With Justice League #1, DC takes two high-profile creators and lets them play. The result? A crazy, fun, “Oh shit! What’s happening?” kind of story plucked straight from DC’s library of top-shelf works. Together, Scott Snyder and Jim Cheung deliver the series kick-off for which fans have been asking. The quality here runs in direct contrast with Brian Hitch’s Rebirth run, which was, for lack of a better word, disappointing.
Recently, Snyder’s character-driven, ripe-with-cosmic-peril stories have altered the DC universe with excited abandon. He’s a writer seemingly unburdened by the scruples that accompany risks. The shocking part? His writing still thrills and stuns with the same effect of that with exercised restraint. The restraint that made his early works near-masterpieces.
In this first issue, Snyder throws the titular team into conflicts that are as physically taxing as they are ethically fucked up. He does right by the Justice League even as every key he punches spells bad news for all involved. It’s a balance struck by a man who understands that shock value with substance is preferable when the story calls for it (an admittedly rare occurrence). His writing is so thick with substance that he doesn’t need this, but it’s welcome nonetheless.
Here, it’s the Martian Manhunter show. He absolutely outshines Supes in the “homeworld tragedy” department, as we glimpse a cut back to flames engulfing his daughter. Clearly, there’s plenty of super-baggage here. But we knew that. What we didn’t know, however, was how capably Snyder and Cheung address that baggage. Throw in the gorgeously rendered art by Cheung and you’ve got one hell of an opening issue. Added pluses include Tomeu Morey’s colors, which pop without deepening or darkening and add a new dimension to Cheung’s striking style.
If there’s anything to criticize here, it’s superfluous dialogue. He’s always done this, but here it’s particularly distracting. Cheung’s pencils speak volumes on their own, but only if Snyder allows it. It’s a minor quibble because Snyder’s style is so damn punchy, but the issue leans hard into the now-outdated idea that comics are a writer’s medium. Super untrue.
The issue closes on a ballsy move by Luthor, one that probably isn’t permanent but still effectively showcases the villain’s brutality. It’s a hell of a way to end an opening chapter, but it’s one we’ll be eager to see play out.
Check back in two weeks for our review of the next issue.