A little over a year ago, DC Comics shocked everyone when they announced The New 52, where they intended to relaunch the entire DC Universe with 52 all-new first issues. The first book to hit the stands in the new DC Universe was Justice League #1 by the superstar creative team of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.
Now, if we’re being honest, while the first issue was good, it far from lived up to the insane amount of hype and expectations that had been built up around the publishing of a single comic book. However, if you sit down and read Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin, the hardcover that collects the first six issues of the series, like I just did, you may come away with a different and, quite frankly, surprising opinion.
Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Jim Lee
When DC announced Johns and Lee on Justice League, like every other fanboy, I got very excited. And when that first issue hit the stands I bought it, read it, dissected it like everyone else, and came away disappointed. It was a great comic, no doubt, but it wasn’t a comic that blew me away or really changed my opinion of the DC Universe.
Flash forward to several months later. My local comic shop is having a sale, and I decide to take a chance and pick up the first Justice League hardcover. I get home, sit down and start reading… and don’t get up until a couple hours later when I’ve finished it.
Yes, it was that good.
If anyone is a master of telling good, old fashioned superhero stories, it is Geoff Johns. I don’t think there is anyone else who writes them as well as he does and Justice League: Origin may just be the best yet. It hits all the right notes you want to see in a comic book; the pacing is pitch perfect, the characterization is spot on and the story is just a blast from beginning to end. Each character has been tweaked for the New 52 and that shows through brilliantly, giving new and returning readers something fresh to see. Superman is aloof and confident, Green Lantern is an egomaniacal jerk, and somehow, Aquaman is actually cool (which is no small feat). It all builds from the first page on, leading up to a spectacular ending that will just amaze any longtime comic book fan.
On the art side, it’s Jim Lee. What more really needs to be said? It’s big action, dramatic characters and the end of the world; the man was born to draw a book like this. Lee’s storytelling ability just shines on each and every page, where every detail is there for a reason. And no one in comics today draws action sequences like Lee. Even though some later pages have a bit of a choppy feel due to the use of multiple inkers to keep the book on deadline, the artistry shines through. Combine that with the color work of Alex Sinclair and the crew at Hi-Fi, and Justice League is easily one of the best looking comics on the stands or on the bookcase.
I came away from Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin surprised by how much I liked it. It’s classic super hero from beginning to end, with a whole lot of fun in between. It definitely reads better as a trade than individual issues, and if you plan to check it out I would recommend it to everyone in this format. It just goes to show that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make a great comic book; just let two people who really know what they’re doing have a go at it, and everything old becomes new again.