It’s 5 years ago. The world considers superheros much like UFOs. There are sightings and rumors but no concrete evidence. Even the superheros don’t know each other very well.
In Gotham Batman is chasing down what we later learn is an alien but the police are making that task difficult by trying to apprehend the vigilante. Green Lantern swoops in to help and with much drama. He smashes the alien with a luminous emerald firetruck. Bats isn’t impressed. The interplay between the two massive arrogant egos here is fun! Green Lantern thinks he’s all that and Batman thinks he doesn’t need help. There is obvious friction and it’s quite amusing to read. Cut to Green Lantern imposing his tack onto Batman. He flies Batman to go talk with “that guy in Metropolis. They say he’s an Alien”. Batman’s reluctance to do so is dismissed by Lantern: “Won’t be a problem for me.”
Here we have an unexpected interlude involving Vic Stone. I’m quite surprised they chose to dwell on this character in the first issue. Considering they omitted much bigger players such as Flash, Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Not to mention that the connection made between Vic and the plot are tenuous – so far.
The book ends with Superman assertively introducing himself. He pretty much says hi to Green Lantern via uppercut. Visually it’s a cool moment but are we supposed to interpret this as a challenge to combat? My guess is that this scene was there to follow through in the premise that these characters all suffer from a superiority complex and are unwilling to work with one another. It’s a bit of head scratcher but not necessarily in a bad way.
So is it good? Mostly it is. I honestly expected to be disappointed in this. Certainly not because the creators have a bad reputation. But rather, I figured the hype was intense that this could not help but fall short of expectations. Johns subverts all of that by simply not trying too hard. He just tells a fun story, with a simple plot. It’s a good first issue.
Jim Lee’s pencils are what you would expect from an artist of his stature. The storytelling is smooth, the action is slick. It his typical controlled gestural style at its strongest. The guy has gads of talent and he is not considered one of the best for no reason.
In conclusion, JL #1 was unexpectedly low-key and streamlined. This creative team could have pointed to the bleachers, swung for the fence and risk a whiffle. But instead they played smart ball, hit a line drive to center field and filled two bases with no outs. Though I might have wanted to be more impressed – because of what this book represents for DC and the industry in general right now – ultimately, there is a healthy measure of playfulness contained within this book that won me over. There is a spark of youthfulness and enthusiasm that seemed sincere to me. While reading this, I forgot about the hype. I forgot this was the first issue of DC’s monumental relaunch. I forgot about everything. I just had fun.
Parental concern: Yellow