Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DC New 52 Review: Justice League #3-4

I don't think I've written a scathing review yet. I've been more than fair to most of the titles I've reviewed. Well, I have to say, I've really given this book the benefit of the doubt so far and I think I have to lay it out there...

Justice League #3-4
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Jim Lee
Inks by Scott Williams
Cover Price: $3.99 Each

In a nutshell:
Each issue another hero joins in on the action. "Hey, lets team up!", (insert some childish comment from green lantern here) Big Action, Big Action... Next issue, another hero joins in on the action... "Hey, lets team up!", (insert some childish comment from green lantern here)...

By the end of the fourth issue you realize that there hasn't been a breath since first panel of the first issue, and that's not a good thing. The story started in issue one with Batman and Green Lantern in action and each issue another character has joined in on the action in an implausible way, and there is almost no story besides the action. The story that is there seems stuffed in in an unnatural way. In fact, nothing in this comic feels natural (Cyborg gets one of the most bizarrely rushed origins I ever read). Geoff Johns has written some of the best stories by DC Comics in the last decade. This is not one of them. I remember listening to Jeff Loeb being interviewed on WordBalloon once and he spoke of how he tailors his stories for his artist and I can't help but feel that that is what Johns is trying to do here because nothing here feels like a Geoff Johns story. The difference is that when Loeb did Hush with Jim Lee he actually had a story with all the bells and whistles. The dialog in this story seems like it's trying to be Brian Michael Bendis but reads more like Tiny Titans. The characters don't even seem to have the same personality that they do in the other books that Geoff Johns is writing that features them. Now come on, be honest, Johns didn't really write this, did he?

Why did I pick it up?
Because this is the series that has gotten the most media attention, I'm committed to seeing this story arc through.

The Good:
In the third issue we finally get Wonder Woman although she seems to have the bubbly naive personality Starfire had in the classic New Teen Titans stories. And the story really gives props to Aquaman who comes off as a major badass in this story. But the draw of the book is getting to see Jim Lee draw all the major icons, even if their appearance is some what less iconic because of the ridiculously out of date costume modifications by Jim Lee. And by issue four Lee's art finally is starting to look like what we expect from the superstar and I have to say Jim Lee can make even the lame look pretty spectacular.

The Bad:
I'm going to use this space on a little commentary about Cyborg's new look. In the 20th century we had this vision of what the 21st century would be like that was "big". The future was expected to be huge and metallic, and blasting off. But the reality is that the trend of the 21st century has been the opposite. Everything is becoming more subtle. Instead of bigger, it's been smaller. Instead of in your face graphic design, we get "classic". So if Cyborg was added to this team because he's the character that DC feels represents the 21st Century, why is his new design anything but? Don't get me wrong, Jim Lee does cool machines as well as anyone, but I don't think that's 21st Century. How about making Cyborg look a little more like an iPhone, sleek, classic, subtle, with a whole lot of surprises packed inside...

Is it worth it?
This book is a dollar more than the other DC titles and the extras aren't interesting at all. The appeal is the art and for some people that's enough. But it wasn't enough to keep Image Comics on top in the 90s and this is the weakest story I've ever seen Geoff Johns write. I'm still holding out a little hope that the story will really pull together, but this feels like an improve session that so far just goes on and on and on...

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