This review contains minor spoilers.
While Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 didn’t blow me away, I still looked forward to seeing what the first issue would offer. At the very least, it should satisfy fans of The CW’s Arrowverse and be a little fun, right? Wrong. We’re only in February, but this is an early frontrunner for the worst issue of 2017 (along with Superman #17). Think of every criticism you can about comic books and you’ll start to get an idea of what’s in store here.
In the opening scene, Batman tells Vixen that the Justice League watches from above and it’s not good enough. He adds that the people need to see heroes are people, too, and the JLA will show them that (by the way, did anyone ask Lobo if he’s a human?). So, what does writer Steve Orlando go and do? He makes the villains a bunch of aliens from another planet. Great idea, Steve, because nothing inspires humans to become heroes more than aliens with superior technology and intellect.
The political undertone of the narrative is also painfully obvious, as the aliens known as the Extremists want to save our world through oppressive ruling. Heck, one of them even looks exactly like Steve Bannon, so it’s not too difficult to guess who this represents. Unfortunately, Orlando’s story degenerates into a huge mess, as it struggles to carry all its various subplots, themes, and threads. He also commits the biggest (bigly?) cardinal sin of writing: the telling of everything – and I mean, everything.
The dialogue is too on the nose, as we’re constantly reminded how this team doesn’t get along. It’s like, “look, we’re not Super Friends and will bicker with each other while everyone watches us.” How the hell do you plan on inspiring people if you air your dirty laundry like a bunch of reality TV stars? I’m officially renaming this series Keeping Up with the Justice League of America until this is rectified. Also, are thought bubbles banned at DC or something? Because most of the “dialogue” reads like it should be an internal monologue. Seriously, there’s a part where the Atom actually discusses how he’ll take down the bad guy out loud in front of the bad guy. It’s laughably bad.
If there’s one person I feel sorry for here, it’s penciller Ivan Reis. He’s not given much to work with, but his artwork cannot be faulted in this issue. There are no shortcuts or lazy drawings, as he gives 110% on each and every page. In fact, I think this story will probably get less flak than it should because of his outstanding efforts.
I mentioned my concerns of whether this series is really necessary before, and after Justice League of America #1, I’ve been proven right. It feels superfluous, forced, and adds absolutely nothing new to the Rebirth line. Throw in the Scooby-Doo-esque logic of verbalizing everything, and I’m not sure if this is 2017 or I’m stuck in an old episode of Super Friends. They say first impressions last; well, this one kinda sucked. Nonetheless, this series is about second chances, so I won’t give up on it just yet.
Oh boy! Justice League of America #1 misses the mark in every way and is an early contender for the worst issue of 2017.