NEW 52: Justice League

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.

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9 Responses to NEW 52: Justice League

  1. UrlacherTheDestroyer says:

    Something I don’t really get. Five years later in JL 7, Hal Jordan is still green lantern, despite his ring being the non-charging knock off Sinestro made for him.

  2. From what I read of the New 52 Justice League it isn’t that bad I just wish Cyborg was taken off the team and I wish he wasn’t ever part of the team in the first place. Adding Cyborg of all characters just made things messed for the Teen Titans. I wish they kept the Martian Manhunter who has always been a favorite of mine or at least replace him with a DC hero that has been more linked to the Justice League than the Teen Titans like Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, the Atom, Zatanna, John Stewart, etc.

    • I think Martian Manhunter would’ve been a good substitute AND he would’ve added diversity (if I recall correctly, his Bloodwynd form was African-American), but I think they wanted something more visible and I can’t really fault them for that I guess.

      • When I was younger ( a looong time ago) there was a Super Powers Collection toy line of DC characters. Of course, they had a Saturday morning cartoon that my friends with cable got to watch and I didn’t. They would tape them on Beta tapes and I would see the show. Firestorm and Cyborg were the two “junior” members, the young ones that were always being mentored by the more famous guys like Superman and Bats etc… For a lot of people my age, Cyborg was a Justice League member long before he was a Titan. This was in the days before comicbook shops were common, when gas stations and convenience stores were the main source of comic books.

      • Ah, yes, the Galactic Guardians cartoon. Excellent point!

    • JoseKuervo says:

      Cyborg is an integral and very important part of the Justice League right now in this day and age, having a computer guy ( and I say that loosely obviously) it is a necessity…. I am not even sure why you feel this way.

  3. I liked Vic in Geoff Johns version of the Titans, as the experienced, wise mentor to the Young Justice guys who had moved onto the team. He was smart, funny, cool as hell, and showed he could stand on his own, as a leader, and could hold a place on the JLA if he wanted. That incarnation of the team was my favourite (even more than the Wolfman and Perez days) and it was a shame that the title was killed by involvement in company wide cross overs.Same with Green Arrow.

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