Ricky Church reviews Justice League: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1…
At the end of DC’s New 52, the Justice League was left shaken after the death of their Superman, though the pre-New 52 Superman was out there and ready to help the League and the world in their time of need. DC Rebirth made for a good jumping on point for the Justice League series, written by Bryan Hitch, and Justice League: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1 collects issues #1 – 11 as well as the Justice League: Rebirth special. Unfortunately, though, the book doesn’t quite live up to the potential of the world’s greatest heroes by having some underdeveloped stories and characters.
The book features the League coming together to fight off an alien invasion from a species called The Kindred and its aftermath. ‘The Extinction Machines’, the first part of the book that follows the invasion, is a pretty generic conflict that doesn’t up the stakes in a meaningful way, though Hitch presents the origins and purpose of The Kindred as a big mystery. That mystery, though, is never fully addressed in a satisfying way. Hitch leaves the door open for their inevitable return, but there’s nothing at the end of the story to ask what they might do next or generate excitement for their next appearance.
The next story that follows is similar. ‘State of Fear’ sees an entity attack the League by instilling them in their greatest fears, causing them to act out and attack people or those they’re close with. However, there’s no explanation as to what this entity is and it doesn’t help the first part of the story drops readers in media res into the conflict, but it doesn’t evolve very much from there. The one good thing about it is how it gives Green Lantern Jessica Cruz an important role to play as she saves the day not once but twice.
‘Outbreak’ at least deals directly with the aftermath of The Kindred’s invasion as the League is attacked by someone who may blame them for the death of their wife in the invasion. This story is actually the best of the three and has a fairly good mystery over who and what is responsible for the attack against the League, even having a nice twist to it. It has some good action and features the heroes fighting several B and C grade villains, though it ends very abruptly, feeling like it had to end there because they reached the page count rather than it being a natural ending.
The art is good for the most part. Tony Daniels’ work in ‘The Extinction Machines’ makes the story good to look at even if Hitch’s vision isn’t fully fleshed out. Daniels makes each of the heroes stand out, particularly Superman, and creates good imagery throughout the story. Neil Edwards artwork in ‘Outbreak’ is also good, showing some nice detail in the big action set pieces, but part of the reason why the ending feels so abrupt is also because of the art. Its not entirely clear in the panels how the League saves the day and there’s a bit of a rushed quality to the climax.
Most of the characters get some good moments. As mentioned, Jessica Cruz gets a fair bit of development in ‘State of Fear’ and Hitch’s take on the team’s dynamic is good. Each of the characters sound like themselves and he has a nice take on Batman’s leadership role as well as Wonder Woman’s ability to turn from peaceful ambassador to warrior. Funny enough, though, despite the presence of the pre-New 52 Superman to the team, the man of steel is hardly in the book. The most he appears is in ‘State of Fear’ as he and Batman bury the hatchet between each other. Since Superman has such a small role, there’s something missing in the stories.
Justice League: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1 is a bit of an uneven book. The artwork is fairly good for the most part as is Hitch’s characterizations of the League members, but the stories don’t quite hold up. The threats aren’t explained too much and by the time ‘Outbreak’ begins its too little too late for the story to find its footing. Overall, while its not the worst Justice League book, its far from the best too.