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Justice League 3000 #1 – Review

By: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis (story), Howard Porter (art), Hi-Fi (colors)

The Story: I actually can believe it’s not the Justice League.

The Review: Apologies for the lateness on reviews.  I had a couple grisly finals to study for the past few weeks and just when I thought I was ready to get to the comics, someone spontaneously invited me to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, to which I reluctantly agreed.  My thoughts on the film can be summed up this way: they are really scraping the bottom of the idea barrel for material to stretch this out into a trilogy.  Dwarf-elf romance?  Really?

Anyway, let’s move on from one cravenly exploitive series to another.  With the addition of Justice League 3000, that brings us to four Justice League titles.  While this is perhaps short of the seemingly innumerable X-Men and Avengers series Marvel has out, the trend is not a good one.  Justice League Dark had the excuse of taking on the Justice League name unwillingly, and Justice League of America had, at least, an entirely different roster.  It strikes you as bizarre that 3000 features watered-down clones of the real deals when the series as a whole is the same thing.

It also feels like a big step back to see this facsimile of a Justice League take over the heroing duties of the 31st Century from the Legion of Super-Heroes.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I’ve had little love for the Legion after the Threeboot team was replaced.  But the nice thing about the Legion was that they were a sign that the future had outgrown the Justice League.  The Legion respected the icons who inspired them, but they were an entity all their own, serving a different role and need for the DCU of the future.

To create a need for the Justice League 3000, Giffen-DeMatteis actually regress the state of the future and quite substantially.  “The Commonwealth was stable,” we’re told, “Life was good.  And then, ten years ago…the Five came.  …Billions died that first day—as implants failed, life-support systems crashed.  Governments toppled, entire armies were exterminated.  The power went out across a thousand worlds.”  That’s a lot of damage to dole out to the universe just to have an excuse to use the Justice League again.

Of course, this can’t be the League we know and love.  Aware of their lab-grown natures, with only parts of their past memories intact and the full extent of their powers missing, these are strange creatures trying to pass themselves off as the “greatest heroes who ever lived.”  Even more significant are the differences in their personalities, which, needless to say, are not flattering.  Anyone who’s criticized the current state of the DCU as being the same as the one before, except edgier and more aggressive, is going to have a field day with this team.  Every single member is a temperamental, suspicious, cocky shadow of their past incarnations, and the tensions among them don’t have any redeeming warmth or good humor.

Even so, there are moments which indicate this group can become true heroes someday, instead of a team whipped up by twin geniuses (dubbed “the Wonder Twins” by the League itself) as a last-ditch effort to save the universe.  The fact that Batman goes out of his way to save his teammates despite insulting their intelligence, that Superman gets offended when Batman rebuffs his attempts to keep him safe, that the League has maintained a strict no-killing policy—these are all signs that somewhere in their bodies is a spark of the characters they’re based on.

If anything, Porter emphasizes the more aggressive tone of the series with his sharp, pointed, angular linework.  There’s also a lot of exaggeration in the look of the characters which makes it hard to see this title on the same level as its Justice League peers.  Nonetheless, Porter’s work is energetic to the point of chaotic, and he spares no expense in making the action sequences as lively as he can.

Conclusion: While the premise of a cloned Justice League is interesting, Giffen-DeMatteis and Porter do nothing else to recommend this issue or validate the existence of yet another Justice League title.

Grade: C

-Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: - Not that there’s a rule, but I sort of feel that after The Little Mermaid, it’s a little dicey naming a redheaded female character “Ariel.”

- We can all agree the fact that the Wonder Twins chose not to bring back Aquaman is a direct insult, right?  Same goes for Cyborg.

- Between the longer hair Porter puts on Barry, and the reddish-gold color Hi-Fi injects into his locks, it’s hard not to think at first that the Flash-3000 is the Wally West version.

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3 Responses

  1. This looks really dicey. Porter’s art does very little for me – I would have loved to see the comedic Maguire-illustrated series this was originally supposed to be. I see editorial oversight and uncertain direction killing this one within 15 issues unless they find the right tone.

    • Would have loved to see Maguire on this series, too. I prefer clean and smooth over distracting and rough any day.

  2. I actually enjoyed this issue, with the bickering and the alternate takes on beloved DC heroes. To me, it seemed a bit like a jab at how heroes are behaving in the new 52, taken to the extreme. The team is dysfunctional, their universe is a bit darker and grittier and despite all of this, there is some humor at the core of the book.

    I just hope this won’t turn just like Larfleeze, who had a good first issue, yet descended in really uneven territory in terms of quality wih each issue.

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