I haven’t been this excited about the Justice League for literally, years. I have virtually every issue of JLA since Grant Morrison and Howard Porter breathed new life in to the characters back in 1996. Morrison got the JLA. He brought brash, epic storytelling that matched the heroic icons represented by the League. After he left, it was OK, with a few high notes thanks to Mark Waid, Joe Kelly and Brad Meltzer, but the last 2 or 3 years I’ve really only been buying the title because the completist inside me feels compelled to do so.
However, James Robinson is now writing the League and it’s time to get excited once more. This is the best League since Morrison. Cry For Justice is a 7 issue mini-series that effectively stars a new JLA. Headlined by a disenchanted Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and a mish-mash of DC superheroes, this is no longer the JLA-lite we’ve had in the last year or two. This is the JLA with espresso in their veins. What’s most intriguing is the line-up. When it was first revealed it was somewhat perplexing. Hal and Green Arrow make sense, as does Ray Palmer (The Atom), but Batwoman, Congorilla and Mikaal Tomas (Starman)? They’re odd choices, but as Robinson describes in the 5 page regular feature, that’s what he wanted. The mix of new and old, or old made new, heroes, such as Freddy Freeman as the new Captain Marvel means that the interplay will be as exciting as the villain bashing. Robinson also uses the extra pages to give brief backgrounds for the roster and his buddy Len Wein writes a 2 page Congorilla origin (a hunter who had his mind transferred to a golden gorilla-that’s either cool or laughable).
Being a first issue, it’s all set up, with the opening pages dedicated to a fed up Hal confronting his JLA team-mates in the orbital Watchtower, while his pal Ollie also tags along for the justice serving adventures. The rest of the story shows glimpses of the rest of the new team as they cope with recent losses and find a burning desire for proactive justice. Robinson’s comfort with these characters is superb. Hal and Ollie’s dialogue is just like two old friends, and having written Starman for years, he knows the blue-hued alien Mikaal Tomas well too.
Mauro Cascioli wowed many with his painted art on the Trials of Shazam mini that moved Freddy Freeman to drop the Junior from his Captain Marvel moniker. These pages are lush and realistic, not in an Alex Ross way, but with texture and tone and superb backgrounds. These characters look foreboding and heroic and scary. Thank you Robinson and Cascioli for giving the JLA CPR. It is for DC fans, but Robinson also knows that some of these heroes are more familiar than others and doesn’t act on assumed knowledge. This is going to be an exciting series and thankfully, once it’s over Robinson will be taking his skills, and possibly his new crew, on to the ongoing JLA series.
Batman and Robin #2 is just as good as the first issue. Some may find the circus talk frustrating, but Morrison shows Alfred’s concern for Dick, Dick’s frustration with Damian as his new Robin, and his weariness about being the new Batman very well. He also wisely brings up the idea of the Gotham cops, including Commissioner Gordon, knowing that this Dynamic Duo is not the old Dynamic Duo. Frank Quitely draws action scenes of such fluid motion you’ll feel like you’re watching a John Woo film. Little touches like Dick hating the cape as it makes him “way off balance,” and Alfred encouraging Dick to treat his new cowled role as exactly that, like a part in a play remind us that Morrison knows how to handle realism just as well as freaky villains and life and death scenarios.