So I have vocally said that I didn’t care about the new DCU setup. And, essentially, I don’t. I think that it’s a silly thing, and that it doesn’t do enough; the only thing I can see coming out of it would be attracting new readers with a clean slate, but it seems that DC are foiling the possibility of that as well, seeing that we’ve seen the introduction of Earth-2 in the press for the new comics.
In any case, I decided to read the first issue of the new JLA series. JLA, in case you are wondering, stands for the Justice League of America, the super team that fights all the big battles of the DC Universe. You see, I was prompted to read JLA #1 because I saw a tweet, which I cannot find now, that essentially said that the comic was a Michael Bay film. I had to know what that looked like. I learned what that looks like.
There is very little continuity to the comic. There are more explosions than cogent points made by Batman, who comes off as a smartass punk, and Green Lantern, who seems like he might be the stupidest person on the entire planet. There are so many speech balloons devoted to phrases like “Green Lantern’s got this!” and “Gotham’s mine, Coast City’s yours.” These little bits of dialogue are devoted to creating a world for the reader, but the problem is that the world has already been created. This isn’t worldbuilding–it’s shorthand, and feels like Geoff Johns saying “We need to explain this? I’ll just have Batman say that it’s necessary for police to fear him! That shows his character!”
The problem with this approach is that it’s lazy, and it’s pretty obvious that the comic wants to get some basic facts laid down while trying to tell a story where explosions act like periods. The plot is moved forward through visual spectacle, and I think that’s bad; I think DC comics is headed back to the early 90s in a really, really bad way, and I’m not sure why no one is able to see that.
In any case, the comic is plagued by most of the problems of modern superhero comics. It is largely a visual spectacle with very little content. What content there is feels lazy. The art is masterful and yet stupidly shallow–I will never, ever go back to the comic to ogle at the art the way I would with a Hellboy comic, for instance.
Beyond those (sadly normal) problems, it has the additional issue of attempting to be open while still being massively nerdy. What is the point of the DC shakeup if all of the characters, stories, and villains are the same? How will the status quo of DC continuity in August of 2010 be any different from that of 2012, ’13, or ’14?
They’re going to be the same, and it’s shitty that that’s the case. The lack of vision at DC is horrifying. Going back to the well is the status quo there, and it’s apparent. It won’t be long until we see old plot lines, alternate Earths, and Darkseid at the root of all the universe’s problems.
I’m just looking forward to Justice League Dark.