balanced between patience and bitterness with a work-obsessed father. The cliché was handled well, young Victor Stone’s easy-going smile to his coach relieving the reader of any assumption that the scene was too typically angst-driven.
The issue ended with a decent pop, a panel featuring Hal’s confident “I can handle this” smirk leaving me grinning and, a page later, enticing me with an apprehensive Batman crouched but certainly not disarmed in wreckage, peering up at a man he has every reason to be wary of.
And honestly? I’m not sorry to see Superman’s outer-panties gone. The new costume is fantastic, fresh, and young.
So color this comic book newbie pretty darn impressed with the first book of DC’s New 52; I’ll definitely be picking up issue two as early as my comic book store opens on its release.