The Issues With Geoff Johns' Justice League

#1 Edited by Captain13 (3331 posts) - - Show Bio

Let me preface this by saying that I believe that Geoff Johns is an amazing writer who has made numerous contributions to the comic book, television, and film industry over the last 10 years.

He really stands out from the rest of the comic book writing crowd for his ability to flush out the psychologies of villains (Sinestro, Black Manta, Parasite, etc.), he knows how to use side characters to enrich the story and to add interesting bits of drama (as seen in Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Cyborg), and he knows how to make big reveals feel organic. Until the reboot, his only problems as a writer were that his single could feel a little decompressed from time to time and his main characters could feel a little bit like Mary Sue's from time to time--but it was no big deal because those stories revolved around super heroes.

I was extraordinarily excited about his Justice League run with Jim Lee when it was announced, but I've only enjoyed 2 of the 11 issues that have been released so far (Issues 1 and 9). So what's wrong with Johns's run?

1) The Characters Are Too One Note

Every team book is bound to have types. As a writer, you're working with 22 pages a month, so you often have to boil down your characters to their essential personality traits to make each character interesting. There is nothing wrong with that. It works well for the Ninja Turtles, the Young Justice cartoon, and too many other plays, shows, films, and video games to actually list. The problem is when the characters a TOO one note. How many times do we have to put up with the same Aquaman jokes over and over and over again. It was funny the first time in Aquaman's New52 solo title, but now when I see it again I just want to tear up the issue--it's not funny anymore and we get the joke. It's time to move on because it's just starting to feel like lazy writing to take up a few panels.

Green Lantern is supposed to fit the joker role on the team similar to Iceman, Spider-Man, Human Torch, and Iron Man, but Green Lantern's jokes have no real heart like those other characters. The joker is supposed to feel fun and playful--and his team mates should like his jokes occasionally. The reader and the other characters should laugh WITH the joker not AT him. That's not the case with Green Lantern in the book. He's just douchey. He's a clown. I forgave it during the first arc because he was still a new hero to the scene, but he still acts very rudely 5 years later. No one would actually want to be friends with this guy in real life, so why does the Justice League put up with him? He hits on everything that moves--sloppily I might add. He tries to pick up his friend's girlfriends (see issue 10). He put's people at risk to punk Batman (see issue 7). He's a jerk in a non-entertaining. way (see issue 1-11). I could put up with this if he were A) actually entertaining or B) is it happened rarely. But it's not entertaining, and Hal acts like a jerk every issue (except issue 9). Why is the writer who made Hal popular again writing him as a one note douchebag in an attempt to make him the funny guy? It's such a contrast from the Green Lantern ongoing and from his previous work with the character.

Wonder Woman is supposed to be this team's Wolverine, but she doesn't show the kind of heart needed to balance it out. And we don't need to reference the fact that Barry Allen is a cop who loves the law in every issue. And we know that Batman has no powers. LET'S MOVE ON.

Furthermore, we see the same team ups over and over. Batman and Superman always hang out. Flash and Green Lantern always hang out. Let's change it up. How about Superman and Aquaman? Cyborg and Flash? etc.?

Finally, why does the team constantly fight? They don't seem like they should really be friends because they can't stand each other. Why don't they get along some of the time? The Avengers and X-Men strike a good balance between team conflicts and unity. This team does not.

2) It's Too Decompressed

I understand taking your time to write a good story, but very little development actually happens in each issue. Some times there's hardly any dialog on a page no matter what the panel count is. While this is not a big deal in terms of buying for trades, it does make buying single issues feel like a waste. Now some writers think that they should solely focus on single issues which rushes the story too much (See the Manapul and Buccellato Flash) and other writers like Johns and Bendis write fr trade and leave single issues feeling worthless. There can be a balance between the two as seen in Snyder's Batman and Johns' Aquaman.

3) It Has Too Many Main Characters and It's Trying To Make Everyone Happy

Everyone has a favorite member of the Justice League who they want to see take center stage. Okay that's fine. Problems arise when you have too many of those characters trying to take a main character slot. Any writer or director will tell you that it is EXTREMELY difficult to coordinate fights with more than 5 characters. It's also hard to write worthwhile dialogue for more than 6 characters. I care more about dialogue and character development than fights, so I think that at most it's okay to have 6 main characters, but you can have hundreds of supporting characters is you'd like. Justice League breaks that rule and has 7 main characters. I know that the League traditionally has 7 heroes, but that doesn't mean that that is a good thing. At best a character just isn't given much to say or do (see Colossus during Mark Millar's fantastic Ultimate X-Men run, see Starfile during Geoff Johns's Teen Titans run, etc.), while the other characters take up the limelight. This can be fixed by splitting the characters up into smaller groups, but all 7 Leaguers are together most of the time which means that characters like Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman say little while everything Cyborg says is exposition. Even the Avengers film and Joss Whedon's X-Men only had up to 6 heroes in the room at once.

The best way to fix this is by making some of the characters (up to 6) main characters while the rest are supporting characters. Yes this will piss people off if you advertise their favorite character on the cover, so just don't advertise their favorite character on the cover. By trying to use all 7 as main characters you're just annoying people who aren't Batman, Green Lantern, or Flash fans.

Some people may say that it's okay to have a zillion main characters like on Young Justice or JLU. But comics don't run on a weekly format like those shows which can neglect a character for a week or two. You can't neglect a main character for a month or months at a time.

Finally, not every character needs to be in the book every month. There are solo titles for that. Don't shove characters in to make people happy. It's about the quality of the time with the character not to quantity. It irks me when Wonder Woman and Aquaman are in the book only to get two lines of dialogue. Just leave them out of the issue that month, then have an Aquaman and Wonder Woman centric book the next month.

4) No Sense of Danger and No Build Up

Okay, we've seen heroes fight block buster style alien invasions a zillion times. Do we really need to see that again? Do the heroes need to win every time? Take a note from the Young Justice cartoon. Have the bad guys actually be cunning and sneaky. It makes the stories less predictable. Also when the bad guys do attack, don't just have them blow up a bunch of cars. If the bad guy is evil he'll do things like kill innocents and his own followers. Take some notes from Watchmen (wipe out of New York) and Ultimate Comics Ultimates (wipe out of DC).

5) It Feels Targeted To Parents Who Don't Read Comic Books

The book feels so bland and inoffensive so as to make parents feel comfortable buying it for their kids at Barnes and Noble when the movie eventually comes out. It's too koscher. Bad things can happen in a book and it will sell (see Watchmen or Batman: Year One). And just because the book is clean doesn't mean that kids will like it. My little brother (10) thinks that the book is for little kids, but he's a big fan of the darker Young Justice. You can be appropriate for children and still be dark and mature (see Dr. Seuss's The Lorax and Bruce Timm's Batman the Animated Series).

What ever happened to stories like Justice, New Frontier, Tower of Babel, etc.?

6) Predictable Reveals

Johns' is supposed to be good at surprises, so why is there nothing surprising in Justice League?

7) Geoff Johns Can Do Better

Why is Aquaman a FAR better team book than Justice League? It makes no sense. There's too much wasted potential in this book.

8) Timeline

Can we get some ages for the characters and a timeline please? I get this is supposed to be timeless, but there are just too many holes in this universe.

#2 Posted by Mercy_ (92697 posts) - - Show Bio

HIGH FIVE, BROSKI.

Moderator
#3 Posted by ReVamp (22865 posts) - - Show Bio

You know, you could have just said "everything", lol.

#4 Posted by SandMan_ (4528 posts) - - Show Bio

Agreed.

#5 Posted by 4_color_image (218 posts) - - Show Bio

Agreed; however, thank God he is actually doing something with Diana, her real supporting cast & villains. It is a shame that in her own title she is just a support character for As Mount Olympus Turns!!!!

#6 Posted by BlackArmor (6141 posts) - - Show Bio

Geoff Johns Can Do Better

Here Here! you summed up exactly why this book is a waste perfectly

#7 Posted by Video_Martian (5645 posts) - - Show Bio

This is easily Geoff Johns' worst written series ever.

#8 Posted by AtPhantom (14521 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah, I agree totally with this.

#9 Posted by KingofMadCows (345 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah, I just gave up after what he did with Darkseid. He turned a scheming manipulative mastermind into a dumb brute.

#10 Posted by obscurefan (274 posts) - - Show Bio

This is a pretty accurate rundown.

#11 Posted by TheGoldenOne (38849 posts) - - Show Bio
@AtPhantom said:

Yeah, I agree totally with this.

#12 Posted by WildStyle (331 posts) - - Show Bio

Good thread and I absolutely agree 100 %.

#13 Posted by Funrush (1369 posts) - - Show Bio

@Captain13 said:

5) It Feels Targeted To Parents Who Don't Read Comic Books

The book feels so bland and inoffensive so as to make parents feel comfortable buying it for their kids at Barnes and Noble when the movie eventually comes out. It's too koscher. Bad things can happen in a book and it will sell (see Watchmen or Batman: Year One). And just because the book is clean doesn't mean that kids will like it. My little brother (10) thinks that the book is for little kids, but he's a big fan of the darker Young Justice. You can be appropriate for children and still be dark and mature (see Dr. Seuss's The Lorax and Bruce Timm's Batman the Animated Series).

What ever happened to stories like Justice, New Frontier, Tower of Babel, etc.?

I have a feeling that maybe the reason for this and the predictability thing, and the too many characters is that maybe DC is telling Johns that he needs to universalize this book to every audience to get $. That would explain why his Aquaman and GL are great and his JL is lacking so much.

#14 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13142 posts) - - Show Bio

I Freakin Salute You!!!!!!!. Excellent work my friend!!!!

#15 Posted by BatWatch (2723 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't have much to say, but I wanted to compliment you on a thorough analysis.

I think the best way to handle a team book is not to make one character or a couple of characters the "main" characters and the rest supporting. Rather, I think individual plot lines should focus on different characters. In this arc, Aquaman will take center stage. In this arc, Batman will be the seminal figure.

Star Trek TNG did this trick a lot. Almost all the characters were in each episode, but their were definitely episodes which were a Worf episode or a Data episode.

#16 Posted by TDK_1997 (14896 posts) - - Show Bio

I fully agree with you.

#17 Posted by OutlawRenegade (1251 posts) - - Show Bio

@TDK_1997 said:

I fully agree with you.

#18 Posted by OutlawRenegade (1251 posts) - - Show Bio

bump

#19 Posted by Funrush (1369 posts) - - Show Bio

@OutlawRenegade said:

bump

Is bumping allowed on here if it's just for the sole purpose of bumping?

#20 Posted by CrimsonCake (2677 posts) - - Show Bio

I had my doubts about his series after reading Justice League # 4.

#21 Posted by MrMiracle77 (1659 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree with a lot of the above, but would like to add:
 
- The story drops too many hints about the untold 5 years between the current issues and the first few.  Why?  If all this great development happened over those five years, why not focus on those stories instead?
 
- Too many of the current tales are not even told from the perspective of the League characters.  After the intro issues, we had a Steve Trevor issue, followed by a Green Arrow issue, and even an issue involving a reporter.  Why is it taking so long to provide a story about the League as the central interest?
 
- Being a jerk is not the same as having rapport.  Watching the characters snark at each-other is a poor replacement for the decades of real-world relationships that the League had in their Pre Nu-52 series.  These characters were friends, once.  I don't know what they are now.

#22 Posted by polo327 (58 posts) - - Show Bio

I personally loved the opening arc of JL, IMO if they ever get around to making a Justice League movie it should be based on that arc.

#23 Edited by OutlawRenegade (1251 posts) - - Show Bio

@polo327 said:

I personally loved the opening arc of JL, IMO if they ever get around to making a Justice League movie it should be based on that arc.

Nah, I SERIOUSLY regret buying the hardcover. The writing and pacing in this arc is terrible. The art is okay. Talk about weak characters, plot, dialogue, and humor.... Not to mention characterization that flies against DECADES of story-telling. And if these character's didn't have so much history, they'd be forgettable. Wonder Woman and Aquaman don't do or say much. Superman says like 2 words the entire time... It's just Green Lantern and Batman b!!@&ing at each other for 6 issue minus 2 pages.

Can you even refute any of the OP's points? If you can't, then this arc IS undoubtedly terrible, and you just like it as a guilty pleasure.

#24 Posted by Mega_spidey01 (3078 posts) - - Show Bio

@WildStyle said:

Good thread and I absolutely agree 100 %.

#25 Posted by polo327 (58 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't feel guilty at all about liking this arc, neither did comicvine (three 4 stars, three 5 stars), or IGN (all but one issue getting 8 out of 10). My point being that the arc wasn't "undoubtedly terrible", just terrible in your opinion.

#26 Posted by Oldirtybearon (16 posts) - - Show Bio

@OutlawRenegade said:

@polo327 said:

I personally loved the opening arc of JL, IMO if they ever get around to making a Justice League movie it should be based on that arc.

Nah, I SERIOUSLY regret buying the hardcover. The writing and pacing in this arc is terrible. The art is okay. Talk about weak characters, plot, dialogue, and humor.... Not to mention characterization that flies against DECADES of story-telling. And if these character's didn't have so much history, they'd be forgettable. Wonder Woman and Aquaman don't do or say much. Superman says like 2 words the entire time... It's just Green Lantern and Batman b!!@&ing at each other for 6 issue minus 2 pages.

I think you're missing the point of the New 52, bro. It was a complete reboot of the entire DC line, and one of the benefits of it is that we can get completely new interpretations and dynamics between heroes, villains, and supporting characters. It also worked, if you hadn't noticed. I and many, many other people have gotten back into DC comics after a long absence. Hell, I'd profess to say that I'm enjoying my DC reading far more than my Marvel reading, which is something I don't think I've ever said in my life. If you don't like Justice League, just don't read it. You don't need to throw fits.

Can you even refute any of the OP's points? If you can't, then this arc IS undoubtedly terrible, and you just like it as a guilty pleasure.

Wow, you're a real asshole, aren't you? I'm sorry to break this to you, but you are not the arbiter of good taste. If you don't like Geoff Johns's Justice League, fine. Voice your displeasure with it. Just don't act like your opinion is the only one that counts.

#27 Posted by Superdork (917 posts) - - Show Bio

@mr.obvious said:

This is easily Geoff Johns' worst written series ever.

@mr.obvious said:

This is easily Geoff Johns' worst written series ever.

@CrimsonCake said:

I had my doubts about his series after reading Justice League # 4.

#28 Posted by Suprman (442 posts) - - Show Bio

I read the Origin Storyline and Liked it. I dropped the book afterwards because of the price and there were other books I felt like reading. I've also never really been a big fan of Justice League, no offense to anyone who is, I just don't like them as much as I do other teams. I love Geoff Johns' work but his JL seems to be getting a lot of mixed reactions.

#29 Edited by OutlawRenegade (1251 posts) - - Show Bio

@polo327 said:

I don't feel guilty at all about liking this arc, neither did comicvine (three 4 stars, three 5 stars), or IGN (all but one issue getting 8 out of 10). My point being that the arc wasn't "undoubtedly terrible", just terrible in your opinion.

Comicvine and IGN have awfully inaccurate ratings, dude. Notoriously bad in fact. Read the comments on those Justice League reviews that were rated higher than they should have been. You should read Newsarama for accurate reviews.

*edit--I will admit that in the last two months comicvine reviews have gotten better.

@Oldirtybearon said:

@OutlawRenegade said:

@polo327 said:

I personally loved the opening arc of JL, IMO if they ever get around to making a Justice League movie it should be based on that arc.

Nah, I SERIOUSLY regret buying the hardcover. The writing and pacing in this arc is terrible. The art is okay. Talk about weak characters, plot, dialogue, and humor.... Not to mention characterization that flies against DECADES of story-telling. And if these character's didn't have so much history, they'd be forgettable. Wonder Woman and Aquaman don't do or say much. Superman says like 2 words the entire time... It's just Green Lantern and Batman b!!@&ing at each other for 6 issue minus 2 pages.

I think you're missing the point of the New 52, bro. It was a complete reboot of the entire DC line, and one of the benefits of it is that we can get completely new interpretations and dynamics between heroes, villains, and supporting characters. It also worked, if you hadn't noticed. I and many, many other people have gotten back into DC comics after a long absence. Hell, I'd profess to say that I'm enjoying my DC reading far more than my Marvel reading, which is something I don't think I've ever said in my life. If you don't like Justice League, just don't read it. You don't need to throw fits.

Can you even refute any of the OP's points? If you can't, then this arc IS undoubtedly terrible, and you just like it as a guilty pleasure.

Wow, you're a real asshole, aren't you? I'm sorry to break this to you, but you are not the arbiter of good taste. If you don't like Geoff Johns's Justice League, fine. Voice your displeasure with it. Just don't act like your opinion is the only one that counts.

1)Watch the language.

2)I didn't say that it wasn't okay to buy ####. Everyone has guilty pleasures.

3)Just because something sells doesn't mean it's not ####. Look at Transformers 2 and 3, Twilight, etc.

4)I'm asking you this time--can you refute anything in the OP?

5)I'm not your bro.

6)Geoff Johns's Justice League is the lowest of low brow entertainment. Sorry to break it to you.

7) I support the New52.

#30 Posted by polo327 (58 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm not about to claim that the opening arc was high art or anything, it's no Sandman. It did what it set out to, it brought the team together, it had some really good action, and I got a couple of laughs out of it (Something that even Newsarama's reviewer did). It was entertaining, and set a good platform for the title going forward. Whether or not it carried on being good is obviously debatable but my original point was that I like the opening arc.

I gotta disagree with the idea that comicvine and IGN have "inacurate" review scores, reviews are opinions, if they happen to differ with your opinion it does not make them inacurate. Just as you not liking the arc doesn't make it "the lowest of low brow", I don't like eggs but I don't scoff at people who do.

#31 Posted by Lvenger (19925 posts) - - Show Bio

It's getting better now in issue 9 and issue 7 was good but the first arc was littered with all the things you've pointed out. Hopefully Johns will make things better in time and address all these flaws with the book. Issue 9 was more character driven at least and hopefully story will come first in the Villain's Journey arc.

#32 Posted by kennybaese (1114 posts) - - Show Bio

See, I like this book. It's certainly not Johns' best work and it could be better, but I dig it as the big blockbuster DC title. That said, you do make a bunch of really valid points. The book definitely has a ton of untapped potential. I wonder if it has something to do with the amount of time that Lee needs to pencil the book, if it's making Johns rush the writing so that the art gets done on time. Not much of an excuse, but you know.

I guess I haven't really read any of Johns' Teen Titans run, but it seems like maybe he's not the greatest at writing team books?

#33 Posted by OutlawRenegade (1251 posts) - - Show Bio

@polo327: Sorry, I got carried away and started being a dick.

#34 Posted by Madame_Mist (1325 posts) - - Show Bio

Well put.

#35 Posted by polo327 (58 posts) - - Show Bio

no problem.

#36 Posted by thephantomstranger (129 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah when I saw a promotional image that mainly consisted of superman landing and saying "Sup wanna fight?!" I figured now was not the time to get into Justice League. So instead I got Grant Morrison's first arc on Justice League and enjoyed it, even mullet Superman. Come at me bro!

#37 Posted by Twentyfive (2845 posts) - - Show Bio

Word, man. Cyborg does need an ongoing. But they're waiting for the right time, and the right scribe to make it happen. I hope it does not get canceled.

#38 Posted by Chronus (1115 posts) - - Show Bio

Great analysis. I agree with your entire post.

#39 Posted by mathematicscore (167 posts) - - Show Bio

@thephantomstranger: Anybody who comes at you for diggin on Morrison JLA will find that you've plenty of compatriots; easily the best run of Justice League comics, and will probably stand as such for quite some time.

#40 Posted by Pperspectiveandreality (1931 posts) - - Show Bio

The fact that Geoff Johns is writing it.

#41 Edited by senglord (1481 posts) - - Show Bio

@pperspectiveandreality: Geoff Johns came up with this amazing team concept called the Others. Why could he not use that in his Justice run? Because his original team idea felt like Batman and the Outsiders with Aquaman replacing Batman. There was the massive cop out BS that was Rebirth. And his revitalizing of villains simply capitalizes on people instinctively associating with passionate vile(common) characters in fiction.

It is what makes Grant Morrison comics so great. He actually goes against tropes by making the arch villains more comic book evil than is normally done (Magneto, Lex Luthor, Raa's and Talia). Then have people still be drawn to this superhumanly evil people due to their drive and intensity to make their twisted visions into reality. Fans of the nuanced villains were very upset because it but their cruelty and viciousness center stage.

Geoff mentions the evil of his "improved" villains, but he knows he cannot show their vileness on panel. People can talk about how much better Black Manta is in terms of story, but all of the attempts at humanizing go out the window when you can see the panel where he kills a BABY.

Sinestro felt compelled to impose order, so he left an innocent person to die in pain. On panel. Now, we only get alluded to the evil within.

#42 Posted by CorruptedOwl (85 posts) - - Show Bio

I love his run! Besides, everyone can do better!

#43 Posted by Subject87 (28 posts) - - Show Bio

I enjoyed the first arc for what it was, but after that it's just not that interesting.

#44 Posted by CrazyScarecrow (1345 posts) - - Show Bio
#45 Posted by algorhythm511 (528 posts) - - Show Bio

I though this was going to be another review on how he gimps Batman, but thanks for showing the problem goes beyond Batman, OP.

#46 Posted by algorhythm511 (528 posts) - - Show Bio

They should also put Martian Manhunter back in the JL, that would also be a step in the right direction.

#47 Posted by Jake Fury (18620 posts) - - Show Bio

I thought it got pretty good after the first arc.

#48 Edited by Jayc1324 (12227 posts) - - Show Bio

It's finally starting to get good with luthor and Shazam there and GL gone but he still writes Batman bad and wonder woman too at times.

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