Comics Load Xtra: A New U

As DC Comics has reminded us since May, there’s never been a better time to be a comics fan. Just not back in May. No, the good times are beginning as of August 31 with the relaunch of the DC Universe. Ostensibly, this bold new venture is aimed at the new fan, the non-fan and the prodigal fan, an olive branch and golden ticket invitation back into the comics fold. However, even with the promise of simpler characters and plotlines, Justice League #1 is chock full of mystery, details and depth.

image Title: Justice League #1

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciller: Jim Lee

Inker: Scott Williams
We’re told right away that we’re starting five years ago, and that things are different. “Superheroes” are new and the public is distrustful in a “lucrative X-Men franchise” kind of way. We’re dropped in the middle of the action, as heavily-armed members of something called “GCPD” close in on a man who seems to be dressed as a bat. Why he’s in costume, we do not know. (Is he going to a party?) We soon learn he is called “Batman” and lives in “Gotham,” acting as its protector, or some sort of, I don’t know, dark knight, if you will. I know, it’s a lot to take in, especially in a first issue that’s supposed to appeal to new fans, not turn them away with a lot of confusing details.

This “Batman” is soon joined by another costumed person. The second one’s called “Green Lantern,” and Batman tells him that he belongs in Coast City, not Gotham. Green Lantern tells Batman that he’s actually a space cop of some kind and patrols Earth, looking for aliens. Lucky for him, they’ve got one! It’s some sort of transforming Cloverfield monster thing, and it seems particularly insistent upon causing harm.

Honestly, at this point, I thought I might have to lie down. There are less characters and plotlines in Les Miserables! To sum up, this Batman fellow lives in Gotham and apparently dishes out his own brand of vigilante justice, though we have no idea why. I hope nothing bad happened to him in the past. On the other hand, Mr. Lantern is brash, cocky and looks a lot like Ryan Reynolds. He also refers to himself in the third person, which is confusing at first, because I thought he might be referring to another character.

The two new friends follow the monster and banter along the way. I had just read a testimonial, retweeted by DC, wherein a father gushed that he can finally share a comic book with his kids. Honestly, I’m not so sure this book is age-appropriate. Writer Geoff Johns wastes no time in amping up the sexual tension between the two costumed characters right away. (Are they going to the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village maybe?) Batman even playfully snatches Green Lantern’s ring, so he can watch him magically dress and undress in the back alleys of Gotham. The ring, we’re lead to believe, gives the Green Lantern his power, which is a little confusing. Why isn’t he called “Green Ring?” Maybe they’ll address this in a future issue.

After their alien explodes, Green Lantern tells Batman there’s another alien he’d like to go see, and that he lives in a place called “Metropolis.” That’s now the third location introduced in this first issue, not counting outer space! It’s a lot to keep track of. Then there are several pages about a boy playing football, but I assumed it was a Subway minicomic, so I skipped it and got back to the main story.

Green Lantern flies Batman to Metropolis in a green plane, which Batman announces once they arrive. I wonder if he kept quiet the whole way, just waiting until they finally landed to say, “You flew us to Metropolis in a green plane.” One thing is clear: this Batman character is very smart. In Metropolis, Green Lantern puts Batman in a cage to keep him out of the way, which is also confusing, because why didn’t he just leave him in Gotham? Green Lantern finds a hole in a wall, where his ring tells him the other alien lives. But before he can investigate, a blue and red alien blurs out of the hole, destroying Batman’s green cage and sending Green Lantern tumbling.

This new character is called “Superman,” and he’s in costume, too. We find out he’s an alien, but the issue ends before we can find out anything else about him. I’m assuming he’s a bad guy, since he attacked first and asked questions later. Is he friends with the monster alien? The teaser for the next issue promises that Superman will battle Batman, so I guess that Green Lantern died from his fall, which is sad, because I felt like I was just getting to know him.

Honestly, there was so much going on in this issue, I felt like it could have been split into three or four. There’s the Batman stuff, the Green Lantern stuff, the Subway minicomic about the football player, then the Superman stuff. Luckily, I have a whole month to re-read it and dissect some of the mysteries and loose threads. Like, who were the “GCPD” guys? What did they want? Are there Halloween parties going on simultaneously in Gotham, Coast City and Metropolis? What is the “Justice League” anyway? Will they arrest Superman for killing Green Lantern?

Only time will tell. Until then, Justice League #1 is a promising, if somewhat challenging, start for new and returning fans of comic books. Enjoy!

%d bloggers like this: