Sunday 4 September 2011

Review: Justice League #1 (DC Comics New 52)

Written by GEOFF JOHNS; Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS.

Comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history! In a universe where super heroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World Greatest Heroes!

I mentioned back at the end of July that I was really excited about the DC Comics New 52. I was excited from a personal viewpoint, as my knowledge of the DC Universe is fairly limited, never having been a buyer of comics as a child, teenager or adult. This knowledge has increased slowly over the past year or so as I have started to buy (and loan from our local library) more and more trade paperback collections of some of the classic DC stories. I also mentioned that I was excited for all the young readers who will now be given the chance to enter the DC Universe for the first time, and be able to grow up with the new stories. As far as encouraging boys to read the 'relaunch' of so many comics featuring big-name characters is a great event.

Unfortunately there isn't a comic shop anywhere near me, so I have set up a standing order at the brilliant Gosh Comics in London. Yes, this means that I will have to go and collect them from the store, but I tend to go into London once a month anyway, and how cool is it that every time I go there will be a new pile of comics waiting for me. Anyway, in my excitement I can already feel myself beginning to waffle, so straight to the poont: I was in London on Thursday, the day after Justice League #1 was released, and as soon as I arrived in London I made my way as quickly as possible to the fab brand new Gosh store in Soho, picked up my comic, headed on up to Golden Square where I sat on a bench and started reading Justice League #1.

I really did not know what to expect. Would I end up being disappointed after these months of impatient waiting? Various sources online had made me aware that the new JL would include Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, Green Lantern, and others, but surely even a writer as great as Geoff Johns would struggle to fit all of these characters into one issue? And of course he doesn't. Without giving too much away we meet Batman, Green Lantern and Superman, and although I was a tiny bit disappointed not to have seen Wonderwoman yet, I loved it. Of course, it is a comic and so once you take all the ads out we only have 24ish pages of story, but every single page is stunning. This is Jim Lee at his very best and images are full of incredible detail and the non-stop action of the story is portrayed in such a dynamic way that it almost feels as if it is leaping off the page. Boys will devour this kind of story-telling, and if you are beginning to despair that you will never get your son to read then go out and buy him this comic now!

The story opens with these words: "There was a time when the world didn't call them its greatest super-heroes. There was a time when the world didn't know what a super-hero was". Yes, this really is back to the very beginning for the Justice League. They know each other exist. They have heard various news stories about each other's exploits. But they have never before met. At one point, in discussion with Batman, the Green Lantern says of "that guy in Metropolis": "They say he's an alien". And so in this issue we have the very first meeting between Batman and the Green Lantern, and if you can imagine two tough guys meeting each other for the first time, and the way they might size each other up, then you have a pretty good picture of how this encounter goes. Geoff Johns keeps the words to a minimum, but the short bursts of dialogue between these two heroes tells us everything we need to know at this moment in time. And then, with mysterious bad guy dispatched, it is off to Metropolis for their first encounter with Superman. I will leave you to guess how that goes.

I have no idea how the long term fan-boys have reacted to this comic as I have avoided reading any reviews for fear of tainting my enjoyment of it. However, as someone using this as an entry to the DC Universe I thought it was brilliant, and I know that there will be many, many readers out there, young and old, who will share this opinion. I know that comics are relatively pricey for their meagre 24 pages of story but I hope that there are many parents out there who will buy a copy of this, or any one of the other DC Comics New 52, for their son and by doing so spark off a lifelong love of comics, and with it a lifelong love of reading. Yes.... comics do count!!!

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