Justice League Incarnate #1 review

Spinning out of the recent Infinite Frontier series, the multiversal Justice League get the spotlight as they bid to foil the latest plot by the latest Darkseid.

It turns out the master of Apokolips hasn’t been himself for a while, but he’s back and bigger than ever, having absorbed lesser versions, or something. I know I read it, but who can recall every bit of tweaked continuity?

I do remember that Infinite Frontier closed with the Barry Allen Flash disappearing into an idyllic life via a crack in reality. Why he’d want to be rescued, I have no idea, but President Superman. Mary Marvel, Captain Carrot, Aquawoman, Thunderer, Dino-Cop and the Thomas Wayne Batman are out to retrieve him. To get there, though, they need a Flash of their own, one with a connection to Barry Allen. So it’s over to Earth 0, where Avery Ho has been foiling a ridiculous cryptocurrency plot by C-list rogue Replicant.

Hearing the scope of their mission, she has a little performance anxiety, but the Obama pep talk power of President Superman saves the day.

Meanwhile, over on Earth 23, the super-team known as the Retaliators learn they have to avenge the death of teammate Machinehead.

‘Who is Dr Multiverse?’ asks the cover? A nicely designed character with pretty vague powers, so far. ‘Cursed with the powers of the Multiverse, and the vision of our place in it.’ And later, we find she can harmonise vibrations.

No, me neither. Still, her personality is clear – bright, empathetic, no- nonsense, and I look forward to seeing more of her.

I’d like to see something of Aquawoman, Thunderer and Mary Marvel, who never seem to get to do anything in Justice Incarnate appearances (they add the ‘League’ as of this issue, irking Captain Carrot). Hopefully writers Joshua Williamson and Dennis Culver – a new name to me – have plans before this five-issue mini-series is up.

While the business with Darkseid doesn’t grab me – an appearance by him stopped being special a long time ago – I enjoyed the character moments, such as Avery’s changing attitude, Dino-Cop’s grumpiness and Batman taking the mickey out of the Bat-image.

Well, I hope he’s taking the Mickey..

As names for Avengers-alikes go, The Retaliators is just the worst and it’s not like the earlier ones were great – remember the Champions of Angor, the Assemblers and the Justifiers? Anyway, I guess we’ll see different folk from multiversal worlds each issue, so I shan’t worry.

A nice nod to Marvel is the story title, ‘The World Outside Your Window’.

The 30pp story has three artists – why is DC so much worse than Marvel at getting one person to manage a whole issue? Anyway, Brandon Peterson and Tom Derenick are old favourites, while Andrei Bressan gets better as his pages progress. Favourite moments include our first sight of Dr Multiverse, the arrival of the hordes of Tartarus and the surprise appearance of one of the most powerful of the New Gods.

Hi-Fi do a bang-up job on the colours, while Tom Napolitano’s letters are equally spiffy.

Gary Frank’s cover, coloured by Brad Anderson, is apparently a homage to a cover by John Byrne. Not a very memorable one, apparently.

It’s very strange, there are plenty of positives, as I’ve noted, but overall this issue left me a bit flat. The Justice League Incarnate seem to spend their lives pursuing multiversal crises, but this one isn’t so far that thrilling. Darkseid works best as a master planner, sending his stooges to do the fighting; when he turns up in Chapter One of a series, it diminishes him.

I don’t feel I know this team at all, a less apocalyptic opening issue showing all the members interacting would likely have been more my cup of tea. Who, for example, is Dino-Cop, other than someone who looks a bit like Savage Dragon? Why is Captain Carrot here rather than leading the Zoo Crew? And so on.

And I was really hoping we’d find out more about Barry’s new situation.

I’d love to know what you thought.

12 thoughts on “Justice League Incarnate #1 review

  1. I agree with so much you wrote. Darkseid isn’t. Worse, he’s a one note character now. At least under Kirby there was a second or third note. The Retaliators does indeed bite the big one as a name. They’re also selfish pricks. I doubt I’ll remember any of this issue when the second comes out and that I will not care enough to reread it. Infinite Frontier and now this are what I call homework reads. I’m only reading them so I am up to date on DC’s now near constant screwing with their continuity. I wish Crisis had not happened now and set the awful precedent it did.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe it’s the wordiness that leaves it a bit flat? I put some of it down to first issue info-dumping & some to trying to get the writing patterns of older style comics..
    You’re right this ultimate distillation of Darkseid somehow feels far less iweighty than previous appearances, but I did get a kick out of the silliness of him facing a knock-off of a Darkseid knock-off.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Agree about Aquawoman and Mary Marvel doing nothing particularly – sure, Mary gets to be the cheery lass who says his to the newbies, but other than that, the pair of them haven’t done anything apart from stand in the background, at least as far as I can recall.

    That said, I’m hoping the series will pick up and get over the first issue scene setting nice and quickly. I’m sure I read somewhere that this is the second of the Infinite Frontier stories that Williamson has planned, so if that’s the case, I don’t expect any resolution in their battle against Darkseid, but rather a finale setting up another big battle later this year.

    Even so, I’m still enjoying this more than Death Metal. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This one hasn’t grabbed me as much as Infinite Frontier — possibly because the characters as a whole mean less to me than the hodgepodge of IF stars. (Earth 0 protagonists will always matter to me more than alt-earth versions, even ones I’m familiar with. The only exception’s ever been pre-Crisis Earth 2 characters.)

    That said, a few things I loved:

    1) The Hulk parody being named “Big Baby.” I think that was already established, but it’s priceless.
    2) Loved Replicant’s cryptocurrency scheme. And it’s good to see Replicant back, for that matter, and fun to see Avery in action.
    3) The sound effect when Darkseid kills the Thanos wannabe is pretty perfect.

    But as this is multiversal shenanigans (sheesh, doesn’t anybody just fight the Fiddler anymore?), I doubt I’m going to have any emotional connection to any of it. I’m just hoping for some fun character interactions along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Retaliators appeared in the odd series “Flash Forward” by Scott Lobdell – where Tempus Fuginaut was sending Wally West on various ill-defined missions around the multiverse, as part of his atonement following Heroes in Crisis I guess. But apparently this Avengers homage team has been around since Multiversity.

    I’ve seen Dennis Culver’s name on Future State: Gotham, where he’s also co-writing with Williamson. Don’t know much about him but he’s on Twitter.

    So now I learned “taking the mickey” – this time I was able to find the idiom online. Thanks!

    It’s curious that for literally the first time in decades, the interior credits page lists no cover artists. That’s especially curious because DC released as a 1:25 incentive variant a cover that they had previously solicited as the regular variant for #3. I suppose this is all due to incompetence, but it is unusual.

    I agree about the problem with multiple artists – for some reason this is happening more and more frequently at DC, and only sometimes does it work out.

    Now my question is – do you read this one as camp, like I do? I see the same kind of silliness that I saw in those Generations Forged/Shattered books by Jurgens and Venditti. It’s an homage to the classic 1980s/1990s crisis-style of writing, done with a big wink. I guess there’s really no longer a serious way to write a multiversal crisis. Death Metal had plenty of arch moments, too.

    Beyond the repetition of the word crack, which is juvenile but still sounds funny each time it’s used, I guess the campiest lines are:

    Dr. Multiverse to Avery: I might have a plan. I think I can harmonize our vibrations… and if our powers work the way I think they do, Avery, we can use your speed to unanchor the crack from Earth-8 and send it to another world.

    Avery: I don”t know if I can do that!

    Dr. Multiverse to Avery: I’ll create a field of quantum probability around the crack while I sync up with your vibration. Our powers combined should be enough to destabilize the crack’s hold on this universe. Make sense?

    Avery: I’ll do my best!

    Of course it doesn’t make any sense, which is why Williamson hung a lampshade on it. And the way he writes Avery as so darn earnest is just plain funny.

    Avery then simply runs in a circle, and it works. Because why wouldn’t it?

    Was Williamson’s run on Flash similarly goofy?

    Over in last week’s Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant, Willamson co-wrote the story starring Talia Al Ghul, and he hangs a similar lampshade on all the confusing stuff going on with Talia these days. It starts out with her being accosted by several assistants, variously calling out to her “Lady Talia! Checkmate has — we still need an answer on T.R.U.S.T. to — Deathstroke has joined — the Totality — your son is — your father has been found, he — Batman will not — the League of Shadows are — .” She ignores them all, goes to her chambers, lets out an audible sigh, and splashes some water on her face. The point I think is there is no way to reconcile all the different ways she’s being used right now, and Williamson’s advice is we should just sigh and let it go.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Flash Forward, even with my devotion to Tempus Fuginaut, I avoided that one! Was it actually a good read?

      Future State: Gotham? No wonder I’ve not come across Mr Culver.

      You’ve made me look at this issue in a whole new way. Most of what you quote, I took as just nonsense writing, but if it’s done with a wink… I’m still not delighted. Either make it clear something is a comedy book, or give us better dialogue and story logic. Williamson’s Flash read as fairly serious. Mind, you now have me convinced the Thomas Wayne line was indeed deliberate humour.

      That Talia story sounds a hoot!


      1. I don’t remember much of Flash Forward but think no one read it and it was kind of unnecessary. The whole redemption of Wally West thing – well, as with so many things, DC writes and sells books that make bad choices (like New 52, or like Wally West becoming a murderer), then writes and sells big “events” to undo them “officially,” so that continuity geeks can buy canon explanations to scratch the itch to make sense of it all. Fortunately I tend to forget what’s happened, so I don’t notice if things change! Logic problems within a book or arc might trouble me, but given enough time I’m going to forget what happened when.

        Bleeding Cool wrote quite a lot about how there was supposed to be an epilogue to Flash Forward in a Free Comic Book Day book that, along with the Generations Zero, One,.. Five series culminating in 5G, never saw the light of day.But that missing story apparently saw print in the Flash Forward TPB, which I doubt anyone has read.

        It looks like an interesting story which Rich summarizes:

        https :// bleedingcool . com/comics/dc-comics-missing-fcbd-story-appears-in-flash-forward-tpb/

        You are referring to the Thomas Wayne line “We have to stop Darkseid from getting his hands on that crack!”? Yes, to me that’s over the top and I think deliberate. There are a million ways to phrase that differently. If it wasn’t intended as a joke, Mike Cotton would surely have asked Williamson to rewrite it to avoid people like me reading it that way.

        More silliness – President Superman to Doctor Multiverse: “Sorry I grabbed you so fast.” “Don’t be.” And she looks like she has a crush on him. She’s swooning.

        My guess is that Williamson thinks there is no way to say the words “President Superman” and “Doctor Multiverse” with a straight face. And this is a team with a Captain Carrot. How can any writer do anything but fool around with these people?

        Darkseid: “No! You have denied me my prize once again, Justice League Incarnate.” It’s like a cartoon villain shaking his fist at the sky and crying “Curses! Foiled again!”

        And have there previously been Grandfather Boxes?! I know of Mother Boxes, and less frequently Father Boxes. What’s next? Uncle Boxes?


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