Steven Orlando (W), Ivan Reis (P), Oclair Albert, Julio Ferreira (I),
Marcelo Maiolo (C)
Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Marcelo Maiolo
Publisher: DC Comics
I have discovered that some of the Rebirth issues of comic books are light on story and heavy on exposition and characterization. Justice League of America: Rebirth certainly reinforced that expectation from me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Green Arrow, and, most recently, Batwoman all had really fantastic Rebirth issues that used those tools to really hype me up for the series to follow.
While JLA: Rebirth wasn’t a bad comic, it didn’t really give me anything that I wasn’t expecting or didn’t already figure out. Of course Lobo was going to antagonize everyone else on the team. Of course everyone was going to be really suspicious of Killer Frost. I would expect Ryan Choi and the new Ray to be really uncomfortable in this lineup.
I’m not excusing that first lackluster issue here, but, I’ve been so excited for this series and wouldn’t shut up about it. As a result, I’m bringing it back to court to try to defend itself one last time. As such, we’re going to revisit this book with Justice League of America: #1
Really quick, can we briefly discuss how confusing the naming conventions for the Rebirth titles are? You have the Rebirth: #1, and then you have the actual #1. That’s confusing by design. Are you trying to sell the same comic twice to perplexed customers? And I’ve talked to the people who run my local comic shop (formerly Randyland, now Archaic, anyone living in the Douglasville, Georgia area should go check it out), and they have been confused by this numbering. I’ve been fine with it, but that’s because I’m obsessive-compulsive about my comics, hence the existence of this site. It just seems a bit dumb.
Anyway, on with the show.
The comic opens with Batman further explaining to Vixen why he has established this new Justice League. She’s suspicious of it due to Batman’s history with fighting his own Justice Leagues. However, the Dark Knight is stalwart about the necessity of this team.
We cut to the Ray and Black Canary trying to put out a fire in the City of Vanity and save everyone within the burning building. Then the comic goes to the Pacific Ocean, and Lobo is fighting off an attack by some sort of lava creatures. Back at the Sanctuary in Rhode Island, Atom and Frost (now dropping the “Killer”) are trying to establish this League’s crisis alert system called “Troubalert” (that name…is pretty bad).
In Saratoga, a church is just being let out. Suddenly, a bright green portal opens up outside the church, and the Extremists step through. Lord Havok explains why he is here: he wants to save our world. His world had fallen, and he does not want the same to happen to Earth. The police attempt to pacify the extradimensional team.
Frost manages to get the Troubalert working, and the situation in Saratoga is shown on the screen. Frost and Atom get ready to mobilize. Batman is notified of the situation and tells the team to get ready to teleport on-site with their JLA tokens.
Saratoga is burning as Lord Havok espouses his totalitarian ideas, blaming the fall of his world, Angor, on people being too free. Meanwhile, the Extremists have massacred the responding police officers. After he proclaims himself the new ruler, the Justice League of America arrives on scene.
Vixen and Batman move on Havok, but he knocks them back with ease. The Detective tells Ray to evacuate the civilians, which he is able to do instantaneously. Then the full League takes the fight to the Extremists. Things don’t look too great in the start, with the Atom and the Ray panicking under the pressure.
The Atom attempts to shrink into Havok’s armor, but some sort of security measure electrocutes him. Havok grabs him and threatens to kill him as an example. Batman offers himself as a sacrifice instead, and the comic ends.
Now this, this is what I was waiting for. This wacky and wild team coming together to fight off a massive and imposing threat. We get to see how the team is gonna work and…well, it needs some work. They don’t cooperate well, and the new heroes are very unsure of themselves. Plus, well, Lobo can’t stop insulting everyone because he’s the Main Man.
I forgot to mention it in my review of the Rebirth issue, but Reis’ artwork is phenomenal. He is easily one of the best artists currently working at DC, and I’m so glad they put him on this book. He brings these legendary figures to life in a way that few others can. His command of shape and shadow is frankly astonishing.
I actually kind of dug the way Batman behaved in this comic. He’s working from a weird point of both anger and optimism. He knows the way the main Justice League has gone about things isn’t going to work. He knows they need to get closer to the people they’re trying to protect. Also, as shown in his interaction with Lord Havok, Batman is tired of despots and madmen trying to dominate the people. A line of his really stuck with me, “You hurt my people—and they’re all my people. You want to know who I am? Time to find out.” I really liked that line, and I’ve written multiple long-winded articles about how and why Batman in his modern form often does not work. So you know that he must really be good in this to have caught my attention.
Lobo is Lobo, and that will always appeal to me, especially when he talks about not being able to stand to “see a dolphin cry” while fighting ocean-based lava creatures. Canary and Frost are good too, but Vixen is the one who really stood out for me. The way in which she takes charge, even with Batman’s imposing ego present, is really cool. I like her as the leader of this squad, and I hope she gets to bloom in more issues.
There is the inevitable question of “Where is the other Justice League team in all this?” A New York state city is burning after extradimensional beings invade. Heck, the Titans work out of Manhattan, you’d think they’d see this too. I feel like a meeting between the two Leagues is inevitable, especially since this one was formed in spite of the other team. It’s sort of like the Marvel Initiative-era Mighty Avengers versus the New Avengers dichotomy.
That being said, Cyborg, the Flash, Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz are not what I would think of as out-of-touch godlike figures. They are often very human, so it is a little weird that Batman is so wary of their personalities. That being said, the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and, well, Batman himself are also on that team, and I guess their massive egos do balance out the well-meaning humility of the other four.
I’m sold on this comic now. I was excited for it, and it’s delivering. It’s a weird and wild team that’s fighting weird and wild threats. The characters are good, the pacing works, and the art is fantastic. I definitely recommend it.
Final Score: 9/10