Justice League 13

A welcome change of pace for the world’s most two-dimensional heroes

I can’t help but feel like Geoff Johns isn’t trying very hard anymore.  Maybe that’s just me, maybe I’m cynical, but when I look back to his tenure with characters like Flash and Green Lantern…he revolutionized those characters for the 21st century, and many of his changes followed those characters into their New 52 incarnations.  But ever since his first issue of Justice League, I could tell something was off.

Maybe it was introducing Darkseid in the first 10 issues.  Maybe it was the messed-up New 52 chronology that no one can quite understand.  Maybe its the superfluous Superman/Wonder Woman romance (more about that later), but Johns’ League feels really second-tier to me.  Jim Lee — a giant in the industry — wasn’t helping anything either.  Perhaps it was his inker, but the art was the sloppiest Lee art I’ve ever seen.  But that changed in issue 13, and that’s where I would like to start.

Tony S. Daniels is pretty good…a welcome departure, anyway, from Lee who was disappointing me time and time again.  To see the title drawn so tightly and simply was very nice indeed,but the true joy was Tomeu Morey’s colors.  Please keep him forever!  I mean, this is beautiful:

As you all know, I’m never one to pass up a good Wonder Woman-centric story, so I was understandably excited to see Cheetah v. the League.  I was not let down on the action, but the story moved a little strangely for me.  I don’t know what it is about Johns lately, but he can’t introduce characters to save his own life.  Remember JL 1 (Sept 2011) when Green Lantern ran into Batman in Gotham and was all like “Batman’s real?!” and then we met Cyborg and that was it?  That, for all intents and purposes, was the Justice League.  Now, in issue 13, Johns proves he hasn’t learned from that as Trevor and Wonder Woman switch back and forth over Cheetah’s origin.  I’m not sure that I enjoy John’s in medias res approach to story (as opposed to Azzarello’s or Snyder’s slow build), but I suppose it works for the sake of immediate action and gratification of younger or perhaps not-so-invested readers.

I don’t know about you, but the Wonder Woman/Superman love thing is just…I mean, why?  What purpose does it serve?  To drive the wedge between Trevor and the League, I suppose…but it just feels very high school.  I mean, this is later-Smallville-type nonsense.  And does it bother anyone else that Wonder Woman in Justice League is definitely not the same person who appears in Wonder Woman?  How about letting Brian Azzarello write League... or Scott Snyder?  Or my cat?

The only reason I bought the printed Justice League was for the Shazam! backups, which I discovered (to my utter chagrin) had been replaced by a scene ripped by Johns from the post-credit sequence of The Incredible Hulk where a boozy Trevor and a completely alienating (what happened to the Green Arrow I know and love?) Oliver Queen talk vaguely about “threats to the League” with a big, flashy caption advertising 2013’s upcoming Justice League of America.  (Johns’ writing that too, can’t wait to review that one…)

If you want my opinion (and you probably don’t), avoid Justice League and instead read the character-centric titles.  That’s where the magic is happening:  Action ComicsWonder WomanBatmanAquamanFlashGreen Lantern, (where’s my Cyborg title?!)…unfortunately, the universal story is happening in these flagship titles.  And this is what happens with those flagship titles: under the scrutiny of the editors, the writers and artists are pressured to pump out quantity quickly, not quality at the pace of creativity.  Hence, Justice League.

Forget Obama and Romney.  The real campaign is to bring Grant Morrison back to Justice League.