Thursday, 21 February 2013

Review: Justice League of America #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC Comics

In the wake of Justice League's just-completed "Throne of Atlantis" arc, several major cities have been flooded, thousands have died and the survivors are calling for a superhero team with a difference - accountability.

While the US government (and one assumes the rest of the world) have tolerated the existing Justice League due to their heroic deeds during the attempted invasion from Apokalips and their ensuing popularity with the masses, they've never had true control over them. Batman and Superman are both well-established vigilantes, having had numerous run-ins with their respective city's Police forces. Not to mention Wonder Woman, who is an out and out warrior, looking to solve the world's problems at the end of a sword over traditional diplomacy. If such a team decided the government didn't have their best interests at heart and turned on them, there's very little anyone could do.

Enter Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller. Two long-time government operatives and most importantly - loyal. Where you would usually expect them to be assembling the latest Suicide Squad, they've been tasked to create the brand-new Justice League of America! On the surface, the team is a PR exercise, much like the Justice League International before it. Protecting the world, while letting everyone know just who is in control of the literal superpowers. However, it has a much more sinister purpose, held back from everyone, even the majority of the team itself - each member has been chosen specifically to take out their counterpart in the existing Justice League.

As with most first issues, we're introduced to the team through a series of recruitment vignettes. Steve Trevor approaches the new team one by one. In doing so, he offers each prospective member a particularly personal reason to join, whether it be revenge, fame, cover or genuine patriotism. My favorite being Martian Manhunter. Rather than Steve having to track down J'onn, it turns out he was in the briefing room the entire time! His affiliation with the Justice League in the New 52 has been tenuous at best, so to see him lined up for such a prominent role definitely gets my attention.

The other recruits are a little more generic in their first appearances. Cliched scenes of characters being approached post-battle and basically being pitched the same deal over and over again. There's someone they know or something they want and the government can help them do it. Rinse and repeat. One that did catch my eye however was the reintroduction of Stargirl to the DCU. Pre-Flashpoint, the character had always gravitated toward the Justice Society. But with the team permanently shunted to Earth 2, we find the ever-enthused Courntey Whitmore making public appearances more akin to a celebrity than a superhero. The character is a passion project for Geoff Johns, having created her way back in 1999, modelling her personality and appearance on his late sister. As such, she's always had a special place in the heart of the DCU and Justice League of America assures us the New 52 will be no different.

With the recruiting done and the team assembled, their first mission prematurely kicks off with a badly wounded Dark Archer desperately trying to make his way back to base, after being hounded by what looks like the DC Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. There's a twist to the identity of this new character and it's surprising to see them placed in such peril so quickly, but would I be chancing fate to say we'll still see them back next month, if not a little worse for wear.

It's abundantly clear that the Justice League of America have been formed to fight the existing Justice League. However, Johns will have to be careful, walking a fine line with both titles, as neither team are outright villains, merely different perspectives on the same situation. In recent years, heroes fighting heroes, as a concept, has become insanely popular. But with each passing conflict, the reasoning becomes more and more laboured. If one of these teams is to truly become the villain of the piece, it better be for a damn good reason.

7 out 10

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