I’ve never really bought the concept of xenophobia in comic books. In a world where people can become famous for having fake tans, giant butts, and a camera pointed on them at all times, there’s no way in hell someone who could fly, run at the speed of light, or breathe underwater wouldn’t instantly become one of the most popular human beings on the planet, adored by millions, showered with cash. It’s how things work.
Movie stars, for example. In real life, they’re a pretty big deal. In comic books, they’re a quaint idea that’s rarely used. I can recall only one instance off the top of my head: when Joker’s Daughter kidnaps a young starlet in the first (fifty-first?) issue of Countdown. I know the original Supergirl (Silver Age-era Kara Zor-El) and Blue Devil both had ties to Hollywood, but it was used as more of a backdrop to current adventures than anything else. And, really, if gods were walking the earth, who would even notice a bunch of grown men and women in makeup playing pretend?
Justice League, the first six issues of which chronicle the team’s formation a half decade prior to the current-day setting of the New 52, starts off with a big xenophobic bang, similar to Teen Titans (which I guess means things haven’t improved much between then and now). People loathe and fear superheroes. Superheroes persevere.
The New 52 versions of Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman are basically the same as their previous incarnations. Batman is a modern-day Sherlock in a rodent costume. Green Lantern is a smarmy prick with a magic ring. Flash is a put-upon scientist who can run fast. And Aquaman is still the badass we were introduced to in Blackest Night/Brightest Day.
Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg, on the other hand, have undergone some dramatic personality changes:
To DC’s credit, Superman and Wonder Woman are about a million times better than they’ve ever been. It’s logical that the most powerful being in the world would have a bit of a superiority complex and it’s nice to see Clark being smug (it’s warranted). Wonder Woman’s a comical fish-out-of-water, with a zeal for combat that makes her seem like a teenager who’s just been given the keys to her parents’ car. And then there’s Cyborg.
Geoff Johns has briefly explained Cyborg’s presence on the team, but…I don’t know. He represents the iPhone user in all of us? Really? Is that something we need to see reflected in our superheroes? Will he rudely pause mid-conversation to answer a transmission from S.T.A.R. Labs? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
This isn’t the first time the powers-that-be have added Cyborg to the JL mix:
As terrible at James Robinson’s League of Titans was, at least Cyborg’s inclusion made sense. This frame from Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 throws a wrench in the works:
I don’t know who Dustin is, and I thought the New 52 would erase Garth in favour of Jackson Hyde, but Vic? He used to be a Teen Titan? He joined the Justice League at its inception, almost immediately after his father turned him into Cyborg, and as of Justice League #7 he’s still part of the team. Taking some time off to mentor teen sidekicks would be acceptable, but Teen Titans (which is set in modern day) indicates that the team just started up. More specifically, teen heroes began appearing only recently. The timeline of the Titans is muddled, but regardless of what’s actually going on, Cyborg’s inclusion in its history makes zero sense.
The artwork on the first six issues of Justice League is pretty spectacular:
SHUNK, indeed. Plenty of new (old) elements are (re-)introduced to the New 52 world. Justice League #3 shows Professor Ivo getting spirited away by parademons and Dr. Thomas Morrow tries to console Vic’s father. Justice League #5 brings up fuzzy memories of the classic Flash/Superman races as well as Darkseid getting all venge-y with omega beams in Final Crisis (and maybe a little Grand Theft Auto with that overhead shot):
With the occasional cutesy moment like this one:
The above panel is from Justice League #7. I was worried that after the initial six-issue origin-establishing arc, the series might see a dip in quality, but Geoff Johns is still at the helm and he’s still giving us scenes like this:
I don’t know much about Wonder Woman, but I do recognize Steve Trevor as the Lois Lane of her world. The unrequited-love angle seems like it’ll work pretty well and I look forward to seeing it play out in all its angsty goodness in future issues.
The previous League book, Justice League of America, lasted from 2006-2011 but the series took a nosedive after the initial Infinite Crisis/52/One Year Later rush faded and Brad Meltzer left (at issue #12, which means four terrible years). I’m fairly certain Justice League is DC’s top-selling book right now, and if the first seven issues are any indication, it’s easy to see why.