Justice League, Volume 1 Origin (The New 52) Review
Note: If you don’t know which comic to start reading, check out this review.
There’s a kinetic energy that flies off the first page and doesn’t let up until you’ve reached the back cover. Non-stop action, gorgeous artwork, and fun character interactions make this a highly recommended read especially for newcomers like myself to the series. Justice League Volume 1 Origin is part of DC Comics’ New 52, where all the series in their catalogue hit the reset button and start from ground zero. In ‘Origin’, Batman is just an urban legend, Superman is ‘that alien guy from Metropolis’, and the word superhero is not part of the cultural lexicon.
Written by Geoff Johns, the story starts off in Gotham City with Batman meeting Green Lantern for the first time as they investigate a mysterious alien creature that leaves behind a strange cube believed to be a computer of sorts. I really enjoyed the bold, hyper-confident, characterization of Green Lantern and his interactions with the dark, brooding Batman; his polar opposite in terms of personality. When Green Lantern discovers his new ally doesn’t have any super powers he blurts out, “You’re not just some guy in a bat costume are you? Are you freaking kidding me!?!” Not one to be underestimated, Batman finds a way to quickly disarm Green Lantern’s ring unnoticed. Then Batman holds out the ring to an unarmed Hal Jordan and asks “What’s this do?”, followed by a funny disparaging zinger (I won’t spoil it here).
The momentum continues as the duo heads to Metropolis to find someone who might know a thing or two about aliens. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to the Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. The always colorful Green Lantern makes fun of Aquaman by calling him ‘Aquafresh’, but gives him props for wearing orange. “It’s Atlantean Scale Mail. Do they think I’d choose Orange?” retorts Aquaman on his “costume”.
It’s no wonder Green Lantern and Flash are fast friends. By day, Barry Allen is a forensic specialist while his secret identity is the Flash. Flash is young and conceited, like Green Lantern, but that’s why they’re so much fun. In a confrontation with a super powerful alien, Flash boasts he’s never been touched, then the tiniest flick of a finger sends him flying like a home run.
We are also introduced to the origin of Victor Stone, a young football player with aspirations to turn pro. Victor has a tragic story as we learn he desperately wants his father’s approval but his Dad never comes to any games and thinks his life is wasted as an athlete.
The superb artwork is illustrated by Jim Lee. There’s so much eye candy on every page and I’m not talking about the skin-tight costumes. “I don’t wear costumes,” explains Green Lantern, “This is my uniform”. The look of Superman has been updated; he doesn’t wear a red underwear and his cape is secured directly to the armor. As a whole, the look of all the superheroes are younger and modernized. There’s also a lot of attention to detail like how Green Lantern’s ring is always glowing and the way vibrant coloring brings to life the action in each frame.
Much of the earlier part of the story find our heroes at odds with one another which functions to define their personalities and abilities. As the principal characters learn to work together, ‘Origin’, shapes up to be a straight forward plot about emerging super heroes versus a basic villain. The simplistic plot acts as a framework to introduce the Justice League to a new generation of readers who can read this comic with no prior knowledge of previous story lines.
“Origin” is very self-aware and plays on our inherent knowledge of these mythic characters even if you’ve never read any comics before. These super humans are inexperienced, virtually strangers to one another and just coming to terms with how they can help man-kind. They’re not quite a team and not really super heroes yet which is part of the joy in watching them evolve into what will become the Justice League.
Justice League Volume 1 Origin (The New 52) is a recommended read particularly for the uninitiated looking for a fun, action-packed entry point to an iconic comic series.