Dear Justice League (FCBD) #1 (May, 2019)
Story – Michael Northrop
Art – Gustavo Duarte
Colors – Marcelo Maiolo
Letters – Wes Abbott
Cover Price: FREE
After the absolute slog that was this past week’s coverage of Flash Forward, I decided to follow-up with something just a bit “lighter”.
You might notice that this is a Free Comic Book Day book… and, if you’ve followed my work for any amount of time, you might already have an idea how I feel about Free Comic Book Day. It’s a nice concept… with often lousy execution. We’ll talk more about that below the dashes… but, for now, I’ll give DC Comics a thumbs up for knowing the temperature of the average FCBD “consumer”.
Let’s do it.
Our first story is called “Dear Superman”, and… well, features some kid texting Superman. That’s what kids do nowadays right? You know what they say, “kids be textin’!”… or, something… how the hell would I know? Anyhoo, this kid has made a real mess of things… looks like he’s destroyed a lawnmower, a sprinkler, and somehow got himself covered in light blue paint (unless that’s supposed to be water). Whatever the case, he’s really interested to learn if even the Man of Steel might’ve made a mistake or two in his life.
Superman gets the text… and, sorta “p’shaws” it away. I mean, Superman, mess something up? Never! Naturally, he immediately flies headfirst into a building. Err, make that “back-first”… though, you really gotta be trying to mess up that badly.
Anyhoo, ramming the building causes a window-washer on the other side of the building to come loose… and so, Superman now has to save a fella he put into danger through his own lack of attention. He saves the dude… but, unfortunately, he neglects to snag the vindow-viper’s bucket’a water.
The bucket narrowly misses a snobby-looking woman… who, startled by the nearby splash, walks right into this other pedestrian… nearly knocking him right into the middle of the street.
The fella manages to catch his bearings… but then, trips over an inconvenient #2 Pencil that just so happens to be laying in the gutta’! C’mon, that’s not Superman’s fault, is it? The poor dude falls squarely on his butt.
A bicyclist narrowly misses the man, but swerves right into the path of an oncoming truck! The hell? This is getting a li’l bit darker than I thought. Thankfully (for him) Superman managed to swoop in just in the nick of time.
Unfortunately for another Metropolitan, the wheel from his bike went “brong!” “brong!” “brong!”, bouncing right into her direction. Ya see, she’s a dog-walker, and is… well, walking dogs. She’s also picking up after dogs, ya see… cuz, kids these days seem to be really big fans of poop.
This rogue bike wheel hits her with such force… it might’ve just impregnated her. I mean, that was a direct shot.
The poop goes flying (remember, kids love poop!), the dogs go runnin’… and wouldn’tcha know it, a cat just so happens to be running by! Superman manages to wrangle up the dogs, and return them to their now-aching walker.
The cat, however, continues its reign of terror across Metropolis… and, mercifully, the creators use short-hand to illustrate this path of rage.
We wrap up with Superman getting a ticket for “texting while flying” (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk), and finally responding to the kid from the beginning with the admission that, yeah… even Superman messes up every now and again.
Our second story in this little preview edition is “Dear Hawkgirl”.
It opens with Kendra returning back to the Hall of Justice after a successful mission. After greeting Cyborg and making her way through the JLA’s retina-scan, she retires to her room to go online for a little (er, long) while. Worth noting, there appears to be a bit of a Mo Willems Pigeon homage on her wall here, which is pretty neat.
After several hours of surfin’, she finally checks her e-mail… and, what she finds is a doozy of an awkwardly-worded question. Young (I assume/hope) Haley Lu comments that Hawks EAT small mammals, and asks if Hawkgirl does to. Kendra instinctively peers over at her hamster cage…
… she gets up from her seat, and slowly walks over to her pet… and it looks like she’s really considering taking a bite. Nahhhh… It’s all a swerve (bro), she’s just heading over to FEED her hamster, not feed ON it.
She hops back on her laptop and answers the electronic missive. She doesn’t EAT small mammals… she FEEDS them! I have a sneaking suspicion she’s just fattening the little beastie up though.
Alrighty, during the pre-ramble I gave DC Comics a big ol’ “thumbs up” for putting this out as part of their Free Comic Book Day offerings. Now, that doesn’t mean I liked this… or even thought it was all that good. It’s just an acknowledgement that DC Comics knows how to use FCBD efficiently. They know that most of the people who dare to darken the doorway of a comic shop that one Saturday in May will either a) never come back, or b) only come back the next time the day starts with the word “Free”. For the most part, these are not people who will return week after week for another “fix”. They’re in the store so they can take a picture, hashtag it, and get a half-dozen likes on their Instagram Page because “lol, so nerdy”.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is, Free Comic Book Day is a wasted effort, folks. The Big Companies know this… which is why their offerings over the past several years have been trash. Barely anybody’s bringing their A-Game for a freebie that will most likely wind up laying on the floorboard of the car until you remember to throw it out. At least with something like this, a parent/grandparent might see it, and then go to an actual bookstore (or, if we’re being realistic, Amazon) to buy their child this “age-appropriate” graphic novel… which the child will likely look at once.
Does this help comics retail… or the industry at large? Hell no. It’s not breeding “life long” fans… or, heck, even short-term ones! It’s a way of selling one book, one time… to people who have zero interest in comic books (and likely never will). It’s not like DC (or any of the big companies) really need to appeal to or entice us to make an extra trip to the shop… we’re already there anyway. Again though… thumbs up for not just handing out a twice-out-of-continuity reprint of something with Harley Quinn on the cover! Because those help NOBODY.
As for the stories we looked at here… they’re cute. I’m not going to go into any sort of analytical detail, because… I’m a forty-year old idiot, these weren’t written for me. All I’ll say is they’re something I’d imagine a first or second-grader might find humorous… nothing wrong with that. However…
If we look at the full-page ad for the full-size Dear Justice League (included below), you can see that this is advertised as “A new middle grade graphic novel”… I think we’re really selling many “Middle Graders” short with stuff like this. A quick search of the ol’ internet tells me that “Middle Grade” usually refers to like 4th through 8th grade. Thinking back to my own “middle grade” years (and, yeah this is just me being “anecdotal”)… Superman died, Batman was broken, Venom was routinely doing horrible stuff to Spider-Man… warts and all, comics didn’t talk to you like you were an idiot.
I was reading about Doomsday and Superman fighting across the country back in 1992… a kid that same age today is reading about Hawkgirl giving “nom noms” to her pet hamster? Back then, Bane was running Batman through a hellish gauntlet, that ended with him snapping the Bat’s Back across his knee. A kid that same age today is giggling as a pooper scooper… full’a poop… goes flying?
I guess I shouldn’t really comment… I’m not a 2020 kid… but, boy howdy, am I happy I grew up when I did! Then again, if I grew up nowadays I definitely wouldn’t have this crushing comics habit… so ya take the good, ya take the bad.