Friday, July 17, 2015

Justice League of America #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

First issues are tricky.  Some first issues are amazing and make you realize why you love comics, like "Hawkeye" #1.  However, they're not necessarily indicative of the quality of future issues, as the long road to "Hawkeye" #22 has shown.  Other series have solid first issues that wind up kicking off amazing runs, like Remender's Dimension Z story in "Captain America."  I'm hoping the latter is true for Hitch.
I'm not saying that this issue is bad by any stretch of the imagination.  It's a solid story that flows nicely.  It's got some clunky parts that I'll note, but, overall, it's fine.  But, Hitch clearly has ideas, and it's that part that makes me excited.  It reminds me of James Robinson in the early issues of "Earth 2."  If Hitch can iron out some of the dialogue issues, I think that he could really go great places with this title.

The story at hand revolves around a mysterious entity called the Infinity Corporation.  We're first introduced to it when they invite Clark to their HQ.  But, it's not that simple:  they embedded a Superman insignia in the invite that only Superman can read with his X-Ray vision, making it clear that they know his identity.  Upon his arrival, they reveal that they are in possession of the "Forever Stones" that let them somehow connect to the future.  They show him a room full of dead versions of him, and they then pull out another version of him from the time stream that tells not to trust "him" before he dies.  The Corporation's whiz kid, Vincent, tells Clark that his death will be an extinction event that destroys the universe, and he asks Clark to hide to prevent that from happening.  Superman says that he can't, because he's needed; Vincent calls him selfish for weighing the lives of the few over the lives of the many.  Vincent then makes him away of the Justice League battling an escaped Parasite.  We later learn that the Infinity Corporation was the one responsible for releasing him and inviting the other members of the League to the spot where he gained consciousness.  During the battle, Diana suddenly becomes overwhelmed with voices screaming in her head after Parasite swallowed her, and Barry and Hal are sucked into a wormhole after Hal loses consciousness and the ring teleports him to safety.  After they defeat Parasite, Batman, Cyborg, and Superman Boom Tube to New York, only to discover that the Infinity Corporation's HQ has disappeared as if it was never there.  Before they can investigate, a Kryptonian god called Rao appears in the sky announcing to Earth that he's going to save us.

Let's get to the brass tacks:

- First, I don't understand why Clark would take the bait and appear as Superman and not Clark, thereby proving his identity?  He could've pretty easily arrived as Clark Kent and pretended not to understand why they thought that he was Superman.  Given that Lois has already revealed his identity in his own series, it's pretty much a moot point, but it was weird to me that he was so casual about confirming his identity.

- The Forever Stones?  Mysterious people from sometime and somewhere that can inhabit other people's bodies and control their minds?  Oy.  If you're read this blog for a while, you know that I generally loathe time-travel stories.  Some people manage to do them well, but other authors fail to think through the consequences of the paradoxes that they create.  So far, Hitch seems to be in the latter category.  Vincent tells Superman that he just needs to hide so that he doesn't die, since it's his death that causes the end of the universe.  But, Vincent doesn't seem to have any proof that Superman isn't killed in hiding.  Now, we learn that the Infinity Corporation is hiding part of the story from Clark, so it's possible that he does know exactly what happens.  But, if he does, then wouldn't it be better to tell Clark, "Don't go to Starbucks on Thursday."  Did they really think that they were going to convince him to hide indefinitely in the Fortress of Solitude?

- As I mentioned, the dialogue is awkward at times.  At some points it's fine, like Diana telling Hal that subtlety isn't his forte or Flash telling Batman that they don't do their research because they have him to do it for them.  At other times, though, it's wholly expository, particularly when it comes to Batman and Cyborg.  Again, I think Hitch has plenty of time to work out the kinks, but, at least in this issue, it occasionally weighed down the story.

In other words, overall, it's a solid issue with some really interesting ideas.  I'm not entirely sure that we needed another "Justice League" title, but at least the one that we seem to have gotten is a decent addition.

*** (three of five stars)

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