With everything that is happening in the DC Universe alone it was easy to forget that Justice League Odyssey has yet to release its first issue. But after being delayed multiple times Justice League Odyssey seemed to be lost in the shuffle to the point it was starting to look like it was cancelled. Now that is not the case and Justice League has finally released its first issue. From a concept standpoint it is good to have a Justice League that focuses on the cosmic side of the DCU. There is a lot of potential to be had in this corner of the DCU though it will take. The question is if the team that Joshua Williamson has assembled for this version of the Justice League can carry the potential forward. Let’s find that out with Justice League Odyssey #1.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the Ghost Sector as Colu unleashes several worlds onto the universe several different inhabitants are scream for help.
On one of the planets a man named Kov Mal tries to tell Green Lantern Topal something. Topal says there is no time and she must go warn the Guardians.
Inside her ship Topal reaches the outer atmosphere but is quickly struck down by some sort of creature. The creature destroys Topal’s ship, killing her and destroying her ring in the process.
Several days later Green Lantern Jessica Cruz arrives in the Ghost Sector for her new assignment. Jessica enters a ship to see if there is anything inside.
While investigating the ship Jessica gets a call from Green Lantern Baz. Jessica comments on how bored she is with nothing around to fight. Baz reminds her that she volunteered for the assignment. There communication signal is cut off.
Jessica goes back outside to see what is going on and spots a Brainiac ship entering the Ghost Sector.
Inside the Brainiac ship Cyborg has interfaced with the ship even though Starfire worries that he is over exerting himself and losing control. Cybord tells Starfire he can’t stop as they broke the universe and it is their job to fix it.
Azrael suddenly appears, revealing that he stowed away on the ship. Azrael tells Cyborg and Starfire that a voice told him to go to space and to not let anyone stand in his way. Azrael then mentions someone is approaching the Brainiac ship.
Outside Jessica gets ready to attack but her barrier starts to crumble due to the radiation from an oncoming maelstrom. Starfire acts quick and saves Jessica by bringing her inside the Brainiac ship.
Jessica tells Starfire she is under arrest but Cyborg says they aren’t stopping. Before Jessica can ask Cyborg anything an unknown creature attacks the Brainiac ship.
As the creature attacks Jessica acts fast by creating a protective bubble around the ship. Cyborg tells Azrael to link up with the ship and Starfire to provide him with an energy boost. While she is reluctant Starfire uses her energy to power up Cyborg, giving the Brainiac ship an extra boost to escape the unknown creature’s line of fire.
Unable to control the ship, they end up crashing on an unknown planet. Jessica is able to save everyone from the crash with her ring.
While they recover Jessica demands to know what Cyborg and the others were planning on doing in the Ghost Sector. Cyborg reveals that when Colu was destroyed his Mother Box was still connected to the artificial intelligence database. Since then he has tried to find out why Colu shrunk and hid so many worlds since there has been no order to how they have been released.
Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael all say that since then they’ve each heard voices calling out to them. Starfire mentions that her home of Tamaran is lost within the system.
Another unknown creature pops out of the world and tries to attack Starfire. Omega Beams out of nowhere destroys the creature.
Darkseid appears and reveals he is the one who called out to Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael. Cyborg, Starfire, Jessica and Azrael get ready to attack but Darkseid does nothing but talk about how the worlds that have been released were hidden for a reason that is based around a prophecy.
Darkseid elaborates by saying that the people of these hidden planets prayed to old Gods who turned out to be Starfire, Cyborg and Azrael. Darkseid states that it is their destiny to save the Ghost Sector and bring a new age for the multiverse. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League Odyssey #1 puts into question how big of a problem the DC Universe are in after the events of No Justice. Unfortunately some of the impact of the story that Joshua Williamson begins with is lost because of the length of time between this first issue and the events in No Justice. Still, there is a clear vision filled with imagination that fans looking for a cosmic Justice League tell will enjoy.
With Justice League Odyssey #1 it is clear that Williamson has a full toybox of cosmic related toys to play with. The opening sequence involving all the worlds being released was a very good way to establish this. There is so many unknown elements that have now been introduced that Williamson creates plenty of potential avenues to explore the cosmic side of the DC Universe.
What was most important about establishing this cosmic toybox was giving the reader a connection to all these worlds. That is exactly what he does through Starfire mentioning that her lost home planet of Tamaran is likely part of the worlds that were released. Establishing this quickly establishes multiple sub-plots for potential places we could see as there are a lot of worlds we haven’t seen since Flashpoint happened.
Through all that potential Williamson does a good job for the most part in giving each member of the Justice League Odyssey team their own voice. With a smaller roster to start Williamson was able to give Cyborg, Jessica Cruz, Starfire and Azrael just the right amount of time for readers to understand where they are mentally. Though not all of them come off as compelling giving each character a voice of their own was an important thing to do.
What was particularly well done was the dynamic between Cyborg and Starfire. Williamson taps into the friendship between the two to create some emotional resonance to their interactions. The concern in Starfire’s dialogue when she warns Cyborg that he is over exerting himself came off as an honest concern from a friend. Continuing to highlight their friendship will help ground this series that will deal with a lot of cosmic.
As individuals, Cyborg and Starfire are by far the best developed as well. Cyborg is finally getting the chance to shine as he is now the leader of his own team. Having him be the driving force for what causes the entire initial adventure to happen works with what was set up in No Justice. This also spotlights how important Cyborg has become as his connection to the Mother Boxes has increased his powers. That connection to the Mother Box also creates a unique opportunity to find out how he connects to Darkseid and Apokolips as a whole.
Also, as previously mentioned, it was a good move by Williamson to establish that Starfire’s main motivation for this series is finding Tamaran again. This instantly gives the reader a reason to care about Starfire beyond her history as a long-time Titans character. With this sub-plot in place we can dive in deeper into her history on Tamaran now that she is set-up to be the savior of her home world. It’s a set-up that also helps establish Starfire as the heart of the team.
Though coincidental it was good to also see Jessica Cruz break away from the other Green Lanterns. Now that she is the sole Green Lantern on the team it will force Jessica to get out of her comfort zone. That is exactly what we saw here as Jessica was trying to balance her sense of authority with her rookie status. What exactly Williamson has planned for her own character arc will be interesting to see as their is a lot of potential now to establish Jessica as her own standout hero now that doesn’t have Baz or another Green Lantern to lean on.
Williamson also sets up an interesting angle for Darkseid as he is the one that forced this version of the Justice League together. Through his appearance at the end Williamson positions Darkseid as potentially the big bad of this series later on. With his dialogue Williamson sets Darkseid up to only reveal information that will benefit him, as that is what came across as to why he told the team what he did. Until then Williamson does create intrigue in how Darkseid will manipulate each member of the Odyssey team.
Stjepan Sejic artwork is solid throughout Justice League Odyssey #1. Sejic gets across how anything can and will happen as the Odyssey team are going to face threats they have no idea about. The Ghost Sector in particular came across as a giant unknown with all the different worlds and unknown technology that Sejic draws. Sejic also delivers on creating tension during the short chase sequence as the Odyssey team try to escape the unknown creature attacking them.
The Bad: The timing behind Justice League Odyssey #1 was one of the bigger enemies of this story. There is no way to jump into this issue without having read No Justice. And since we are almost four months removed from that event it was tough to remember all the groundwork No Justice layed out that this issue kicks off from. That all makes Justice League Odyssey #1 a tough comic to recommend for new readers as this is a comic more targeted towards hardcore fans following all of the Justice League comic books.
From a story standpoint the opening with all the unknown races worshipping Gods was tough to care about. It would’ve been much more effective if one of these alien races was one that was familiar to the readers. Williamson even set himself up to put a recognizable alien race with the Tamaraneans. Even if it was one panel showing the Tamaraneans it would’ve gone a long way into getting into this part of the story.
What also hurt this opening for Justice League Odyssey #1 is that the Green Lantern that was killed off was a new character. There was just not enough time given to this new Green Lantern to actually care about her final fate. All she turned out to be was cannon fodder to make creature that killed her, which was never given a name, get over with the reader. Unfortunately that does not happen since she wasn’t part of Hal Jordan and the GLC or the Green Lanterns comic. That lack of connection made it tough to care about what happened to her.
Though he was given a lot of dialogue Azrael never gets across as being worth being on this version of the Justice League. Beyond Knightfall, Azrael has never gotten a lot of big development that makes him a clear choice to be a member of the Justice League. And with a with so many other previous Justice League members not being used in any DC comic book Azrael feels like a wasted roster spot. His dialogue in this issue did not help at all as he came off as an annoying little brother that is just tagging along.
The line-up for the Odyssey team does not come across as a Justice League team. With such a small roster this Justice League team does not give off a sense of hope for their mission. They are just a mash-up of random characters. There is also a lack of a variety of abilities on the team. Both Starfire and Jessica are long range characters and Cyborg and Azrael are high tech characters. Williamson should’ve done more to make each one stand out in their abilities to show that the Odyssey team are not to be messed with. Lacking that variety just made it tough to believe this is a Justice League team worth having their own ongoing.
The God angle for Starfire, Cyborg and Azrael did not help elevate these characters status. And from the way it was presented that felt like what Williamson intended this big reveal to do. That does not happen, and instead we are just left with an ending that felt forced to get to the next issue. It would’ve been much more effective if this was left out and for this to be a mystery that Williamson built up to in order to create the maximum amount of impact.
Overall: Justice League Odyssey #1 sets the groundwork for the cosmic story that Joshua Williamson is going to tell. The double edge sword of the set-up is that it builds of the events of No Justice well enough, unfortunately the time that has past since that story makes this tough to recommend to new readers. The roster, while having some fan favorites, needs some work to earn the title of Justice League. Luckily Williamson has created a big story that has enough interest behind it that hardcord Justice League fans will enjoy.