I’ll be reading and reviewing, in some sense of the word, the contents of each upcoming first issue (the Rebirth one-shot if the series has one or the traditional #1 if the series does not have one) to gauge exactly what the line ends up looking like.
Spoilers for Justice League: Rebirth #1.
Justice League: Rebirth #1
By Bryan Hitch
Inks by Daniel Henriques with Scott Hanna
Colored by Alex Sinclair
Lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft
If you’ve read the recent Justice League of America comic that Bryan Hitch wrote and drew then you know what you’re getting here. It’s that. The difference is that Hal Jordan has been replaced by two other Green Lanterns and Superman has been replaced by an older version of the character. The focus of this Justice League series, as indicated in this Justice League: Rebirth one-shot, is on the blockbuster action style Hitch popularized in the early ‘00s, utilizing the various members of the team. It’s familiar.
Familiar isn’t necessarily bad, though. And familiar is, in many ways, what this Rebirth relaunch is aiming for. If something is familiar but well-made then that’s not really a problem. So, is this well-made? Yes and no. Some pages and panels look better than others. Some pages look great with every detail meticulously illustrated while some others feature characters inked and colored like malformed blobs when compared to their depiction in previous panels. It seems deliberate, as if the creators involved weighed their available time and made decisions about which pages and panels to put more into.
The highlight of this issue might very well be the domestic scenes between Lois and Clark. Their kitchen is well-drafted but the lack of destruction and spectacle allows the focus to rest on Lois and Clark. The emotions on their faces are downplayed as their bodies rest comfortably. There’s a casual, easy feel to it that really sells the fact that readers are seeing a family in their own home. The big spectacle scenes don’t carry much of a tone other than “been there, done that” as the aliens’ design appears anonymous in their bug-like designs and the characters’ reactions to it.
There’s a bit of a bored feeling to the Justice League’s response to the threat that they are facing. Superman lists off a bunch of other world-ending events the Justice League has fought off and, while the team does get into the bold “we need to save the world” dialogue, they can often come off as nonplussed. When a character does speak to how dire the situation is meant to be, it’s in a trite way that doesn’t necessarily reflect their unique personality. The threat feels unimportant because the characters either don’t express that they feel it is dangerous or only do so in ways that fail to communicate it effectively. And there’s just this weird habit of italicizing so many words seemingly at random that doesn’t read right most of the time.
As for how the book lines up with the Rebirth mandate, there is a sense of optimism and teamwork that exists in this issue. Heroes are working together and, even though they don’t know this version of Superman, they are choosing to trust him for the time being. Juxtaposed next to that teamwork at the end, though, is an odd scene where the Justice League tell the alien invaders to “run” after threatening them with another ass-beating. It’s tough guy posturing that I saw compared to The Authority, a superhero comic that Hitch made his name on. The moment feels… off… and that’s not just an effect of the League looking blobby.
The writing of this book is the weakest part but the book remains serviceable to people who want more Hitch artwork to look at. Unfortunately for people who enjoyed that aspect of the book, Hitch will only be remaining on this book as a writer while other creators such as Tony S. Daniel handle the art duties.