Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis are back together again for a Justice League book with "Justice League 3000." Howard Porter fills in for Kevin Maguire who was originally slated to join Giffen and DeMatteis for the first time since their memorable run on "Justice League International" over 25 years ago. Fans of that run have been looking forward to this comic ever since the news of it broke back in June.
Readers are greeted to a bleak world where a major holocaust has destroyed the peace and prosperity of a star system set in the 31st century. The first third of the book is narrated by a female on the run from Project Cadmus. Her name is Ariel Masters. We learn from her that the arrival of the Five is what brought on this holocaust. Billions have died. Governments have been overturned. Armies and militias have been destroyed. Though resistance movements arose, they have also since been shut down. In short, her world was in need of heroes in a desperate way. The project to which Ariel was once connected, the same project that engineered the very heroes they needed, is some how related to the holocaust. This is why she's being hunted. She vows not to help them perfect the project that seemingly started it all.
Certainly we will learn more about Ariel Masters in the forthcoming issues. Her short foreword is followed by the introduction of the Twins, Terry and Teri, whom Ariel mentored. The three friends worked together at Project Cadmus. The "Wonder Twins," as they are mocked by others, hope for Ariel's return to the project. Together they were instrumental in creating what seems to be a schizophrenically, out-of-character (and out of control) Justice League: these engineered to deal with the holocaust. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern are revealed in a two-page splash drawn by Porter. The action sequences match the intensity of the team's attempt to put down a mad mass of "inhuman scum."
This incarnation of the Justice League takes no prisoners in their no holds barred battle against an army of humanoids influenced by the "hive-mind" powers of the Convert. De Matteis and Giffen write a perfect blend of humor and sarcasm in the dialogue between the characters. The in-fighting and bickering is reminiscent of the JLI days. What's good here is that the writers avoid re-hashing the past. Rather they have the freedom to take each Justice Leaguer's flawed idiosyncrasies and play them up against their traditional character traits. The outcome is genius. Superman refers to himself in the third person and is loud and pompous. Batman overcompensates for his lack of powers as a little man with a loud bark. Flash is moody. Wonder Woman seems to be one 'roid-rage away from genocide. Green Lantern seems to lack personal creativity and strength of will. So far, what DeMatteis and Giffen have written is a cautionary tale about the dangers of genetic engineering. The worry here by the Twins is that their five heroes won't stand a chance against the Five. This is why they need Ariel to help complete the process.
I was initially put off by the book. I wasn't expecting "Alien Legion" when I started reading. So I put it down and read something else. When I came back to the book, I realized that I was expecting "Justice League 3000" to be nostalgic. That was unfair. "Justice League 3000" is different for a reason.
No Kevin Maguire. Don't get me wrong. Howard Porter did a great job on art for this book. In fact, I give him kudos for stepping in when Maguire departed the project. He helped make Grant Morrison's run on JLA in the 90's a success. However, the prospect of having Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire on the same book again was attractive. Alas, it wasn't the art that set them apart on their run 25 years ago. It was the collaborative writing and humor. They took JLI in a direction no one ever expected it to go.
I'm warming up to the costume designs. Batman's costume was really cool, but I'm not digging Flash's and Green Lantern's yet. At times I could not tell the difference between the faces of Clark and Bruce. I had to use the dialogue to distinguish them apart. Wonder Woman seemed overly monstrous. Superman was scary as well. This is all part of the problem with the way each were created by Project Cadmus. I get that. I also believe that DeMatteis, Giffen and Porter have a direction and purpose for this. Let's hope it's not just effect.
With Howard Porter on art, I expect DeMatteis and Giffen to take "Justice League 3000" to places no leaguer has gone before. Issue no. 1 is a good launch into the broken frontier that is the 31st century.
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