Comic Book Review: "Justice League: Origin"
In 2011, DC Comics rebooted all of the major characters and titles. With the New 52 we get a new origin for the Justice League (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Jim Lee). All the famous classic characters, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman are in attendance, however; this origin story starts off one character at a time as they run into each other, while fighting the minions of Darkseid, leading to them joining forces against him. As with all the characters and the new timeline, all the major superheroes have showed up on the world stage only very recently (within the last few years), and Earth and everyone in it doesn’t trust any of the superheroes. In fact; the heroes don’t even trust each other. This Justice League six-issue story arc, “Origin”, tells the story of how the team met and joined together 5 years ago.
In issue # 1 “Justice League: Part One”, the beginnings of the team start off in Gotham City. The entire Gotham City S.W.A.T team is chasing Batman (Bruce Wayne) as he is chasing someone/something from rooftop to rooftop. They fear him as much as any supervillian and the police view him as a vigilante and as dangerous as the thing he is chasing. Apparently, the cloaked creature that Bruce is chasing has been planting bombs around the city. To be safe, the police, from helicopters, open fire on both of them. Suddenly a green flash appears and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), using the power of his ring, shields Batman from the gun fire. Hal has been alerted to an extra-terrestrial disturbance in Gotham City. He is shocked that Batman doesn’t have any super powers and brags about his own powers through his Green Lantern ring. They escape the police and find the monster as it explodes a bomb; leaving behind only an alien computer box as it yells “For Darkseid!” and killing itself. Green Lantern shields them both from the blast. He tells Bruce that he’s been following the alien activity from Coast City to Gotham to Metropolis: Home of Superman (Clark Kent). They decide to go there to ask for Superman’s help (although Batman doesn’t trust him) in a Green Lantern-made jet, taking the alien box with them. As they fly, we see a short glimpse of Vic Stone, a star football player whose father is never around because he’s chasing superhumans at Detroit’s S.T.A.R. labs. Hal and Bruce arrive at the building site where the alien signal has leaded them. It appears that Superman has already been fighting the alien creature; the building has a huge hole in it. Green Lantern tells Batman that since he has no powers he should stay back and let the guy with the power ring easily capture Superman. Suddenly, in a red and blue streak, Green Lantern goes flying backwards. Superman is standing there waiting to see what Batman has to go up against him, since Bruce has no powers.
Issue #2, “Justice League: Part Two”. In the Central City Crime Lab, technician Barry Allen is trying to keep the crime lab on point instead of looking for The Flash. The police department has put him as a top priority. Back in Metropolis, Batman fails to Taser Superman, which just makes him angry. He rushes Batman demanding who he is working for and what he’s doing with these monsters and alien boxes. Green Lantern calls Barry (who is The Flash) and begs for help to tire out Superman. At first he refuses because the last time they worked together they accidently destroyed a museum while defeating a “talking gorilla” (Gorilla Grod). He finally decides to help and zips around Superman telling he can’t touch him. Suddenly Superman flicks him in the nose with his finger and Flash goes flying. Batman manages to reason with Superman and explains that they ALL are on the same side (for now) as the authorities show up. They run away to Superman’s hiding spot, an abandoned Daily Planet printing press building. They discuss the best way to deal with these alien boxes. Flash say he could take it to the crime lab and process it for prints. At S.T.A.R labs, Dr. Silas Stone is studying one of the alien boxes that they retrieved from Superman’s conflict with one of the aliens. Vic shows up to complain about his father lack of interest in his sports. He tells his son that it is futile because the superhumans are more important than his games. Suddenly, the boxes (both Superman’s and Batman’s) begin glowing, and then explode, opening a portal, and releasing a horde of the alien monsters. Vic gets caught in the blasts and is burned badly.
In issue #3, “Justice League: Part Three”, in Washington D.C. at the Pentagon, the TV news is blasting on about the danger of Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) and other superhumans. Steve Trevor, who is Diana’s liaison between D.C. and Paradise Island, goes crazy looking for her after she breaks out after seeing the news about winged monsters. Her personality is that of a foreigner on foreign lands. She’s never eaten ice cream or heard Rock n’ Roll and she is fascinated by them. Suddenly, there’s an explosion on top of a nearby building and the same alien monsters that the rest of the heroes are fighting appear. Diana gladly rushes to battle them with a sword. At the Detroit’s S.T.A.R. labs, Silas is trying to help his injured son, Vic, taking him to the Red Room, while the aliens are carrying off scientists. Back in Metropolis (and around the world) portals are opening everywhere for the alien invasion. The TV and radio news blame the superhumans for it all. Flash is shocked that Batman has no powers and says he thought he was a vampire. As they fight off the aliens, Bruce reminds Hal that he needs to concentrate or his ring constructs will shatter. Suddenly, Wonder Woman appears and fights off a horde of aliens. Everyone is shocked at her powers. Clark compliments her, and she’s acknowledges her own strength. At S.T.A.R. Labs Silas puts Vic in a machine that uses combined alien technologies found all over the world and injects promethium Nano-bots into him and activates them; seeing as this is the only way to save him. This creates an exoskeleton around Vic’s damaged areas making him a cyborg. Back to the heroes: at the shore, a huge wave appears and out of the water steps Aquaman (Arthur), telling them that the portals are happening underwater as well. He tosses aside a dead alien, and votes for himself as leader of the group.
Issue #4, “Justice League: Part Four”, shows us Vic Stone coming to as the promethium rebuilds his damaged body. The pain is excruciating as the computer inside his head is downloading information, confusing him. Outside the Red Room the aliens are breaking in. His cybernetic body goes on auto-pilot and takes out all the aliens. He asked his father what has happened to him. Silas tells Vic that he had to do it to save him. Vic, terrified of what he now is, runs off in a rage. Back in Metropolis, Aquaman tells the group that the aliens also opened a box under the sea. He points out that Batman has no powers and the he (Aquaman) has the ability and experience to lead. Green Lantern get offended and points out that Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and himself, have all the superpowers needed to win, and asked Aquaman what he can do that they can’t. Aquaman suddenly calls a great shark out of the ocean to attack a whole wave of aliens, leaving Hal speechless. Back to Vic: he’s wandering the streets confused at the constant noise in his head (from the computer) as he near-mindlessly attacks aliens. He asks aloud where all the noise is coming from and his cyborg system begins to transport him away from Detroit. Back the group: Now the military has stepped in and is attacking EVERYONE; Alien and superhuman. Clark and Barry argue about the need to fight back against the “good guys” and choose to incapacitate them instead of hurting them. Hal tells Diana that he’s only doing this to impress her, and is confused as to why he said so. She points out that he is touching her Lasso of Truth. Batman laughs. Suddenly, Cyborg Vic appears out of a transport beam, mumbling about the world ending and that someone is coming. As Diana assists Vic, there is a great vortex that opens up and a large being steps through it introducing himself as Darkseid.
Issue #5, “Justice League: Part Five”, begins with Darkseid unleashing a barrage of laser beams from his eyes. Destroying everything they touch. A whole city block lays wasted. Flash calls out to everyone. Superman is the only who responds. The two go after Darkseid and he shoots laser eye beams at them that independently follow each of them. One of the beams hit Clark, knocking him out cold, and a wing alien monster carries him off through the portal. Flash finds the others and tells them about Superman. Green Lantern attacks Darkseid and gets his arm broken. As he tries to get up Batman tries to stop him and they argue about their motivations and who’s in charge. Bruce tells Hal that he knows that only the two of them are “normal” while the others are superhumans. Green Lantern gets defensive about Batman saying the two of them are similar. Batman reveals himself as Bruce Wayne, explaining his motivation and says he sees the same motives in Hal. He tells Hal to lead the team and not go on solo; to regroup with the rest of the team and work out a plan to stop Darkseid from destroying more of the city. He, Batman, lets himself be carried away by one of the creatures to find Superman. Hal finds Vic, Diana, Arthur, and Barry and forms a plan to take out Darkseid. They all agree as he takes charge. Bruce, as he approaches the final destination, attacks his handler and escapes to see the apocalyptic world he’s been taken to.
In issue #6, “Justice League: Part Six”, the team attacks Darkseid as a group. Wonder Woman gets her Lasso of Truth on him and commands him to explain his invasion of Earth. He says he’s searching for “her”. Vic’s onboard computer accesses Darkseid’s “mother boxes” automatically. He’s able to see other worlds that Darkseid has destroyed and see Batman wandering through a hellish wasteland. Bruce finds Steppenwolf and Desaad; two of Darkseid’s henchmen preforming experiments on Superman. They are saying he is the key to finding Darkseid’s Daughter. In Metropolis, Diana lunges at Darkseid with her sword and pokes out his eye and Aquaman uses his trident to take out the other. Cyborg Vic says that he can access Darkseid’s portals, force him back into it and then close them all. After he opens one of them, Superman and Batman are freed and return to Earth. As Darkseid tries to take Clark with him, Superman fights back and frees himself from Darkseid’s grasp. Bruce assists Cyborg in taking control of his new cybernetic computer and not only closes all the portals but fries all the boxes. Now, Darkseid will not be able to come back to Earth…At least for a while. As everything settles down as crowd of humans gather around the team. Flash worries that they will attack them, when the crowd suddenly begins cheering for them. Later, at the White House, the president congratulates them and gives a public speech about how these superheroes had stepped up as a team and saved the day. Now the world will look upon them with admiration instead of fear. While this is happened the team (mostly Green Lantern) is fighting about how this was a “one-time deal” and they are neither friends nor a team. Something of this magnitude could never happen again, so there is no need for a team. Suddenly, the president is informed of a crisis and he tells them that they are needed again. Flash says that they have a name, “The Super Seven”. No one likes, but he says they’ll work on it.
This first story arc for the Justice League is a great origin story for them. With the reboot of the DC universe, an updated story to bring them into the 21st century is needed. For a long time these superheroes were always viewed as perfectly beloved and trusted individuals who were the best of friends and have no personal issues. Here, we see all of those expectations tipped on their heads. It’s very different to see Batman and Superman not best buddies, much less throwing punches at each other. It’s interesting to see Bruce Wayne feel a kinship with Hal Jordan of all people. It’s a bit of a change to see Wonder Woman have an almost child-like exuberance for battle. It’s a bit retro to see Aquaman all shiny, like a 1970’s disco dancer—complete with gaudy jewelry and sideburns. It’s also funny that everyone is continually pointing out that Batman is the only one without any powers. The banter between the characters perfectly showcases each personality. Batman’s automatic leadership and condescension for the super-powered, Green Lantern’s ego and arrogance, Flash’s peacekeeping and comic persona, Aquaman’s regal demeanor and aquatic command, Wonder Woman’s mystical whimsy and super-strength, and Superman’s odd mix of boy scout conscience and silent powerhouse. Having the former Teen Titan, Vic “Cyborg” Stone, as an original member, is very different than the main stay Martian Manhunter. However it should be pointed out that this is just the first story, and there is sure to be more members as the stories continue (the small back-up story at the end of issue 6 implies as much with the addition of Green Arrow and Zatanna). The artwork, by comic legend Jim lee, is as great as always. The story, by Geoff Johns, is very intriguing and has a very modern, 21st century feel to it. The ending here leaves the door open (no pun intended), of course, for Darkseid’s return, and we will surely see more character and team building storylines in the coming issues. This first story arc, “Origin”, is a gripping, modern tale that sets the stage for continuing adventures for the Justice League and it will make any fan of just one or two of these characters a fan of all of them.
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