Superman is opening his Metropolis Mailbag. Once upon a time, that meant a literal sack of handwritten letters but today the post arrives faster than a speeding bullet, directly on to Superman’s mobile phone.
Oops. Oh well, not even a Justice League member can win them all.
At the Hall of Justice, after a run-in with the fiendish Black Manta, Aquaman is confronted with a difficult question, too.
As for what comes down Green Lantern’s Mail Chute…
In today’s age of instant communication, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with your heroes. And if they’re not busy fighting off an alien invasion, they might even write back. The kids who contact the three heroes above, along with colleagues Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Cyborg, Flash and Batman, hear the wildest tales, stories which tell them that superheroes aren’t so very different from them. They have bad days, they mess up, they get into embarrassing situations… but the important point is that when things do go wrong, they pick themselves up, dust off their Spandex and have another crack at making things right.
Sounds a tad Public Service Announcement? Think again, Dear Justice League is more peachy than preachy, thanks to a sharp, fun script by Michael Northrop and all-round adorable art from Gustavo Duarte. The Super Friends have rarely seemed friendlier, both to one another and the kids they meet. Each hero gets their own chapter, before the mystery of the Insectoids of Planet Molt-On, which has been buzzing away in the background throughout, brings them together for a fabulous finale. Characterisations are cute, action sequences hit the appropriate note, and if the Insectoids are more anaemic Parademons than serious threat, well, this is a book primarily aimed at kids.
Like all great all-ages books, though, there’s plenty for us older types to enjoy, not least the art of Duarte, whose expressive cartooning helped make DC’s Bizarro mini-series of a few years back such a brilliant read. He’s every bit as good here, adding just the right amount of silliness to the World’s Greatest Superheroes, ensuring they work in a more slapstick version of the DC Universe. Visual highlights include Superman’s accidental trail of destruction through Metropolis, a pin-up page homaging Flash Facts of yore, and the sugary horror of Wonder Woman’s eleventh birthday. It’s all coloured with real vim by Marcelo Maiolo, while the lettering of Wes Abbott sits beautifully alongside the visuals, especially when he’s using a display font to help tell the JLA members’ origins.
So brilliant is the artwork that it saddens me that Duarte doesn’t get equal billing with Northrop. Sure, the latter is an established kids’ writer, but without Duarte there’s no comic. Dear Justice League is a collaboration and the book cover should reflect that; hopefully Duarte is at least getting the page rate his craft deserves.
Credit, too, to production designer Amy-Brockway-Metcalf, design director Steve Cook and editor Sara Miller for putting everything together into an attractive package – the DC Zoom imprint may prove a fleeting thing, but this book shows what it could be.
The book closes with a preview of the next entry in a projected series, Dear Super-Villains, from the same creators, and it looks just as good as this. Bring it on!