Back when my daughter Maggie was about 5 years old, we use to play this game called “The Test.” I would pick up a copy of JLA. We would sit together on the couch, and I would point at the superheroes on the cover.
“Ok, who’s this?”
“Correct. What about her? Who is she?”
“You got it. How about this guy?”
“The… umm… The Flash!”
“Yes! Nice job!”
Maggie would always get a perfect score on The Test.
Cut to five years later….
Maggie and I decided to hit the comic shop before dinner tonight and see what’s new. As we looked over the books I saw Justice League of America: Rebirth #1. Cool, I picked it up.
“Hey Maggie, wanna do The Test? Who’s this?”
Yeah, she didn’t score that high on the new JLA.
So, looks like Batman is putting together a new team. A team, according to him, of “mortals” and not of “gods.” I’m weary of this. Second-stringer team books rarely do well, and in the case of JLA it’s only been successful once: back in the ’80’s with Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire’s superb run on the book. Other than that, the only time the book soars is when the big guns are in it – Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman (ok, maybe not Aquaman) Martian Manhunter. You know, The Gods.
In my mind, the bar was set for Justice League by Grant Morrison’s run in the ’90’s. It doesn’t, and likely won’t, get much better than that.
But here is hot new writer Steve Orlando and veteran artist Ivan Reis giving it a shot. How’d they do?
Well, the first issue is your typical getting-the-band-together issue. Not that there is anything wrong with those types of issues; in fact, I love them. And really, when you’re composing your team with unknown heroes, it’s the only way to do it.
Each hero in this issue gets an introduction and reason for joining the team which I enjoyed:
Batman the leader. He’s calling the shots. What did you expect? He’s Batman.
Killer Frost is a villain turned hero. No one trusts her but Batman believes in her.
Black Canary is your strong second-in-command type character.
Lobo is the comic relief strong man with nothing better to do.
The Atom is the kid-turned-superhero.
The Ray is the novice that just wants everyone to like him.
And Vixen is the hot supermodel that kicks ass.
And that’s your team. They’ve taken up residence in the old run-down Justice League cave in Happy Harbor and getting ready. Ready for what? Well, according to Batman, “What’s coming is bigger then me. The world needs heroes they can know, not gods, to inspire them – show them they can be heroes.” And that right there is the new Justice League in a nutshell. It’s not about Gods protecting America, it’s about Americans protecting America.
This series has potential and I’m in for the foreseeable future to see where Orlando and Ries take us. They are off to a strong start – lets just hope that they can pass… the test.
Marvel NOW! – Week 19
So, technically, the Marvel NOW! banner is no longer being used on series debuts, but since we’re still dealing with the post-Civil War II era, we think it qualifies as NOW season. Kingpin #1, for example, by up-and-comer Matthew Rosenberg, follows the events of Kingpin’s return to NYC, related in Rosenberg’s CW II tie-in mini-series, and it slots into one of Marvel’s new “family” of books: Running With the Devil, along with last week’s Bullseye, the forthcoming Elektra, and, of course, the continuing adventures of Daredevil. This first issue introduces us to Sarah Dewey, a Pulitzer-winning journalist and recovering alcoholic who has been hand-picked by Wilson Fisk to write his biography. I’m typically not a fan of “the other side” of villainy books, but it works with some nemeses, like say Doctor Doom, Thanos, or, in this case Kingpin. If it’s a story Rosenberg’s looking forward to telling, than I’m looking forward to reading. – MMDG