Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Ivan Reis
Published by DC Comics
One of my favorite parts of team books is that first story where everyone comes together. You get a hint at what holds everyone in the group, what kind of missions to expect, and who’s going to punch a teammate first. And lately, it seems like comics have let that stretch over a few issues, pacing it so that the last team member doesn’t sign up until the trade paperback is ready.
Steve Orlando knows how to make an emphatic point, and he gets everything he needs done in this first issue. And he has assembled a Justice League worth following.
The premise for this team is that Batman was so inspired by Killer Frost’s heroism in the Suicide Squad crossover that he decides to put together a group of people the public can relate to. “The world needs heroes they know, not gods, to inspire them – show them they can be heroes.” Which sounds good.
And yet, the picks for the team are almost all so wrong as to be silly. Two of the heroes, The Ray and The Atom, are new for this book or have one story in the Rebirth line. So the public doesn’t know them. Two of the folks, Lobo and Killer Frost, are former supervillains to carry the redemption theme, and Batman fits the Everyman goal. But Black Canary can scream out a sonic force attack, and Vixen takes on powers based on the animal kingdom.
So the point is, and I think Steve Orlando knows this, that Batman wants to make his own club, no Superman allowed. The group seems to have been assembled with an eye for representation, including an Asian character, a gay man, and a black woman. And over time, he’ll get to connect this team to the public, with dedicated missions to handle high-profile, inspiring challenges.
The book is already fun – Canary hates everybody, Lobo wants more authority, Ray and Atom are preparing to be comedy bros. Orlando’s pacing is deliberate and engaging, and Reis’s art brings a realism to the team in line with the mission statement. This could shape into one of the most memorable eras of the Justice League.
But man, does Batman not get it. And I love seeing that guy when he’s wrong.
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics