Justice League of America’s Rebirth issue laid the groundwork for what could possibly be the premiere Justice League title. One of the great things about the Rebirth issue is that the entire team has already been assembled. Now that Steve Orlando has been able to get that big hurdle out of the way we can officially hit the ground running with the JLA setting out to accomplish the mission Batman has set for the team. The question now is who does Steve Orlando pit the new JLA up against for their first major story arc? Let’s find that out with Justice League of America #1.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Joe Prado, Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Over in Gotham City Batman tells Vixen that the Justice League can’t be a team that watches from above. Vixen expresses her concern about how combustible the Justice League of America are. Batman says he can’t afford the JLA to explode. Instead he wants the JLA to show normal people the heroes they can be.
In City of Vanity Black Canary and Ray are saving people from a massive building fire. Ray is able to keep the fire back with his powers while Black Canary helps everyone escape the burning building.
After getting everyone out Ray is surprised how quickly things are moving. Black Canary it’s their job to do what others can’t, even those that others don’t call in like the building fire. Ray mentions that in the City of Vanity people just ignore everything. Black Canary correct Ray and tells him he does answer people’s problem and that’s why they need him.
Over the Pacific Ocean Lobo is leading some fire creatures away from the coast. When the creatures try to attack him, Lobo quickly punches them away.
At the Sanctuary, Frost finds Atom working on the JLA’s computers. Atom almost makes the mistake to call her by “Killer Frost.” Frost says it’s okay and moves the conversation to reveal she is the one that created the plans for Sanctuary’s new generator. Atom is surprised to hear this and asks if she can help him in fixing the Troubalrt, the JLA’s new news trawler.
In Saratoga, New York people are enjoying themselves in the downtown area. Suddenly a green portal appears in the middle of the street with Lord Havok and the Extremists appearing out of it. As the police arrive Lord Havok announces that he and the Extremists are there to save the world.
Over at the Sanctuary Frost is able to help Atom get the Troubalert to start working. As the Troubalert turns on Frost and Atom see reports on Lord Havok and the Extremists attack in Saratoga.
Batman gets the alert from Troubalert and tells the Justice League of America to assemble in Saratoga. Lobo thinks he can take care of the threat himself, with some members agreeing with him and others not. Vixen tells Batman that now is the time to show people they have been heard.
In Saratoga Lord Havok and the Extremists have completely destroyed the city with the citizens on the ground hurt from the attack. Lord Havok states that the destruction is because of how weak the Earth’s defenses are and that they can’t defend people. Lord Havok continues to say that their world of Angor was similar in how people turned on each other in the name of Freedom so the Extremists had to destroy the world. Lord Havok then gives the people a choice: 1) allow the Extremists to be the new rulers of the world or; 2) they take over the world by force.
The Justice League of America shows up and Vixen says they reject both choices. The JLA quickly spring into action with Batman and Vixen taking on Lord Havok while Ray gets Saratoga’s citizens to safety. As they fight Lord Havok is reminded of how he killed Thunderer and other heroes in his world who did the same as the JLA. Batman tells Lord Havok that he will soon find out who he is.
The JLA clash with Lord Havok and the Extremists in the middle of the destroyed Saratoga, that is now empty.
As the fight intensifies Atom shrinks down and weaves his way through all of the action. Though Atom is uncertain that he should even be participating in the fight he decides to try to shrink further to stop Lord Havok’s armor from working. Lord Havok quickly detects what Atom is doing and forces him to grow back to his normal size.
As Lord Havok strangles Atom and threatens to kill him Ray asks Batman what they should do. Batman gets Lord Havok’s attention by saying that if Lord Havok wants to make an example of someone it should be Batman. Batman then holds his hands up as he surrenders himself. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League of America #1 is a refreshing start to a team book. With Rebirth getting the team building out of the way Steve Orlando took the full opportunity to hit the ground running in showing the Justice League of America in action. This not only allowed us to see how this Justice League team differs from their big brother but also more character development for the series cast.
As action heavy as Justice League of America #1 Orlando made sure that at the core of this issue was the characters and continuing their development from everything established in the Rebirth issue. This issue in particular highlights how Killer Frost is now just trying to be known as Frost in her transition to being a hero. Dropping the “Killer” from her hero identity adds an extra nuance to her character as see that she is doing her best in telling and showing Ryan Choi that she is changing. Integrating her background as a scientist makes this transition more natural as Orlando is allowing Frost to show she is more than the powerful ice powers she brings to the team on the field.
Complimenting Frost heroic change is how Batman is trying to make sure the team he assembled accomplishes the goal of being heroes that inspire people. His discussion with Vixen was an interesting character study for Batman here as we get even more into how he knows this version of the Justice League of America needs time to gel together. Having Batman admit this right out of the gate shows us how open he is willing to be know with his closest confidants like Vixen and Black Canary. It also made Batman’s decision to surrender himself in order to save Atom have an extra meaning to the new JLA as it could be a way to make the team work together without telling them.
That sacrifice does highlight the fact that the Justice League of America is still working as a group of individuals. Opening up the issue with the team working on different things highlights that the team chemistry will take a while to come together. By pairing a veteran hero like Black Canary with rookie hero Ray does show how we are going to see the JLA’s team chemistry develop is with each member influencing the team in some way. That type of development allows us to focus more on who the JLA each character is and what they bring to the table.
Lord Havok and the Extremist are an interesting choice as the first threat that the Justice League of America fight together. This is a group of villains that I did not expect to see in the first arc of the series, given the more grounded mission statement that Batman set for the team. That said, Orlando was able to use Lord Havok and Extremist appearance as a way to show the bigger picture that we expect all teams named Justice League to be involved with. It at least made all the members of the team understand the level of importance that comes with being a team with how they were defeated led to Batman having to surrender himself.
The Extremist also present just another example of how DC is not hesitating in using the Multiverse anymore. As fun as the dig on Marvel that Havok’s dialogue was Orlando made sure that was not where we as readers should be focusing on. Instead Orlando allowed the Extremist to show off their power with how they easily took down the JLA since they were a well-oiled machine compared to Batman’s newly assembled team. They at least represent the first big obstacle for the JLA to have to work together to overcome.
Helping the action sequences come across as well as they do is Ivan Reis’ stellar artwork. Reis always brings a big event feel to the comic books he draws and Justice League of America #1 is no different. Throughout the battle between the JLA and Extremist Reis is able to show off all the powers of the characters involved and why they belong in this comic book. The strength in the action sequence also bleeds into the slower character focus moments like Atom and Frost discussion. The subtle things like characters face help to amplify how the dialogue comes across in each panel.
The Bad: As much fun as the team Orlando has assembled for the Justice League of America are the one character that continues to stick out like a sore thumb is Lobo, for all the wrong reason. After two issues hasn’t been clear why he is here over other characters in limbo in DC’s roster of characters. All Orlando has had Lobo do is make some snarky comments and punch people. There are plenty of other characters in DC’s stable that can do that. If Orlando wants to make Lobo a character we can get behind being in a Justice League book he needs to actually develop him beyond what we’ve seen so far from him.
Overall: Justice League of America #1 does a great job continuing the momentum created by the Rebirth issue to hit the ground running for this new series. Steve Orlando showed his clear understanding of the characters and mission statement he has set up for this new Justice League team. Bringing in a set of villains like Lord Havok and the Extremists gave this issue a big event feel, which was incredibly well executed by Ivan Reis’ phenomenal artwork. All of this comes together to make a strong argument for JLA to be the premiere Justice League title for DC Comics.