Review: Justice League #3

Finally, the New 52's premiere superteam gets down to the business of kicking bad guy asses instead of each other's.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Justice League #3

Up until now, Geoff Johns' Justice League has been decent, but frustratingly cloying at times with two issues essentially boiling down to a superhero slap party with the characters we used to love acting a lot like idiots.  Now, however, the Parademons are attacking, Darkseid is making his move, and it's time for these guys to put up and finally shut up. 

Perhaps the welcome arrival of Wonder Woman into this mix of testosterone-laden lameness is what helps Johns out of his jam, but business really picks up now that the petulant boys are in the background.  Here in the past, Diana is apparently working with the Pentagon in some fashion, with Steve Trevor as her liaison.  And the public hates her, just like they hate Superman over in Action Comics, which is really disconcerting and difficult to get used to.  Of course, she doesn't seem to respond well to being told what to do, and walking down the middle of a Washington D.C. street brandishing a sword in search of a fight is more her speed. 

Johns writes her as a fairly cute fish out of water with a warrior's edge, although she feels a bit like every cheesy 80s movie you ever saw about a hot alien lady of some sort marveling at modern Earth culture.  "Steve, this place, your home, is filled with so many wonderful things.  Ice cream and rock and roll and… many wonderful things."  It puts one in the mind of Mannequin, which doesn't help since Jim Lee renders her face generally as staid and expressionless as a wooden doll.  Even when she gets her huge splash page entering the fray in badass form and impressing all the supermenfolk, her eyes look blank. 

Lee's art is curious in general.  I've said before that it's essentially the straightforward standard for a modern comic book – the mastery of the basics that other artists put their own stylization on to make their own.  When he's on, he's really on, and he does some great stuff with detail and action here.  The Parademons look nasty and everything's really busy.  However, the more you see of Lee, the more it becomes apparent why Rob Liefeld still has a job with DC.  True, they're both Image buddies, but Liefeld is trying his damnedest to be Lee and fails miserably every time.  However, one trait both of their characters share seems to be the "sameface," and it's more apparent here because this issue is filled with toothy grit-anger face that Liefeld can't NOT draw.  Lee's, naturally, are BETTER faces (as in, they don't look like they have constipated rectums for mouths), but even being reminded of Liefeld is severely troubling.  It's also disconcerting to see that Lee apparently can't really differentiate his faces in age very well, as evidenced by Diana talking to a child with an adult head early on. 

Lest it seem like I didn't enjoy this issue, however, it's quite clearly the best of the three issues we've gotten so far – mainly because I didn't find myself annoyed by any of the characters.  Thankfully, Hal Jordan's douchebaggery is at a minimum, although he does remind us he's there by calling 'dibs' at the sight of Wonder Woman.  The slow build of Cyborg's origin woven into the Parademon narrative will help solidify his presence in the upper echelon of DC heroes, and Aquaman's appearance at the end is quite welcome as well.  It's a straight up alien invasion, but there's something mysterious going on within it, as the Parademons aren't murdering people – they're abducting people for unknown purposes. 

While I miss Diana's pants, Johns does manage to give her a Han Solo moment of coolness that I can appreciate.  When she wades into the fight and rips through hordes of these monsters, Superman just gives her a look.  "You're strong."  Diana's response is simple.  "I know."  That right there is likely setting up whatever relationship they're going to manufacture between these two symbolic powerhouses… although they aren't really symbolic of anything anymore.  At least not yet.

One minor curiosity – has Metropolis always been a coastal city?  It's always vague about where it's actually located, but for some reason, I was always thinking it was more inland. Now it's on the edge of the ocean, which makes it handy to get Aquaman involved, sure.  Perhaps Metropolis just has every aspect it needs to have to serve a story.  Someday, though, I'd like to see it get as detailed a history as Scott Snyder is currently giving Gotham City over in Batman and in Gates of Gotham.

Anyway, Justice League #3 is finally getting to what we wanted out of this book in the first place.  However, it has yet to manage anything completely awesome, even though Wonder Woman's splash page was as close as it's gotten.  Hopefully it'll keep getting better from here, and eventually get us jazzed about the heavy hitters again.