Written by: Geoff Johns
Pencils by: Jim Lee
Inks by: Scott Williams, Hope, Irwin and Weems
Colors by: Alex Sinclair with Gabe Eltaeb & Tony Avina
Lettering by: Patrick Brosseau
Cover by: Jim Lee & Scott Williams with Alex Sinclair
Darkseid kicks ass. Half the Justice League got knocked-the-fuck out last issue, leaving Flash and Superman to deal with Darkseid. He sends them running for their lives as he fires target-seeking Omega beams from his friggin’ eyes to incinerate them. Flash fares well, but the same can’t be said for Superman. He get’s blasted, drops from the sky and get’s carried away by space demons. And that’s how this issue opens.
I’ve always been more a Marvel zombie kind of guy, and until DC’s new 52, I never really gave Justice League a chance. So I’m not really familiar with its original history. But I can tell you from what I read of this opening arc it’s the new 52 JL origin story is awesome. I’ve read a lot of early criticisms that the story is too drawn out, not epic and short-changed some of the characters. I disagree. Look I didn’t care about JL at all when this started, I needed the clean slate to start with. Justice League always seemed unapproachable as a book for me, so being eased in to the origin was not so bad. The story may seem drawn-out to some but I like that it gave me a chance to like the characters and see how they interacted. And how is full-scale alien invasion led by Darkseid not epic? Yes some of the characters do get the background treatment, but mostly each one has gotten their moments as the arc has progressed. That being said, there is a couple of spots in this issue where I was left scratching my head.
The first one comes after the next round of attacks. Green Lanterns takes on Darkseid, thrashing him with a mega-construct of 40 medieval flails. Darkseid brushes them off like it was freaking dandruff, then cracks Green Lantern in half. Well, not quite, but he does some serious damage and Hal is pretty jacked up. Then Darkseid takes off to do some more evil shit. Green Lantern wants to go after him but Batman stops him. He’s like “dude, you’re an idiot, you are all fucked up, you’ll get yourself killed.” Hal doesn’t care, he just want’s a piece of Darkseid and won’t listen to reason. Batman has to slow him up and he takes off his mask and reveals his identity to Hal. “What? You are doing this now?” is Hal Jordan’s reaction. It mirrors my own. While I can sort of see Batman’s reasoning (trust and goodwill), it seems really out character for him to do something like that. Especially because he thinks Hal Jordan is a dick. He’s spent most of the arc telling him to cool his jets and pay attention. Insulting him at every chance he gets. I just don’t buy it. It threw me for a loop. However he manages to drive home his point. He and Green Lantern are the only two normal people on this team that don’t have inherent super powers. They have are alike in many ways and have to trust each other. Ultimately in this situation it’s not about them. They need to rally the troops and work as team instead of showboating as individuals. Or “Stop playing baseball and start playing football” as he put’s it. Since GL is jacked up he splits off to lead the rest of the team while Batman decides to get captured so he can get Superman back.
The next WTF comes when Green Lantern tries to be a leader. He gives an awkward kind of speech, but somehow everyone listens to him anyways and decided to band together. Then Hal lets loose the most embarrassing Saturday-morning-cartoon battle cry I’ve ever read in a comic, “We Got This!” Oh boy. You sure do. It was funny when Aquaman got called “Aquafresh” by Green Lantern but this battle cry was the worst. Flash immediately rips on him for it. Awkward banter ensues. Those kind of jokes just really fall flat for me. Maybe some younger kids will think it’s funny, but for the sake of future generations I hope not. This is the first time I’ve had some doubts about this series, so hopefully it’s a one-off and the playful exchanges can even out a bit.
This issue is not a total loss however. We do get a breathtaking glimpse of Apokolips in full hell-raising glory. Jim Lee and Scott Williams’ art is mostly rock-solid. Some of the panels in which Batman reveals his identity were a bit rushed, but other than that it was pretty much aces. I know there was some other inkers helping Scott out on this one, maybe that’s where they filled in. Alex Sinclair is the lead colorist and renders everything in a hyper modern style. There’s some really beautiful Kirby-dots on a the panel were Superman get’s blasted that have a rich depth you don’t normally see. Glow effects on GL’s constructs are done really well, you can see them pulse and radiate light. I’ve heard some people say it’s the coloring is a bit garish and the art feels like video game, and sometimes I cans see their point. There is a lot going on and I could maybe use a bit more separation in layers to push and pull some of the details. It does get busy and loud, but overall I wasn’t really distracted by it. The storytelling and panel work was clear, I didn’t get lost in the narrative and it looked good. Jim Lee and Scott Williams are a team that has been around the block a few times and they know how to get shit done. Sometimes that means getting some help with fill-in inkers and additional colorists.
Justice League #5 is battle-heavy issue that is a much about learning to work together and being a team than it is kicking ass (or in this case taking a beating). It’s a fresh and exciting story with a few missteps. The tone of this book could really use a strong identity right about now to manage readers expectations. Is this a light-heart team book for teens and kids? Is it a PG-13 movie? Or is it going to be an aggressive team book with bickering and more adult interactions like Uncanny X-men or JSA used to be? It’s great that the story is unpredictable, but eventually, a lack of identity will bring this ship down. My vote is more drama less jokes. What do you guys think?
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