I began reading the first issue of the DC New 52 with an optimistic air. Justice League #1 was written by Geoff John and contained the artwork of Jim Lee, and in this duo I had all the faith in the world that they would produce something worthy of being called ‘the beginning.’
Here is what we, as an audience, know so far: the current reality has been shifted, slightly yet noticeably, due to the effects of Flashpoint. The Flash has returned back to a reality that, at the end of Flashpoint #5, we don’t see as any different. So therefore Justice League #1 begins five years ago in this new reality in order to explain how the new, current order of things has come to exist.
Five years ago Superheroes were new to the world’s scene. They are still exiting and chased after for sightings and news stories verifying their existence. Beginnings are fun. They are fresh. And we as human beings can’t seem to help ourselves but take pleasure in the origins and beginnings of relationships and events because they are still full of potential and promise for a future that we know is ahead of these foundational points. (Why do you think long-term couples love to tell the ‘how we met’ story so much.)
This is where Justice League #1 opens. The League is not yet formed – in fact the superheroes don’t know any more about each other apart from general public rumor. They all have stayed in their claimed portions of the country, not bothering to seek one another out. Until the Green Lantern has business in Gotham City. Of course this puts him directly in Batman’s stomping grounds and they are generally less than enthused to meet one another.
The majority of page time in this book is spent on the new and wary relationship building of the Green Lantern and Batman. The dialogue is great – witty, realistic, and totally in-character. I do admit, though, that I’m a bit worried if new readers are going to see the potential in this issue due to the fact that it was so much about the back and forth banter of these two characters. We get a small Superman cameo and a little bit of Cyborg (who brand-spankin’ new readers probably aren’t familiar with anyway). Due the lack of other character page time, I’m not sure it delivered the world-opening possibilities that new readers were probably expecting. Perhaps if it was longer, as in a double-sized issue that could have brought in other characters of focus – Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash. Especially since these characters were all on the front cover like a promise of what new readers would find within. I at least would have liked to see a teaspoon’s worth of a taste of all the other Justice League characters, perhaps in some sort of vignette, just to act as a promise of the coolness that they will deliver in the near-issue future.
The lack of character variety and the feeling that the issue shouldn’t have ended so soon were the only two criticisms I had with this issue. It was, per Johns’s usual, extremely well written. The art was fantastically detailed and colorful in the most impressive and invitational way. The issue felt classic – and I mean that in the sense of it felt like a beginning that was written a long while ago and we are now just uncovering it. This is a wide-open door for new readers to take advantage of, and I certainly hope that they do. Old readers, I truly hope that they will sit through and try to enjoy this new beginning until the DC Universe gets back to a point where they feel the stories are full of depth and history once again. Origin stories can be frustrating is they are occurring over and over again with slight variations, but this issue holds a lot of promise for how well this series is going to evolve again and act as the epicenter of the DCU.
From a business standpoint the launch of the New 52 seems to be doing exactly what DC had intended. Comic book store owners around the country have been reporting to various newspapers that the sales were incredible and a plethora of new faces entered their stores for the first time. Examiner.com interviewed several of these shop owners after their midnight release parties, including Third Eye Comics Steve Anderson. “We had a turnout of over 100 heads”, says Steve Anderson, owner of Third Eye Comics, via email. “Store was packed. Everyone was super excited about Justice League, and Flashpoint … Lots of new faces. Lots of DC [Comics] fans as well.”
My own friendly neighborhood comic shop owner reported similar sightings of new faces that he was happy to welcome to the store. Sales have been reported as being beyond expectations. Can this level of enthusiasm maintain? There are 51 more releases to look forward to reading, so I guess we’ll find out. Stay tuned!