February marks a new wave of DC Rebirth comic books releasing throughout the month. One of these new titles is Justice League of America. This new Justice League series features some well-known members that we all picture the team be made up of with Batman, Black Canary, Vixen and Atom. But to go along with these long-time Justice League members are some “interesting” choices in Lobo and Killer Frost. At the very least this is a unique combination of characters to headline a new Justice League of America ongoing. Now since this new series is supposed to spin out of the events of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad I’m interested to see how close those ties are, especially since I skipped that crossover event. Let’s find that and more out with Justice League of America: Rebirth #1.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Happy Harbor (nice call back to the original Justice League and Young Justice HQs) Batman walks through a dark cave with Killer Frost. Killer Frost wonders where they are. When they reach the end of the cave Batman shows Killer Frost an old facility that Batman sees as having potential.
Killer Frost asks Batman why he is doing this. Batman that he wants to follow up on what she told him and give not only Killer Frost but himself a fresh start, that includes making a team where everyone can be a hero.
A few hours later Killer Frost gets into a fight with Black Canary in Seattle. Black Canary uses her sonic scream to get the advantage in the fight and knock down Killer Frost. Killer Frost is able to get Black Canary to stop by saying she was just defending herself and that they are only there to talk. Black Canary wonders who “they” are.
Batman suddenly appears much to Black Canary’s shock. Black Canary wonders what Batman is doing in Seattle with Killer Frost. Batman explains that Killer Frost is part of a team he is building and he wants Black Canary on the team to keep them honest. Black Canary is intrigued by Batman’s proposal.
Sometime later in Mammoth City Lobo gets thrown out of a building by a biker gang. He ends up hitting the ground hard.
Before he can pick himself up Black Canary approaches Lobo, who is complaining that everyone doubts him. Black Canary tells Lobo that Batman has special plans for him. Lobo says Batman can come tell him his plans himself. Black Canary says she knew Lobo wasn’t really changing which gets Lobo to bite on Batman’s plan.
At Ivy University Ryan Choi is yelled at by someone to find Ray Palmer or not to return. Ryan shrinks down and travels to Palmer’s lab. Once he gets back to his normal size he finds Batman and Lobo waiting for him.
Batman asks Ryan who he is. Ryan reveals that he is Palmer’s teacher’s assistant but Palmer recently went missing. Batman can’t believe it as he was looking for Atom. Ryan says he can help them.
Lobo notices and is impressed by Ryan’s work and thinks they should bring Ryan along. Batman does not want to put Ryan in danger but Lobo says Ryan’s old enough to make his own mistakes.
Somewhere in the City of Vanity, the people are amazed when they spot The Ray flying around. The Ray gets a message from a date who says he thinks they are moving too fast and he needs space from Ray.
Ryan Choi suddenly appears and regrows in mid-air. The Ray catches him and pulls Ryan back onto the roof. Ryan says Batman sent him to make an offer to The Ray. The Ray doesn’t know what to think since he is still new to the hero game. Ryan says he is even newer but this team Batman is building is an opportunity for both of them.
In Manhattan Vixen stops Roxy Rocket after she escaped the police. As she is hands Roxy Rocket to the police she senses someone and goes off to check things out.
She ends up finding Batman on a roof, surprised he is out during the day. Batman says he is there to make her an offer again. Vixen rejects the offer, saying that she has a lot on her plate right now. Batman says that he needs Vixen as he has always respected her and that she can hold the team he is creating together. Vixen likes the way Batman put it and accepts his offer to join his team.
Batman hands Vixen a JLA transmatter token. As soon as she grabs it Vixen and Batman are teleported to JLA’s Happy Harbor HQ.
The first thing Vixen sees is Black Canary and Lobo having an argument with each other. Lobo continues to talk smack about Killer Frost being there. Batman approaches Lobo and tells him to sit. Lobo is quiet for a moment but eventually says he’ll just stand.
Batman begins the meeting by saying that Killer Frost is one of them as she overcame her accident to help the Justice League save the world and is now rebuilding herself.
Batman says that is what the team will be doing, helping rebuild the world and be open to protect people. Black Canary wonders what Batman means by “open.” Batman reveals that there is something big coming. He goes on to say that people need heroes they know and inspire them to be heroes themselves. He ends things by saying that heroism is a community and that is what the Justice League of America will represent.
In brief glimpses of the future it is shown that Lobo and The Ray will fight one another, Killer Frost will be confronted by her sister, Batman holding Miss Liberty’s shield against her killer and Ryan Choi finding an altered version of Ray Palmer. End of issue.
The Good: Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis accomplish exactly what all DC’s Rebirth issues need to do, act as a primer for the rest of the series. Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 gives us a good idea of where the series is going to be going without giving everything away. This type of teasing allows us to understand why Batman would assemble a new Justice League with members that are very different from the mainstream team.
The biggest way Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 succeeds is the pacing for assembling the entire team. In the modern era assembling a team has become a big pain point for the first arc of a series as we don’t get all the characters united until the end. Orlando completely avoids this by using Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 to get this out of the way before the series officially begins its first arc. By going with this approach Orlando is able to get readers more invested in why Batman recruits each member.
Orlando’s portrayal of Batman was particularly on point, which is not surprising given how he has written several comics with the current incarnation of Batman before this series. While some may complain that having Batman in yet another comic book continues his overexposure Orlando makes it work. He does this by having Batman waste time in how he recruits each member of the new Justice League of America. There was absolutely no wasted moment as Batman makes sure he is efficient in what he each recruit is told and who is saying it. This approach shows us how Batman has matured in the way he interacts with others that he understand he needs to emotionally connect with people in some way.
Using Batman in this way made the tie-in to Justice League vs. Suicide easier to grasp when it came to explaining membership for characters like Killer Frost and Lobo. Killer Frost’s character in particular gets a lot of needed screen time. Unlike Lobo, who is well established to general comic book readers, Killer Frost is a villain that has more of a blank slate since she has never been a major player in DC events. Now Orlando gets to pay with a redemption story for Killer Frost, which should allow readers to get deeper into her backstory and connect with why she went down the path she went.
With Killer Frost’s story being one of redemption it is good to have veteran Justice League members like Black Canary and Vixen around. Seeing how Batman personally recruited both characters showed that he knows he needs people around him that can be the rock of the team. Both Black Canary and Vixen add this to the JLA, with Black Canary’s leadership experience and Vixen’s stability. Defining their roles in such a way make how they interact with the rest of the team much more interesting as they can play an important role in how the two former villains and two young heroes develop over the course of this series.
Speaking of young heroes, it was good that the one long term story that this issue established was Ryan Choi’s search for Ray Palmer. This instantly gives Ryan’s character a personal mission that Batman also sees as important to the team since Ray is the Atom he originally wanted to recruit. Given the teaser at the end we will most likely learn about Ray Palmer sooner rather than later.
Orlando was also smart to enhance Ryan Choi’s addition to the team by also bringing in The Ray. As younger heroes these two can act much more as peers since they are part of a team with seasoned veterans. They also make each other stand out as Ryan was much more excited about the joining the team as Atom while The Ray is still searching for who he is as a hero. These are two good arcs that work with how Batman is currently portrayed as he is helping develop various heroes from an early stage.
The four teasers of what is to come in the pages of Justice League of America down the road help add further interest for when the first issue is released. These teasers, especially involving the killer of Miss Liberty and a potentially new role for Ray Palmer, make this series even more important to the overall landscape of the DC Universe as the company marches into the overarching Rebirth story. It will be especially be interesting to see how these stories work to develop the public facing nature Batman wants the Justice League of America to have.
As with all his previous work, Ivan Reis delivers some stellar artwork that gets over how important of a comic book Justice League of America: Rebirth #1. Even with the team building nature of this issue meaning there wasn’t some big end boss showdown Reis got over how different recruitment for each member was. From showing Batman showing some honesty with Vixen to the brief fight between Killer Frost and Black Canary, everything moved with a sense of purpose thanks to Reis’ artwork. He also got over how cool and different each characters particular power and skill set add something to this new JLA team Batman assembled.
The Bad: As much as Orlando did to get us to understand the Wolverine-esque role that Lobo is serving for the JLA this issue did not help get over how he is character that can be around in an ongoing basis. There is a sense that getting to Lobo see on an ongoing basis will quickly make his character grow stale. He is a character that is best when he makes special appearances, whether helping or going up against heroes. Now with having him as a permanent cast member of JLA Lobo’s lack of depth as a character can be quickly exposed, as it was towards the end of this issue.
Overall: Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 firmly establishes who all the members of the team are and what their mission statement is. Steve Orlando does a very good job in making the reader understand why Batman would recruit characters like Killer Frost, Ryan Choi’s Atom and The Ray alongside Black Canary and Vixen. It is all enhanced by Ivan Reis fantastic artwork that gets over how formidable this new incarnation of JLA is. This combination of creative talents makes a strong case for Justice League of America being the must have Justice League title moving forward.