Justice League of America #1. By Bryan Hitch, Inks By Daniel Henriques with Wade Von Grawbadger and Andrew Currie, Colors by Alex Sinclair.
From the first page, this story is big. Epic big. It looks big and it feels big. It instantly feels like a story worthy of the Justice League. Interestingly, despite clearly being set in the New 52, it is not contemporary with the other comics this month. Superman is still Clark Kent, Batman is still Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan looks like a Green Lantern and the rest of the cast retain their now accepted New 52 look, high collars and all. The only thing that may give away when this takes place is the fact that Wonder Woman is acknowledged as the god of war by Aquaman.
The story opens with Lois going through Clark’s mail and hi-jacking an invitation for Clark only to come to The Infinity Corporation in New York City. Clark arrives as Superman at the Infinity Corporation where we learn that the invitation was coded with a Superman symbol that only could be seen with x-ray vision. Here we discover that the corporation has been intercepting Superman’s from different timelines at the moment of their death in order to find out how to prevent the main Superman from dying. They lay it on Superman that if he dies, then it’s all over. At all costs Superman must put himself first. But they don’t reveal everything they’ve discovered to Superman.
Meanwhile, the Parasite is being transported from a Supermax prison, and things go awry. Superman hears the trouble and heads to the site, only to see he’s been beaten there by Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Batman. A lengthy, but well constructed battle ensues, with Cyborg eventually showing up in a classic Jack Kirby pose. All the while, Aquaman has been dealing with Atlantean matters at the United Nations and Atlantis whereupon he is presented with a prophecy- the true god is coming.
After subduing the Parasite, the JLAers are confronted with a new situation first alerted on electronic devices- “Be at peace, I mean you no harm, do not be afraid, do not hide, come into the light.” And Superman realizes who it is, seemingly in disbelief, as the being appears and proclaims, “I am the great god Rao, and I have come to save you.”
This story requires no pre-existing knowledge to understand, seemingly existing outside any particular continuity except for the inclusion of Cyborg, WW as the god of war and the visual appearance. Otherwise, this could be any classic JLA tale. And it is enjoyable as just that. Nothing feels out of place with characterization or dynamic between the JLAers. The scope and epic feel of the story go a long way on selling the importance of this in a non-continuity book. It’s clear that it matters because it’s the comic book equivalent to the blockbuster movie event of the Summer. The implications are certainly huge, and there’s no way a reader won’t be willing to come back for part 2.
Difficulty in finding a negative with this premier issue. It’s almost like the digital first Adventures of Superman, Legends of the Dark Knight or Sensation Comics. If you want to place this story firmly amongst the other books of the month you will find great difficulty. I think Hitch and company have produced a great story with engaging visuals that will overcome this need.
So very often people clamor for the “Classic 7” JLofA. This is certainly the modern version of that situation. It plays exactly as one might expect a JLofA movie to begin. It is a full steam ahead story that presents something the JLofA have never faced, and it appears to be a story like none other. Make it 4 ½.