“The Extremists, Part One”
Writer – Steve Orlando
Artist – Ivan Reis
Justice League of America #1 begins with Batman saying, “People need to see heroes are human, Vixen. Like them. That they can be heroes. The JLA will show them that.” This phrase sets the thesis and tone for the new team. However, things do not go as planned when faced with their first challenge.
Batman builds an eclectic team of veterans, rookies, and villains to face threats to the world’s safety. This creates an interesting dynamic as infighting amongst the team threatens their ability to work together. In addition, the inexperience of the newly minted heroes manifests itself in unfortunate ways at unfortunate times. Without a doubt, the coming-of-age of these rookie heroes will be an overarching theme of Orlando’s narrative. Also making its thematic mark on the story is the transition of former villains to Justice League members.
Killer Frost is portrayed as a strong female character—smart, confident and powerful. She has overcome many challenges and is making a sincere effort to make good on her second chance. Her science background is proving useful, but also gives her a point of connection with Ryan Choi, the new Atom. Her development as a hero will be fun to watch.
Lobo is, well… Lobo. He doubts his teammates’ readiness, but remains committed to Batman. This Justice League of America is less Super Friends and more Brad Meltzer. The content is darker and more visceral. One panel depicts Lobo putting his fist through an enemy’s head. This ain’t your momma’s Justice League!
No. This Justice League is just getting starting and it shows. The rookie members panic in the face of danger. Petrified, their lack of experience places themselves, their team, and innocents in danger.
The publication schedule of comic books place them in a more immediate literary medium. So, issues can reflect cultural events of the not-so-distant past. Here, in Justice League of America #1, readers get a bit of cultural commentary with the introduction of a new villain, Lord Havok, and his captains from Angor, the Extremists. The baddies invade with a caution against the dangers of freedom. Lord Havok’s philosophy, “Only a strong hand can bring safety and order,” seems to wade into the recent, politically charged climate of our changing world.
This villain is no joke. Lord Havok lists heroes he’s killed: Thunderer. Machinehead. Frank Future. Readers are likely not familiar with these heroes from Earth 7 and 8, yet it doesn’t take long for Havok to establish his fearsome presence. Unfortunately, one of the rookies comes incredibly close to joining that list!
The colors in Justice League of America #1 are nicely done. The art is enjoyable and the action moves smoothly throughout the panels. The panels are creatively placed, as they move from vertical to horizontal across pages. It looks really, really good.
Justice League of America #1 depicts a team struggling with well-founded trust issues, and lacking in skill, experience, and courage under fire. While the team faces internal conflict, they are also up against formidable foes. This Justice League is not the traditional team-up we’re used to; it’s fraught with relational dynamics that make this a much more intriguing title. Justice League of America #1 was an enjoyable issue, and leaves readers with baited breath as this team and storyline develops.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment.