Written by: Brian Hitch
Art by: Brian Hitch
Publisher: DC Comics
How time flies eh? It feels like only yesterday I was writing my review for Hitch’s JLA debut issue for what most of us thought was an out of continuity series. Now however things have changed, DC have gone back to their tighter focus on continuity with Hitch now penning the flagship book. With a newer, bigger stage set, the pressure is on Hitch to deliver more than ever before. This debut issue reaches for the stars, though unfortunately feels a bit run of the mill.
The story initially begins from the new (old) Superman’s perspective, questioning his role in this new universe and his potential position on the Justice League. It’s interesting that DC elect not to ignore the potential problems in including a different universe’s superman on the League, even if it’s something many fans applauded, though after this introduction it gets largely swept aside. The majority of the issue features the League sans Superman attempting to deal with a giant parasitic creature in typical Justice League fashion.
Nothing about this story is particularly bad, it’s just not particularly thrilling either, which isn’t a very good thing considering it’s a book with the majority of DC’s heavy hitters. The luster and excitement of Hitch on the Justice League title has worn off from his initial debut, and this new launch unfortunately doesn’t live up to the hype of the previous run. Despite it’s unfinished state, I found JLA to be surprisingly thrilling with an old school feel using new and exciting ideas. Here though, the threat feels pretty undefined with vague and cliched references to “harvesters” and “reapers” with even a newsreader even sounding bored when reporting on the days events. There’s also some pretty paper thin characterization of the league. They all feel strangely out of character and quippy such as Flash’s clunky line “this thing’s spitting out sea food – could Aquaman try talking to it?”. This would be fine for the League’s early days, but for a story featuring a well established team (albeit missing a key member) it just feels a bit off. Even the scenes mourning Superman feel weirdly phoned in and as if they’re only there to fill a box of “we grieved for him now we can move on”.
While the main series art is being handled by Tony S. Daniel (which should hopefully stop the huge delays) we get one last issue of Hitch, although it’s a mixed bag. For some reason, anytime Hitch draws Wonder Woman she looks incredibly like a man, with a stronger chin than Batman. His art at least manages to generate a huge sense of scale, as always, so while the issue itself feels pretty run of the mill there’s some nice art to look at. It’s disappointing though, as there are no less than two “money shot” moments of the league which sort of fall flat due to the lack of engagement with the book’s plot, which just doesn’t feel very engaging. With Daniel coming on board the art department, hopefully some stability can be maintained, allowing for Hitch to focus more on the writing and making it the best it can be.
Overall, Justice League: Rebirth is a little bit of a disappointment. It doesn’t reach the highs of Johns’ previous run of even Hitch’s own JLA. Though there are seeds of potential for the book, with Hitch’s previous ability to handle big team books, Daniel’s upcoming art and the inclusion of the post-crisis Superman. The previous series had a shaky start before going somewhere excellent, so right now let’s hope these are just growing pains and Justice League can deliver the goods.