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Event Watch — Justice League #1: Nothing Will Ever Be the Same Again. . .

After I saw The Phantom Menace, I remember thinking, “George Lucas has all the money he needs to make a great movie, and yet the dialogue is so bad . . . How can this be? Does he not recognize that it’s an endless series of clichés? Why not hire a script doctor to make it less formulaic?” A few days later, I had an epiphany, one so obvious that it should have occurred while I was suffering through the movie. It was me, not Lucas, who didn’t get it. The dialogue is (mind-numbingly) predictable because that’s exactly how he wants it. He believes there’s only one way to infuse art with universal appeal: by using lines, sentiments, plots that we’ve heard, felt, seen thousands of time. The road to Depth never leaves Shallowness. Universality means repeating formulas that have been exploited ad nauseam.

I had forgotten the valuable lesson The Phantom Menace offered, a lesson that might have helped me to understand Justice League #1 as I was reading it. This comic is the first shot in DC’s war to revive their “universe” of comics via (another) “let’s start all over” approach merged with a new digital book-release strategy. It’s supposed to be the biggest comics event in years.

I’m tempted to say this is the worst comic I have ever read, but that title would give it a singular status, which might mislead my reader into thinking, “If it’s that bad, maybe I should check it out.” You should not. I would simply say that this is as bland, dull, and uninspired as a comic could be—I have read hundreds of comics as bland as this in precisely all the same bland ways. JL #1 is the textbook “non-event.” (For DC comics I like, see here , here, and here).

COVER-UP
The cover announces that the comic cares little about the story (such as it is), but a lot about the aura associated with “iconic” characters celebrated for their moral and martial striving—upward and onward!

Given that Batman and Green Lantern act like assholes in the comic, why not have a cover on which they act like assholes, instead of the generic “portrait” image that dominates and suffocates the new comics rack each Wednesday?

A key to understating this choice—and every other aspect of this comic—helpfully appears on the cover: “RATED T TEEN.”

Regardless of the demographic that actually makes up their readership, DC insists on comics appropriate for teens, and perhaps even tweens and younger. In the corporate mind, “product” must be pasteurized to ensure safety for kid consumers (and to guarantee that it won’t anger parents – if they happen to read it). If DC’s editors would skim a collection of children’s fairy tales or even a Young Adult book like Gossip Girl, they’d realize that teen doesn’t have to mean safe—there’s more psychological violence, profanity, sex, and bodily fluids in the typical Gossip Girl volume than in a dozen Vertigo comics, DC’s ostensible adult line.

One way to demonstrate that narrative matters more to you than, or at least as much as, your corporate property (i.e., characters) would be to design a cover that shows readers something interesting about your new commitments. This cover screams the opposite: “Meet the new DC universe, exactly the same as the old universe.” Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman fail to appear inside, unless you count ads for their forthcoming #1s. Speaking of (less-than)-wonderful women, the only woman/girl in the comic is a long-legged cheerleader who waves her pom-poms at Green Lantern’s plane,

which artist Jim Lee bases on American military aircraft

Green Lantern travels the cosmos – couldn’t he use his ring power to create that really cool-looking alien interstellar travel device that he saw in Quadrant Zoltrom or wherever? They’re not the Justice League of America anymore, so let’s get a little more inventive . . .  Or are these comics still about AMERICAN MILITARY SUPERIORITY?

OPENING LINES
There was time when the world didn’t call them its greatest superheroes. There was time when the world didn’t know what a superhero was.”

This is an unfortunate beginning. Every Marvel and DC company-wide “event,” it seems, must announce itself as a Serious Look at Heroism. Is this the only way to make a comic profound? JL #1, we are told from the git go, explores the very nature of heroism itself.

What’s also odd about this reboot is that, even more than establish an entry point for new readers, it reboots the minds of the characters. The heroes have never met each other, making for revelations that seem crucial to them, but trite to me:

Yes, I know Batman has no superpowers and that’s what makes him different . . .

JERK V. JERK
Two clichés of the genre: 1) Men fighting men with fists. 2) Men fighting men with words. When they battle with language, they often resort to issues of humiliation and masculinity: each one says (indirectly—it’s a TEEN comic, after all) that the other is a pussy, sissy, has a “small weapon,” etc—and so insults his literal and figurative manhood.

Despite the massive objects Green Lantern makes with his powers, for example, Batman refers to his “flashlight” – cause it’s small, like his “tool.” The entire first half of the comic is male/male competition dramatized in the most expected way: Batman as the stoic and morally correct father and Green Lantern as the brash upstart. Not much more to it than that.

It’s all about size, territory, and mastery with these superboys, isn’t it? “You have a little town, but I have an entire fucking sector of the galaxy, you piece of bat shit!”

Masculinity and mastery. He can handle anything, a regular NO LIMIT soldier.

I have no problem with male-dominated adventure stories; I just want something better than this, something in which dudes are not so dull.

A few pages in I said to myself, “OK, given that there’s all of these over-the-top explosions, macho dialogue, etc. pretty soon the writer must take it down a notch to the personal level, introducing a story about a non-powered person or a hero’s alter ego.” I was proud of myself when this happened (had I learned my Star Wars lesson, I wouldn’t have been).

So after pages of superhuman antics, we now are among humans like us, who deal with matters of family and the heart . . . And again, it’s about an older male and a young male who don’t get along: a father and son. The only ‘idea’ on display in the comic is heroism in the context of dude v. dude competition. (The son is one of the heroes on the cover.)

Here’s JL #1’s Macho Motto, painted on a football locker-room’s wall:

HUSTLE, HIT, NEVER QUIT – But what if, after you hustle and hit, you get one of those nasty life-ruining head injuries that many football players suffer. Then can you quit?

SO MUCH CLUTTER
I’ll blame myself for this problem, but only partially. Perhaps because I was raised on pre-’90s comics, the panels in JL #1 are difficult to understand. They use so many lines that I have trouble seeing distinctions between objects, and between objects and effects. I really need to slow down and look with more care than an action/adventure comic would likely want me to use. . .  To be honest, I don’t really think it’s my fault. JL #1’ is kind of a visual mess. There’s way too much of this:

When a special effect becomes the norm, it’s no longer special – or effective.

I could easily imagine this kind of density working in an animated medium where it’s easy to suggest depth and separate foreground from background. But in these drawing, so many things merge together. I feel like I’m looking at some kind of generalized, colorized effect, not specific objects organized in space; nearly every image (it seems) is either an actual explosion or is supposed to evoke the “feel” of one.

LINE after LINE
I don’t really understand some of Jim Lee’s art. I recognize the considerable craft on display (and really like his Gotham scenes) but I often can’t tell if a line on a character’s face is shadow, dirt, a facial feature, a manga-esque emotion index, an injury from one of the non-stop battles . . .

Some other Batman faces from a shoe ad in the same issue:

“Listen, Pops,” a young fan might yell at me, “it’s about the intensity. All those lines are awesome, like the graphics in Infinite War: The Final Reckoning!” Fair enough, I guess. I don’t play many video games.

THE MYSTERY OF IT ALL
It might be that I haven’t learned any lessons from my encounter with The Phantom Menace. JL#1 still baffles me. Could it really be as bland as I think it is? Could it be that the creators achieved exactly what they wanted? Am I missing something: are the references to Lexcorp and Darksied key in some way?

For me, superhero comics can’t be good when they’re burdened by a need to be an earth-shattering event, taking us back to DAY ONE and starting all over again. Every aspect of this comic works toward attaining the same register: High Intensity. It has little sense of verbal or visual rhythm—there’s no flow and no mystery.

And it has little plot to speak of, other than heroes fighting aliens and bickering. Much of this “plot” revolves around the big reveal of Superman on the last page, a moment Batman and Green Lantern have been anticipating . . . and fearing. When he appears, it’s a major deal for them. But not for me, and I doubt for most readers.

This is a problem. The story may be compelling for the characters living it out, but as a reader who knows exactly where it’s going—having seen hundreds of comics take this worn path—it’s not an event, but a drag.

It’d be like thinking you’re writing a “mysterious stranger” narrative, but you show him on the book’s cover, name him early on, and talk about him a few times, and make him a character that literally every reader knows: America’s most recognizable icon, the Man of Steel.

I remember reading comics back in the day in which a mysterious character, often a villain, would frequently appear in a story’s last panel. “Holy shit,” I’d said, “Who the hell is this? A green and purple Metal Monster Bug Villain named Annihilus! His name means it’s very, very likely that he will annihilate someone!” 

There’s at least some mystery as you wait a month to figure out who he is and what havoc he’ll wreak. Green Lantern and Batman may anxiously await Justice League #2 . . . me, not so much. Same as it ever was.


92 Responses to Event Watch — Justice League #1: Nothing Will Ever Be the Same Again. . .

  1. Francisco Silva says:

    Stopped reading as soon as the F-15 criticism came along. Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, is a fighter pilot by profession, it makes perfect sense he would make a fighter plane. Actually seeing as his power is to make green light constructs, he actually knows the mechanics of the F-15, therefore being able to make it work. From the moment you don’t get the character, or his motivations, I am pretty sure you are not going to get anything else. JL#1 is not an amazing comic, agreed, but worse comic ever? Come on, you mustn’t read much.

    • DerikB says:

      LOL.

      Ken’s criticism is invalidated on a technicality.

      • patrick ford says:

        It wouldn’t be possible Ken knows that Hal Jordan is a pilot? I took it he was saying the guy is also a Galactic cop, and was commenting on the choice of the military jet as opposed to a contraption designed by the artist.

        What Ken doesn’t get is that military jets are real, which makes them serious. Now if it had been a spaceship that would have been stupid, because spaceships are not real, and as a result they are corny. It’s very important to make this material as real as possible, because when you are reading the stories you don’t want any reminders that it isn’t real. Things which aren’t real remind the reader that the story isn’t real, and that spoils the feeling that it’s real, and taking place in the real world.

      • Ken Parille says:

        As always, Partick is right on the money! Real.

        And in my defense, one which will also harm me with the art comics crowd, I have read many, many GL stories and have seen many cool things “made manifest with lantern power”: just not in this story.

      • Gene Ha says:

        As a DC artist, I won’t argue how good or bad the story is. If I say it’s great, it sounds like a paid endorsement, if I say it sucks I’m publicly backstabbing friends. But I will second Francisco on Hal Jordan.

        Francisco has it exactly right on Hal Jordan. This is Hal Jordan at the start of his Green Lantern career. Of course he’ll do something obvious! He’s a fighter pilot who just got his ring less than a year ago. Give him a few months to figure out his new toy. It’s just like writing or drawing: you start off by copying the familiar.

        Also, never specify something in the pages of TCJ as fact unless you’re sure. There’s no F#@%ing way that that is an F-15 fighter. Look at the picture of an F-15 you posted. Does that look like the same plane? It’s probably a modified F-35, a much more recent design. I’d hate for people Googling F-15 to end up on this page. The F-15 and other US jets of that period (70-80s) have straight up and down sides on the jet intakes. More recent jets have slanted side walls to aid in radar evasion. Please correct.

    • Paul Slade says:

      “He actually knows the mechanics of the F-15, therefore being able to make it work.”

      Hang on, Francisco. Are you saying GL needs to meticulously make every nut and bolt of an F-15 out of “green light constructs” and then fit them all carefully together from a set of mental blueprints before he can create one? If so, does he have to make each piece with the appropriate strength and weight characteristics of the real materials involved? And wouldn’t that severely limit the range of items the ring could conjure up?

      • Ken Parille says:

        This brings up many good points — I never thought that was how the ring worked. Does he have to know the biology of the vampire bat to make one of them fly? Is he an expert on fire engine contstrution, too.

        The more you try to “science” all this stuff, the worse it gets.

      • Francisco Silva says:

        Actually ine many cases the answer is yes, he needs to know how things work. This does not mean that he can’t make a vampire bat out of light that flies without knowing its biology. He only needs to know about aerodynamics, which he does. He makes something which is aerodynamic in the shape of a bat, not a bat, I bet he could do the same with the F-15.

        This is the reason why John Stewart can make very intricate green light constructs, he is an architect, the idea that is architect skills are essential to his light constructs is mentioned several times throughout comics.

        Point is, Jordan makes an F-15 because he likes F-15s and is familiar with them, it is consistent with the character, particularly as this story is set at the start of his career, where he wouldn’t necessarily be that familiar with “alien ships”.

      • Dustin says:

        I love that this discussion of how Green Lantern’s ring works is occuring on the Comics Journal web site.

      • Brynocki C says:

        I feel the need, in the spirit of Johnny Ryan since his delightful interview is up on this very site, to ask what would happen if Green Lantern wore the ring on his penis. Perhaps a few of you more devout GL fans could prick that subject open…

      • patrick ford says:

        The GL cock ring is powerless against wood isn’t it?

      • Brynocki C says:

        Not wood. GL cock ring would be powerless against rubber

  2. Ken Parille says:

    Derik,

    Too true. . .

    Francisco,

    I am glad you stopped reading as soon as you realized there was nothing here for you. Why waste time?

    You must be right about GL, as I call him, but had you read the rest, you would have read more about his motivation, or at least his personality. He is also a macho, posturing, insecure, unimaginative brat. Can you really reduce motivation to an effect of your job?

    Why create something cool, GL, when you can impress people with a bad ass jet? Given your logic, he should only use known jet planes whenever he travels. I’ll be reading his every appearance carefully, and when he creates something else to cruise around in, expect a scathing internet rebuke from me!

    My point is, like so much of this comic, these choices are dull and unimaginative.

    Give me something to cool to look at. I paid 4 dollars for 12 minutes of entertainment (I read it 3 times).

    Also “worse comic ever? ” I don’t say this, and I talk for a little bit about why I don’t say this; in fact, the whole “piece” is really about why saying this would be a mistake.

    • Francisco Silva says:

      Really I think you should have done the same. As soon as you realized that JL#1 isn’t for you, you should just have stopped reading. This isn’t the book for you, and not for me as well, it’s probably for younger kids. I actually founf JL#1 mindlessly enjoyable, I would have loved it if I was 12, and that is a demographic that has been neglected by comics since the late 80s really. JL#1 has its place in the market, it’s just not with Comics Journal readers and writers. Take it for what it is, if kids grow up reading JL they might eventually move on to more intellectually rewarding comics, but at least they are now turned on to the whole medium.

      • Ken Parille says:

        I wanted to read the whole thing a few times and give it a chance.

      • Francisco Silva says:

        I don’t listen to Justin Bieber albums a few times to give it a chance just because I’m really into music. I don’t read Stephanie Meyer’s books to give them a chance. I don’t watch American Idol to give it a chance… Why are comics different? Why must all comics please all comics readers when the same is not required of any other art medium? Different strokes etc. I actually think that DCs New 52 has managed to create a diversity of comics for a diversity of audiences, and that is something that is actually needed.

      • I’ve been saying this all along. It’s like assuming because somebody watches PBS, they’ll like MTV. I’d add that when people say “They’re not as good as they use to be” what they really should be saying is “I’m not 12 anymore”.

      • Brynocki C says:

        You should really give some stuff you aren’t into a chance. Especially if it only takes 10 minutes to absorb. I would listen to a Justin Bieber album or watch a youtube clip because I am really into music. I would read a comic I thought was crappy because I’m really into comics. I would give a movie I heard sucked a chance because I’m into film. Even JL 1, which I found vacant, I took a few good things from the least of which might be a new understanding of what I don’t want to happen in a comic. It’s important for underground artists to at least have a grip on what makes the extremely popular extremely popular.

      • Ali Almezal says:

        I don’t think the Justin Bieber analogy compares to what Ken Parille is doing. He likes superhero comics, so he gave another one a chance. It’s not that he likes comics so he gave it a chance, it’s because he like some superhero comics that he did.

      • Ken Parille says:

        Ali and Brynocki C,

        You speak the truth!

  3. Greg says:

    Well, I enjoed the issue, even if it was a bit light and fluffy, typical ‘popcorn movie comics’ – but what do you expect. You can squeeze out any possible appeal this book has by over analyzing every other panel, explaining how the re-launch was a missed opportunity etc etc yada yada, but the fan backlash from the last time DC did something interesting with their core characters (Final Crisis) would imply that there isn’t much room for manouevre, re-launch or no.

    I probably won’t bother with issue two, but the 15 year old me sure as hell would. The 29 year old me is now more interested in Los Bros Hernandez… But I can still enjoy both! Why can’t you guys? ..Ever?

    • Ken Parille says:

      “You can squeeze out any possible appeal this book has by over analyzing every other panel”

      That’s my job.

      “Why can’t you guys? ..Ever?”

      I can, just not this lame thing. I made the point in the opening of the essay of refering to things I have written on DC comics I have liked.

  4. Frank Santoro says:

    Kill super heroes. All of them. And all their friends.

    • Sean T. Collins says:

      Remote, elaborate lair: check. Professed, murderous hatred of super heroes: check. Attempting to spread ideas to impressionable minds: check. Yep, I’m pretty sure Frank is a supervillain now. I guess this means no more Cold Heat.

      • Chris Mautner says:

        I think Cold Heat is part of Frank’s evil master plan.

      • Brynocki C says:

        Last time I saw Frank he was bald and holding a green glowing rock bitching about Superman. But he mentioned something about about a desert rave he had been at so it might have been a glow stick. Does Superman have a unconscious fear of glow sticks? Why hasn’t this been investigated? I have to agree I felt no love for this JL 1. And I am really happy that Ken referenced those converse ads. And I am also happy to see Gene Ha up in arms about the exact make of the plane. I thought it looked a bit like the 1982 Hot Wheels version of the F15 but don’t quote me on that please,I would really have to dig through some boxes to back that story up.

  5. patrick ford says:

    I’m trying to picture how Johnny Ryan would have Green Lantern shoot through the air.

    Now in the old books the writer would have Green Lantern get off in various way.

    He might ring-up a giant green slide and zip down, and then he’d ring-up a ladder to go up.

    Or the writer would have Green Lantern ride a green bird, or some other silly thing.

    That was because the writer was kind of dumb. Stuff like that is not realistic. It makes it hard to actually think super heroes are real when there is something like a Bizzaro Superman running around.

    • steven samuels says:

      “I’m trying to picture how Johnny Ryan would have Green Lantern shoot through the air. ”

      C’mon, Pat. You know how he’d do it. The green light would shoot through his dick and then go through Superman’s asshole. And then out his mouth.

      Universe saved!

      Thread closed?

  6. Matt says:

    This is exactly why I turn off comments for reviews on my site, lol!

  7. Ken Parille says:

    I happily took out the F-15 reference, though kept the picture for a general comparison. I still maintain my basic point: I have read 100os of Marvel and DC comics; for all of the reasons I mention, this one is as unimaginative a comic as I have ever read; this no crime, but it’s a little drag to pay that much money for a book that is so cliche.

    He’s a fantasy superhero — do something fantastic, cool, interesting.

    “Why must all comics please all comics readers when the same is not required of any other art medium?”

    . . .

    • Ken Parille says:

      DC’s press: they call it a “monumental issue.”

      “They [JL and Flashpoint 5] are so important that they are the ONLY two books we are putting out this week.”

      They cite people calling them “Epic” — “Spectacular” — “Audacious.”

      I don’t think so and wrote a column about why.

      • Greg says:

        Hah hah, well, if you put it that way…

        But I still think you’re being too harsh, particularly on how Hal and Batman’s characters are portrayed. I like a dumbass cocky Ryan Reynolds GL, sets him apart from the other heroes.

        But whatever, you’re just doing your job!

      • Ken Parille says:

        Fair enough. It’s just my interpretation and opinion.

  8. Ken Parille says:

    It is consistent with his personality for him to create an F-35. The writer presents GL as a boring, unimaginative, bratty hero who speaks in clichés — “Green Lantern’s got this!”– and GL uses his ring power in unimaginative ways, too. My reading is consistent with the character and his personality as he is written .

    Are we supposed to admire him and his choices? I thought Johns wanted us to see him as somewhat incompetent and lame, especially when compared to Batman.

  9. patrick ford says:

    No doubt the new Hal Jordan is modeled after George W. Bush.

  10. Ken Parille says:

    “As a DC artist, I won’t argue how good or bad the story is. If I say it’s great, it sounds like a paid endorsement, if I say it sucks I’m publicly backstabbing friends.”

    Gene,

    Not really. You are under no obligation to share your opinion or argue anything, but why not say what you think?

    I would assume that what you say is what you feel.

  11. Pingback: Carnival of souls: Johnny Ryan, Geoff Grogan, Justice League, more « Attentiondeficitdisorderly by Sean T. Collins

  12. patrick ford says:

    Since the ring will only work if the creation is fully informed by the technical knowledge of the Green Lantern who is wearing it I suppose they had all better hit the books.

    I picture PHD GL working furiously to conjure up a technically workable giant green ray gun, only to be smashed by the giant green hammer of college drop out GL.

  13. steven samuels says:

    “DC insists on comics appropriate for teens, and perhaps even tweens and younger. ”

    No they don’t. The violence-ridden pap they put out for the most part is definetly not kid-friendly. It’s always just sop for their aging fanbase.

    Digital releases aside, it’s amusing how this is sold as somehow being different from what they’ve done before. Brings back the old internet saw about the definition of insanity……..

  14. Stevie B says:

    My 8 year old really enjoyed it. Maybe he’ll help keep the industry going when he grows up. Or maybe cynicism for the sake of it will have killed it by then. I take all the points this essay makes on board, especially regarding the art, but reject the assumption behind the broad thrust. The fundamental flaw is that the essay acknowledges that this is a reboot for new readers, and then goes on to examine the work from the point of view of a world weary person who has read “hundreds of comics as bland as this”.

    I try and remember the lessons learnt from those adults who would sneer at my childhood pleasures with a world weary “seen it all before” attitude by encouraging a sense of awe and wonder when it reveals itself. Most readers in thrall to the story, I contend, would have found Superman’s appearance a major deal. It might have been interesting if The Journal had put the comic in the hands of a few kids to get some alternate round table going on. No scratch, that. It would have been very interesting. Don’t take my word for it, look at what mileage a decent writer on another comics site can get out of it:

    “And last but not least, Kenny Penman of Blank Slate and Forbidden Planet International sent along a huge box of comics full of superheroes and much more. The boys who sorted that out had a marvellous time – us cynical oldies may have scoffed at some of the titles perhaps. But it’s all too easy to forget the sheer joy of being young and discovering a huge stash of comics.”

    “But thanks to Kenny I got to see my own childhood once more. The Year 5 & 6 boys who had the task of sorting the old Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Green Lantern and much more into piles absolutely loved it. They were ecstatic, amazed at each new discovery, stopping and flicking through most of them (it took a lot longer than it should have) and beaming, smiles wide across their excited faces.”

    The Library Chronicles – Thank you, thank you, thank you – we have a graphic novel library!

    • Ken Parille says:

      “World weary” Ha!

      I love good comics, and dislike bad ones. I don’t think my essay comes off as weary, but more as “fun lovin’,” plus a bit harsh, an telling the subjective ‘truth’ as one man sees it!

      • Stevie B says:

        I didn’t get any sense of fun lovin from it, sorry. I like good comics and dislike bad ones too. I really felt this to be a perfectly average and acceptable comic, but my 8 year old found it to be good. He felt batman and Green Lantern argued like him and his brother do, and that Batman was cool and the way they found Superman was really cool. As I said, the essay was based on a flawed concept. I just feel TCJ missed a trick here and could have commissioned a different approach to reviewing the comic. I’m still not clear on one of your central points either, that “For me, superhero comics can’t be good when they’re burdened by a need to be an earth-shattering event, taking us back to DAY ONE and starting all over again.” Now for that view to hold water it would imply you think something like Batman: Year One is a bad comic. Hmm.

      • Ken Parille says:

        Was Batman year one not hyped in the way this this one was? I don’t recall. They said JL 1 was monumental, I say NO.

        The essay was based on NO concept, other than to write about what I thought. That’s it. No concepts here.

    • Ken Parille says:

      “My 8 year old really enjoyed it. Maybe he’ll help keep the industry going when he grows up.

      Or maybe cynicism for the sake of it will have killed it by then. ”

      Or maybe, just perhaps, bad expensive comics will — who’s to say?

      I am not the least cycnical toward comics. I Love Comics! Just not JL 1.

    • Stevie B says:

      Not sure if you are responding to me, but if you are I’m not sure what point you are trying to make that is relevant to this essay.

  15. Ian Harker says:

    I love how whenever a high-profile, shitty, superhero comic or movie gets criticized it’s defenders act like there has never been a truly “good” superhero comic or movie ever made and that everyone needs to calm down. The reason people like Ken can distinguish a good one from a bad one is because he’s probably ready hundreds of good superhero comics. Piggybacking on the Dark Knight movie conversation from the other day, the reason why people can tell a good action movie from a bad one is because there are tons of good ones. It doesn’t even take a lot of thought to figure out what makes them good, i’m a believer in beauty in simplicity. Of course the idea of superheroes is dumb and simple. Present the idea with clarity and a human touch and it will probably go over great.

    • Ken Parille says:

      “The reason people like Ken can distinguish a good one from a bad one is because he’s probably ready hundreds of good superhero comics.”

      Harker, Exactly!

    • Francisco Silva says:

      I think the point of the defenders is that this isn’t that bad a comic, it’s average, maybe slightly below average and is being singled out because of its high profile. There were truly excellent super-hero comics in the DC relaunch (Batwoman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Action Comics) and some which are much worse than JL#1 (Legion Lost, Legion of Super-heroes, Deathstroke, Mr. Terrific). JL #1 is bang in the middle tier of quality (in my opinion), it just feel slightly spiteful to single it out for harsh criticism when there are considerably worse super hero comics out there in any of the big two.

      • Ken Parille says:

        It’s only my opinion, no big deal!

        “being singled out because of its high profile.”

        DC SINGLED IT OUT, too!

        I am not being spiteful, I don’t like it!

        Do I have to read them all, determine which is the worst, and then rewrite about that one. To this, I say NO!

      • Pat says:

        “There were truly excellent super-hero comics in the DC relaunch (Batwoman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Action Comics)”

        You really undercut everything you’re saying when you add in that “super-hero” qualifier. A good piece of work is a good piece of work, no genre qualification necessary.

        There’s a reason no one’s trying to argue that these are great “comics”. They’re not.

      • Francisco Silva says:

        I remove that qualifier then. Those are excelent comics, period. Can you compare them to, I don’t know, American Splendor, or Little Nemo in Slumberland or L’Incal? Not really, but that is because all of those are in completely different genres. I can say Citizen Kane, Terminator 2 and The Seventh Seal are all amazing films without that having to be a contradiction in terms. Different comics, like different films and different books serve different purposes, entertain in different ways and cannot be judged by the same standards. Those comics I mention are excellent comics, some written by some of the best writers active in the whole freakin’ medium(Grant Morrisson, Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder are certanily that).

      • Pat says:

        “Different comics, like different films and different books serve different purposes, entertain in different ways and cannot be judged by the same standards.”

        Again, you’re undercutting your own argument, and more or less admitting that you know this stuff isn’t very good. First you said you’d remove the qualifier, then you put it right back in.

        There’s nothing wrong with liking stuff that’s not of a high quality. I’ll never understand the compulsion people have to be so determined to prove that the things they like must be good. I love the shit out of the Speed Racer movie. Doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty crappy.

  16. Frank Santoro says:

    Did we revive the message board or what? haha.

    • MADdelaRosa says:

      Hahaha! I know, I had the exact same feeling reading through the comments.

      I was going to ask where all these people are coming from (who linked to this post?), but then I remembered that, no matter how obscure, any post that dares to call out a high-profile mainstream book like JL1 for the dull, bland mediocrity that it is is going to attract virulent defenders in droves.

  17. George Bush (not that one) says:

    JLA 1 is just the first chapter of the arc, and doesn’t seem to be written for me. Rather for some one who doesn’t know anything about comics except “Batman is cool!”. But “worst comic ” hyperbole is silly. The DCnU relaunch has many real good books, or its seems. It IS hard to tell after one chapter,but Wonder Woman, Frankenstien, Omac, Green Lantern Corps,Batwoman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batman ,Demon Knights and Action Comics All seem to be fun ,quality comics. JLA is slow, but I think thats because its for new readers. I’m not sure that is the way to attract new readers, but what ever. With 52 books,there are Kid friendly books, books with T +A ,books WITHOUT T+A, books with strong female leads, monsters, middle ages, war……. I realize you are just reviewing one book, and really one chapter in the story, but the DCnU relaunch has a lot going for it.

    • Ken Parille says:

      ARRGH. I DID NOT SAY WORST!

      “I’m tempted to say this is the worst comic I have ever read, but that title would give it a singular status, which might mislead my reader into thinking, “If it’s that bad, maybe I should check it out.” You should not. I would simply say that this is as bland, dull, and uninspired as a comic could be”

      HERE IS MY TITLE:

      “A VERY BLAND Predictable Cliche COMIC”

  18. George Bush (not that one) says:

    The DCnU has books for different people .

  19. Man, I love super heroes, but reading comment threads for current super hero comic book reviews is more fun and entertaining than actually reading current super hero comic books. There’s no unbearable slog through the boring zone of redundant expository dialogue. No stretched-out narratives and issue-after-issue of set-up for disappointing plot developments, which could’ve been resolved in a page or even a few panels. Just a high concentration of self-contained, free-wheeling, fast-paced explosive expression of ideas and concepts. Just mind-blowing, face-melting, lightning-bolt-strike-to-the-frontal-lobe, unpredictable, pop-culture entertainment fun. And all the heroes aren’t saddled with self-doubt to make them appear more real. They actually are real. Plus, you got guest appearances from Gene Ha, swooping in like a caped-avenger and regulating on fighter plane facts. Brynocki C dishing out witticisms and wisdom like a sagely wizard of comic relief. The presence of the specter of Santoro ever-lingering, threateningly from a perch high above. Also, reading comments threads makes more economic sense than buying super hero floppies.

  20. patrick ford says:

    “Worst comic book ever,” has the same connotation as “Funniest thing I’ve ever heard,” and “Cutest puppy in the world.”

    The main thing of interest to me is how bogus the whole ball of wax is. It’s all 1980′s concepts. Year one, #1′s, New Universe, Dark, Silicon.

    The big difference is in the 80′s the reboots sold over a million copies an issue, now it 100k.

    It’s the same creators as last month, the same characters, the same coloring, the same paper, the same marketing, the same fans. To call this stuff “new” is the normal insulting corporate PR BS.

  21. DiamondDulius says:

    “Point is, Jordan makes an F-15 because he likes F-15s and is familiar with them, it is consistent with the character, particularly as this story is set at the start of his career, where he wouldn’t necessarily be that familiar with “alien ships”.

    And it’s easier for the “artist” to swipe an image of an already existing jet than to create something like an alien spaceship…

    • Francisco Silva says:

      So the artist should make the most complex thing because it’s harder, even if it makes little sense for the character? Why don’t we just replace all characters by fractals, I’m sure Comics Journal would love that.

      • DiamondDulius says:

        You’re assuming that Lee drew the plane reasoning that Green Lantern knows planes, while I think the more likely instance is he was simply lazy and swiped an image instead of creating one whole cloth…

      • Francisco Silva says:

        wait… did you know Green Lantern is a military pilot by day? Because that is the explanation for the plane. It’s not lazyness, it’s what you’d expect from cocky, pilot,” loves nothing better than flying planes”, Hal Jordan.

      • Ken Parille says:

        Wait . . . did you know he cruises space by night? “He piloted that alien spacecraft cause he’s a cocky space-crusier.”

        True, it does make sense he would fly a plane. . . It also makes boring.

      • DiamondDulius says:

        Well, it’s never referenced in the story, is it? In situations like this, Jordan being a pilot and familiar with jets would certainly be brought up… I didn’t read the comic, I’m going by the review. Since the reviewer brought up the point to begin with, I’m assuming the fact that Jordan was/is a pilot was never brought up. So, that leads me to believe that the swiped image was only coincidentally a plane Jordan might be familiar with because it seems believable to me that a pencil-holder such as Lee would most certainly take the easy way out…

    • patrick ford says:

      Ken, Is apparently powerless against the power of straw.

    • Jason says:

      It makes sense for Hal Jordan to use a jet because he is a pilot. For some reason, Hal Jordan tends to be unimaginative. He’s simple and sticks to basics. He’s a dull guy given a ring of unlimited imagination. It’d be completely wasted if they didn’t create other GL characters with better imiagination.

      • Paul Slade says:

        Funny how much more imaginative ol’ Hal becomes when there’s a really first-rate artist drawing him though, isn’t it? I have only a handful of GL back issues, but even these yield plenty of examples of him conjuring up stuff that is far more elaborate and surreal than strictly needed for the job at hand.

        Gil Kane has him create a giant human hand (complete with fingernails) to pick someone up, a springy mattress to break someone’s fall and a flying desk fan to deflect some acid in GL number 11 from 1962. When the same artist needs Hal to scoop up some spilt oil from the ocean’s surface in GL 73 seven years later, he does so with an enormous walnut shell.

        During Neal Adams’ run on the book, GL would frequently make a winged horse to transport Green Arrow and other pals through the air, as he does in issues 78 and 83 from 1970 and 1971 resepectively. With Adams’ help, Hal also manages a powerful pressure clamp to repair a broken damn (GL/GA 84), a massive distorted caricature of himself while high on heroin (GL/GA 85) and a pair of twin gorillas to juggle some crooks (GL/GA 86).

      • Jason says:

        I think Hal has been generally unimaginative though since the Rebirth story line. I never understand why so many guns are made with the rings rather than lasers, power blasts, or just other destructive stuff.

  22. Paul Slade says:

    Does anyone else find the layout of these comments sections really confusing? You have to dodge up and down the entire page to find any new additions, and sometimes a new reply will insert itself between two comments which are directly related.

    I understand the principle at work in giving each comment its own reply section, but a simple chronological ranking for the whole page might be easier to follow.

  23. Ken Parille says:

    If I had been the writer, I would have set everyone up to think that Superman was showing up at the end. I would have mentioned Darkseid, as the writer does. BUT: I would have had the big reveal at the end be a dude with Superman’s body and Darkseid’s head . . .

  24. DanielT says:

    Is this the most number of responses a post has received since tcj.com changed? If so, that’s really sad. Even if not, it’s still sad.

    Look, I still like and read superhero comics (though very, very few current ones) but I don’t come to here to read praise/criticism/mocking/whatever of them. I come for Johnny Ryan interviews and reviews of Chris Ware digital comics I hadn’t heard of anywhere else.

    But the number of comments certainly proves that posts like this result in page views, so I guess the TCJ New 52 mini-site will be up any day now.

  25. DanielT says:

    And yes, I know I can just not click on posts like this (which I didn’t actually read, except scanning the comments) but it annoys me just to see them here.

    • Paul Slade says:

      I certainly wouldn’t want a steady diet of this stuff on tcj.com, but I see no harm in making it an occasional part of the mix. The Journal has a unique perspective to offer, both on industry “events” like DC’s New 52 and on the comics themselves. The many, many fanboy sites available cover mainstream stuff ad nauseam, I’ll grant you, but most of those are so badly written, so dumb and so juvenile as to render them unreadable.

      An intelligent look at mainstream subjects from the Journal, plus the occasional heads-up about a noteworthy mainstream book which Journal readers might otherwise have ignored, can be a useful and entertaining part of the site. I’d have appreciated a heads-up about Scalped, for example, which certainly isn’t ground-breaking or arty in the Journal’s normal sense, but is nonetheless an enjoyable and well-executed crime comic.

      The discussion above shows that even the most committed readers of the Journal have a good, old-fashioned comics nerd lurking within. There’s no reason why the Journal shouldn’t address our inner nerds from time to time, but the trick if to do it in the mag’s trademark articulate, feisty and – that word again – unique style.

      • DiamondDulius says:

        I agree… almost any other review of this book will assuredly ignore it’s shortcomings while heaping endless praise on it…

  26. David Marino says:

    I grew up with comics in the 70′s and 80′s and generally like the mainstream comics from that era much, much more than the current incarnation. I’ve tried many times to like what’s around now but I can’t get into them. I usually feel there is not enough content, and that they are overloaded with photoshop effects and excessive coloring is not only dulling, but also streamlines and dulls the directness of the line.

    I’ve felt this way about them for many years, ever since Image came along. The use of the computer in general, down to the paper and computer typed lettering are other big turn offs.

    I guess these comics relate to subsequent generations because they were brought up to like video games and cgi effects in movies?

    Of course superhero books are preposterous and are cliche to varying degrees. Some degrees are more acceptable then others. This writer, much to my agreement, found Justice League #1 as reaching a new low, much like tv and Hollywood movies have. Of course, I’m not surprised, it’s been mining this route for years. The fact that other people enjoy it, is fine and I’m glad it’s helping the industry, but personally it’s hard for me to be into this, much less relate to this era of superhero comics. So other people realize, this is being said by somone who enjoys many super hero comics, and is a huge fan Neal Adams, Alan Davis, Steve Rude, Barry Windsor Smith, Bernie Wrightson, etc. etc.

  27. Ed Gauthier says:

    Let history record that I came up with this one, out of my many brainstorms – I’m wondering when they’ll have Green Lantern’s plane crash into Wonder Woman’s plane!

    I mean one’s ghostly and greenish, the other one’s sorta invisible-like, so… superhero air traffic mistakes could easily be made. Nobody would get hurt, of course, but I’m just surprised it hasn’t happened yet, and nobody’s come up with it in all these years. Gud lawd – I’m SUCH a genius!

    (Now watch some fanoid snake me in the back by pointing out that it happened in some obscure horrible Hostess pie ad-ridden issue in the dang 1970s.)

  28. patrick ford says:

    It’s the business aspects of the “New 52″ which interest me, and looking around I get the impression despite the sales figures, people almost every place just don’t like the material. It’s pretty clear no one sees the content as in any way “new” except in the most superficial way.

    While Ken’s review caused a few people to rush over here to dispute Ken, what is more interesting are Jim Shooter’s reviews and the comments following them.
    http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/10/dc-comics-new-5
    Despite Shooter and the comments following his reviews being at least as critical as Ken’s review there don’t seem to be deeply offended readers of the “New 52″ defending the books over there.

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