Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Jim Lee; Inks by Scott Williams; Colors by Alex Sinclair
Published by DC Comics
Created as the flagship title of the New 52 and the opening arc for this new era of comics, Justice League “Origin” is a cringe-worthy retelling of the League’s beginnings. Despite having the talented Geoff Johns handling story and drawn by Jim Lee, Justice League “Origin” is a boring and underwhelming tale.
The story follows the expected Leaguers: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, and new regular Cyborg as they join together to form the Justice League. Unfortunately, all of these heroes present have been reduced to early to mid-twenty somethings in an effort to make them younger and more relatable. But this only serves to make the world’s greatest heroes a bunch of bickering idiots. Superman is a short-sighted brute, Batman talks down to everyone, Green Lantern bosses the others around, and everyone is constantly fighting over leadership rights.
By far the characters who suffer the most are Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Aquaman’s introduction is almost hilarious as Johns tries to overcompensate for all the years of redundant “Aquaman is useless” jokes by proving how “hard core he is, yo.” He does so by having Aquaman summon sharks and slay some mooks with his trident as the rest of the League stands jaws dropped on the sidelines. Still, Wonder Woman is wasted the most. Johns writes her as a teenager, who’s finally worked up the nerve to break curfew. She acts like a war hungry dolt solely focused on fighting people. The only decent characters are Barry Allen as the Flash and Cyborg. Flash stands as the lone one who prefers helping people in place of getting into pissing contests with everyone else, almost like a superhero. Victor, on the other hand, has a lot of moments with the relationship with his father. It’s actually a decent story for the first few issues as Victor’s father spends all his time focusing on superhuman studies instead of spending time with his own son. It’s sad, it’s moving, and deeply personal. However, it’s lost in the sea of a boring and uninteresting plot.
What brings the Justice League together is an invasion of Earth by Apokolips. While that’s a bit much for an origin story, it show promise. Sadly, the threat that Apokolips shows is reduced to a generic swarm of mindless drones. Darkseid arrives ,but he’s really not interesting in this story. The great manipulating and monstrous tyrant just pops in, destroys a bunch of cityscape, and that’s it. There’s no personal relationship he holds with these heroes and barely explanation for why Apokolips is even invading. There’s very little stake as the reader isn’t introduced to what kind of threat Darkseid means. What is meant to be one of the greatest villains in the DC Universe is nothing more than another big brute as he beats up superheroes while proclaiming that he’s Darkseid. It’s just a waste.
Jim Lee serves as penciller and to his credit, he’s good. The big action moments feel big and epic and powerful. Still, it’s at the cost of a few too many two page spreads that the story could lose. The real flaws with his art are the all the new designs he has for the Justice League. Plenty other people have commented on the excessive stripes on everyone or the lack of Superman’s underpants, but the real problem is that it’s just not smart conceptually. It makes the members of the Justice League look alike in design. There is no reason the Justice League should look like they all bought their costumes from the same store. There are some other minor things, like Wonder Woman’s sword (which lacks a sheath for some reason) or Aquaman’s gold chains. Apparently he needs them for some ungodly reason.
All in all, Justice League “Origin” is a boring story, featuring annoying protagonists against a dull threat. All the characters, for the most part, are pale reflections of themselves. What should feel like a big epic event meant to define all of the DC Universe is surprisingly forgettable. If ever there was a time for heroes, that time has past.