Not in League With Today's Standards
I've always been a Marvel fan; perhaps because it was what I was exposed to. My first comic with a Spider-Man Masterworks Collection, and, though I took some time away from it in high school, comics came back to me through Spider-Man once again, but in a... Superior story. I found innovation and excitement again in the story lines presented, the characters shown, the ideas presented. And, in my minds eye, DC represented everything that was stagnation, the past, and was frankly dis-interesting. But I wanted to give it a fair shake, wanted to give it a chance to prove me wrong. And The Flash certainly did.
Everything else? ... Not so much.
And this is a prime example of just how low DC comics have gone. Frankly, Justice League is a run-of-the-mill, tedious romp through incredibly familiar territory. It does nothing new or exciting, has no stand-out moments, and is more or less a cinematic stomp through meaninglessness. And no, not The Avengers caliber work; more like Transformers. The later ones at that.
We're thrown into a world where, immediately, we have Green Lantern and Batman chasing a nameless henchmen; it doesn't slow down from that point on. EVER. The book is rife with action and almost no moments of slow down or thought are allowed. It's as if Geoff Johns was scared that if there wasn't action, people might think, or realize how shallow the whole affair is. Everyone meets, they don't get along, there's a bigger threat to fight, despite all odds they win, and that's really it. That's all this book has to offer.
All the famous characters that are generally deep and full of their own personalities, ideas, techniques, etc.? Boiled down to one word descriptions. Superman: tough. Batman: brooding. Green Lantern: asshat. The most insulting of these is Wonder Woman, who is made out to be the dense foreigner who doesn't understand customs all the men oggle. In fact, all these characters just come off as insulting compared to the deep work done on them previously, or other origin stories that mix things up. Cyborg is the most interesting of the lot, but that's only because, beyond Teen Titans the TV show, I am unfamiliar with him. And, more or less, he ends up as a plot device more so than a figure in his own right. I have a feeling that the only two reasons he was included was for plot and diversity, and the same could honestly be said of Wonder Woman if she wasn't already a mainstay as the token female. And there are even some interesting dynamics with Cyborg and his dad, which, though somewhat shallow, made his personality come alive. Except these are never followed up on, brushed under the rug in the last few panels of the story. And for a popular character who isn't currently in any other series, it's a shame to see him pushed to the side.
The story is... well, text book, as I already presented above, but it's so base and dumb that it really hurts me to read. But one of the weakest portions of this is the villain featured; Darkseid (you know, if all the henchmen screaming "For Darkseid!" every other line wasn't enough of a hint). I don't know much about him, but I'm sure he's a very interesting character. The thing is, he says 6 lines; two of them are him proclaiming his name, three are very vague statements that are supposed to make readers interested in what's going on behind the scenes (fyi, doesn't really work for me), and one is him shouting that he will return. That's it. He literally has no character, and it shows. There's no explanation or stakes involved in the fight because we know nothing of the villain or what he is trying to do. Even at the end, things are a bit unfocused and uncertain. And yes, die-hard fans may say that they have an idea of what he wanted to do because of his character from other series, or what he's done before, but the New 52 is meant to be a revamp of the series; those explanations need to be HERE. NOW. There are no reasons presented, so it makes the villain feel like a cardboard cut out with lasers and fists attached to it, and that's not satisfying.
The art is the only thing that is any good about this, as Jim Lee and Scott Williams really brings this world to life in a way that's fantastic to look at. But, sadly, there are two issues with this. 1. Great is practically the norm in the comic book world. If it's not great, no one will read it in the first place. It's a sad fact at this point; sales are not only supporting this, but also base and generally stagnant stories... like this one. And 2. If the story sucks, the piece as a whole is bad. Again, sad, but a fact. If the story behind all the images aren't engaging, you might as well hang up the each page in an art gallery, minus the text.
I don't really want to go back to the characters, but I really feel like I need to at this point, because I feel like I need to emphasize just how shitty they are here. Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and even Superman all take a back seat in the character department, with only a handful of lines. Aquaman most of all, who gets one moment to himself and then he's essentially forgotten about, which is a huge shame seeing the success of his new series. Cyborg is made to seem interesting, but is muddied with plot devices. Batman is just Batman, as usual, but suddenly is smart enough to have a little development of his own, which is nice for a change (although not in it's own way; Batman being the best part of the series? Even stand-out points are made to be plain and unimaginative here), trying to rally everyone towards the end. Flash is by far my favorite DC character, and, though he doesn't get much time, I loved when he was on the page anyway. And Green Lantern... it's really insulting just how stupid he's written to be here, and it drives a point that really deters me from ever picking up a Green Lantern book. It's just sad and frustrating how this book seems to shit on a really popular character for no reason.
At the end of the day, I could rant for hours about how mindless and base this book is, how it does nothing for the medium or itself, and how it proves that, for the most part, DC is down a dark hole of mindless originality and bland narratives. But it's just such a pain to have to talk about it anymore, I don't want to. Just go pick up something else, please. This isn't worth your time.
Length: 7 issues
Consensus: NOT WORTH ANYONE'S TIME