Justice League of America: Rebirth #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Ivan Reis (pencils), Joe Prado and Oclair Albert (inks)
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Marcelo Maiolo
Publisher: DC Comics
A review by Nico Sprezzatura.
What, you thought one ongoing Justice League title was enough?
Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 is the latest DC Rebirth special hitting stores this week, headed by Steve Orlando (Midnighter, Supergirl) and set in the wake of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad. Oversaturation is a very real risk in the mainstream superhero market, so why publish a second Justice League team book in such a short period of time?
If you didn’t read Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, here’s your catch-up: Batman reveals the existence of Task Force X to the Justice League, things go punchy-blowuppy, and they’re forced to work together to take down a common evil. In the wake of these events, Batman decides it’s time for a splinter Justice League – one who’ll use their teeth when necessary.
Who’s on this team, you may ask? While the flagship Justice League is comprised of the DC Universe’s most elite players, this JLA is greener, scruffier; call them the “not ready for primetime” Justice League. Heading up this new team is perennial favorite Batman, who’s assembled a team comprised of Black Canary, Lobo, Vixen, Killer Frost, The Ray, and The Atom.
Interestingly, many of the above names have become familiar to newer DCU followers thanks to The CW’s Arrowverse. I’m not sure if assembling a cast of TV-adjacent characters was necessarily the plan in helping to market this book, but it’s never a bad idea to go for cross-media synergy when you’ve got the means and interest to do it.
Outside of team leader Batman, none of the characters included here could be described as household names, but they’ve certainly the potential to be. Batman expressly recruited the morally-gray Lobo and Killer Frost, for example, as a means of rehabilitating them. Vixen and The Ray, however, represent a new class of aspirational figures for the world. And then we’ve got Black Canary, who’s a good buffer between both groups. She’s probably the most recognizable face in the cast next to Batman, and any opportunity for more Black Canary in the comics is a welcome one, if you ask me.
Because of JLA: Rebirth’s brisk plotting to bring readers up to speed, we don’t have much one-on-one time with each character as they’re introduced. While you’re not required to have read any of the JLA one-shots published last month (like JLA: The Ray Rebirth #1) to understand what’s happening here, they do lend some insight as to why Batman wants to recruit these disparate figures together. Having read each one-shot, I can vouch for their accessibility as primers for each character – they’re not necessary reading to understand JLA: Rebirth #1, but I’d recommend checking them out if you haven’t.
The art on this issue is pretty solid. Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Oclair Albert’s illustrations (with coloring by Marcelo Maiolo) are expressive and clean, with just a little bit of grit underneath them. It services Orlando’s writing exactly as it should, without overpowering the plot or drawing too much attention to itself. While some books tend to be a little imbalanced in that regard, offering more interesting art than the writing (and vice-versa), I’ve got no reason to suspect that’ll be the case here.
Buy It! Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 is a promising start for what looks to be yet another winner in the DC Rebirth line. It’s scheduled for biweekly publication at $2.99 an issue, so it might be of some budgetary concern to you if you’re not willing to spend six dollars on a single title per month. If you’re willing to jump into a twice-monthly book, however, you can’t go wrong with this one.