Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: February 20, 2013
It’s a law: the first issue of every new Justice League comic has to feature at least two people sitting around a desk or table arguing over which heroes get the privilege of joining their special little club. In Justice League of America #1 (not to be confused with the current Justice League series or the recently failed relaunch of Justice League International), those two people are Wonder Woman’s historic beau Steve Trevor and some healthy and attractive lady pretending to be Amanda Waller. (How has this impostor fooled so many people? They look nothing alike).
Between that tired device and the overdone “who watches the people what are watching us now” setup, Justice League of America almost feels like a parody of superhero comics, and not a particularly funny or insightful one. It’s talky without saying anything meaningful, tiresomely cynical, and posits superheroes as either wildcards to be feared and distrusted or disposable government agents whose ultimate purpose is to fight the more powerful (and more popular) characters in the “real” Justice League, should they ever act against America’s interests. It thinks it’s taking a modern, serious and mature look at superheroes, but its supposedly-tough questions were first asked and answered thirty years ago.
The first issue establishes a core conflict between Waller’s realpolitik approach and Trevor’s idealistic strand of traditional American heroism. That’s a fine storytelling engine for a book focused on politics or espionage, and perhaps that’s the direction this Justice League will head in after it gets away from that desk. That dichotomy could work well in a book like Suicide Squad, which still exists and still features Waller and at this point seems to thematically overlap with this comic a great deal. Hopefully this book holds back a little bit on the torture and death, though.
But DC should follow this concept through. Now that the government has its own super team to defend against the non-state supported Justice League, government-fearing Tea Party types within the DC Universe need to fund their own group to defend against the Justice League of America, like a Russian nesting doll of superhero teams born solely out of paranoid conspiracy theories. I’d read that comic.