Justice League #5
Justice League #5
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Jim Lee

After four issues, the full roster of the Justice League, the greatest heroes of the DCU stand assembled to face off against the ultimate evil that is Darkseid, and I'm still having a hard time getting pumped about it. Something about Johns and Lee's revamped origin story for DC's premiere super team just isn't clicking.

The majority of this issue consists of Darkseid ripping through the newly gathered League and causing a whole lot of property damage. When one member of the team is taken captive by Parademons, Batman and Green Lantern rally the League to regroup and form a makeshift, kinda sorta plan. And that's really all that happens this issue. Even the action scenes seem decompressed, as if we were watching the fight in slow motion.

Justice League #5 was the first late shipping of the New 52. The credits on this title indicate that three different inkers worked on this book, and the resulting effect is that the art is very uneven. Some sequences look highly polished while others look like they were rushed by someone frantically trying to hit a deadline. The visual highlight of the book is Green Lantern's solo battle against Darkseid. Lee's command of camera angles and figure work really sell just how imposing and menacing Darkseid is, and each seems to rattle the very page it's rendered on. Simultaneously, Lee's attention to detail and subtle line work really conveys Hal's expressiveness, with stubborn determination showing through his mask covered face.

The scene where what's left of the team leaps into action does not fair nearly as well, as a hastily half sketched background and awkward posing almost looks like Lee just took a number of hero shot sketches and layered them into the image to save time, proportion and relation to the ground be damned. In reality, Hal is using his ring to fly the whole team, but less obvious coloration, and the fact that everyone is posed like they are running lead me to miss this detail on my first read through.

It should come as no surprise that Green Lantern is still the star of the show here, as he is the character Johns is the most comfortable writing by now, and as Batman's monologue points out, he is a great entry point character. I'm less sold on Johns' characterization of Flash, who comes off as very one dimensional, and of Batman, whose big moment during his monologue seemed highly out of character and unnecessary.

Cyborg, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman are reduced to background players having little more than a line of dialogue or two to contribute to the proceedings. This surprised me, as most of Johns' handling of this title has, because not only has Johns proven that he can handle a team book full of strong personalities, he has proven he can handle one with a roster twice the size of the one he is working with in Justice League . In his work on JSA and Avengers Johns showed an uncanny knack for balancing huge casts of characters, giving them each chances to shine, and moving stories along at a brisk pace.

Perhaps the unevenness of this book so far can be chalked up to the fact that telling the origin of the Justice League is such a daunting task, that a definitive one has never really existed for more than a few years at a time (though personally I'm partial to the one used in the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini animated series). This isn't a bad, it's just not up to par with what I expect from these creators. Hopefully once we move past the origin story, these extremely talented creators will finally start firing on all cylinders.

Grade: B
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