Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000 #1

Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Howard Porter
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: December 11, 2013

JL3K1cov-8343dThis ain’t your daddy’s 31st century, kids.

Having said goodbye to the Legion of Super-Heroes almost four months ago (and retroactively discovered they never even existed on the earth of the New 52), fans of the future will find a whole lot that’s familiar in Justice League 3000 — just not the Legion. Instead, we are introduced to the heroes of the 21st century all over again, as the Justice League is, in fact, really the Justice League you remember. Sort of.

Don’t go into this first issue expecting slapstick humor from Justice League veteran scribes Giffen and DeMatteis, however. A strong balance of soft humor with tons of action and the beginnings of some interesting characterization, issue #1 reflects more of the way the pair began their JL career — with a solid super-hero story premised less on villains of the month and more on intra-team conflicts and dynamics. Gone is the likes of Guy Gardner pushing the envelope with a calm and collected Batman, and in its place is a very Guy-like Superman who can’t seem to stop pushing a far more aggressive Batman’s buttons. And by buttons, I mean face. We have a Wonder Woman far more barbarian than ever seen in her ongoing series (for a distinct story reason, I should add), and a Green Lantern and Flash (especially Flash) who may end up my favorite odd couple since the Blue and the Gold.

But all comparisons to the past aside, Justice League 3000 sets up a very curious mystery right away. What are the motivations behind the agency that monitor (and seemingly procured) the League? Why do some memories still exist for the Leaguers and others do not? Why does Barry look so unlike Barry? And is it just a coincidence that this team is set to face a nefarious Five that have destroyed peace in the universe? At the center of all of this is probably the most unlikely of handlers, new versions of characters I couldn’t have expected to see reintroduced into the New 52 (although the similarity begins and ends with some clever naming). But their relative youth and somewhat ambivalent status leave me both suspicious and enamored of their motives. What would I do if I could have my own Justice League? It’s a pretty clever conceit, actually.

Howard Porter, another Justice League alum — albeit from a different era — was the dark horse announcement on this ongoing, but proves to have been the optimum choice for establishing a future that’s not entirely bright and shiny. As locations range from slummish to resort-like, Porter crafts the action of the story with bombastic flair, but not sidestepping a strong sense of characterization in body language. Love her or hate her, Wonder Woman has some of the funniest facial expressions of the group, and the much of the rest of the team gets the appropriate hard-edged treatment that perfectly resonates with their interpersonal conflicts. The costuming Porter designed is the perfect balance between recognizable and futuristic, using a weave pattern that would indicate technological functionality, but also just tie all the characters’ looks to each other. Unlike our own Justice League of the modern day, these aren’t five individuals, but a team built from scratch at the start — and it shows beautifully.

For many longtime DC fans, this book may be a hard pill to swallow, as so much of its premise in the future initially feels so familiar. I suspect the wild ride is only beginning here, though, and what we are led to believe at the very beginning is not necessarily what we will be getting by the end. Embrace the difference and see where it leads. There’s no question we’re in good hands along the way.

The Verdict: 9.0/10



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