Best Shots Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE: REBIRTH #1 Action-Packed But Perfunctory

"Justice League Rebirth #1" preview
Credit: Bryan Hitch (DC Comics)
Credit: Bryan Hitch (DC Comics)

Justice League: Rebirth #1
Written by Bryan Hitch
Art by Bryan Hitch, Daniel Henriques, Scott Hanna and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Published by DC Comics
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10

Credit: Bryan Hitch (DC Comics)

The big team books in superhero comic books are supposed to be the blockbusters, where every issue offers a end-of-world scenario worthy of a two-and-a-half-hour feature film. But at the same time, they should still contain some depth – this is where these heroes will interact with one another the most. So when a book like Justice League Rebirth #1 falls flat, it can really disappoint.

The issue begins strongly enough, as the remaining members of the Justice League (Batman, Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg) face an alien threat. As writer and artist for this issue, Bryan Hitch, knows how to deliver on the action. Recognizing that a debut doesn’t have to get bogged down in the particulars of the villain, Hitch gives readers a faceless alien threat for the League to fight. Hitch’s detailed artwork keeps the action at the forefront, and the attention he pays to his cityscapes means he can pull back for wider viewpoints that show the massive scale of the events going on. Inkers Daniel Henriques and Scott Hanna really help Hitch’s lines pop, especially the movement lines that keep everything kinetic. And colorist Alex Sinclair makes sure that the bright costumes of the heroes pop off the page.

Credit: Bryan Hitch (DC Comics)
Credit: Bryan Hitch (DC Comics)

Unfortunately, Justice League Rebirth #1 never quite comes together. The story never really moves on from this opening action sequence, cutting away only to show Superman contemplating whether or not he’ll join this world’s Justice League (hint: the answer is “duh”). While it’s expected that the series debut would be lacking some dramatic weight, Justice League Rebirth #1 does itself no favors. While the action is present, there’s nothing particularly inventive about any of the beats within it. There are flashes of humor in Hitch’s dialogue - playful banter between Cyborg, Flash, and the Green Lanterns ring true – but these bits of personality can’t salvage a story that’s as plain as this.

If you had guessed that the alternate universe Superman might be hesitant about taking his predecessor’s place, you’d be right, but rather than start off with his joining the team, the issue simply sets up that moment and then glosses over any real conversation to get to the ending. Certainly, this foreign Superman joining the team is something that’s going to develop as the series progresses, but it would have been nice to get something beyond the “I’ll be around,” given here.

Ultimately, Justice League Rebirth #1 struggles to get any real momentum. Essentially a giant action sequence, the issue offers no real insight into its characters or their motivations. There are bright spots however, Hitch’s dialogue is lively enough, and the action by Hitch, Henriques, Hanna and Sinclair is exactly what this issue needed. It’s unfortunate though that the story feels so perfunctory. Hopefully the true series debut will be more memorable.

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