(DC Comics, 2014)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Artwork by Howard Porter
Color Artwork by Hi-Fi (Brian Miller)
Lettering by Sal Cipriano
The first issue of Justice League 3000 was conspicuously light on humor especially for a Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis book. However it was still a really well written, exciting and entertaining first issue (you can read all about it in my review of issue #1) albeit a slight departure from their more comedic fare. Well if you thought that was a complete tonal shift and this was going to be a darker, gritty Giffen and DeMatteis collaboration put those thoughts way out of your mind because that signature rapier wit and razor sharp humor are back at full strength in issue number two. The contentious interactions between a quarrelsome Superman and a cantankerous Batman, as problematic as they are when attempting to work as a team, are indicative of how diametrically different from their inherently good predecessors these 31st century cloned counterparts really are. This team is hampered by their individual lack of catharsis, they have no defining moment where they had to overcome tragedy, they never had to be heroes thus they have no idea how to be. Superman is particularly funny in this issue when through his inability to accept the reality that he cannot fly makes repeated failed attempts all at his detriment. The rest of the team doesn’t rally around him supportively as you might expect heroes to, they instead laugh at his narcissistic pig-headedness and the resulting “spectacular fall”.
There is no question that Superman is the quintessential pompous ass but he is not alone in his abrasive, obnoxious and overall pugnacious personality. Just about every member of this Justice League has in some way corrupted the identity of all of the corresponding original members; Wonder Woman is insatiable, Batman is confrontational, Superman is arrogant, in fact only the Flash and Green Lantern are anything remotely resembling honorable and even they are not without their defects. As unlikely a League as these manufactured “heroes” seems to make, Giffen and DeMatteis are able to find the humor and go from there. Their decision to include a re-imagined Wonder Twins is a stroke of brilliance that adds a dimension of nostalgic quirkiness to a universe that rivals Red Dwarf in its utter eccentricity.
In this issue the team is on a mission to take out several garrisons on the back water world of Flatmas when they encounter an inter-galactic teen-aged upstart named Locus. Her willingness to brawl at a second’s notice along with her seemingly omnipotent influence over the physical realm added to her downright nasty attitude make her a more than formidable foe for this fledgling Justice League. More than just a one-off villain of the month for the League to hone their skills against, Locus obviously has a connection to the insidious Coeval as well as to matters involving The Five. Giffen and DeMatteis while being more than cognizant of events taking place in the previous Legion of Super Heroes book seem to be willing to build on those events making it possible for some Legionnaires to show up in this series. Justice League 3000 is not so much a replacement for the Legion as it is co-existent, these characters could interact with the Legion to extremely entertaining results.
Howard Porter’s style has evolved and changed a great deal since his days on JLA. He has a grittier sensibility to his work, an edginess that has replaced the more polished look of his earlier work. I think it conveys a much more energetic and urgent dynamic that perfectly suits this title. His storytelling is intense and frantic bringing a level of excitement to this book that enhances the already vivacious narrative. Porter has a keen eye for character design and that shows in his re-imagined League members and their iconic costumes. They are not just bland, slightly altered versions of their forerunners but completely re-designed from the ground up and they work amazingly well, calling to mind the originals just enough to show a spark of inspiration. This is top notch work from front to back.
Giffen and DeMatteis have taken a unique look at a dystopian future for the Justice League and have shown us that it’s not all doom and gloom, well there is a lot of doom and gloom but we can laugh at much of it. Justice League 3000 is off to a stellar start and with this current creative team at the helm I’m sure it is going to be a fun and exciting journey. In just two issues these guys have set a uniquely humorous and intriguing tone that is sure to enthrall anyone who gives this book a chance. I recommend adding this one to your pull list and signing on for the long haul, Giffen and DeMatteis know the terrain well. So until next time, see you at the comic book store. (4.5/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.