Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: Justice League #5


Justice League #5
Written by Geoff Johns
Artwork by Jim Lee and Scott Williams

Fragmentation has long been the problem with the Justice League. It's difficult to tell a chapter in a story - in 22 pages no less - that encompasses the whole range of heroes that fall under the Justice League banner. Even the core seven - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman and (newly added founding member) Cyborg - present an overflow of high-profile characters that need to be represented. It's a problem with the current status quo of single comic issues in general, but it's more prevalent in Justice League because of the sheer amount of content Johns has to work with.

It's a blessing, but also, in this issue five, a curse. Already in the first issue, we saw the 'Green Lantern & Batman' show that made it feel more like a crossover mini-series than the flagship title of DC's 'New 52' relaunch.

While subsequent issues have faired better, this month's story brings us back to Hal and Bruce kickin' it old school. Though Darkseid is front and center in the opening pages, he quickly gets put off-panel to focus on Green Lantern and Batman talking things out. Before that, though, we get to see a good bit of fast thinking from Barry Allen as the Flash. Darkseid's (technically still not named) Omega beams have locked onto the Flash and instead of outrunning them, he phases through a parademon to change the beam's target. It's a little cheesy, but aptly conveys Barry's newly-interpreted powers as a speedster.

Johns is sticking to his guns with his interpretation of early Hal Jordan as a total dick. In this issue, he decides that only he can stop this alien menace, even though his first attempt left him with a broken arm. Next, when it's just GL and Bats alone...again...Hal tells Batman that, if he dies, "THEN I DIE!", a sentiment that somehow moves Bruce into unmasking himself and revealing who he is to Hal, who promptly screams that he has no idea who Bruce Wayne is.

I understand that Geoff Johns loves Green Lantern. I also understand that Batman is probably one of the most interesting characters to write, so writing them together - which hasn't been done nearly enough - sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, this is supposed to be Justice League. This was the first issue where the entire team was gathered, yet Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman have a handful of words at best before being relegated off-panel. I know Johns and Jim Lee have high hopes for their new incarnation of Justice League, including adding a ton more members. But as it stands now, they seem to be having trouble just balancing seven.

I still really enjoyed this issue, despite all my whining. It was filled with action from Darkseid, Flash, Green Lantern and Batman with a great last page of the whole team heading out to take down their first villain as a team.

Grade: C+

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