Justice League 3000 #1 (February, 2014)
Plot – Keith Giffen
Dialogue – J.M. DeMatteis
Art – Howard Porter
Letterer – Sal Cipriano
Colorist – Hi-Fi
Editors – Kyle Andrukiewicz & Joey Cavalieri
Group Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.99
Already bracing myself for social media feeds full of “Best Movie Ever” and “Worst Movie Ever” missives. Seems when it comes to superhero movies, it’s all about the extremes.
I just shake my head, and wish we were still that passionate about the comic books they were based on…
Anyhoo… if you’re headed to the theater, I hope you enjoy what you see!
It’s the early 31st Century… and it’s been ten years since a group of nogoodniks referred to as “The Five” arrived on the scene to cause all sorts of havoc. It’s really quite the bad scene. Not everyone is willing to just sit back and deal with it though. It’s here we meet a woman named Ariel Masters, and she’s on the run… from Cadmus? She narrowly escapes capture, before we…
Switch scenes to Cadmus itself. Well, themselves… if we’re talking about the (wonder) twins that are currently the focus of the place. Oh, and it’s not just a lab in Metropolis anymore, a thousand years from now, Cadmus will be it’s own planet! So, we’ve got that to look forward to.
The twins, Terry and Teri… are the worst. I feel like we’re going for a Maxwell Lord vibe here, but unfortunately without any of the charm. We learn that Ariel Masters was once their friend and mentor. They bicker back and forth about the state of the universe… and how they might intervene, and perhaps even profit in saving it.
By using… the Justice League?!
We join the League as they do battle with a member of The Five known as The Convert. It has the ability to convert a whole bunch of people to fight for its cause. The Wonder Twins have its potential pegged at about 30-40 converts… but Batman’s math is far different, he counts the converts in the hundreds!
By the way, this League is full of awful people. Batman seems to lack focus (except when it comes to competing with Superman), Superman is a conceited showboat jerk, Flash and Green Lantern are confused and noncommittal milquetoasts, and Wonder Woman… well, Wonder Woman is barbarically (is that a word?) insane.
The League eventually come out on top… and begin to interrogate the final of The Converts… converts. Right when it appears as though he’s gonna squeal, Wonder Woman punches him into next week. By the time the fella comes to, The Convert will have long evacuated his body. This, of course, prompts another Justice League argument… which nearly ends in Superman punching Batman’s head clean off his shoulders.
The Wonder Twins break things up, and order their team back to base. Terry and Teri have different views on how successful this battle was… but rather than argue til the cows come home (assuming there are still cows in the future), they decide to debrief the team… which provides further insight as to how terrible they all are.
The Wonder Twins then give us the quick and dirty on this League… looks like they’re clones! It’s always clones, isn’t it? In an interesting wrinkle, it’s made clear that the originals from a millennium prior were made up from more than just powers. I mean, we know all that… but it’s still neat to see it mentioned.
We wrap up with the Twins discussing how much is riding on their plan… and also learn that Ariel wasn’t chased out of Cadmus… she split town!
When the subject of getting the Justice League members to work together against The Five is raised… we get those famous last words… “how bad can it get?”
Well… there’s a lot to like here, but also a lot that I didn’t.
Let’s get the bad out of the way… with some full disclosure. Back when this first came out, I actually considered dropping this book around issue six. That might not sound like a big deal, however, for a lunatic like me to get to the point of “dropping” a book… it’s a bit bigger than that.
I am, like many (I assume/hope) comics enthusiasts of my vintage, a completist/completionist… however ya wanna put it. So, when I’m collecting, say… Justice League… I’m collecting everything in the “family”. Same with X-Men, same with (God help me) the Avengers… you get the drill. I’m also pathetically loyal… and hopeful that “rough patches” in a comic will pass. This is why I have several YEARS worth of unread contemporary Marvel cluttering several longboxes. It’s my inability to “let go” and my hope that things will return to (my perception of) greatness, that I hang on to books for so long. So… Yes, I’m part of the problem.
With Justice League 3000… all I needed was a handful of issues to realize it wasn’t for me. These characters had no redeeming qualities… there was no “heart” to the humor… and the far-flung future left me feeling detached and uninvested in the stories. (Wanting to) drop this book was doubly bad, as… not only am I a Justice League completist… I’m also a sucker for Giffen and DeMatteis.
Ever since “discovering” their post-Crisis Justice League, I’ve tried to grab everything with their names on it. It feels like post-Flashpoint, however… their collaborative efforts are just missing something. I bought their entire run on Larfleeze… and didn’t like it. Scooby Apocalypse… same deal. It feels like rather than writing about unpleasant people in pleasing and charming ways… they’re just writing about unpleasant people. It’s hard to point to exactly what “heart” is when it comes to story… or characterization, but it feels as though, post-Flashpoint… it’s definitely missing from much of their work.
It’s no different with Justice League 3000. The humor is mean and the characters have no redeeming qualities. I know… that’s the whole point. That’s fine… it’s just not for me. The only reason I actually stuck with this book… and this is going to sound silly… was the rumor that this was actually occurring in the future of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe. I recall Giffen saying in an interview that these stories might be taking place in a universe where Superman “wore his underwear on the outside”… and that’s all it took for me to stick it out. Added to that… issues #9 and #10 shipped without The New-52! emblazoned on the cover. That sent my mind reeling! When it came back with #11, I was a bit annoyed.
Okay… the bad went on far longer than I thought… let’s get into the good!
The book looks fantastic. Howard Porter turns in some characteristically wonderful work. Always love it when Hi-Fi colors his work too! They were definitely the bright spot of the aforementioned Scooby Apocalypse.
As for story… it’s always neat to see that the heroes are made up of more than just their powers. The idea that a Superman raised without the love and homespun wisdom of the Kents could turn out to be a braggadocios jackass is quite interesting. Obvious… but interesting, and certainly worth exploring. A Batman who didn’t have to deal with the loss of his parents is a similarly obvious… but interesting concept to delve into.
I didn’t mention it during the synopsis, but there’s a time where Batman refers to Superman as Clark… which kinda sets him off. Superman refers to “Clark Kent” as “a fiction”… which, isn’t completely untrue… but kind of sobering to see coming out of the Man of Steel’s mouth… and not something we’d ever imagine our Superman saying!
This raises the question… how reliable are historical records? The Wonder Twins were concerned that their Batman and Superman weren’t getting along… because, the history books depict them as super-pals. Well… what if history isn’t entirely true? Perhaps Superman was always a jerk… maybe Green Lantern was always a wishy-washy wimp… maybe the Justice League never got along! These are definitely interesting ideas to pursue… and even resonate a bit in real-world history. They say it’s written by the victors… so, who can say what really happened millennia ago?
Overall… I’m on the fence. I’d say this book is a difficult read, but that it’s still worth reading. In revisiting this opening chapter, I still can’t commit to saying that I like it… but, I definitely didn’t hate it. This is probably a big fat “your mileage may vary” kinda deal.