Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Classics - Justice League #1

Like most comic books that have been around for a while, the Justice League has been through good runs and not-so-good runs.

Shortly after the Crisis on Infinite Earths series in the mid-80s, DC decided to take the team in a different direction and added new and "hip" characters, keeping only Aquaman and Martian Manhunter from the original team.

The fans were not amused, and they heaped so much derision on the team that the solution was to (virtually) kill off the new characters and start over.

So following the Legends mini-series, fans got a new League, a new creative team and a new issue #1 (they would soon tweak the title to Justice League International). And it worked!

The writing team was Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, and they built a team featuring only one A-list hero - Batman - and the rest of the team was made up of heroes who sometimes had their own titles, or appeared infrequently (if at all) - Captain Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Dr. Fate, Mister Miracle, Blue Beetle, Guy Gardner, Black Canary and the new Dr. Light.

The new writing style put the emphasis on characters and humor, while keeping plenty of action and adventure. Team comics work well when the characters spark off each other (both physically and verbally), and in this series, the sparks flew!

Behind Giffen's layouts, the art was provided by the (then unknown to me) Kevin Maguire with inks by the incomparable Terry Austin. Their work in this issue suffers a bit from poor printing, but the talent shines through. Maguire would build a reputation as one of the best in the business, especially for capturing facial expressions (often for comedic effect).

The cover, of course, became iconic, too - and has been copied and aped many, many times.

It was outstanding work and helped vault this series back to the top of the heap. I was a big fan for years, and if the humor got to be too much toward the end of their run, it's easy to forgive.

They pumped new life and energy into the series that should be the flagship for DC's line, and - even more impressive - they managed to do it with only one star.

It's an outstanding series that holds up well - and should serve as a guide to "fixing" today's version of the team. Highly recommended!

Grade: A


1 comment:

Kyle said...

One punch! ONE PUNCH! Bwahahahaha!

I loved this series! They had the perfect blend of humor and action... and of course Maguire was fantastic!