So I read the first volume of Johns and Lee’s Justice League

As someone who had a lot invested in the old DCU, I was pretty dead set against this at first. Flashpoint was a disappointingly perfunctory revamp that didn’t really wrap the previous DCU up in a satisfying way the way Crisis on Infinite Earths did, and so I mostly just kind of disengaged, except for a few titles that weren’t really related to what I was reading before like Frankenstein and Demon Knights.

That said, I found the collection of the first six issues of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Justice League in my local library. I generally believe in not dismissing things unfairly because of NERD RAGE, however justified, and not blame particular stories for the bad decisions that set them up. After all, I thought Identity Crisis was an ill-concieved mess from start to finish, but it led to a lot of worthwhile stories like Villains United and 52. So I checked it out. These were my gut reactions more or less as they occurred to me.

  • This makes me angry but also sort of excited? If I approach it as Justice League: the Movie and not the real DCU I can enjoy it, sort of. But the thing is, it really suffers by comparison to the Avengers movie.
  • Also, Hal Jordan is my favorite part of it. I wasn’t expecting that. This time Johns isn’t super-reverent about him and writes him sort of similar to Johnny Storm. I like that. I also like how Lee gives him green energy speed lines and other effects. It makes him seem a lot more dynamic and visually interesting.
  • I do not like dissociating Victor Stone from the New Teen Titans and putting him in the Justice League instead. It’s weird how they’re finally reprinting Wolfman/Perez Titans now but in the new DCU they’ve been pretty much totally erased or distorted somehow. The JL only has one non-white member of the team, and out of every black hero in the DCU it’s the choice that makes the least sense.
  • They don’t even have a green member. There’s no J’onn. This inexplicably annoys me. In the best (Giffen/Dematteis and Morrison) versions, J’onn is the heart and soul of the Justice League. And the one who was a founder and stuck it out through all the versions. Taking him out is another way of ignoring everything that was resonant about the last DCU. Still, on its own terms i guess this issue works OK.
  • That’s kind of a cool looking creepy monster. Though I’m not so fond of how it doesn’t seem to have any visual affinity with Kirby’s version. That seems like a hugely grognard-y, fanboyish point but one of the things that makes the Fourth World characters so resonant is Jack Kirby’s unique, individual vision. It’s something he really poured his heart and soul into, drawing on his experiences with war and violence, his gang-ridden childhood in the Bronx, his fascination with the emerging counterculture movement. The best takes on the New Gods,Morrison’s and Simonson’s, engage with that and have a similar individuality and idiosyncrasy. I don’t need another story with Darkseid as a generic alien conqueror. But Claremont and Levitz weren’t qutie up to that standard and they still wrote memorable and interesting portrayals of Darkseid. ON the other SImonson’s and Giffen’s work on their respective stories was a lot more rooted in Kirby, while bringing something distinctive to the table. Again, though, if you think of it as being like a movie version of the Justice League, that’s not quite such a hurdle. I’ll give it a chance.
  • Ugh, issue 2 is pretty awful. Mainly because of Superman. It’s not Morrison-style Occupy-movement punk rock superman, it’s Angry Edgy Superman. I never want to read about Angry Edgy Superman again. Meanwhile, Barry Allen is more or less written the way Superman should be. The thing is, Johns has written Superman well in other contexts. I guess it’s down to the New 52 ethos of pointless change for the sake of pointless change.
  • Superman starts a really pointless fight with Batman. The thing is, the reason for this conflict is basically that Superman is mad all the time, and that’s what defines this verison of the character. It’s conflict for the sake of conflict. Going back to Angry Liberal Sueprman is a good idea—really Year One Batman has more in common with Golden Age Superman than Golden Age Batman. You could get some intresting conflict out of how at this point they’re both angry young revolutionary types but Batman’s main goal is to fight crime and Superman’s to save lives. But so far he’s not really saving any lives, he’s just punching things.
  • I don’t think accessibility is mainly about continuity or lack thereof, it’s mainly about storytelling resonance. So the new DCU is actually less accessible than before. Who wants to read about this Superman other than young male nerds who want to prove how mature they are?
  • Issue 3:  Johns’s Wonder Woman is all right, at least she shows moments of kindness. The scene where she got the kid an ice cream was sweet. No one else does that kind of thing. No one else seems to relate to non-superheroes much in costume either
  • But I think she’s too “Gods Must Be Crazy.” She should know what a television is for goodness sake. I preferred it when the Amazons were hyper-technologiclaly advanced, rooted in myth but also the future. 
  • I’m also not happy about the sword being her default weapon. The fact that the lasso, a non-destructive weapon, is her signature weapon is significant.
  • Part of the problem is that this is not actually a Geoff Johns comic. They’re not talking in this weird Johnsian dialogue where people discuss their core concepts. That would have made it a lot better. This is all written in bad movie dialogue; anyone could have written it.
  • It’s all random fight scene and no plot. Nothing’s happening. And everone is just so empty and inhuman and ugh. The plot is basically act one, people fight aliens, act two, people fight more aliens. It’s like a really bad shonen manga. The only emotions they express most of the time are being snippy with each other.
  • What an ugly depressing piece of crap. The Detroit League is better than this.
  • The bit where Hal touches Wonder Woman’s lasso and admits he’s mostly doing what he does to impress people was pretty funny. Interesting how most of the few really human moments in this series are about Hal.
  • Uggggh why am I reading this shit
  • Interesting how people think Batman doesn’t really belong here, and are surprised he has no powers. But they have a point. This is a story that’s all about punching and stabbing people and no intellectual component at all. Batman has no reason to be here.
  • And now Darkseid shows up, all he does is punch poeple and say “I am Darkseid!” Yes that is the gist of most of what he says but it’s usually much more poetic and weird than that.
  • This comic would have been 1000% better if all his dalogue had been. “I am Darkseid.” Like Guardians of the Galaxy’s Groot.
  • Why is he fighting people directly first thing and not sending bizarre minions at people. This comic needs Virman Vundabar badly
  • Wait, superman is hit by the Omega Effect and he isn’t even sent back in time WHAT THE FUCK are you trying to be as boring as possible comic
  • Where’s the dialogue? Turn the mute button off this comic. Darkseid shouldn’t be the strong silent type. He can’t shut up about things, he’s very talkative. He makes these grandiose, compelling speeches. Johns could actually write a decent Darkseid if he did it in proper Johnsian mode. “You merely wield the power of will, Green Lantern. I am will.” See, that’s not so hard.
  • "nnnfff!" My thoughts exactly Hal. Most of the dialogue in this part of the book is grunting. I feel like I’m watching porn.
  • Why does batman reveal himself to Hal to motivate him just after meeting him. Why can’t anyone do anything that makes sense. WHY
  • This story doesn’t feel like it’s been gone on long enough to motivate anyone  it’s just so flat and empty
  • "It’s settled then. We blind him!" No. no no no. This is not DIana. If you want someone to say something like that it’s Hawkman or Girl, it does not make sense to have Diana be this berserker, not unless she’s been face to face with Darkseid and the kind of world she wants to make and fully understand that he embodies everything she’s come to the world to stop. Then it’s entirely justified for her to hate him like she can hate nothing else. But for now he’s just another enemy.
  • ARGH ENOUGH WITH THE ACTION MOVIE ONE LINERS SHUT UP JOHNS
  • OK JIm Lee’s Apokolips is kinda cool looking ANd i like his rendition of Darkseid’s craggy face. Looks like he’s channeling his Art Adams influence more than usual.
  • Finally we get a human viewpoint. people watching as the world falls apart around them, then the JLA shows up and saves them. It’s such a cliched scene but it was almost a relief because it felt like not a 90s Image comic
  • This is like a comic fron a world where Kirby did not exist and people had only vaguely heard of him. 4th world books are in print and easy to find Morrison is on your payroll there is no excuse for this shit
  • Darkseid: “He is mine. As is your world.” Wonder woman: “Too many people believe that. That’s the problem here. the world belongs to no one. And everyone.” it’s is about the only line that resonates with Wonder Woman’s original, much more interesting core concept. And of course Wonder Woman would be the one who takes out Darkseid. That feels like something that would happen in an actual Geoff Johns comic at least. But it’s too little too late.
  • I hate it when people do the superman red eyes thing. Hate. It’s like yes i’ve read for the man who has everything, i do not need to see that again. the chances you are doing this as well as Moore and Gibbons is very very low. hate how that’s become something that defines Superman. It was so powerful because it was something that’s so uncharacteristic for him, showed he’d been pushed to the breaking point, and now all the impact has been leeched from that fuck you fanboys. That’s just not who he is. It makes him the same kind of thing as Darkseid.
  • What the fuck is cyborg doing in this story. He barely does anything.
  • Ugh. That was terrible. That was maybe the worst comic I’ve ever read.
  • But wait, this last scene with the Phantom Stranger and All-Knowing Last Chance Whiner Destiny Woman… ah, Pandora is actually not terrible?
  • This Pandora character is interesitng. And this part… it feels like a Johns comic. She and the Phantom Stranger are arguing about her curiosity, and how she cursed the world. This is the kind of thing that would make me roll my eyes in any other Geoff Johns comic but here it’s a relief
  • I mean it’s an actual conversation rather than just shouting one liners! The characters have clear motivations! IT actually meets the bare minumum of good writing!
  • "I’ll tell the world who the Phantom Stranger really is"—not a bad cliffhanger but I would be uneasy about giving a definitive origin for the PS. Unless it’s Stephen Moffat writing.
  • "I will be released form my curse, but only after I find and imprison the Strange. You won’t help me do that. But the Justice League will. Whether they like it or not." Wait is this actually something that’s completely new and not from an older comic. In a Geoff Johns story. What
  • That Superman costume will never not look ugly. In David Finch’s cover Superman actually looks like he’s from Apokolips
  • Now we have text pieces? Do they think this shit is Watchmen?
  • I will say I’m glad Steve Trevor is back. His presence is the only part that was about the superheroes’ non costumed lives That and the horribly cliche stuff about Cyborg’s conflict with his father. Wolfman did it a lot better.
  • "She’s only doing what she was raisded to do." "Which is?" "Fight." (Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller on Wonder Woman) Ugh no no no no. William Moultn Marston needs to Black Lantern and rip out Geoff Johns’s heart
  • And I have no desire whatsoever to see what this world’s Captain marvel is like. (Apparently really, really creepy.)
  • "There was much debate about Princess Diana’s legwear." Hahahahaha. tPeople obsess over trivial shit like Wonder Woman’s pants and don’t see the enormous things that are wrong with this terrible universe
  • So now we have bios of the star labs staff, including professor ivo, who invented something like “A-Maze OS.” That makes it sound like a cereal. Amaze-os: they’re homiciadlly elicious?
  • Fuck this terrible superman costume. Why does a man who is invulnerable need battle armor [ETA Maybe Morrison came up with a good reason for it, I’m trade waiting on Action Comics. But he’d have to work pretty hard.]
  • And now I am officially done with this horrible thing. ANd my verdict is: HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE
  • I would burn this book if it weren’t a library book
  • It is the most miserable excuse for a DC comic I’ve ever read. It has no joy, no imagination, no meaning.
  • I you know, I don’t even care anymore. I feel like all my hatred has burst out of me and there’s none left.
  • I am beyond such petty emotions as hatred. All my emotions have been drained away from me and what remains is pure will
  • I—am purpose! I—am power! I—AM DARKSEID
  • ahgougphrg NOOOOO what’s happening to me
  • What’s wrong with my face. Why is everything so cold. ANTI LIFE JUSTIFIES MY HATE
  • Wait, who’s that. NO! leave this place, hypocrite! Do you—the bloody handed butcher of worlds—truly hold yourself up as an example of all that is good and just?
  • How typical your hypocrisy is! You may have been born a TIme Lord, but you ahve become—in truth—a human!
  • Silence woman! Darkseid will not be trifled with! Mine is the name that makes all worlds tremble! When you cry out in your dreams—it is Darkseid that you see!
  • What? It can’t be! What is this noise—this horrible music! It’s like the end of the world! ARGH
  • You have won this time, Time Lord! This mortal’s dull and miserable life will be returned to him for him to waste as he chooses! But you have not seen the last of Darkseid! For in time we shall see who is truly lord of time and space!
  • adopgohghg
  • OK, i”m better now
  • The Doctor showed up and he transmitted something through the Sonic Screwdriver that cut off the anti life equation. Some kind of weird alien music or something.
  • Unfortunately that red haired woman who was flirting with me when I was possessed turned out to be married
  • But he gave me a copy of Captain America Comics #1 that’s signed by Jack Kirby  
  • The problem is I’m afraid to take it out of the bag.

(Now that I’ve got all that out of my system, expect some more rational assessment of this comic tomorrow.)

If you actually liked that comic, I’m not mad at you. Just so you know. But if anyone mentions it to me I’ll probably fall into a frothing incoherent rage and maybe get possessed by Darkseid again.

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