I’ve been having a hard time coming up with a cohesive argument about why I didn’t love this book. It’s okay. It’s just not good, and definitely not worth me keeping it in my collection. So I’ve decided to make a list. Here are my problems:
1. I don’t care about almost a third of the characters (Hawkgirl, “Red Arrow,” Red Tornado, Geo-Force). That’s honestly not entirely Meltzer’s fault; he was given the keys to the Justice League, which basically gives you access to all your favourite characters. I think that if I was going to write the Justice League, I would probably have a couple of characters on the team that most people would not get behind. But that doesn’t mean that, just by including them on the team, Meltzer’s favourites automatically become mine. He has to MAKE me like them, through his writing. And in these issues, he doesn’t.
1a. Sub-problem: because Meltzer didn’t make me care about Red Tornado, and because he’s the focus of this first storyline, every bit of pathos that he tries to squeeze out of Red Tornado’s story rings hollow and makes me more frustrated.
2. I cannot STAND everyone calling Red Tornado “Reddy.” And I mean, EVERYONE does it. You’d think Batman or Superman would call him “Tornado” or something.
3. I don’t like the multiple-plotlines-that-eventually-tie-together angle the story takes. This is the Justice League; they get together, they fight, they be awesome. I don’t need six issues of "some people sit around deciding while other people randomly stumble across the major plotlines and somehow they all get together and realize, ‘Gee, maybe we should just team up and fight the badguys’ "
4. It’s not FUN. I mean, really. Justice League should be fun. It can be serious, and thought-provoking, and has been in the past. But it should ALWAYS be fun. It’s your favourite superheroes getting together and kicking ass.
5. It doesn’t feel so much like a story as an excuse to have three or four “big” moments per issue. I have no problem with “big” moments. Some of my favourite parts of comic books are the last page reveals, the “HELLYEAH!” panels where your favourite character does something terribly badass. But with this story, it kind of seems like that’s all there is.
6. Meltzer writes dialogue for a lot of different characters (there are ten different heroes in his Justice League), but they all have pretty much the same voice. And that’s not okay. I don’t think Black Canary’s inner monologue should have the same tone as Superman’s or Red Tornado’s. (Although to be fair to the man: he writes Green Arrow/Green Lantern banter very well.)
7. Too many narrative boxes. Part of Meltzer’s style is to show the characters’ inner thoughts through narrative boxes, and I like hearing their inner thoughts. But often there are so many narrative boxes that it clutters up the page. Comics are the melding of pictures and words, but sometimes Meltzer’s words don’t quite meld smoothly.
8. And, look at this! A non-writing problem! Now, I have no problem with cheesecake art, but Ed Benes’ big shots of the supeheroines tend to be hyper-obvious. Like, to the point that it distracts from the dynamism of the scenes. Again, this is not me putting on my prude hat – I absolutely ADORE Amanda Conner, and she does some DAMN fine superheroines – but while Conner makes it part of the scene, Benes almost shoehorns it in there. It doesn’t always fit, and that’s distracting.
And really? A lot of the problems are the same things that bothered me when I read Identity Crisis, but while I ended up liking that series because of the strength of the story and the characters, this one doesn’t really hold up. I am glad I re-read this story, but ultimately, it’s nothing special. And certainly not anything I need to keep around.