Justice League of America #0
Title: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
Writer: Brad Meltzer
By Michael David Sims
24 July 2006 I don't care what the cover says, Justice League of America #0 is not a Justice League story. It is, in fact, an homage to DC's Holy Trinity. And while I understand what writer Brad Meltzer was doing here that is, reestablishing these three as both friends and the cornerstones of their superpowered universe it didn't work under the Justice League banner. Though the satellite is used as a backdrop and continuity is there to make fanboys wet, Justice League of America #0 is nothing more than an Infinite Crisis epilogue. And we've had enough of those already.
For those of you who missed DC's mega-event, basically it went like this: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were on the rocks (Batman built a secret satellite for spying on other heroes, and Wonder Woman killed villain Maxwell Lord on live television). Meanwhile the multiverse began to unravel (again). So the three set their differences aside, and teamed with every DC hero to save their reality from being destroyed. Or rewritten. Or whatever. However, there came a price: the life of Superboy, Kon-El Superman's teenage clone. By reminding them that life and love and friendship are ever so fragile, this tragic moment brought the trio closer together. So they set their heroic lives aside for one full year, and walked the earth. (Not together, mind you. They each went their separate ways.) Now that year is up, and they've regrouped to reform DC's number one superteam: the Justice League of America.
Did you need to know that in order to enjoy this book? Hmm... no, not really. But it surely helps you understand where the characters are coming from and why Meltzer structured the story the way he did.
The author's use of flashbacks (and, in some cases, flashforwards) chronicles their rocky relationship throughout the years. From Bruce's initial reservations about the League to Donna Troy's wedding, from Batman punching out Guy Gardner to Superman's death, it's all there: the bonding, love, humor and even death. But the format these 24 pages of story rushes what could have been a rather compelling tale.
It also puts the emphasis on Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. This is a crime. The League isn't about them; it's about the team trying to find its groove in the world (and universe) and in the hearts of their teammates. By shining an even brighter spotlight on these three, I'm afraid, the other members will be left standing in the wings until Superman is too busy to deal with whatever C-list villain Meltzer has dusted off.
The Justice League, in any form, should always showcase the lesser-known heroes as they fight as equals alongside the likes of the four-colored icons. Should the book continue this way, Meltzer will be making a fatal error. There's a large enough focus on these three already what with roughly 12 monthly books (counting minis and Johnny DC titles) shared between them. Use League to elevate the likes of Cyborg, Steel, Huntress, Power Girl and any multitude of characters who are sans their own solo titles. Push them to the top, build a fanbase and then offshoot them into their own books.
Meltzer is a fanboy at heart, and he could have written a love letter to the DCU, Justice League and trinity in the form of a four- or six-issue mini. The whole thing could have culminated with the trio settling on a final roster, thus leading to the new series. Each of Batman's extensive profiles could have segued into cheery, heroic and / or mournful narratives. The group these three, I mean could have found their friendship renewed (and the preeminent DC team reborn) over casual conversations and fond memories.
Not only would this have solidified the icons as humans (Kal-El included), but also served to remind us (and them) just why the League is needed in the first place. As it stands, they're seemingly rebuilding the team because:
01. They broke it and feel it's their responsibility to clean up the mess.
While the first is a so-so reason, the second doesn't mean squat.
Look at what Brian Michael Bendis did to rebuild the team he disassembled. The Avengers were gone. Done. Dead, literally and figuratively. As Captain America and Iron Man saw it, the world had moved on. There was no longer a need for the team. But then fate brought an all-new, all-different team together just like the first time all those years ago. They had a reason to exist, not only as a team but also as that team.
It wasn't forced or pieced together out of tradition; their was a rock-solid reason behind it all. Here, not so much. There was a League, therefore their should be a League. Dubious, circular reasoning it seems.
So not only does #0 lack that special Justice League of America tone cinematic action, eclectic team of heroes no reason is truly established for its resurrection. Or for us to care one way or the other.
Does all of this equate into a terrible book? Hardly. Despite its shortcomings, it's an average issue. Meltzer did an okay job with the space DC provided; he reminded us why these three are friends: they see each other as equals (betters, really). And the rotating artists each captured the eras they were assigned perfectly, especially Eric Wight, George Pιrez and Ethan Van Sciver. However, just as the aforementioned faults didn't kill the title, the bright spots didn't glimmer as much as they could have. Nor are they compelling enough to justify the purchase of the forthcoming premier issue.