THIS WEEK: The fan-favorite Justice League of the Bruce Timm-produced animated series returns in a new miniseries, Justice League Infinity.
Note: the review below contains mild spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comic in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Justice League Infinity #1
Writers: J.M. DeMatteis & James Tucker
Artist: Ethan Beavers
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover Artist: Francis Manapul
It’s almost hard to believe it’s been twenty years since the animated Justice League series debuted on Cartoon Network. The series, which ran for six years, first simply as Justice League and later with an expanded roster as Justice League Unlimited, was a continuation of the continuity established first in Batman: The Animated Series and later continued in Superman: The Animated Series. Over the course of those six years Justice League and JLU told stories starring fan-favorite heroes and villains from across the DC Universe, and appealed to kids and adults alike with its strong characterization and innovative storytelling techniques.
The return of that version of the team in the pages of Justice League Infinity is, for this reviewer, incredibly welcome. Perhaps even more than the recent animated Batman: The Adventures Continue comic, Justice League Infinity picks up where the animated series left off, and it does so fairly seamlessly. It helps that writers J.M. DeMatteis and James Tucker worked on the original series, with DeMatteis having contributed multiple episode scripts and Tucker serving as a producer for the length of the series’s run.
The first issue of the new series explores one of the more fascinating aspects of the animated series finale, in which it was revealed that J’onn J’onnz, having left the League the previous season, had been living a quiet life in disguise as a human. This issue gives readers a glimpse of what J’onn’s life is like now, and hints at the difficulties he’s had adjusting to being away from the League. J’onn was a key figure to the formation of the animated Justice League, and as time went on he became the glue that kept the team together. This new insight into the character’s journey was unexpected, and a wonderful addition to the show’s canon.
Artist Ethan Beavers also has a history with the animated Justice League, having worked on the Justice League Unlimited tie-in comic series, and his work on Justice League Infinity feels like he never left this world. The Bruce Timm-inspired character designs are as spot-on as ever, and Beavers’s storytelling throughout the issue is strong, with clean lines and clear action. Beavers and colorist Nick Filardi also get to cut loose a bit during the Amazo-centric sequences, which find the evolved android travelling through space and into other dimensions entirely. A brawl in the League’s Metro Tower headquarters between the team and some uninvited visitors also allows for some frenetic action and plenty of Kirby Krackle from the art team.
If there’s a drawback to this series, it’s that I’m not sure how accessible it will be to new readers. There’s a lot of status quo from the animated series to be aware of for these characters – from J’onn, to Amazo in space, to a Shayera Hol who’s renounced her Hawkgirl identity, to new hints of a relationship between Batman and Wonder Woman. Readers who aren’t familiar with the animated series and who just want a contained Justice League story might be put off by those elements that are rewarding to long-time fans of the cartoon (of which, if it wasn’t clear before, I am one). On the other hand, hopefully jumping in here will entice them to go back and check out the cartoon.
Justice League Infinity #1 is a wildly enjoyable opening chapter for this series. Fans who have missed the world of the Justice League animated series will surely be pleased with this continuation, which picks up on plenty of fascinating threads from the show and plants new seeds for stories to come. I can’t wait to see where this series goes.
Final Verdict: BUY.
- There’s not really a bad book from DC this week, so we’re just going to hit some of the highlights that stood out among the rest. James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles have been crushing on Batman lately, and this week’s Batman #110 is the best issue of their run yet. It’s a pure action comic, fast-paced and non-stop from start to finish, while still dropping some teases for next month’s Fear State storyline. It’s honestly never been a better time to be a Batman fan.
- The Action Comics 2021 Annual returns readers to the world of Future State for a tale of the future extended House of El. I don’t know what writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson‘s endgame for these character is, but right now I really don’t care, as between the Future State: House of El one-shot and this annual Johnson has established these characters and their dynamics well enough that I actively want to see more of them. Give the House of El a back-up series at the very least.
- The second issue of Mariko Tamaki, Amancay Nahuelpan, Tamra Bonvillain, and Ariana Maher‘s Crush & Lobo is out this week, and it’s just as delightful as the first issue. Crush is a character I knew basically nothing about coming into this book, and Tamaki has given her such a strong, clear voice and characterization that I feel like I’ve been reading stories starring the character for years. It just goes to show that the right character in the hands of the right creative team can really be a wonderful thing to behold.
- Tynion IV’s other new book this week is the second issue of his, Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Jordie Bellaire, and Andworld Design‘s The Nice House on the Lake #2. After an honestly mind-blowing first issue you might think the second issue would slow down a little and just enjoy the status quo set out in the initial offering, but you would be wrong. If anything, NHotL #2 smacks you in the face and lets you know that This Series Is Not Messing Around. Tynion, Bueno, and co. add layer upon layer to the story in an enthralling manner, building out the characters and their relationships naturally and raising new questions about how they all ended up where they are. This might be the best book DC is publishing right now.
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