In Review: Justice League of America: Rebirth #1

There's no reason to purchase this book if one is vaguely familiar with any incarnation of the characters.

The covers: A three quarters bust shot of Batman from his left makes up the majority of this cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Marcelo Maiolo. From the bottom of the Caped Crusader’s neck down, the other members of this team make up his body. They include the Ray, Black Canary, the Atom, Lobo, Killer Frost, and Vixen. It’s a decent cover, but not much is shown of the characters. I would have preferred to have seen more of them. The Variant cover is by Ryan Ottley and Sunny Gho. It’s set up like other Rebirth Variants, a white background with the DC Bullet down at the bottom and the book’s heroes in action on it. Going from top to bottom there is the Ray, Killer Frost, Vixen, Lobo, Batman, Atom, and Black Canary. I purchased this cover because more of the heroes can be seen on this than the Regular cover. Overall grades: Regular B- and Variant A-

The story: This issue is written by Steve Orlando, the man who oversaw the Vixen, Atom, Ray, and Killer Frost one-shots. I enjoyed his writing on all of those books, but this issue is a rote coming together of these characters, and others, as the new Justice League of America. It’s a “let’s get the band together” book. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t to anything else. Opening in Happy Harbor of Rhode Island, Batman shows Killer Frost an underground complex that he’s never seen the potential of “until now.” He goes on to say, “Everyone can be a hero. This team, this place, will give that.” The setting then moves to Seattle, Washington, hours later, where Black Canary is duking it out in an alley with the icy villain. The blonde hero threw the first punch, unaware that Killer Frost is only defending herself. The arrival of the Dark Knight changes the course of the skirmish. He piques her interest and the story moves to a new location with a new character. That’s how the book goes until everyone gets an invitation and ends up in their new headquarters. This issue is supposed to lay out the ground work for the monthly comic and it does, but it doesn’t do anything else. No backstory is needed for the characters, due to the recent one-shots and the well established origins of Black Canary and Lobo. I will say it’s good to see the real Lobo in this book, and not that hipster Lobo of the New 52, however Lobo has never been a team character and I don’t understand why he’d stick around. This is something I’m hoping Orlando addresses in the monthly. This is a predictable story with the characters coming together. Overall grade: D+ 

The art: The penciller is Ivan Reis and the inkers are Joe Prado and Oclair Albert. The visuals are incredible. The first page establishes the quiet town of Happy Harbor and transitions to Batman and Killer Frost emerging from the dark. This nicely establishes some tension. The reveal of the headquarters on Page 2 is a full paged splash and teases what’s in this setting without showing anything specific, save some stairs, walkways, and computers. The characters look fantastic, whether standing still and talking or slugging away at each other. Page 6 looks terrific, as two characters look up to see another: the setting is wonderfully detailed. The look given by the character at the bottom of that page and 7 is excellent. The Ray and Vixen come off as gods in this book: poses and physiques make them look like the ultimate achievement of human fitness. The final page, 19, is a splash of all the characters running into action. It’s a nice closer, but why two of the heroes would be using their powers in that environment doesn’t make sense — it’s cool, but not logical. Page 20 has four horizontal panels showing teases of what’s to come in the monthly book. This is fine, but the story couldn’t have been fleshed out to have this be a full twenty pages for the artists to illustrate? Overall grade: A

The colors: Beautiful coloring on this book by Marcelo Maiolo to match the incredible artwork. The use of blues on the first page connects the distant shot of Happy Harbor to Batman and Killer Frost. The headquarter’s lights illuminates the oranges in the walls that comprise the cave and give some cool blues to the metal that makes up its interiors. Killer Frost has got an excellent frosty tinge to match her abilities and Lobo’s pasty white face is highlighted by his crimson eyes. The Ray’s yellows and whites are very strong, but Vixen is the scene stealer with her gorgeous skin and supernatural eyes. On every page the colors succeed. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Clayton Cowles provides scene settings, dialogue, the story’s title and credits, and sounds. I like the look of these scene settings, which instantly make them distinct from all other forms of text in the book. The sounds are also strong; I’m a big fan of sounds in comic books and Cowles uses just the right font and size for an audible moments of the book. Overall grade: A

The final line: The art is terrific, but the story is utterly unsurprising. There’s no reason to purchase this book if one is vaguely familiar with any incarnation of the characters. It looks great, but that’s not reason enough to buy a book. I’m hoping the story begins in the first issue of the monthly. Overall grade: C+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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