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In Association with
Justice League: Origin
Geoff Johns and Jim Lee
DC Comics / Titan hardcover £18.99

review by Christopher Geary

As the flagship title of the 'New 52' reboot, this is an updated, highly effective and, in general, enthralling retelling of how the premier DC super-team began. The mythic qualities of these characters remains intact but, for now at least, they are leaner and cleaner versions of their older world-weary counterparts from other books like the Else-Worlds classic Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (1997), and/ or the superb series Justice by Jim Krueger, Alex Ross, and Doug Braithwaite (2005-7). Of course, there is nothing much here to approach, never mind match, the sheer coffee table book magnificence of genre overview The World's Greatest Super-Heroes by Paul Dini and Alex Ross (2005), and yet clever streamlining of traditional/ canonical JLA comics lore for Justice League: Origin successfully combines many of the better ideas about the 50-years-old Justice League collected here from earlier variations.

Perhaps wisely, the re-creators of this new line-up have ditched Martian Manhunter J'onn J'onzz, in favour of Cyborg - alias of Victor Stone (previously in Teen Titans), presumably to add a black youth to the familiar whites of this 'super seven'. As comics industry retcon cycles go, this storyline's rapid development of individual vigilantes - Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg - from rogue super-powers to a fighting force capable of defeating evil Darkseid and his demonic invasion army to win US presidential approval as world-class superheroes is astutely written by Geoff Johns, and certainly more than competently drawn by Jim Lee.

Some of the modestly ambitious changes to the central characters highlight what is currently popular in the comics' culture and associated genre media. Green Lantern's costume 'glows' in mimicry of the movie version's design, while Superman's legendary red 'underpants' look has been swapped to match the all-blue style of the forthcoming Man Of Steel film's outfit. More importantly, Wonder Woman carries a sword and she far more aggressive to the point of saying she loves fighting: gone is the Amazons' ambassador of peace, say hello to the ultimate kick-ass 'warrior princess'. While Bruce Wayne alias Batman is chided for having no powers, boastful Hal Jordan - the Green Lantern underestimates everyone but he soon learns better and even acquires a shade of humility before the Armageddon battle against Darkseid is over. The character arc of the book though is Cyborg, as this story is his origin, compared to the other heroes who are already established on their home turf, even if this adventure is the first time they have ever met.

Featuring a quasi meta-fictional strand, the storyline devotes a couple of pages to an author named David Graves, who's written a book - 'Justice League: Gods Among Us' - about the new team. An epilogue in London, with Pandora, and Phantom Stranger, hints at what's to come next. Aside from the usual cover gallery, sketches and selected info, this volume's supplementary materials (a comic book equivalent of DVD extras) include transcripts from a 'USAF interview' with Steve Trevor about Wonder Woman and her mysterious island of Amazons, plus the secret personnel dossiers from STAR Labs.

Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee

copyright © 2001 - Pigasus Press