Thursday, 1 September 2011

A Noob’s Exploration Of The New DC 52: Part 1

So DC Comics’ reboot is finally here, starting with a shiny new Justice League #1. If the last sentence made absolutely no sense to you, then fear not; you’re in the right place.

In what could be construed (by a cynical person, of course, perhaps someone wearing an eye patch and stroking a cat) as either a cheap marketing gimmick or a conscious desire to set fire to well over half a century of comics history, DC, creator of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and enough B-grade superheroes to populate a small country, has restarted a whole bunch of their major comic book lines (and added some new ones).

DC’s reasons for the reboot revolve around enticing fresh new readers to pick up their comic books. What with having so many characters and a plethora of timelines that got shifted around every five minutes, getting into the DC Universe was a little like trying to get the hot girl at school to look past the pimples and braces and see The Real You.

And that’s where I come in. No, I’m not trying to pick up girls. I could be considered one of the targets of the reboot. While I am a card-carrying geek, I never had the dedication, willpower or disposable income to be a regular comics buyer. I loved the characters, watched the movies and animated series, but most of my interactions with the comics came from checking out the trade paperbacks from the library.

So begins my (not so) Grand Experiment. I am going to attempt to read all 52 #1 issues of the new reboot. I’ll give my impressions of all of them here on this blog, and we’ll see whether the reboot manages to convince me to start picking up any of the new series on a regular basis.

So now, let me begin with the very first of the #1s:

Justice League #1 (Beware: minor spoilers)

It’s 5 years in the past, Batman is still just an urban legend, and superhumans are beginning to appear. The whole “uncontrolled vigilantes with incredibly destructive powers” thing isn’t going over too well with the authorities, who naturally decide the answer is to just shoot them and then worry about the consequences later (presumably by planting heroin and guns on Batman’s body).

Despite the pretty cover picture of the entire Justice League flying/running to save the day, most of these characters don’t even get a look in. The only characters in this issue are Batman and the Green Lantern (who decide to have a pissing contest over who’s the awesomest hero) and a brief appearance by Superman (who seems to enjoy punching other heroes for the hell of it). Oh, and there’s also a slightly out of place bit of Cyborg’s pre-hero backstory.

But the lack of an entire fully-formed Justice League isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Batman/Green Lantern dynamic actually works quite well at showcasing their contrasting personalities. Batman is grim, angry and slightly sarcastic, while Green Lantern is cocky and kind of an idiot.

The problem is the comic lacks much of a plot. Batman and Green Lantern chase a mysterious alien robot around Gotham for a while, and a major villain who will obviously be appearing to kick some ass in the next few issues is mentioned. And then, for some inexplicable reason, the two decide to go check out this “Superman” they’ve been hearing all about (there’s some handwaving about “dangerous aliens”, but it seems awfully random).

We get some unintentionally hilarious lines from Batman (“You flew us to Metropolis in a glowing green jet?” What, had he been asleep the whole journey? Did he not notice this wasn’t your average economy class seat? World’s Greatest Detective my ass), Green Lantern continues being cocky and gets Superman’s fist in his face, and then the issue ends.

I can’t help but feel DC should have done a double issue for the very first of the new Justice League series. For someone coming to comics to the first time, there really wasn’t enough meat in the story. Perhaps they should have started with an already formed Justice League doing battle with something impressive, and saved the origin story for a later issue. On the plus side, the art is excellent, and I sure do like pretty pictures.

So the issue could’ve been stronger, and probably should have been to try and hook those new readers. Since it’s the Justice League, pretty much the cornerstone of the DC Universe, I’ll give the next couple of issues a shot. But I’m hoping for some bigger and more awesome things in the rest of the 52.

The challenge has been set, DC. Your move.

No comments:

Post a Comment