Justice League #1 review

There’s a new Justice League in town. Not just in town, but all across the planet. This League seems unlimited in terms of numbers, with a core membership - J’onn J’onzz, Wonder Woman, Hawkwoman, Aquaman, Batman, Green Lantern, Cyborg, Superman and Flash - supplemented by dozens of heroes. Green Arrow, Swamp Thing, Adam Strange, Hawkman... heck, it doesn’t matter if you’re already in a team, like the members of the Terrifics, when the JLA calls, you come running. Or flying, swimming, whatever. 

So it is that this issue’s action sees the League fighting Neanderthals across the planet. And where there are Neanderthals, there’s going to be Vandal Savage, the Immortal Villain. A member of the original Injustice Society of the World, back in the Second World War, he’s formed a new Injustice Gang. And someone’s not impressed. 

Meanwhile, the Justice League has something bigger than rampaging Neanderthals to occupy their minds. 

They have three minutes to decide if this leakage given form from the broken Source Wall is likely to end all life, or coming to solve some cosmic mystery...

No one could accuse writer Scott Snyder of not thinking big with his first Justice League issue. A threat to conquer the planet is met, but then the heroes are faced with something that may smash the globe to smithereens. Meanwhile we have a cracking confrontation between two of the most impressive villains in the DC Universe with more in common than might first seem evident - John Byrne’s post-Crisis Lex Luthor revamp borrowed heavily from Marv Wolfman’s version of Vandal Savage as urban caveman. There’s a heartbreaking flashback to life - and death - on Mars. We get a quick tour of how the Source Wall being - the Totality - is viewed across time and space. And best of all?

A look at the League’s all-new Hall of Justice. 

A limited tour of a superhero base better than massive cosmic action and cool characterisation? Well, yeah. I’m a massive sucker for the legacy of the DC superhero universe and in just a few panels Snyder gives a sense of the sweep of League history. The fact that it seems we’re firmly in a pre-Flashpoint version of the world only makes it better. Snyder has really thought through how a public superhero mission would work, with the decommissioned trophies and secret spaces. And there’s a deftness to the writing that’s very appealing. The bit about ‘a calcite from the Butterfly Nebula’, for example, evokes Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, with its nods to the Silver Age wonders of the Fortress of Solitude. And how wonderful to see little kids inspired to pay superheroes. Then there’s that direct invitation to the reader, like something out of an old DC mystery book; a little playfulness goes a long way. 

You’ll notice the creator credits in there - it’s quite the team, with the real coup being grabbing penciller Jim Cheung from his usual bolthole at Marvel Comics. Credit to editors Rebecca Taylor, Andrew Marino and Marie Javins for pairing Cheung with inker Mark Morales and colourist Tomeu Morey, because the result is terrific. The visuals are crisp, open, inviting, as opposed to the treatment Cheung’s work received over at Marvel 2 in One last week, where the pages are dark and murky. Cheung isn’t known for long runs on books but I hope he hangs around DC awhile, because he immediately seems at home drawing its biggest heroes and villains. 

Kudos, too, to letterer Tom Napolitano for good, clean calligraphy, and colourist Laura Martin, who teams with Cheung to provide a cover image full of dynamism and depth. And that’s a great new logo too, everything pops nicely. 

I’m not a huge fan of DC’s cosmic side but this issue works beautifully. The initially promising Dark Knights: Metal event quickly became cluttered by multiple Batman amalgams wittering away in word balloons that were unreadable without double tapping a tablet screen to enlarge, but here the story is tighter, more chilled and so more enjoyable. The heroes treat situations with due seriousness but are confident enough in themselves and their team to relax and have fun - the multiple impersonations of Batman make for some nice, natural comedy, for example. OK, there’s potential for things to get completely out of hand as we go on, but I trust Snyder; he always sold Metal as a huge, loony event, and that’s what we got. Talking about the new League, he seems to be all about coming up with a modern equivalent to the satellite glory years. And I strongly suspect he’ll succeed. 

What didn’t I like? Well, there’s this...

... I still don’t like Wonder Woman as warrior first, love goddess second. 

But that’s about it. Every page drips with imagination and personality, and boy, does it look great. So, Mr Snyder, how soon can we have an annual?


Justice League #1 review, Scott Snyder, Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, Tom Napolitano, Tomeu Morey, Rebecca Taylor, Andrew Marino, Marie Javins, DC Comics


  1. This book was nothing but epic and Luthor really out played Vandal Savage especially with his own contributions to The Hall of Soon without his knowledge eye wonder if "The Awesome Bizarro" will be in this or Giganta or Riddler

    1. Glad you liked it. Off to look up the Hall of Soon.

    2. Consarn autocorrect eye meant Hall of Doom

  2. OK, so, I liked the action scenes, the art was great, and there is indeed a lot of imagination here, but I was very disappointed, again, in Scott Snyder. He is a good writer, but he is a writer who needs someone to reign him in.


    He basically has the Earth ripped to pieces and put back together, destroys the moon, and has the heroes all seem a bit too blasé about the whole thing.

    The Earth's crust is cracked open and nearly torn off the planet. Do you have any idea how many people will have died? The heroes of this story basically act like it's another day at Mar-A-Lago. The moon is apparently destroyed. Um, hello, kind of important, that moon. Martian Manhunter is essentially all up in everyone's minds, no one seems at all bothered by that.

    I love Snyder on books with a bit more of an intimate quality. Wytches was amazing. Batman got a bit extreme, but over all it was an amazing run. American Vampire is a feast of horrors. Wonderful work. But I just feel like he is being left to run wild, and it is not working for me. He needs limits set upon him. Metal was a mess. I am still not sure what the heck happened in that series. No Justice started off well, but it fell flat. He destroyed another planet there too, one which still exists in the future no less.

    I'm glad people seem to enjoy this, because it means DC is doing well, but I am reading it more out of hope than enjoyment. I think maybe Snyder has jumped the shark.

  3. I do get your point about the destruction of the moon being a small deal here; that time it died on the 5YL Legion was rightly treated as apocalyptic. I actually meant to go back and check out the moon business after seeing a reference to it later in the comic, I’d kinda missed that being the result of J’onn’s dragon business. Bad reviewer! Sadly, I’m currently out at sea - sharing that cabin with Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent - and can’t get the comic to download... Certainly I remember the boardroom team being madly madly chilled in the ‘three minutes to possible doomsday’ scenario. Maybe MM is actually J’onn D’iazapam?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott Snyder is being under-edited, all big writers seem to be prone to this.

  4. Thanks. Just come into Hellesylt, it’s beyond gorgeous.


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