Keith Giffen has often epitomized hit-or-miss writing for me. When he hits, he hits out of the park, but when he misses, he was never even close. I’ve also often found that I like him a lot more at DC, which would explain why I absolutely love the first two issues of this book. Giffen’s greatest strengths have always been writing absurd, but not quite satirical and not overtly funny, books with a darkly comedic core. When he teams with J.M. DeMatteis, the good parts tend to shine all the brighter and bad parts tend to recede into the shadows. This book may very well be one of the best examples. The core Justice League has been resurrected by the twins Teri and Terry (DON’T call them the Wonder Twins) with fragments of their memories and personalities, but the missing parts seem to be the ones that work. Flash is a humorless wimp, Green Lantern has no ring and is by the book to a fault, Wonder Woman constantly wants to pound anything that moves (in more ways than one) and the World’s Finest are constantly trying to find ways to undermine and belittle each other. When they wind up on what was supposed to be some routine enforcement on a backwater world things, of course, go horrifically off script. Giffen has nailed all the characters’ voices in the book, you could put lines on a blank page and have a reasonably easy time assigning each one to the correct character, and the book has the tone of the Super Friends without the iron grip of Standards and Practices squelching the writers’ creativity.
Howard Porter spearheads the linework, giving every panel and beautiful, heady feel. This is one of the few books that I feel revels in the absolute, inherent bizarreness of technology and rather than trying to make the year 3000 look “realistic,” he goes for making it look cool. Like somewhere you’d actually want to visit, but probably not live. I absolutely adore the character designs as well. You could easily pick them out of a crowd, but the looks have been updated enough to be so much more than futuristic retread. These outfits stand proudly with Justice League 1,000,000. Hi-Fi’s colors are precisely the right blend of bright and grim. This isn’t a gritty, realistic book, but neither is it joyful and uplifting. It’s exactly what it needs to be, it’s Blade Runner with the sun up.
Reality-warping villains are often tricky to handle as there’s really no good reason for them to have any kind of difficulty with anything beyond their own stupidity. The villain is far, far from resolved by issue’s end, but I’m hoping they come up with something better than a deus-ex machina or “villain dumb, make stupid mistake.” As often happens with books where Giffen is a writer, there is a LOT of text per panel and a decent chunk of it is expository, though very little of it describes what is happening in the panel, which is a plus.
This book balances humor and action amazingly well. By setting the story a thousand years in the future, but using a familiar cast, we get a best of both worlds situation where DeMatteis and Giffen are free to work their strangely dark humor, but we, as readers, still have a solid anchor point. Porter and Hi-Fi’s art is just cartoonish enough to be delightful right up until it needs to be dark and even a little messy.