Jonah Puskar ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Comic Books Editor
Feb 8, 2017
The hallmark of a great first issue of a team book is one that seamlessly introduces the characters while also weaving in a sense of team dynamic. Justice League of America #1 does half of this, with a painstaking series of introductions combined with well done insight into the relations these strangers will have with each other. This book certainly had its ups and downs, some even ranging from character to character.
While writer Steve Orlando’s four one-shots leading up to this series were great insights into lesser-seen characters since the start of Rebirth, those characters being The Ray, Vixen, The Atom, and Killer Frost, this book doesn’t seem to channel that same energy. Orlando instead spends more time focusing on Batman and Lobo, giving readers repetitive summaries of those previous four characters. Character introductions were not only half-baked, but also clichéd. Batman recruited Killer Frost, Killer Frost recruited Black Canary, Canary recruited Lobo, etc.
Despite their shortcomings, these introductions do give a look into what Orlando planned to do with team dynamics, which seem promising. It will be interesting to see how the team interacts going forward not only with reformed criminal Killer Frost, but also with the bombastic main man himself, Lobo. Given a decent chunk of the spotlight, Lobo already forges distinct relationships with Batman, Black Canary, and The Atom. While being unwillingly subservient to Batman and clashing with Canary, Lobo has a strange interest in Ryan Choi and his future as The Atom. Hopefully Orlando will explore this odd mentorship of sorts. Meanwhile, readers are given a budding friendship between Ryan and Ray, two of the youngest and most inexperienced Leaguers. The relationships Orlando laid the framework for here will hopefully pay off in the near future and keep readers entertained.
As for the art, it is a give and take. Book penciller Ivan Reis laid a great framework, with inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert doing good work with adding onto and fleshing it out Reis’ work. The real downfall comes from colorist Marcelo Maiolo. Throughout the book, Maiolo uses distractingly sharp contrasts in color, taking away from the beautifully drawn characters Reis, Prado, and Albert illustrated. There is an ever present orange-yellow background throughout the book, which not only clashes with the overdone black and blue used throughout, but also looks far too similar to the heat/aura the emanates from The Ray. What is overall great art is damaged only in it’s final steps before printing.
Orlando’s dialogue is good, but can sometimes seem to repeat typical industry clichés. He makes use of frequent bolding of words to convey tone, but this tactic is used almost every other sentences, which can get tiring. As for the actual story dialogue, it is what one might expect from a book of the sort. Batman gives a few motivational speeches, and young superheroes give up their identities to each other without really knowing each other well enough to make sense. Small story details were fun however, such as the return of Happy Harbor, or Vixen using the flight power of a bat to reach Batman. The story ends with Batman concluding a speech by referring to the team as the ‘Justice League of America’ which is satisfying in that sense, but not so much when combined with the substitution of team action in the end with a still frame of the team leaping into action, followed by images of the team’s near future. Hopefully we’ll see this team in a less static sense in the months to come.