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Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk take a look at the newly-launched Justice League 3000 series from writers Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis with art by Howard Porter.
“Whilst it may not be what I was expecting, Justice League 3000 manages to be a delightful surprise – a strong storyline from Giffen and DeMatteis with some fantastic artwork from Howard Porter. Count me in for more.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
“Extremely quirky and unexpected. I am cautious about this one.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
Bane of Kings:
Art: Howard Porter | Letters: Sal Cipriano | Colours: Hi-Fi
The new series starring the heroes of today—tomorrow is resolicited, now with legendary artist Howard Porter (JLA) on board! But what are these heroes doing in the year 3000? And who (or what) brought them there? Get ready for a dose of wonder from the writing team of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis!
I don’t really need to be following any new comics. Already this Wednesday I had around 13 books on my pull-list not including Justice League 3000 and that is just too much for me to get in one week. However, a new Justice League book, especially one priced at $2.99 proved to be something that I couldn’t resist – and as it turns out, DeMatteis and Giffen’s book is something that has found its way onto the pull list. A science fiction Justice League story with new team members set 3000 years into the future was something that promised to be a bit of a risk for DC – it could be the next big thing or it could crash and burn. And I’m pleased to say that Justice League 3000 is certainly closer to becoming the next big thing than it is to crashing and burning, because damn – I was surprised by this issue. I knew next to nothing about what was going to go down in the book and whilst it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was in a good way – because both Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis weave an engaging and fun storyline that proves there is still some fun to be had in the New 52.
It is, as the title suggests, the year 3000. CADMUS has something to do with the creation of the Justice Leaguers present here – don’t go in expecting fan favourite characters passed up by the New 52 to return. It’s a Justice League filled of infighting and is in some ways more in parallel with the Crime Syndicate than the League that we’re familiar with. The book introduces us to some interesting characters though – Teri and Terry, the Wonder Twins – who have put more of an interest in the creation of the Justice League than anybody else on the project. There’s also Ariel Winters, a critical character who we first meet in the opening pages of this issue. This isn’t anything like a Justice League, Justice League Dark or Justice League of America book – Justice League 3000 is something different. It’s fun, engaging and benefits from some awesome artwork. What more could you want?
The artwork in question is provided by Howard Porter, and whilst he’s a veteran to DC Comics it was my first encounter with his work and I really enjoyed what I saw. His style is well suited to this setting and I particularly like his versions of the Justice League – the only thing that didn’t really work well was his Superman in some panels, but everybody else – Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and The Flash was pretty good. And the characters themselves are intriguing as well – whilst they may bear the same names as the Leaguers- right down to sharing the names of Clark Kent etc – they’re clearly not the same people. For example, this Batman is somebody who doesn’t have his parents death to motivate him. Green Lantern and Flash are bickering but bearable characters. Wonder Woman’s a lot more bloodthirsty than her present day counterpart. It allows for an interesting mix and is pulled off pretty well indeed.
Within pages we get introduced to the setting and the mood of the storyline. Whilst sometimes writers take an entire issue to build up an unfamiliar world Giffen and DeMatteis have done it in a few pages. We’re immediately drawn into the 31st Century and I can see that it’s something that I’ll be spending a long time in. Whilst the team might be not exactly what I had thought they might turn out to be it’s still nice to see what the characters have on offer. And a Justice League book separated from the main continuity and thus likely (at least for the moment) not to be dragged into any crossovers will help a lot – in fact, a new reader could jump on here and find this book accessible.
It’s something different, fresh and entertaining. Giffen and DeMatteis have something great on their hands here and I can’t wait to see where this goes, and I can see myself sticking with this book for the first arc at least.
Right now, DC doesn’t have a book that’s set in the far-future. We have the near-future books like Justice League Beyond, Superman Beyond and Batman Beyond, digital books but we don’t have anything set in the 31st century, which has typically been the playground of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the teenaged heroes of the future. A far-future Young Justice or Teen Titans if you wish. Writers Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, who are currently collaborating on the highly excellent Larfleeze at the moment are helming this new series which brings back five of the original Justice League members as clones.
Right from the start, you get thrown in the action as we see renegade Cadmus scientist Ariel Masters get hounded by Cadmus security on the planet Bradbury Seven in the Hanuman System. The tension in the story is immediate and it definitely hits you full-force in addition to the questions that are raised. Why is Ariel running? What happened with the so-called Project Masters? Just what is going on? The two writers hold things close to their chest in the early pages, and only tease out the larger story by that point.
But once we cross that mark, we start to see more and more of this brave new world where there are five supervillains of some kind who have been rampaging through space almost unchecked. The “new” Justice League was created to combat them and to give the people their age-old “classic” heroes once more. But its clear that these heroes aren’t exactly who they seem to be. They are missing memories, missing some of their personality traits, and of course all their experience and what not.
I enjoyed the entire premise of the series, even if I thought it to be a bit too comic-y and silly, what with all the cloning and all. It certainly creates an interesting dynamic to explore in the issue, and the writers definitely do that. Since the heroes are missing their memories, and even a lot of their powers, their interrelational dynamics are all out of whack. For example, Superman is quite the self-aggrandizing personality, which clashes with Batman repeatedly. Wonder Woman is missing a lot of her emotional grounding. Flash is just not the Flash right now. And so on and on. The writers do well in exploring the differences between the characters, in the first issue no less, so there is something that the enemy gets right, without inadvertently giving the whole plot away.
The art, for me, proved to be a non-sell though. Porter’s Wonder Woman did not work for me at all. Superman and Batman look 99% similar when out of their suits, the remaining 1% difference being the fact that Clark has a spit curl and Bruce doesn’t. Barry looks far too young, as if he is a teenager. And Hal Jordan was a bit too bland despite the coolness of his costume. And that’s another thing. There’s nothing… iconic or stand-out about any of their costumes. When the artwork was debuted earlier this year, I got quite excited about it, but its hard to summon up any enthusiasm for what’s the reality.
And some of Porter’s panels are either devoid of much in the way of details or they are far too detailed, an inconsistency that bothered me somewhat.Still, on the whole, the artwork is fairly decent, just like the script itself, and its not “bad” per se. However, I’ll say that Hi-Fi’s colours are top-notch throughout and that it is some of Hi-Fi’s best work to date. Which isn’t be too far off from the truth really.
Either way, as a whole, this was a decent issue. Not bad, but not all that good either. Average more like. I’m going to stick around for a couple more issues and see how things develop.