Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Justice League of America Volume 1 Reveiw

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We may have the Justice League and the Justice League Dark, but there’s always room for another group. The main difference is that this group is under government jurisdiction, which makes things intriguing. The cast can be a concern since the main members won’t be able to join, but I can safely say that it is still a good comic.

The plot involves Steve Trevor as Amanda Waller tells him that she’s forming a group. She wants him to lead it and Steve talks a good game, but he is basically forced into leading the group. Amanda has selected each member so that person can theoretically beat their Justice League counterpart. The members are kept in the dark about this of course and the team consists of Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Catwoman, Green Lantern, (Not Hal of course) Vibe, Hawkman and Katana. The cover already shows Green Arrow so I may as well say that he joins up with them later as well.

The group doesn’t really do a whole lot at first, but they look into stopping the secret society. These guys mean business since even Green Arrow was powerless to stop them. The second half involves the real Justice League as the Trinity Wars kick into high gear as both groups are launched into the fighting. Only one team can walk away from this (maybe) and the stakes have never been higher…..in a while. Meanwhile, Pandora is still around so the adventure could get even more dangerous for the heroes.

Steve Trevor is the leader of the Justice League of America, but he’s definitely no Batman. Batman can fight in hand to hand combat when necessary and he has a lot of gadgets. All Steve has is a long list of witty comebacks at the ready and a good handgun. He gives Catwoman a decent fight, but I’m glad that she defeated him. If a regular guy can defeat a super villain, then there’s no real need for an Anti Justice League group now is there? Steve tries to be a good character, but almost all of his lines are really just bluffs in the end. He always ends up listening to the government at the expense of common sense and he needs to stand up for himself some more. As far as leading the group goes….Steve doesn’t actually give many orders. He mostly just stands around and tries to talk tough. Still, Steve is a good guy despite all of this and he just needs to have more courage to stand up for what he believes in. Once he embraces this, Steve can end up being one of the better GI Joes.

Martian Manhunter is the big hitter for this group. He does pretty well, but I can’t say that he looked like he was anywhere near Superman’s level. We get some flashbacks into his origin, which will likely serve as foreshadowing for a future arc. It was intriguing, but not much has changed from the original origin so it was pretty basic. We met a new villain who I’m sure will be back at some point. The Martian is pretty short and direct in his manner of speaking, which is always good to see. I still can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the fact that he signed up with this counter league to stop the original ones, but I guess that I could say that for all of the members. At least he tried to end things diplomatically.

Katana gets a really small role compared to the other members. It’s easy to forget that she’s even on the team because she only gets a handful of lines. I don’t have much of an opinion on her at this point, but I would say that she’s decent. She’s not really a hero so hopefully these good influences will help her turn over a new leaf. I can’t say that her sword is very impressive as a person either, but all of his lines were off screen so it can be hard to tell for sure how cool he is.

I’ve never really been a fan of Hawkman and I can’t say that he looks too great here either. He seems to be pretty delusional and he overrates his own ability. I don’t really see him standing up to Aquaman at all. Hopefully he comes back to reality soon because he definitely seems like someone that you wouldn’t trust as a fellow hero.

Stargirl seems to be one of the more powerful fighters, but Amanda Waller wants her to stay at the base and act as the team’s PR rep. That doesn’t really fly with Stargirl and she escapes, which is pretty cool. She’s easily one of the most likable members of the group and she even got her town to accept her as a real superhero. It’s a feat that only a few superheroes like Superman and Flash have been able to pull off. Hopefully she gets a good fight in the next volume so we can see what her abilities can really do.

Simon Baz only appears for the latter half of the volume so we don’t see that much of him. He’s definitely no Hal Jordan and he’s a little generic so far. I’m sure that he’ll improve as he gets more screentime and he beats most of the other members. He seems to be pretty experienced after his latest adventure so hopefully he will show this as he gets some action in the future.

Catwoman was definitely not one of my favorite members. Her unnecessary embrace with Steve to steal his wallet and find out about his past was pretty sad. We get her backstory once again so that we can sympathize with the character and also learn about the Martian Manhunter, but it doesn’t really change the fact that her current self isn’t really likable. Catwoman always has the potential to be a good character, but she typically squanders it.

Green Arrow is actually pretty likable and it’s good to see him blackmail the government since they’ve been blackmailing everyone else. He’s definitely a pretty shady hero and he only answers to himself, but it’s an interesting change of pace at this point. The New 52 Arrow is completely different from the Pre 52 one and that’s just fine with me. I may actually prefer this version of the green hero. He definitely doesn’t look very impressive in the fights, but he can’t really be expected to match up against these powerful foes on his own. I’ll admit that his villain costume was pretty simple so I can see why the villains saw through it. At least Green Arrow made for an interesting addition to the team.

Vibe has a lot of room to grow so he has the potential to turn into a good hero. Right now he’s just a little too inexperienced and he doesn’t make the hero calls when necessary. He blindly listens to his superiors when they tell him to blast the Flash even though he didn’t know how it would affect him. Why take the risk when it could have potentially blown him up as with the robots? Vibe just cracked under the pressure and some more experience under his belt should help with that…hopefully!

Batman doesn’t get a huge role in this collection, but it’s good to see him thinking of a way out of this. He tries to help Superman get out of his predicament, but it’s tough without any leads. I have no qualms with his portrayal here. Superman was more on the dicey side since he allowed himself to be locked up. Luckily, the Leaguers are still watching him so the government can’t try anything, but it’s a little too risky if you ask me. Superman’s taking it pretty hard, but he should know that something’s up as he continues to get weaker and weaker. Wonder Woman actually gets most of a comic to herself as she consults the gods, villains, and finally the Justice League Dark to see if she can help Superman. She does a pretty good job although I do agree with the Welder that she didn’t need to be so threatening since they were on good terms. Bringing in the Justice League Dark was a good call….except that they turned out to be a little too unprepared for the battle.

Lex Luther didn’t get a huge role in this one, but it was good to see his portrayal went. Going after the box just to irritate the Justice League was classic and I’ll admit that I was rooting for him. It may have just been a cameo, but it was still good to see. The Flash didn’t really do anything either, but tackling Martian Manhunter was pretty good since traitors needs to be taken out of the fight right away. He may have misread the situation, but he made the hero move. (Although I believe that phasing through people should be a last resort unless they’re super powerful)

Amanda Waller is still a woman who only cares to help the government. She threatens the heroes and makes sure to be as unlikable as she can be throughout the comic. I was rooting for Stargirl to arrest her or to completely ignore Waller’s commands after the threats started coming in. Lucily, Stargirl did rebel, but I would have liked a more direct approach. Amanda always makes for a decent villain, but she’s seriously misguided in her attempts to help humanity.

The plot does jump around a lot in this comic though and you may not be crazy about this if you want to see the whole story. It jumps right into the 2nd or third part of the Trinity War and then jumps to the after effects of the event. That’s because only one issue was really in this series, but it can make for an interesting read in trade paperback form. The Secret Society plot also kind of vanished as the volume went on. I suppose that it could have ended in a way, but it didn’t really feel like an ending.

I have to wonder if Amanda Waller really thought her plan would work since her members are not nearly as powerful as the real league. Hal Jordan is better than Simon Baz in just about every way. The Flash would beat Vibe in his sleep. Batman’s better at hand to hand combat than Catwoman. Wonder Woman vs Katana is a bit of a joke. (No offense to Katana fans of course, but I don’t see her trading blows with Superman) Superman has heat vision to take care of Martian Manhunter. I forgot who Stargirl is a rival of, but let’s say that she loses to Cyborg and Aquaman beats the rest. That sounds about right. Amanda’s plan would not work and I don’t see how she can get past this fact.

DC’s done a really good job with the artwork in just about all of their New 52 comics. This one is no exception and all of the characters are drawn really well and the fights are pretty dynamic. We don’t get a lot of action scenes unfortunately, but we can still see that the art is solid from all of the other scenes. It would be hard for the aer to be even better than this so I’m completely satisfied in this area.

Overall, This was a fun Justice League comic. It’s kind of like watching the B listers instead of the main members, which is always good as a change of pace. I’d say that the only thing that brings down the comic a little is the convoluted timeline and the fact that there are no likable villains. The League needs a serious threat if it wants to establish credibility with the world after all. Some of the members are decent while I don’t really care for the others so it’s a bit of a mixed bag in that area. This comic had the infamous Catwoman getting shot scene that made its rounds on the web a while back, but it’s not that bad. I suppose that direct gunshots aren’t typically shown that often which could be a while, but you should be okay as long as you remember the classic comic book rule about characters who die. If not, it’s easy to skim through that part since there are a lot of panels leading up to it. Personally, I found the Martian Manhunter story worse in that regard since we got classic animal/alien violence that is always sad to see. It’s part of what kept this one from getting an 8 like the classic Justice League stories, but also the fact that we’re missing most of the main members. I recommend checking out this story if you’re a Justice League fan or if you like to read comics with very good art. There’s a decent amount of action and a lot of plot lines are developed that should help you get introduced into the New 52. I just wish that Hal Jordan could have been around to participate in the fights and maybe the Forever Evil tie ins will occur in the next volume.

Overall 7/10