Justice League: A New Beginning

by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (W) and Kevin Maguire (P) and Terry Austin and Al Gordon (I)

Published by DC Comics. Cover price $12.95. Originally published in 1987 as Justice League #1-6 and Justice League International #7.

The Plot: Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, some mighty heroes from across previously-separate realities unite to revive the Justice League. Interpersonal conflicts threaten to overshadow the physical conflicts as this new Justice League has some help finding its place in a world that is less than friendly to its superheroes.

The Good: With a new relaunch of the Justice League of America in the works, I wanted to take a look back at a previous relaunch. Giffen and DeMatteis are known for their fondness of injecting humor into superhero tales, and this book is no exception. The personalities of Guy Gardner, Batman, Blue Beetle and Black Canary are the most developed and the most central to the group dynamic. Maguire’s art is humorously expressive at times and consistent throughout the book.

The story serves the purpose of introducing and establishing the new team and transitioning them into an international peacekeeping force, and the events involved ease that evolution of the League quite well. It’s also interesting to see the character of Maxwell Lord in his early days.

The Bad: Very often, the humor that Giffen and DeMatteis inject into the story seems forced and falls flat. It’s tough to balance that humor they pull off so well in later arcs, such as “Formerly Known as the Justice League,” when saddled with trying to make the drama and action mean something.

Also, it’s hard to find an eighties comic book that isn’t just hopelessly mired in eighties politics. While you can’t fault a book for being relevant in its time, constant references to the Cold War and cheap Reagan jokes definitely date a story and limit any potential timeless appeal.

The Grade: C. The book isn’t bad, but it’s not great. It’s right there in the middle. If you’re looking for Giffen and DeMatteis’ funnier stuff, this isn’t the place to find it. But beyond expectations of their comic craft, it’s just a so-so drama and more of a setup for the League’s new international role. I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for a profound moment in comics history. But if you’re just interested in a previous manifestation of the League, it is what it is.