– This post was originally published on my now-defunct site, New to Comics. –
New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic-books, explaining their background, reviewing them, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. The title is a reference to a former university project that I carried on as its own site for several years before laying it to rest.
This week it’s time to head back to 2011 and check out the birth of the current DC universe. Featuring writing and artwork from one of DC’s most prolific writers and one of their co-publishers to boot, it’s Justice League: Origin.
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Jim Lee
Real Name: Victor Stone
Affiliation: The Justice League
First Appearance: DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980)
Victor Stone was a High School football star who grew to resent his scientist father Silas Stone‘s prioritising work over his son’s future sports career. However, when Victor was caught in a terrible accident, he became Silas’ new obsession, as Silas used experimental technology to save his dying son’s life. Now part-man, part-machine, the young Cyborg tried to push past his pain, standing alongside his fellow super-humans to use his new powers for good. Now amongst others who could truly understand him, Victor rose up the ranks of the superhero community, becoming a respected figure and an important member of the Justice League. As their technology specialist, Vic can summon portals using Apokoliptian technology to transport the League wherever they are needed.
WHAT’s THE STORY?
DC has a tendency to change up their continuity on a more frequent basis than their competitors. Their original continuity came to an end in the mid-eighties with Crisis on Infinite Earths. From there, we began to see less of the camp superheroic stories that pervaded comic-books of that era, and more serious and hardcore storytelling, as evidenced by books such as Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman.
The most recent full-on change came in 2011, and although in the years since then minor edits to various character’s (such as Superman and Wonder Woman) continuity have been made, for the most part, the timeline for this new age of DC heroes started after the conclusion of a comic-book called Flashpoint and has remained fairly consistent ever since (although DC seem to be trying to bleed in pre-Flashpoint continuity with their more recent initiatives).
Following Flashpoint, a new universe was created, in which the various heroes were younger and less experienced than their elder counterparts. The ‘starting point’ of sorts, following this upheaval was Justice League: Origin.
In Justice League: Origin, we were presented with a universe that was mostly unfamiliar with superheroes, with characters like Batman and Green Lantern believed to be myths, Superman having just appeared in public, and Wonder Woman has just recently come to America.
With that in mind, Origin is perhaps the perfect place to jump into DC Comic books, if you’re unfamiliar with the various continuities, and want to know where things ‘began’.
WHAT’s THE PLOT?
The story follows an alien invasion of Earth by the ‘New God’ Darkseid and his Parademon forces. In response, Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, the Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman join forces to stem the tide of this Parademon Invasion.
However, in their conflict with Darkseid, their lives are forever changed, as the heroes are thrust into the public spotlight, and introduced to the Apokaliptian technology housed within newly created superhero Cyborg, who may hold the key to stopping the invasion.
IS IT ACCESSIBLE?
As I said up top, this is, in a way, the beginning of the ‘current’ DC Universe. You can’t get something more accessible than this (unless you really can’t comprehend the concepts of the various heroes, in which case – either read some other more character-focused material or, alternatively, maybe comic-books aren’t for you?)
WHAT’s THE VERDICT?
Geoff Johns knows his way around a ‘classic’ superhero tale and is able to touch upon the hearts of each character while presenting them with new, unique and bizarre adversaries.
However, having said that, this comic-book is pretty simplistic.
‘Threat emerges, heroes unite, fight off threat – the end’. There’s not a whole lot to this comic-book. However, if you’re new to comics (or even a returning fan) this comic does well to introduce you to the various characterisations of each of our heroes and demonstrates how they will interact and work together moving forward.
The benefit of hindsight also tells us that this comic rather subtly introduces story threads that would pay off anywhere from two to forty issues down the line, making this an essential story if you’re potentially interested in reading the whole run.
Another definite benefit of the comic-book is the art. Co-publisher Jim Lee steps in to deliver some familiar, yet new and unique looks for the Earth’s Greatest Superheroes and his art delivers a dynamic, slick, story that just makes for a fun read.
Plus, on top of all of that, you get a new origin for the character of Cyborg that is woven into the events of the story, that really makes this feel like an ‘essential’ when it comes to building your DC library. His replacing classic Justice League member really hammers down that this is a new Justice League for a new era of comic-book fans, that you would be remiss to ignore if you’re at all interested in this sort of thing or were a fan of the recent movie.