Truth & Justice #1 and #2 review

A new DC Digital First series always gets my attention, I love these cheap weekly treats. And this one stars Vixen, one of the best heroes out there. While other characters have been horribly mischaracterised over the years >cough Supergirl cough< Mari McCabe has always been well-treated. From her first spotlight in Justice League of America through Suicide Squad and beyond, Vixen has impressed.

And here she is again – strong, smart, sexy and confident, a classic hero, always ready to get the job done.

But she’s not alone. The story starts with another hero with ties to the African continent, super-speedster Impala.

An archaeologist has been possessed by an ancient object of power, and while Superman, Wonder Woman and other planetary powerhouses seem the obvious choices, bringing them in is a no-no.

Vixen has a mystic artefact of her own, safeguarding her from the possibility of possession. She’s well up for the challenge.

I loved this. Geoffrey Thorne’s script is pacy and funny, using Vixen’s powers and personality to good effect and introducing the latest version of Super Friends character Impala with economy. I take it that Charles is meant to be a Brit, as he says ‘love’. ‘wotcher’ and ‘cheers’ – in his secret identity he’s likely a Swinging Sixties hairdresser. And it’s great to have Global Guardians head Dr Mist, around, doing his ‘stern wizard’ bit. There’s also a wee reference to a very minor DC-owned character who may show up down the line.

A tiny mystery in the script is why the Global Guardians’ organisation is referred to as ‘GGI’ – the obvious thing the final initial stands for is ‘international’, but that’s far too tautological, so what could it be? Whatever the case, the Global Guardians have a rather excellent new status and I hope to see more members before long.

ChrisCross was once a stalwart of DC Comics, but it’s rare to see art by him at the company nowadays, which is a shame, as he’s a big talent and I like him drawing my favourite heroes. His Vixen is a treat, as he brings back her DC Rebirth costume rather than the awkward new one seen in preview art, and teams with colourist Wil Quintana for the visual representations of Mari’s power.

Impala doesn’t wear a costume as such, but his mask is all that’s needed to give him the cool factor. And again, Quintana gives the art extra oomph with well-chosen and applied colours. And kudos for the skin tone work, with everyone looking good.

I mustn’t forget Jordi Tarragona, who provides slick, sharp inks, and letterer Andworld Design (it’s a shame, though, that the very first panel contains a misspelling).

The dual publishing nature of this story brings my only real problem with this issue. For the most part, it does the Scooby-Doo Team-Up/Batman Adventures thing of strict landscape-shaped pages, suitable for a tablet. A couple of times, though, ChrisCross goes off grid, composing the visuals in more traditional mode, meaning you get the same set of images twice, but cut differently to fit in dialogue. Like this very unfortunate case.

It’s jarring, ruining the flow of the story, and, frankly, unnecessary – why not just let ChrisCross draw every side like a normal comics page? That’s how other DC Digital First books such as Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace are done. We enjoy other comics on screens, and don’t demand reformatting for a horizontal read. At the moment, this isn’t Digital First, it’s Digital Afterthought.

Happily, the second chapter isn’t as badly affected, although the opening digital pages look pretty sparse due to panels with angled edges being extracted. It’ll likely all look great in the published version.

Said second chapter – which will be the middle section of next month’s 40pp print collection – sees Vixen, Impala and Dr Mist track down the villain from the first issue who, I have to say, has one of the most interesting outfits I’ve seen in a while.

As well as plot movement, there’s more fun banter and an interesting wrinkle with Mari’s powers. It’s well worth your time and, at 79p/99c very little money.

The second chapter’s cover is, as is practice for DC Digital books, a repurposed interior panel. The first, though, is a crop of the print issue’s cover by ChrisCross and Quintana, below, and it’s well done, but doesn’t feature the fun Mari we meet within… too, too scowly! And I love the logo, it’s very sharp. I actually prefer the second cover, I’m a sucker for framed art.

I don’t know what’s coming after the first story, but DC are promising ‘a platform for new, emerging storytellers to reveal their takes on popular DC characters’. Based on the quality of the first two offerings, edited by Andrew Marino, I’ve subscribed.

12 thoughts on “Truth & Justice #1 and #2 review

  1. Apparently a Superman story is starting in Truth & Justice #3 – looks like each print issue will be an unrelated one-shot, so the title is essentially an anthology of one-shot specials.

    Brandon Easton will be writing that Superman tale – he wrote Mister Miracle in DC Future State and Superman of Metropolis, and will be writing a story in Superman Red & Blue. So I guess he’s Mister Anthology Backup Story Digital First Man of 2021.

    But right now everything is coming up Brandon, and I can’t keep it straight: Brandon Peterson is doing art on The Flash while Brandon Thomas is writing Outsiders in Batman: Urban Legends. Perhaps just call up DC and say your name is Brandon, and they’ll mail you a contract.

    Have you gotten to the digital first Sensational Wonder Woman yet? The spiritual successor to Agent of Peace, I suppose. Unlike Agent of Peace – which was formatted for print, but never printed – Sensational is being drawn in tablet form, yet will be printed. Irony?

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  2. A Supermsn story? So much for using lesser known characters. Well, I hope it’s a more interesting story than that Mr Miracle one. Not being to do with Future State is an instant improvement.

    I hadn’t noticed the re-Brandon of DC…

    I did buy the first two issues of Sensational Wonder Woman. Talk about misnamed, it was dire. Obvious, done-to-death script. Art in the first half way below what the same illustrator produced for Agent of Peace – I get that she was going for an effect, but it looked amateur hour. And the lettering – that had to be deliberate, maybe trying to unnerve us. I prefer neater. I couldn’t review it as the whole thing would have been too negative.

    And what was Hawkgirl even doing in the story, just standing by Diana’s bed rather than investigating?

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  3. I think I even ran across another DC Brandon after writing that comment. Re-Brandon – good one.

    I was going to mention the WW lettering but decided to keep my comment short. Pat Brosseau also letters the regular Wonder Woman title, and I’ve been disturbed by his lettering for quite some time.

    This is worse, but the sloppiness is, I think, in the distorted balloon shapes. But both here and in the regular issue (soon to be a “monthly”), he uses a left-slopping font for regular text, but then the bolded words slope to the right, and it slows my reading to a halt. Lettering should flow – you shouldn’t notice it. It should ease the reading, not jerk your eyes and brain around.

    If it’s the slant of the lettering that you’re objecting to – well, this is what he does. I don’t know if he’s been using it everywhere, or just thinks that Wonder Woman merits it.

    You’re right, the plot is inane. I hope Stephanie Phillips does a better job with Harley Quinn – a weird combination if we end up with scripts like this coupled with Riley Rossmo’s artwork. That could prove to be a train wreck of a comic book, one for the history books.

    This story could have been a script for DC Super Hero Girls. Those cartoons don’t have to make sense.

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  4. These issues tick so many boxes for me.
    As a Vixen fan since her JLA days, I’m really enjoying this.

    I adore the Global Guardians. As a non-American, I’ve always liked to see what is happening elsewhere in the world, when it comes to superheroics. So it was great to see a new Impala (i also assumed he was a brit, and I think Mari confirms this by nicknaming him ‘Idris’).
    I share your hope that we see more of them, potentially including the Wildstorm character that is name dropped in both issues.

    And its always a joy to see ChrisCross’ work. Coincidently, today saw the first issue of Hardware and Static drop on Comixology, so I’m hoping his work on fellow miletstone tile, Blood Syndicate, won’t be far behind. I agree Mart, that we just don’t see enough of his work thesedays.

    A bit disappointed to hear that the next arc is going to be a Superman story. I’d love to see Truth & Justice be a springboard for lesser known, or even new, characters in the DCU. At 79p I’d even read a gritty reboot of ‘Mazing Man (PLEASE DON’T DO THIS, DC)

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    1. Thanks so much for dropping by, Mike, and I’m glad you enjoyed this too. As your fellow non-American, I’m with you – it always bugged me that superheroes could go anywhere, yet spent the vast majority of their in the States. If they ever came to Europe, they’re really faced with suspicious natives living in thatched cottages, whispering about demons…

      …still, at least we eventually got the wonderful Knight and Squire min-series from Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton! I wonder if they’ll show up in this series, before the upcoming Tom Taylor Batman book they’re in.

      I did like the Idris Elba reference; he’s a bit of a fashion fan, so Mari likely knows him. Gritty ‘Mazing Man is now out in the zeitgeist… you’ve done it now!

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  5. I’m always down for a DC anthology, and I enjoyed the first chapter of this (aside from those weird panel breaks). Haven’t gotten to the second chapter yet.

    And if you think Superman is a strange choice for the second story…it looks like the star of the third story will be John Constantine! I can’t even begin to guess what they’re thinking here. But, sure enough, I’ll buy ’em.

    And I agree — that Sensational Wonder Woman seemed like a poor replacement for Agent of Peace. I passed on it, but will look into future stories by different creators.

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  6. The same writer that gave us that trope filled GLC story complete with grim and gritty G’Nort wrote this gem? I eye rolled so hard through the GLC thing I almost saw behind me! I loved the characterization of everyone, the plot was fun and made sense, and it actually works with established continuity! I might just sample his GL series now, just to see whether it’s like the Future State drek or this wonderful Vixen story!

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    1. I was definitely going to pass on the new GL book for the same reasons, but like you, this has me extremely plesssntly surprised, so I shall give it a go. Also, that promotional image of Teen Lantern in a Guardian’s face is super cute.

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