Justice League Volume 1: Origin by Geoff Johns – Graphic Novel Review [Bane of Kings]

Justice League Volume 1 - Origin

Bane of Kings reviews the first graphic novel in the New 52 Justice League series by Geoff Johns, published by DC Comics.

“A great opener to a series that is worth picking up for sure.” ~The Founding Fields

Writer: Geoff Johns | Art: Jim Lee, Scott Williams | Cover: Jim Lee | Publisher: DC Comics | Collects: Justice League #1-#6

Now, I was going to review Dan Abnett’s Pariah here, but towards the start of writing that review I’d thought I’d cover the first volume of the Justice League in the New 52 series instead. Purely because my Pariah review was going to be a negative review – and I don’t like writing negative reviews, and I wasn’t really in the mood for writing a review about a book that people will have brought anyway if they’re interested in it. Whilst the same could arguably apply to Geoff Johns’ first volume of the Justice League, I decided to write the review anyway. Because this graphic novel is not only good, but it’s amazing. I love the way Johns has portrayed all the main characters, the A List heroes – and the artwork here is fantastic. Justice League is not a series to be missed out on by comics fans, and it’s certainly well worth reading.

As a part of the monumental DC Comics—The New 52 event, comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee bring you an all-new origin story for the Justice League! In a world where inexperienced superheroes operate under a cloud of suspicion from the public, loner vigilante Batman has stumbled upon a dark evil that threatens to destroy the earth as we know it. Now, faced with a threat far beyond anything he can handle on his own, the Dark Knight must trust an alien, a scarlet speedster, an accidental teenage hero, a space cop, an Amazon Princess and an undersea monarch. Will this combination of Superman, The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Aquaman be able to put aside their differences and come together to save the world? Or will they destroy each other first?

In one of the most game-changing titles in comic industry history, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee re-imagine the classic heroes of the DC Universe for the 21st century. This volume collects issues #1-6 of Justice League, part of the DC Comics—The New 52 event.

The book takes us back to the start for the Justice League and it’s a good place to start as any. Readers who aren’t following the characters in their regular outings will find something to enjoy in Origin, as Johns introduces Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman in that order whilst a back-story is built up for the origin of Cyborg, who needs it most as not only is he not as famous as the aforementioned A Listers, but also lacks a comic of his own in the New 52. So this made the perfect sense, and Cyborg’s backstory is one of things that I found most compelling about this graphic novel. Just don’t expect origin stories for the rest of the characters though – as they are more established than the young teenage hero.

Justice League Volume 1 - Origin

Origin could easily become the basis for the upcoming Justice League film that looks set to follow on from Man of Steel in 2005 as a direct response to the financial success of The Avengers. The storyline has ‘Summer Blockbuster’ written all over it, and I loved the way all of these characters interacted and as a result, Origin was a title that benefited from that. It’s full of non-stop action and there are very little downtime moments here, with great individual character personalities that really make Origin worth sticking around for. Whilst the weakest link of this book may be Batman, in the fact that I felt he was not as good as he could have been portrayed here, this may be due to my bias and personal preference of the character.

But the Batman that we’re seeing in Origin is not the one that we’re seeing in Snyder’s run, which has just reached its conclusion of the Death in the Family story arc. These are not the heroes that we’re seeing in their respective runs with the exception of maybe Action Comics, as Justice League is set five years before the ‘current’ New 52 continuum. Back before the world didn’t know what superheroes are. Back before they were feared, and not trusted. And especially as the way this book kicks off, with a brawl between Batman, Green Lantern, eventually the Flash and Superman – you can see why, these so-called ‘heroes’ will fight against themselves when there’s not an enemy to deal with yet. But then again, it’s still early days. The world doesn’t quite know what they are, like I mentioned earlier. They don’t know what each other can do. There’s a particular couple of scenes in the first issue that largely not only introduces the villain, but also introduces Green Lantern and Batman for the first time. Green Lantern has only just found out that Batman is real, and they’re in the sewers. Hal Jordan is asking Batman if he as any superpowers – as to which Batman keeps replying with the negative. Until Green Lantern asks if he’s just an ordinary guy.

This is one of my favourite moments in the whole volume and I love how Johns managed to handle the interactions between Green Lantern and Batman. Another thing that I liked about this new series is the superb artwork, captured brilliantly by Jim Lee. In Justice League, the artwork is a lot more lighter than other DC titles, less dark and moody, but it still remains a clear DC series. Lee is a really strong artist and I’m really looking forward to seeing him and Snyder work together on their upcoming Superman series. (Speaking of which, is there a confirmed release date of the first issue yet?)

Whilst this book isn’t a serious read, you can have a lot of fun by reading this series. It’s action packed, and it features all the Top DC characters fighting against an A-List villain who (I’m not going to spoil here in case on the off chance that somebody is reading this that doesn’t already know who the villain is) really poses a threat to the League and keeps the tension high.

VERDICT: 4/5

Johns proves again why he’s fast becoming one of my favourite comics writer. His Justice League is fun, action packed and beautifully illustrated by Jim Lee. A comic that fans will not want to miss for certain.

THE NEW 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE SERIES: Volume 1: Origin, Volume 2: The Villain’s Journey

justice league

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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