As the second full month of DC Comics’ Rebirth begins, the company finally released the first post-Rebirth issue starring their preeminent super-team: the Justice League. The title is helmed by Bryan Hitch (who handles both writing and art duties on Justice League Rebirth #1) and stars roughly the same lineup as the New 52 version of the team including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg.
The issue begins with narration about the mailing of superheroes over scenes of an alien force invading Manhattan as the League (minus the deceased New 52 Superman and Green Lantern) attempt to fight them. The narration is revealed to have been provided by the pre-New 52 Superman whose watching the battle on television, which canonically places the title before the events currently unfolding in Action Comics.
He’s initially hesitant to aid the League, fearing they won’t trust him. However, a pep-talk from his wife inspires him to suit up and help the League. By the time Superman arrives, the team has been joined by Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. With Superman’s help, the team is able to force the aliens to retreat but not before they threaten that the Earth is in far greater danger from a different enemy.
I was looking forward to Justice League Rebirth #1 as I’d hoped it provided a revival for the team the way other Rebirth books have for their respective titles. Unfortunately, the issue is a mish-mash of rehashed ideas. Hitch’s plot feels like a watered down version of numerous League stories, including the Darkseid story that launched the New 52 team back in 2011. In fact, the book reads exactly like it would fit in with the New 52, with almost none of the refreshing changes prevalent in other Rebirth books.
From a character standpoint, only Superman truly shines under Hitch. The concept of pre-New 52 Superman being unsure if he can trust the League, and them feeling the same way about him is an interesting one that provides some nice pathos for Clark. Unfortunately, the rest of the league are devoid of personality. All of their lines of dialogue feel interchangeable between the characters, and none of them exhibit any interesting quirks.
Hitch’s art fares only slightly better than his writing. The characters mostly look okay, though Wonder Woman is noticeably off-model in several panels. However the book they inhabit is a bit boring and derivative, which is surprising from an artist of Hitch’s caliber. The alien ship hovering over New York bears a striking resemblance to the invading fleet from The Avengers film, and it’s minions look like those of the classic DC villain Starro. Even the fight scenes feel anti-climactic and rushed.
Justice League Rebirth #1 had a lot of people excited to see how comics’ premier team would work in the Rebirth era. However, the comic is overly derivative, in both story and art, leaving that expectations unfulfilled.