So I got a few things for Christmas, but I wanted to focus this particular entry on the comic book (graphic novel) that I got today: Justice League Origin, considered to be the primary introduction to The New 52. And because I suppose there’s a chance someone could read this blog entry that hasn’t read up much on the New 52, hasn’t read my previous What I Bought Today entries, or just wants more information, let’s first take a trip back to September 2011.
At the end of an event comic known as Flashpoint, wherein the Flash (Barry Allen, for those curious as to which Flash) found himself in an Earth where history had been altered due to a mistake he made going backward in time, Flash manages to stop himself from altering time, thus returning the world to the way it was supposed to be. However, a cloaked individual later confirmed to be Pandora (as in Pandora’s Box Pandora) merged the timeline of the main DC universe with that of two others (Wildstorm and Vertigo), claiming that they had originally been one universe but were splintered to weaken them. We’ll talk more about how combining the universes and causing some of the changes seen in the new DC Universe, or DCnU, makes very little sense later on. Instead, let’s take a look at the book that really helps to kick this new universe off, and yes, this will be an actual review. But since I don’t wanna melt anyone’s brains from going over it all at once, I’ll only look at Issues #1 & #2 here and cover the rest in other blog entries. So, as they say on a VERY popular comic book review show, let’s dig into Justice League #1 & #2 and see how the new universe got started!
Issue #1 opens 5 years in the past, so I’m guessing since this came out in 2011, that makes this 2006. The Gotham City Police Department follow Batman via helicopters as he chases down a figure that is clearly not human. After a tussle with it, Batman is helped out by Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, who actually seems surprised to learn that Batman is real. Apparently superheroes are only recently becoming known to the public and haven’t really interacted much with each other. Also, it seems the world is afraid of them.
While chasing their target down, GL asks Batman what his powers are, eventually realising that Batman has none. He’s more than a bit surprised and maybe doubting of Batman at this point, until he notices that Batman has slipped his ring off. And it’s at this point I gotta wave a yellow card and just ask: REALLY? The Guardians of the Universe didn’t install some kinda safety mechanism in case someone just took the ring off a Green Lantern? Batman says that he managed to get it off him because Hal wasn’t concentrating, and that that’s clearly the means of controlling the ring, but I still wanna call foul. It’s pretty much at this point that the New 52 Drinking Game comes into play: Whenever something occurs that makes no sense, especially given knowledge obtained prior to the relaunch, take a shot. Let’s see how long it takes for readers to get plastered, shall we?
Anyway, they find the target, but it blows itself up, screaming “FOR DARKSEID!”. Hal manages to shield them both from the blast and tries to scan the box it left behind, but is unable to. Hal’s confused at this, claiming that the ring should be able to give him any information that the Guardians know…And take a shot. Okay, I know the Guardians of the Universe are MAJOR screw-ups, and nowadays have actually made the jump to being villains, but gimme a break. They don’t know of Darkseid or his machinations? This actually makes less sense later on, but we’ll get to that.
Realising this is clearly alien tech, Hal decides they should go to Metropolis, since rumour has it that Superman is an alien. Batman starts to say that he’s researched Superman, claiming his power levels are over 9000 (okay, Hal cuts him off at “power levels”, but how funny would it be if he’d actually said that?), but GL seems sure he can handle Supes if he becomes a problem.
We cut to Victor Stone winning a big football game, scouts apparently wanting to give him a huge scholarship. However, poor Vic seems more disappointed that his Dad couldn’t make the game, and that apparently he’s missed several, his studies on super-humans keeping him away. Quickly, somebody cue a chorus to sing “Cats In The Cradle”! Suddenly, a big green jet flies overhead and sets down in Metropolis, letting Batman and GL out. Batman warns Hal not to engage Superman, who apparently has been in a fight recently. Hal just puts Batman in a big green box and tells him he can handle this. However, a red and blue blur flies out and knocks Hal for a MAJOR loop, sending him crashing through the box that held Batman, before it lands next to the Dark Knight, revealing itself to be Superman.
Issue #2 opens at the Central City Crime Lab, Barry Allen arguing with his superior regarding a murder case. He wants to follow up on it, insisting this man was a husband and a father and that he shouldn’t become a cold case, but while his superior agrees and wants to be solving murders as bad as Barry does, it seems the police chief wants every last one of them working to solve the Flash case, apparently obsessed with figuring out who the Flash really is. Major “Ouch” moment for Barry.
Meanwhile, we see that Batman has pretty much emptied his utility belt trying to stop Superman, who is convinced they were working with the ones that attacked him earlier since they had a box like the one Batman and GL took from the previous Parademon. GL gets his second wind and tries to chain up Superman, but like that’s gonna work. Batman is sure that Superman was worked into a frenzy from his previous fight and that right now he’s far too strong and fast to fight, but Hal claims he knows someone faster. He calls up Barry, since they apparently worked together on a case to bring down Gorilla Grodd…and destroyed the Museum of Natural History in the process, which is part of the reason the police want Flash. However, after some begging and insisting that Superman is going to kill them (Superman doesn’t kill, take a shot), Flash shows up and actually gets a good shot in on Superman. He’s pretty sure this is a big misunderstanding, but Supes doesn’t seem to be in the mood to listen to him. Barry dodges his attacks with ease until Superman finally gets a finger flick into Barry’s face, sending him flying down the street. Batman finally manages to talk everyone down, Flash fixing up the damage their fight has done. As they try to get to the bottom of things, the military catches up to them. Superman’s sure that Lex Luthor can’t be far behind, so they take cover underground.
We cut to S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit. They’ve got the box from Superman’s tussle with a Parademon, and have picked up a signal coming from it. Apparently, there are similar signals coming from New England, Washington D.C., Central City, and Coast City. Dr. Silas Stone is sure that the super-humans are involved somehow, but is cut off when his son Victor shows up, highly upset. His dad tells him that he doesn’t need a scholarship, since he’s paying for his school, but Victor would rather he pay for someone who needs it, claiming that M.S.U. wants him and that he could go pro. Dr. Stone pretty much explodes at him, telling him that with super-humans popping up, it could only be a matter of time before they make what Victor can do seem like nothing at all and that then he’d have nothing.
Meanwhile, Superman has brought the team to an abandoned printing press, since he apparently doesn’t have a base of operations. Fortress of Solitude, anyone? Take a shot! Hal thinks he and Flash should take the box and ditch Batman and Superman, and Batman determines that Flash is a cop when he suggests he could take the box in for analysis and try to find fingerprints or DNA traces. However, before they can continue on, we see both this box and the box at S.T.A.R. Labs are setting off some kind of pinging sound, after which they rip open massive portals that let loose legions of Parademons. And so our comic ends with Dr. Stone looking on in horror as his son is caught in the blast of the portal opening, his body burnt and torn asunder.
These comics…don’t really suck. No, really, since this book is supposed to be a brand new start and could be the first book for new readers, a lot is established. The book establishes that Batman has no powers but is fit enough to keep up with the others and is very likely the intellectual superior of the group. It establishes the group’s varying powers and how they work. It establishes the friendship between Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, as well as how Hal and Batman have problems getting along (and how Hal can be kind of a dick, lol). Most of all, we get to see Victor Stone BEFORE he becomes Cyborg, his relationship with his father, and we see what accident occurs in the new universe that will inevitably cause him to become Cyborg. However, this book isn’t perfect. For one thing, Wonder Woman and Aquaman still haven’t shown up by the end of issue #2, but then that could just be to set up the others first before introducing them. Also, this book has the main failing of most books involving Superman in the New 52 in that they constantly feel the need to remind us that he’s an alien. The only other problem is that anyone reading this book that knows these characters’ histories prior to the relaunch will find themselves picking at everything different, be it subconsciously or not.
Still, this is a good read, and it only gets better from here. Next time, we look at Issues #3 & #4, wherein we get to see New 52 debuts of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and of course, Darkseid. Ja né!