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Geoff Johns’ (and Jim Lee’s) Run on Justice League – The Villain’s Journey (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

This should be the defining Justice League book of the 21st century. Geoff Johns is something of a DC comics super star, a writer who has worked on all manner of major and minor DC characters, and helped shaped the fictional universe for the better part of a decade. Jim Lee defined the look of DC comics, particularly with the revamped “new 52” character designs. He’s a super star artist who produces iconic superhero images. So pairing the two up on DC’s flagship book, relaunched as part of a line-wide initiative, should be something to watch. If Johns can turn Green Lantern into one of DC’s biggest franchises, imagine what he could do here.

However, their first six-issue arc, Origin, seemed troubled. It was a decently entertaining big-budget blockbuster of a comic book arc, but it didn’t really provide a clear vision of these characters and their world. New Frontier, for example, remains a more thoughtful and introspective origin story for the team of DC’s most iconic heroes.

The Villain’s Journey improves a great deal on Origin, but it’s still deeply flawed, with a sense that Johns and Lee are struggling under the weight of having to make these characters “relevant” to the modern world.

He knows how to make an entrance...

He knows how to make an entrance…

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Justice League Unlimited – Flashpoint (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

While Question Authority kicked off this four-part climax to the arc that had been building through the first season of Justice League Unlimited, it’s Flashpoint that really serves to bring things into focus. Question Authority had been told mostly from the point of view of the Question, an outsider looking in – but Flashpoint explores the consequences of this inevitable conflict for the core of the Justice League. It’s amazing just how thoroughly and carefully writer Dwayne McDuffie was able to explore the concept of the superhero in this cynical post-9/11 world. While Divided We Fall would sidestep quite a few of the issues raised, I’m quite impressed to see them even broached in a half-hour cartoon action series.

All fired up…

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Geoff Johns Hawkman Omnibus: Volume 1 (Review/Retrospective)

I’m always glad to see a nice, big and thick DC comics omnibus. Marvel have cornered the market in putting out over-sized gigantic collections of modern and classic runs on iconic characters, and I’m disappointed that it has taken DC so long to follow suit. After all, they have any number of long runs on iconic characters by acclaimed creators deserving some nice love. Geoff Johns’ Hawkman run is perhaps the writer’s run that I was least excited about, but it’s still nice to get the majority of Geoff Johns’ character-defining and continuity-clarifying run on the character handily collected in one gigantic package.

Hawkin' his wares...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – No Fear, Revenge of the Green Lanterns & Wanted: Hal Jordan

Talk about a turn-around in fortunes. I remember the days when the Green Lantern was a cult figure – beloved by a few core devotees and mocked ceaselessly by anyone who knew the character well enough to know that he had a weakness to the colour yellow. That’s lamer than Kryptonite and led to all manner of hackneyed set-ups and resolutions since the rebirth of the series in 1960 (the original Green Lantern had a similar weakness to wood – yes, wood). However, he’s now one of DC’s flagship properties, managed to be the one to watch even in a summer where DC ‘killed’ Batman and has a mega blockbuster movie coming out starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by the man who saved James Bond (twice). There are a variety of factors that explain this massive reversal in fortune, but I’m going to go ahead and throw a name on them: Geoff Johns.

Don't worry, he's just out of practice... He'll figure it out...

Yeah, exposition tends to really kill those big moments, doesn't it?

Note: As Green Lantern: Rebirth is receiving an Absolute Edition next year, I held off on buying the trade. So I’ll get that in 2010 and review it then. I just wish I’d held off on buying the Sinestro Corps War books – they’ll likely get the Absolute treatment too. Still, this collection actually makes a better “jumping on” point.

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