Some opening thoughts on DC Rebirth – Justice League and Green Lanterns

When Michael asked me to write a piece for My Comic Relief he suggested it should be on DC comics. His request came right at the start of DC Comic’s Rebirth launch so unfortunately it’s only at this point, as we reach week 6 of that process that I feel I have acclimatised enough to the new titles to give some thoughts.

DC Andrew 6

Photo Credit – DC Comics

I’ve now read every single title published under the Rebirth moniker to date. As a process I think it has been healthy for DC Comics and has been a positive change for fans. Up until Rebirth launched I was a (much richer) regular buyer of only Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League and The Green Lantern and then supplemented from the DC line as I felt necessary. Those selections were what remained of a reignited passion for buying comics sparked by 2011’s New 52 “soft reboot”. Although much maligned, I have to say I recall the early publications from the New 52 era fondly, with the exception of the early Action Comics titles (this is sacrilege in some quarters but I’m afraid I will never be a fan of Mr Grant Morrison’s work and have given up at this point). Later issues in that series were more my scene.

 Rather than try to give a broad-brush assessment of DC’s Rebirth process as a whole, I thought that in this initial post for My Comic Relief I would give some analysis, in this first post, of the unifying title Justice League, which brings together a lot of the top table DC characters. I thought I could then contrast the early treatment of Justice League title in the Rebirth brand, with its handling under the first few issues of the New 52. Then I’ll go on to give some thoughts on my favourite Rebirth title to date, Green Lanterns, which is now sitting at #3.
In terms of the Justice League title, to date there have been two separate issues published. The first was the Justice LeagueRebirth #1 (henceforth “JL Rebirth #1”), the second was the Rebirth Justice League #1(henceforth “JL #1”). If anyone is finding that confusing don’t worry, if your local comic store is anything like mine, then between variant covers, twice monthly shipping and a plethora of #1s floating around even seasoned DC fans are checking front covers very carefully by now (I’ll admit I’ve “double-bought” titles in recent weeks accidentally). Although the subsequent #1 proper was, in my view, an improvement on the Rebirth #1 both issues lacked the sheer “statement” that was made at the start of the New 52 by the Justice League title. What struck me upon reading the New 52 was the important points it was making, and the themes it developed. It drew out vital themes relating to super powered heroes and their relationship to the rest of society, control of their powers, etc. Those were all important comic-book themes which drew analogies to contemporary political affairs. They may be familiar themes but I thought they were good ones to lay out at the start of a new continuum.
DC Andrew 1

Photo Credit – DC Comics

DC Andrew 4

Photo Credit – DC Comics

Now I will admit that of late those themes have become a little more routine. They have also been drummed into comic book readers during their cinema-going now too – both Civil War and Batman v Superman reiterated similar themes – and there are similarities with the Marvel Civil War titles. So I can fully appreciate why DC Comics wanted to go down a slightly different route. So what did we get in the JL Rebirth #1? Well in my opinion it was a disappointing issue for a number of reasons. Firstly the art left a lot to be desired especially character’s faces (I’m not a fan of the team I don’t think I ever will be) and panel to panel sequencing was just plain odd. Jessica Cruz looked nothing like the character I have come to know and love (see below) in previous months since her introduction under the old pre-Rebirth dispensation. Likewise look at the clumsy “team photo” panel towards the end of the book. This is not how I want to see these characters look – it appears to me that they lack the elegance and stature which has come to be expected. There I said it.

I also detected an inconsistency of appearance for characters throughout the actual book, and plot-wise the positioning of Superman was also problematic for me. As if it was in any real doubt that he would rush to the League’s assistance! Surely Lois was thinking “thou doth protest too much Clark?” in JL Rebirth #1. Artwork aside the plots did nothing for me across the two issues to date with the exception of the cover art and most of the variant cover art which was actually pretty fine work. JL #1 was marginally better both in terms of its plotting and its art work. That issue on my reading had a nicer span of activity and a better degree of co-ordination between all the activities of the members of the team, so I’m hoping we’ve seen the start of an upswing and that the upcoming issues will be interesting once the “Rebirthing” process is settled down. Incidentally I do think that many of the actual one-off Rebirth #1 issues could probably be skipped by long term fans. There is an element of easing us in that they seem to share. Most fans could skip straight to #1 proper for the titles they want to get.

Unlike the Justice League titles the Green Lanterns title to date has given me  everything I wanted from the Rebirth process (in fact the majority of the titles have been excellent – more on those in later posts). They have everything that sold me on DC comics back when I was a kid in the 1980s and comic books were affordable for kids. The title is fast moving and action packed. The artwork is beautiful and the story line is relatively engaging (and we have Red Lanterns! woo-hoo). My highlight though? The buddy-buddy repartee between Cruz and Baz! One negative comment is that I think Baz is being painted a little too simply as the “bad-ass with attitude” when I think there is significant potential for a more three-dimensional and sensitive portrait of him (using Lantern powers to conjure up a car battery as a weapon folks?). That is my only complaint though, and Simon as the “seasoned Green Lantern” to Jessica’s rookie is quite funny. As is Cruz’s inner monologue, the depiction of which is quite hilarious as she struggles to pitch her super-hero patter at the right level (see panels).
DC Andrew 2

Photo Credit – DC Comics

DC Andrew 3

Photo Credit – DC Comics

On a more serious note the title has continued to touch upon wider social issues relating to Baz’s background, false imprisonment, family context, etc, as well as Jessica Cruz’s struggle with pronounced agoraphobia, etc. In summary, to date the title has been action-packed, great artistically, has a positive diversity of featured characters, is funny and witty. Although not perfect I love it and it will be a mainstay of my pull list as long as the present formula doesn’t change too much.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope to become a regular, if perhaps slightly sporadic correspondent for Michael, on all things DC in the months ahead. I look forward to it, and anyone who wants to continue the conversation with me can do so on Twitter – on @andrewinbelfast

 

[Michael’s Note – Thank you Andrew for writing this.  I couldn’t be happier with my first guest post!  Yay!  I’d also like to encourage everyone to follow Andrew on Twitter.  You should also check out his incredible Star Wars Blog The Astromech Journal.  Seriously, this guy loves Star Wars and comic books and he, clearly, writes about them with depth and elegance.]

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3 thoughts on “Some opening thoughts on DC Rebirth – Justice League and Green Lanterns

    1. Yeah! I’m so looking forward to them getting into a detailed story arc now! As I said – old fashioned storytelling and humour in that title that represents the best of DC’s traits. My favourite too!

      Liked by 2 people

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