In a complete reversal of what normally happens to me when a Geoff Johns comic comes out, I’ve actually taken flak from some readers for not bashing on Justice League enough. In fact, I’ve been fairly supportive of what he’s been trying to do, even if I see what he’s trying to do with the comic as being fairly flawed. Despite that, I still maintain that the first two issues of Justice League are solid, enjoyable reads, confidently introducing us to the world and to the characters while setting up a threat big enough to unite them all. Justice League #3 brings that threat very firmly to Earth, but loses the sense of characterization that drove the first two issues.
Now, this issue is essentially one very long fight scene interspersed with scenes of Vic Stone’s transformation. And I will say, the scenes with Dr. Stone rushing his son through the lab trying to find a way to save him are actually fairly effective, though they did not seem to have much trouble getting Vic to their lab, despite a demon-spewing portal being opened mere feet away from them. Similarly, Vic’s first view of the arc’s bad guy, Darkseid, was surprisingly chilling, a solid introduction to an iconic villain.
But everything else doesn’t quite work. The fight is extensive, but lacks a clear sense of continuity – only Superman’s brief segment has any narrative coherence. The remainder of the fight is just still images of people doing cool things, which robs the scene of any tension or excitement it otherwise might have had. The introduction of Wonder Woman is handled mostly as a joke, the exact same Wonder Woman joke people have been telling for years: rowdy foreigner doesn’t understand American culture, tee hee.
Similarly, the ‘anti-superhero’ rhetoric DC’s ripped straight from Marvel for this book, feels pretty lazy. Largely introduced via TV or radio broadcasts we catch brief blurbs from, people seem mostly furious that superheroes exist and, in fact, dare to defend them the demonic forces spewing from the ground. Without the backing in a character or even point of view, it feels like pointless drama largely used to artificially enhance the stakes and make our heroes seem that much more heroic. It, like much of the issue, doesn’t work. For the cost of a book like this, I don’t just expect more content (this is only 22 pages, despite the higher price tag), I expect better content. Hopefully, the next two issues will be a return to form.
– Cal C.