Character Study: Justice League #1 – Part 2

In Character Study, I’m taking a look at how the key characters in Justice League #1 are portrayed and see what it all might mean for the brave new world that is DCnU. 

In Part 1, I looked at Batman and Vic Stone.  In Part 2, I turn the spotlight on Green Lantern and Superman.

PLEASE NOTE: I assume most people who want to read Justice League #1 have done so by now.  If you haven’t read it and want to avoid any risk of spoilers, it might be best to stop reading here.

 

Green Lantern

Like Batman, GL features very prominently in this issue.  In contrast to Batman, though, I think Johns has a bit more fun with Hal, playing up his immaturity and inexperience at this point in his heroic career.

Hal has always been brash … I always thought he was more of the “bold” part of The Brave and the Bold (when he teamed-up with The Flash in the 1999 limited series carrying that famous title).  But in Justice League #1, Hal takes cockiness to brand new heights.  He states his forcefields can stand up to “anything” and repeatedly refers to himself in the third person – “Green Lantern’s got this.”  Not unlike the “old” Hal, the DCnU GL leaps before he looks, including in the closing scene of the issue (a very satisfying scene in which Hal’s brought down a peg). 

In truth, I found the depiction a little overwhelming – to the point that cockiness is his defining characteristic in this issue and there isn’t that much more to say about Hal.  His dialogue borders on being juvenile at times.  Perhaps as a result of this cockiness, Hal also comes off as being a bit goofy and not terribly bright.  This sets up my favourite part of the issue, when Batman nabs Hal’s ring off his finger without the space cop even noticing.    

Notably, Hal’s constructs show a lot more flair than I have grown accustomed to.  Previously, I considered Hal’s use of his power ring to be primarily utilitarian – if he needed to shoot at something, he shot a simple energy beam at it … he tended not to create a gun construct to do the shooting.  He was more practical and efficient than that.  When he did create more complex constructs, they usually had a military – and specifically Air Force – theme.  Here, however, Hal’s hitting enemies with a glowing, emerald fire engine and catching falling helicopters with giant, green bats.  One of the major points of difference between Kyle Rayner and the other GLs from Earth was that he was a graphic artist and was a lot more imaginative in creating his constructs.  This is something to watch out for when we get to comics set in the present and when the new Kyle is revealed in Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1.

Batman reveals that Hal’s had conflicts with Air Force in Coast City and GL comments that the authorities don’t like the heroes, which is telling when combined with other things that have been revealed about DCnU (more on this in my discussion of Superman below).

Bats says, “Gotham’s mine.  Coast City’s yours.”  Now, we’re used to seeing Batman behave territorially, but I can’t remember Hal ever coming back with, in fact, the whole space sector is his juridiction (he probably has, I just can’t remember seeing it put as directly as Johns does in this issue).  This really reinforces the space cop aspect of GL and I like it.

Finally, reinforcing what a lot of fans observed after the casting of the Green Lantern movie, this issue doesn’t portray Hal as a particularly funny guy.  He’s not a prolific wisecracker, but in saying that maybe a little bit of Ryan Reynolds snuck into this comic book, with GL offering up a couple of gags.  “… the Guardians know everything.  Except how to tell a joke.” and, to Batman in defence of creating a jet construct to transport them to Metropolis, “You can’t fly, so how else were we going to get here?  Talk in a deep voice?” All in all, though, Batman has more one-liners in Justice League #1 than Hal.

 

Superman

How much can I say about a character that only appears (in full) on one page?  Most of what is revealed about Superman is nothing new – he’s an alien and he’s very, very powerful.  But, an interesting twist is Batman describing him as “dangerous”.  Of course, Batman probably thinks EVERYONE is dangerous, but the assessment is supported somewhat by the cover art for next week’s Action Comics #1, in which a t-shirt clad Superman is being shot at by police.

When we see Supes in all his DCnU glory, the first thing that struck me was that he does, in fact, look quite a bit younger.  Wearing his cowl, Batman is hard to put an age on, and while Hal looks a little younger, it’s mostly his behaviour that betrays his immaturity.  But Superman looks a lot younger to me. 

Adding to that, he looks a little wild.  He only speaks nine words, but a playful – and admittedly dangerous – tone is detectable.  “What can you do?” is as much a challenge as a question.  Also, I like the thin, chaotic lines Jim Lee has added emanating from Supes’ eyes … he’s fairly crackling with energy and power.
What did you notice about these iconic characters in Justice League #1?  Leave a comment.

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5 Responses to Character Study: Justice League #1 – Part 2

  1. xxadverbxx says:

    Like you, I think the biggest shocker was just seeing how young Superman looked. I knew they were being de-aged and that this story is taking place 5 years before but Supes really looks young compared to the rest. If the big guys in the new JLA are all going to be around the same age (which I’d assume so), then it puts a high school aged Victor Stone just a few years behind all of them. Anyways, Superman kind of deserves to seem cocky. He’s got all that power and though he was raised (I’m assuming still was) on truth, justice, and possibly the American way… Well I’d assume at this moment he just hasn’t come across much that gave him a challenge. Nothing to help humble him into the strong willed character most know and love.

    The other aspect that got me is just how cocky Hal was, and the scope of what he could do. I haven’t gotten into too many GL stories for any of the members, but seeing that many constructs across such a large area (all with forms too, not simple) while Hal was talking with Batman shocked me. From interviews about the character I’ve seen on my DVD special features, a favorite moment I recall is hearing the time Green Arrow put on the ring, barely shot off a construct, and then asked Hal if it always hurt to use it. Yet what Hal was doing seemed to have gone away from the concept of the ring being something not everyone could do and back to a nearly limitless thing. I also don’t know about the use of him talking in third person. Hal could easily have come off cocky and full of himself without it and I really do hope that after this intro story is told that part is left behind.

    • ikeebear says:

      Great point on GL. I hadn’t thought of that, but he really is super capable with that ring, when everything about the story points to him being a bit of a rookie (he can make amazing constructs, but Batman could snatch the ring right off him).

  2. lebeau says:

    I really like this 2-parter. I’d love to see you continue to examine the characterizations on the DCnU.

    I’m in agreement on all points. I understand a lot of the complaints about JL#1 being too padded, but I thought Johns really nailed the characterizations. And I enjoyed the lighter touch he gave Batman and Hal.

    I especially enjoyed Hal getting taken down a peg for his extreme arrogance. I’m sure when we revert to “the present” we’ll see an older, wiser Hal. But it was fun to see a more human version of the character that Johns usually writes.

    • ikeebear says:

      Thanks, dude.

      I hope to do a good number of these … it all depends on time (I’ve just finished a 15 hour day – and both are essentially writing jobs – so my brain is completely sizzled out).

      I have aspirations of reading all DCnU books, at least for a few months. My ambition my exceed may capabilities, though.

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